Skip to comments.Good Bye, Good Men: The Wanderer review (New Book on Seminaries Raises Troubling Questions)
Posted on 04/24/2002 6:56:29 AM PDT by Aquinasfan
Crisis in the priesthood....
NEW BOOK ON SEMINARIES RAISES TROUBLING QUESTIONS
by Paul Likoudis
Michael S. Roses new book on the crisis in Catholic seminaries in the United States and Europe, Good Bye! Good Men: How Catholic Seminaries Turned Away Two Generations of Vocations from the Priesthood, powerfully illustrates Pope John Paul IIs words in his Holy Thursday letter to priests on the "mystery of evil at work in the world."
There is no other word than "evil" other than "demonic" to describe the real situation in most modern Catholic seminaries, charged with providing the Church with its priests and leaders of the future, the only gateways to those positions. But these gateways, Rose shows, are sinkholes of crime, criminality, psychological sickness, exploitation, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual abuse and cronyism, breeding grounds for little anti-Christs rather than training grounds for alter Christi.
For 30 years, seminary faculty, staff and administrators have, essentially, been working primarily with "blank slates," candidates for the priesthood who often never had any serious catechesis, moral formation or, often-enough, basic literacy skills. But these non-competitive "blank slates," Rose convincingly shows, were the preferential clay for an older generation of profoundly disturbed and abusive diocesan and religious priests, often sexual and theological perverts, intent on demolishing the Church and determined to prevent the real Catholic men who had vocations from advancing through the seminary process.
Rose concentrates on this latter group of real Catholic men, telling their stories of the depravity and abuse inflicted upon them, and how they either persevered through their studies or how they were driven out.
One seminarian recounts that the book that gave him hope and helped him persevere was Alexandr Solzhenitsyns Gulag Archipelago. "His imprisonment and constant surveillance was in many ways identical to my seminary life, in which cultural revolutionaries sought to rehabilitate the orthodox into becoming full-fledged party members of the new dissidence. As in the former USSR, if you opposed the party line,; which in the case of the seminary was their particular brand of heterodoxy, then you were labeled mentally unfit and kept under close scrutiny for your own safety. The games, spying, hidden agenda as well as the vast bureaucracy of the KGB was cloned in the seminaries across America.
"Fellow seminarians spy on one another; blackmail, intimidation, slander, threats, and even violence are employed to protect the status quo. Quote the Pope and you are an archconservative, John Birch, KKK, Neo-Nazi; quote Gore Vidal and you are an intellectual Renaissance man.
Another tells how he was expelled from the American College at Louvain, in Belgium, for refusing to enter into an "intimate" affair with a senior seminarian. Other seminarians recount how they were raped by faculty or staff or, if they refused overtures, were subject to abusive psychological regimens that might have been designed by the KGB in the Stalin era. A seminary professor recounts how she was intimidated and physically threatened by a militant homosexual who refused to do the course work. And on and on, detail upon detail over nine chapters.
The tenth chapter revisits the late Bishop John Marshalls Holy See-instigated "seminary investigation" of 1981.
For ten years prior which means more than 30 years ago, now U.S. Catholics, both priests and laity, had been writing to their bishops and to officials of the Holy complaining about the terrible problems in U.S. seminaries. In 1973, Fr. Kenneth Baker, editor of Homiletic & Pastoral Review, surveyed his readership of, mostly, priests, and discovered an overwhelming majority would not recommend young men for the diocesan seminary because of the lack of discipline and orthodox teaching. The "Marshall Committees" "investigation" was a total sham. Seminary rectors and professors donned their clericals for a day, only select students were allowed to be interviewed, and papal encyclicals suddenly replaced the everyday heretical texts. After the Marshall Team left, everything returned to its previous abnormal condition.
That bishops have played along with this evil state of affairs for going on 50 years, as Rose shows, highlights a far more grave problem facing the Catholic people of this country than the current crisis involving molestation by a relatively small number of Catholic priests.
The largest and most prestigious of American seminaries are still firmly under control by what National Review Onlines Rod Dreher has called a "lavender mafia.," including Baltimores St. Marys (the "Pink Palace,") New Orleans Notre Dame ("Notre Flame"), San Franciscos St. Patricks Seminary in Menlo Park, Detroits Sacred Heart, Chicagos Mundelein and, most significantly, Bostons St. Johns and the Washington Theological College
The final chapters explain how a "death wish" infected Catholic seminaries, fueled by nonsensical chatter about a looming priest shortage and the priesthood of the "emerging laity"; real signs of renewal that are underway, now, in select dioceses along with slow changes in seminary faculties; and, finally, practical suggestions for a genuine renewal of Catholic seminaries.
Roses book, with an April 15 release date, has been receiving rave views for a month now based on excerpts posted on the Internet and by select reviewers provided advance copies.
On March 13, National Review Onlines Rod Dreher described the book as a "bombshell" that "reveals a seminary underworld in which homosexual promiscuity and sexual harassment is rampant, in which straight men are marginalized and demoralized, and seminarians who support
the Church's teaching on sexuality and the priesthood are persecuted, even to the point of being sent off, Soviet-style, for psychological evaluations. Many of these guys are rejected from entering the seminaries, expelled, or driven by depression to leave."
St. Louis University historian James Hitchcock observed: "Few books in the past thirty years have shed more light on the continuing crisis in the Church. In particular, anyone who wishes to understand the pedophilia scandals, and how they could have occurred, must read this book."
Notre Dame philospher, novelist and editor Ralph McInerny praised it for illuminating the artificially created priest shortage by "keeping good candidates out and admitting effete and unorthodox ones."
And the confessions of priests, seminarians and former seminaries Rose records in Good Bye! Good Men are already eliciting more similar stories by Internet browsers who have learned of his book, available at http://www.goodbyegoodmen.com/feedback.html
For example, Joe C., who described himself as "former heterosexual seminarian" in formation from 1990 to 1995 recalled: "Within a couple years, I slowly became aware that I was surrounded by gays. Eventually, in a formation house of 39 residents, 22 had come out to me, and I was pretty certain that at least 4 more were gay. There were some older men who seemed to be good priests by traditional standards. But they were in their seventies, and I was in my 20s.
"At the theological union I attended (Washington Theological Union), men flirted with each daily, and prayed that John Paul II would have a happy death... and soon, they would addwith a smirk....
"By the end of formation, I was on the verge of atheism, and had to drag myself to Mass each week until I recovered some sort of faith. I was furious with the Church. My faith has become very different -- even to this day...."
Nigel, another former seminarian, thought Roses book "will bring out how important it is that those engaged in practicing homosexual acts must not be permitted to continue at a seminary, either as candidates or as staff, just as practicing adulterers or fornicators should similarly be expunged from the ranks.
"We are all sinners, but we should be humble above all else, especially in a seminary. We should recognize that God should be our greatest delight rather than any perverse delight we might find in that sort of activity.
"My question in seminary formation, though, on the score of this necessary delight in God is this: If the poor liturgical celebration of the Mass, the 'ban' on wearing of distinctive clerical dress, the outward devotional helps -- if these types of things disappear externally, how are we to
continue to foster the internal disposition towards holiness?....Why abandon the traditions, the music, the Latin, the festivity and joy of the Liturgy for the cheap imitations of banality? Surely the sexual explosion which we find in seminaries might partly be a result of there being little delight in God, little attractiveness of the Divine and of the world of Grace...."
C.E. affirmed many of the anecdotes Rose relates, saying, "I can verify that the problems you highlight are real. I saw the mechanisms of an anti-clerical agenda in my own time of major seminary formation in St. Paul, Minnesota during the mid-1990s. One of my colleagues was
black-balled and dismissed from the seminary. He was given another chance in another seminary in Florida, only to be faced with a surprise second dismissal there. Apparently, the networking among seminary faculty across this country is rather strong...."
Matt B. wrote: "I was a seminarian from 1993-1995. I was given the option of going to
Mundelein or the Athenaeum of Ohio for my seminary training. I was wide-eyed and optimistic as I entered my new vocation. Even when the vocation team asked me what I thought of
women priests (to which I responded, Doesn't the Church say no?) and other unorthodox questions, I did not have a clue what I was in for at the Athenaeum....
"I sat through classes in which great saints of the Church were berated simply because they were men. Sr. Barbara Fiand taught a course on the Church Fathers (which, to my recollection, she always amended with "and Mothers") in which we only heard about how much the Church Fathers hated women and how all of their writings were tainted with mysogyny....
"While I was not on the formation team's hit list because of my orthodoxy, I had several friends who were. To this day I love them deeply and admire them for getting through that place. They are some of the finest priests I have known. It also makes me feel somewhat ashamed, because I wasn't orthodox enough to get the harsh treatment. However, I do feel that I got a lot of psychological abuse from the formation team. They always questioned every statement I made, trying to make me doubt myself as a future priest, as a Catholic, and as a man. My spiritual direction mostly consisted of my director trying to convince me that I was sexually abused as a child. I wasn't, for the record. Things that I supposedly said in confidence in spiritual direction were presented back to me as concerns by the formation team at a later date...."
Michael Roses new book will shed light on a problem most of the U.S. bishops and their periti still refuse to see, even in the wake of four months of sordid revelations about clerical abuse.
Bishops, and the experts the media consults, still exhale the same old stale thoughts, that better psychological testing will solve the problem of clerical sex abuse as if seminarians werent subject to an abusive regimen of psychological testing that begins the moment they walk into a diocesan vocations office and continues, almost daily, for a dozen years. The men who survive the process, not surprisingly, are the ones who go on to commit abuse while the healthy ones are weeded out of the seminaries by the process.
This troubling reality brings us back to the Holy Fathers "mystery of evil" and a consideration of the problem of homosexuals in the priesthood.
Back in 1991 or 1992, shortly after this reporter began working for The Wanderer and Buffalo Bishop Edward D. Heads top financial officer was accused of stealing more than a million dollars from the Church and dealing cocaine, a diocesan priest from a very prominent Buffalo family invited me to have lunch with him and his brother, a well-known financial adviser.
Over lunch, this priest, who was ordained in 1960 or 61, told me a story from his seminary days at Christ the King Seminary in Buffalo. There was an old monsignor, he said, who had the task of walking around the seminary dorms each night, to ensure there were no parties or immoral behaviors going on in the dorm rooms, at a time when "particular friendships" were grounds for expulsion.
One night, as he made his rounds, the priest told me, some students dropped a cinder block on him. It just missed his head, but it crushed his shoulder; he never recovered, and died shortly thereafter.
After that, the priest said, a homosexual clique that had entered the seminary years before took control.
It is my hope that Michael Roses Good Bye! Good Men will bring forth many more stories from priests, seminarians and former seminarians, so Rose can provide a sequel that will help Catholics in the United States understand more fully "the mystery of evil" so powerfully at play in the U.S. Church today.
In the meantime, this book is an eye-opener, even for a reviewer who considers himself an informed Catholic.
Just got my copy of "Goodbye! Good Men" yesterday and stayed up half the night reading it. It is an unbelieveable story that needs to get out among Catholics - our church is being marginalized and liberalized more and more each day. The author cites references and backs up the information he has presented, so it is pretty hard to refute what he is telling us.
Last night my parish had a Mass for the victims of priests and then a "listening" session for the parishioners - the topic was, of course, the crisis and abuse of children/trust in the Catholic Church. Out of a parish that numbers maybe 1000 people, perhaps 25 showed up. What the liberalization of our faith has produced is the irrelevance of God and faith in our daily lives - it is so tragic, especially for our children. Most of the attendees were over 60. There were two of us who have school aged children.
I noticed that Cardinals George and Maida and Bishop Wilton Gregory spoke yesterday regarding the homosexual problem in the priesthood (a symptom of our liberal Amchurch) - it seems to me that we will be able to judge how faithful our Cardinals/Bishops are to the tenets of Catholicism by their statements, or lack thereof, on the current crisis. Then, when they return to the US from Rome, we can either support them or not by letting them know our views via e-mail or letter.
It seems to me that the faithful are watching and waiting at the moment, waiting to take action.
I think I really like Bishop Wilton Gregory - previous to his statements from Rome, I had not heard much about him. He appears to be very orthodox.
I dunno, but if I heard about a "listening" session I might head for the door myself. Then again, attendance on holy days is pretty sparse as well.
I have to get a copy of this book. Meanwhile, send the url for the book to everyone on your personal Catholic mailing list. We have to spread the word because the media sure as hell won't.
I know what you mean - I'm not the "warm and fuzzy" type myself - even shaking hands during Mass is hard for me, but I wanted to hear how others in my parish looked at this crisis - including the priests, and aside of FR (which is skewered towards orthodox Catholics) there really isn't another forum for that for me. Funny, no one mentioned the homosexual priest problem at the "session" (I wanted to, but I don't like speaking in front of that many people) and I wonder if it was because most people don't think that is the problem or if people didn't want to offend the priests who were present.
I mention the book to everyone I know. It is really eye-opening.
My parish is flourishing. Of course, Easter season is usually better attended, but even before Easter the pews were always full. However, I did notice an increase in attendance after 9/11 ... but I haven't noticed a drop off yet.
Are the Catholics on FR dominated by Orthodox Catholics? What exactly does that mean? I'm not orthodox in the sense of the church I attend, but I'm pretty conservative about doctrine and teachings. But I didn't think that it was out of the norm to think that abortion is murder, that homosexuality is wrong, and that Catholics shouldn't use contraceptives.
I use "orthodox Catholic" rather than "conservative Catholic" because "conservative" carries so much political baggage. "Traditional Catholic" would also be a good term.
Anyway, Catholics who think that homosexuality and abortion are wrong may be in the majority. Catholics who think that the use of artificial contraception is wrong are in the minority.
I suppose, then, that I am orthodox. Even when the teachings and doctrines of the church are difficult to follow, that doesn't make them wrong.
Sometimes I get confused by what people mean because, for example, my parish is more "modern." By that, I mean that the music is more contemporary (though they sing the same hymns they sing them with a faster, more modern music. Actually, the different masses have different music. If you like organs with choirs, you go to 9:30. If you like guitar and piano you go to 11; if you like a soloist (also organ, and traditional) you go to 12:30.
Anyway, I'm rambling. Regarding the CCC, I try hard to follow all the commands, even when it's hard. But if I fail to follow something, I don't turn around and say the doctrine or teaching is wrong, I admit that I sinned or failed and ask forgiveness.
LOL!! Good one.
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