Friday, January 12, 2018

WHEN I WAS VOCATION DIRECTOR IN THE LATE 1980'S AND EARLY 90'S, SEMINARY FORMATORS TOLD US VOCATION DIRECTIONS AND THROUGH US OUR BISHOPS THAT WE ARE NOT TO SEND BROKEN CANDIDATES TO THEM FOR THE SEMINARY TO REHABILATE. THE THERAPEUTIC MODEL OF FORMATION FOR INADEQUATE CANDIDATES DOES NOT EXIST!


Imminent eschatology has to do with the breaking-in of God's kingdom and it realization at the end of time when Jesus returns. It has to do with the last things.

However, in the 1970's there was another form of it being taught and practiced. The Kingdom of God is already but not yet. Everything Jesus did in His public ministry, the Church by the power of the Holy Spirit could do in the present for the Lord has returned or is returned by virtue of the Pentecost Event.

Thus bishops sent unworthy candidates to the seminary for the seminary to fix them through a therapeutic model of formation.

Priests with serious drinking, psychological and moral problems,even sexual abuse of minors and adults, could be fixed and returned to ministry and not just one time, but how many times? 7 X 70 times or an infinite number of times. Rehabilitation at all cost with the return to that which was lost was the goal.


17 comments:

Henry said...

"Rehabilitation [of clerical sex-abusers] at all cost"

For the U.S. Catholic Church, $4 billion and counting, just in direct settlement costs, not counting indirect financial losses. Not to speak of the far greater moral and spiritual costs.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

The really odd characters who were accepted by bishops didn't last very long in the seminary. Our class started in 1981 with 52 individuals. By the time ordination came around, 39 were left. It didn't take long for the seminary leaders to recognize the "shortcomings" of some guys, and they were promptly sent home.

One classmate was dismissed, but his bishop insisted that he be readmitted. He was ordained, but, after about 10 years, he flew the coop, started his own "religious order," and runs a "fine arts" event location from his parents' home in central Pennsylvania.

A similar thought was expressed by a number of abbots when, following the breaking of the sex abuse scandal, some bishops suggested sending their miscreant priests to live in monasteries. "We don't want them" was the abbatial reply.

TJM said...

I think some of the odd characters did get ordained.

Henry said...

TMJ,

And I suspect some of the most faithful and promising ones were judged to have "shortcomings", and did not get ordained.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Henry - No, that didn't happen. (The "Goodbye Good Men" mythology persists...)

The "Traddie" classmates we had in seminary, with whom we on the Progressive side got along with well, were all called to orders in their various dioceses. (One is now the Bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska, who is a fine guy.)

Among those who left active ministry after a few years, usually to marry, were guys from the far right AND from the far left. And there were not a few from the middle-of-the-road camp, too.

Some of the guys who were sent down had some serious psychological issues. A couple had substance abuse problems that manifested themselves. One was clean for a long time, but was having LSD flashbacks. One just could not make any headway in the academics. One was bulimic - we all knew it, but, in those days, there was no process of "peer review." One, a very kind and very bright guy, was prone to severe panic attacks during exams.

The star of the show was a character who showed up in class one day wearing a cassock, which was not allowed. He was carrying his "pet" stuffed monkey which had band aids on its wrists because the stuffed monkey, our classmate announced, had tried to commit suicide the previous night...

It wasn't the traditionalist purge some want to believe it was. Seminary faculty and staff were far wiser and understood that priests run the gamut in their perspectives and outlooks. The ones who were asked to leave should never have been there in the first place.

TJM said...

Henry,

Yes the orthodox candidates were deemed "rigid" or "non-pastoral!" The left-wing loons were given a pass

rcg said...

I think we have forgotten what forgiveness actually is and mistake it for tolerance and permissiveness.

Rood Screen said...

It's difficult to detect sexual perverts in the seminary, due to the lack of opportunity for them to engage in their preferred misbehavior. Internet pornography can be limited by technical means, which really only leaves homosexuality as a ready option for those so inclined. As for child molestation, a 17 year old entering the seminary right out of high school will not likely show any indications of the perversion until later years.

Henry said...

Thanks, Fr. Kavanaugh, for that account of some of the memorable characters of your seminary days. I remain struck with the fact that so few loony conservative priests made it through the seminary gauntlet in that era, while such a veritable flood of liberal loons sailed through to ordination and have remained conspicuously with us in the priesthood to this day.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Rood Screen, I think that in the pre-Vatican II seminary experience, there were stricter guidelines as to whom could be admitted to the seminary. Family life was looked at in particular and if there was known dysfunction there or worse yet divorce, then the candidate was not admitted.

Once candidates were admitted, if you looked at someone the wrong way, you were ushered out in the dark of night without any explanation. Just recall "The Nun's Story" with Audrey Hepburn. That captured its day and for seminaries too.

But with that said, I would suggest that recruiting seminary candidates for high school and early college led many to experience arrested development of their sexuality.

Many did not even know their sexual orientation in the lived reality prior to Vatican II. This arrested development, though, to a certain extent was kept suppressed by the more monastic style of life that even secular priests lived prior to Vatican II--there wasn't much "intimate" relating to laity except maybe a family or two in a particular parish, but even that was guarded.

All that changed with Vatican II and the relaxation of severe discipline in the seminary. By 1976 my seminary in Baltimore, which had been the West Point of discipline of seminaries prior to 1968, was very relaxed. We could have booze in our room and guests in there with the door shut. We could go out at night and come in very very late--no questions asked. We could miss Mass and the public recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours. We dressed in a very casual way, cassocks were not permitted even for serving the altar, and on and on.....

However, once arrested development of the sexuality of priests, be they homosexual or heterosexual, was allowed to come out in the open by the very freedom that Vatican II insisted was needed for priests to be close to people and relating to them, is when the sexual abuse crisis peaked in 1974. Most of the perpetrators at that time had been ordained well before Vatican II.

TJM said...

Father McDonald, I would add one last point. There is safety in numbers. When a rectory had 3 or more priests living there, there was less likelihood of a priest getting into trouble. The priest had companionship and they watched out for each other. I have fond memories of dining in the rectory when there were many priests at the table. They also golfed and fished together. When the norm became one priest in the rectory is likely when the real problems began or at least expanded.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

A few seminarians found the transition from seminary to parish life difficult. Seminary life is relatively regimented, time is controlled, meals prepared at regular times, etc.

Moving from that environment to a parish where a newly ordained priest is pretty much on his own can be hard for some.

Maybe 25 years ago Fr. Donald Senior, President of the Catholic Theological Union (CTU) in Chicago, wrote a piece called "The Urban Seminary" in which he argued for re-thinking of the "stand alone" seminary style, a place apart from other people, sometimes in a sparsely populated part of the world. CTU was, needless to say, URBAN, being on the south side of Chicago. There were students in the academic and formation programs who were preparing for ordination, but at least as many who were not preparing for ordination. They were working toward masters and doctoral degrees for other church related work. Senior suggested that style of "mixed" community could be helpful in preparing seminarians for real life after ordination.

Fr. McDonald went to St Mary's, Baltimore which, while in the city, was still a kind of a place unto itself. But at least he was in a city with the opportunity to live a life akin to what he would experience once ordained. There were also many opportunities to be engaged in pastoral work in the city, work that would be carried on after ordination.

I went to Mt St Mary's in Emmitsburg, MD, 60 miles from Baltimore. We were in the then farmlands of Maryland, but we were also part of a University campus, so there was somewhat "normal" living, at least for someone in an academic setting. To see a movie we had to drive 12 miles to Gettysburg, PA, or 26 miles to Frederick, MD. While we were in Emmitsburg there was no fast food (you had to drive to G-burg or to Thurmont for a burger) and two pizza joints.

Setting someone apart at a young age and then rather abruptly throwing him into parish life - often it is a BIG busy parish with a school - can be jolting. It takes a wise pastor to help newly minted priests adjust, as Fr. McDonald has done in the past.

Dom Yves said...

"Most of the perpetrators at that time had been ordained well before Vatican II."

So they were all formed in that idyllic and halcyon "Traditional Latin Mass" ethos before the Protestantization of the sanctuaries, the emasculation of the Church, the removal of altar rails, the disestablishment of the Holy Office.

My goodness..... Will wonders never cease?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Confusion in the post Vatican II Church with its loss of priestly identity and loss of strict discipline combined with the new morality in the age of sexual liberation was the disease that led otherwise disciplined men to shed the constraints of the idyllic and halcyon days of their impulse controlled days in a feverish way.

TJM said...

Dom Yves, it appears that you agree the Church went into the dumpster following Vatican Disaster II

TJM said...

Kavanauagh,

Bad news for you. What you call "mythology" when referring to Goodbye to Good Men, has been documented by none other than Richard Sipes, former priest and Benedictine monk, who has made a career of studying the priest sex scandals in the US. I recall where he referenced that in one "group therapy session" at one seminary following Vatican Disaster II, the seminarians were forced to undress and hold on to the penis of the seminarian in back of him. The rationale for doing so was unclear. Did you attend that seminary? Maybe you should contact Sipe to see if he was lying!

TJM said...

I wonder if Kavanaugh has read Sipes research yet?