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By Fr. Wilson (articles ) | Dec 05, 2003

The Diocese of Dallas' Answer to the Cappadocian Fathers calls for renewal of Seminary Formation.

The Following was taken from the Texas Catholic, Dallas, TX

Date of the edition in which this piece ran: March 15, 2002

Page 8, in the section known as: Opinions


"Another troubling story about priest formation There is in this edition of the Texas Catholic another story about priests that adds to our torment about how some men have graduated from seminaries who are unfit for the priesthood. Certainly, the priest pedophile scandal must be seen now as not only the moral failure of individuals, but also a grave institutional failure in the seminaries, in the presbyterate and in the episcopate. While the scandals involve only a relatively few men, the fact hardly diminishes their gravity in the eyes of Catholic faithful, and certainly in the eyes of all those who watch the Catholic Church with admiration or animosity. A troubling new story is about a survey entitled "Changing Commitments and Attitudes of Catholic Priests, 1970-2001," by Catholic University of America sociologists Dean R. Hoge and doctoral student Jacqueline E. Wenger. The National Federation of Priests’ Councils commissioned the survey. The survey found that many younger priests today "have different agendas for the priesthood." While the younger priests report they are more content and more docile to authority, the survey found that they often see themselves as people set apart and who undergo some ontological change after ordination. Jesus taught that those who would be first should be last and advised his disciples that they should be servants rather than masters. A change should come at ordination, but not in the direction that this survey indicates. The survey found that younger priests are more interested in open discussion of their benefits and amenities and less interested in open discussion of issues in the church today. They are less inclined to empower lay ministers as parish leaders and allow married men or resigned priests into their ranks. One must wonder if there is in the making another kind of scandal - or certainly of conflict - heading to the church in the next 5 to 10 years because of something lacking today in the formation of seminarians. The church should not have seminarians who are either so sexually immature that they become pedophiles or so theologically immature that they consider themselves a privileged class. Individual failures in the church and other human institutions are understandable and normal. However, institutional failures are hardly tolerable in any society, especially when it comes to the church. If the survey is believable - and it is substantial and collaborated by other anecdotal evidence - there should exist today an urgency to reform those entering the presbyterate in several significant ways.

- BLH" [Bronson L. Havard]

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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Dec. 05, 2003 11:48 PM ET USA

    Havard repeats the outrageous accusation that men who uphold chastity (code words "sexually immature") are the "profile" of for pedophiles. If anything, the actual experience of the scandal shows that was tolerating or even committing sins aganist the virtue of chastity that are at its root. As for "clericalism" -- every new priest I know has a genuine spirit of vocation and not the haughty "not on my day off" attitude from the older priests I know.

  • Posted by: AveMaria580 - Dec. 05, 2003 11:29 PM ET USA

    That there is an ontological change in the core of being of a man ordained to the priesthood is what the Church actually teaches. God grant that more such men are ordained. Especially if they are less inclined to "empower" lay ministers in the parish. This invasion of the laity into the sanctuary is one of the problems with the Liturgy. They have a congregational view of the Church. Deacons remind a lot of the protestant clergy. They seem to think they are a suitable substitute for a priest

  • Posted by: shrink - Dec. 05, 2003 7:25 PM ET USA

    I have read Hoge's findings, and they are encouraging (not that Hoge or Havard would share my joy) because they show that 15-25% of newly ordained priests are clearly responding to a vocation and not to a profession, as Havard would like. If this small but potent crop of new clerics remain true to form, they may well be the salvation of the Church in the US, and thugs like Havard be sine labora, and will have to find someone other than Fr. Weinberger to pick on.

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