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Ev'ry Thing's Coming Up RO-ses!

By Diogenes (articles ) | Dec 14, 2004

Well, kiss that hope goodbye.

At the max temperature point of the abuse crisis in April 2002, after the extraordinary meeting of U.S. cardinals in Rome, we were promised a "new and serious apostolic visitation" of seminaries. More than two years later the signals are that the visitation may begin in 2005, but that it will be, yet again, a complete and utter waste of jet fuel.

"I personally think (the visitation) is going to be very helpful. I believe the seminaries today are not the seminaries they were 30 years ago. And I think that we have advanced tremendously in terms of teaching methodology, in terms of formation programs, in terms of our spiritual direction," [New Ulm] Bishop Nienstedt said.

"So I think it's going to be very helpful for us, because I think the results are going to be positive. I also think there are things we can be doing better, and that will become clearer," he said.

"I think the results are going to be positive." So do I, Excellency, and positive results are the worst possible news for advocates of substantive reform. Care to make any bets about how many seminaries will be suppressed as a consequence of this new and serious visitation?

It gets worse. We're told that the long-gestating Vatican document on the exclusion of homosexuals from the seminaries is going to be -- in the best traditions of the genre -- "balanced."

"I think they intend to have it out by the time the visitation begins," said Bishop Nienstedt ..."I think it's going to be a balanced document, because the whole question of homosexuality not only has psychological dimensions but also has varying degrees of a person acting out or not acting out," he said.

"So the whole question has to be nuanced considerably: 'What is homosexuality?' 'What are the homosexual attractions?' and that sort of thing. I think this document will be helpful because it is going to address those questions," he said.

Nuance. Varying degrees of a person's acting out or not acting out. That's going to be the theme song for the next thirty years of priestly formation, and we can be pretty sure that those profs and seminarians who betray an insufficiently developed appreciation for the complexity of the issue will find themselves in the dumpster quicker than you can say "rigidity unbecoming a minister." As St. Petersburg Bishop Robert "Do I wish I didn't nuance his biceps?" Lynch insists, our Church's traditional inflexibility in these matters reflects "a hang-up with sex." He must be doing cartwheels.

But isn't it true that there are gradations of SSA? Sure. And if you stop to think about it, there has to be a spectrum of attractions (plural) to necrophilia, as well as varying degrees of acting out or not acting out. That said, the last time I checked, no one seemed to have a problem with the old, one-dimensional, un-nuanced ban on necrophiles from the seminary. The point is that the bishops' willingness to compromise on homosexuality, despite what they say, has nothing to do with new science and everything to do with the fervid lobbying of an interest group. Perhaps the most telling point in the CNS piece quoted is the last line of the article:

The last apostolic visitation of U.S. seminaries took place in the 1980s and covered every aspect of priestly formation programs.

Didn't it just.

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Show 12 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Andy K - Dec. 18, 2004 3:51 PM ET USA

    Was not Bishop Neinstadt the one who basically said that his predecessor's book was not as doctrinally clear as it ought to have been? Perhaps, when he says "positive," he means that what needs to be done will be said?

  • Posted by: Fr. William - Dec. 16, 2004 1:27 AM ET USA

    We need successors to the apostles, not diplomats. Therefore, my hope & my prayer is that BIshop Nienstedt will make this a new & serious apostolic visitation to the seminaries. I pray that Bp. Nienstedt knows what needs to be done; and as a successor to the apostles, that he be given by God the courage and fortitude to do what God wants him to do for the good of the Church and the seminaries in the US (which may mean suppressing some seminaries & certainly reforming most of them).

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Dec. 15, 2004 6:45 PM ET USA

    I agree with Lorenz that it will take a pope with the heart of a lion to clean it up. But I wonder if it's likely that a college of cardinals made up of weasels is going to elect a lion.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 15, 2004 11:42 AM ET USA

    RelicMM, I too get the impression. It is a big mystery. There is also apostasy of several low and high ranking religous. With this apostasy comes a nihilistic hatred, an urge to destroy a faith that they could not live up to and have since abandoned. As much as I love Pope John Paul II, his inaction with dealing with dissidents is a big part of the problem in that the errors have been given fertile ground to grow and spread. It will take a pope with a heart of a lion to clean it up.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 15, 2004 9:19 AM ET USA

    Does anyone else get the impression that the Protestant and Masonic influences of the Second Vatican Council have almost succeeded in their efforts to undermine the priesthood, liturgy, doctrine, and the Real Presence. What part of the gates of hell will not prevail do they not understand? It is never too late to admit a tragic mistake and return to the spiritual Mass of St. Pius V and the doctrinal Council of Trent, but the logical and moral cure will most likely be the last one tried.

  • Posted by: opraem - Dec. 14, 2004 7:02 PM ET USA

    any visitation will be a WHITEWASH. the pope has already told the US bishops they've done a good job managing the abuse scandal and the cover-up. i guess $1 billion in damages, 10,000 innocent victims, demoralized priests and pervasive mistrust of the hierarchy are fruits of this good work. when there is limited impetus for change, there will be none. at least the austrians had pictures and the vatican was forced to act. pray for the church, she needs all the help she can get.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 14, 2004 3:20 PM ET USA

    latinae - here's an example: Archbishop Flynn of Mpls/StPaul in '99 appointed Bp. Frederick Campbell head of the St. Paul seminary. The turnaround in this seminary since then has been phenomenal. (Look for good things coming from Columbus, OH, now that he is appointed there.) Bp. Nienstedt is right on when he said seminaries are not what they were 30 yrs ago. There is room for improvement to be sure, and it doesn't hurt to admit that, but on the whole the situation is much better.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 14, 2004 2:04 PM ET USA

    I'm of the opinion that it was the "various degrees of acting out..." over the past decades that got us into this mess in the first place. But then I'm probably nuance-challenged... Sorry.

  • Posted by: Fr. William - Dec. 14, 2004 12:49 PM ET USA

    Right, again, Diogenes. Bp. Nienstedt is diplomatic. As with most exercises in diplomacy & not wanting to challenge anyone, he compromises the Truth of the Church's Teaching. Before the visitation begins, he already announces how positive the results are going to be. Why make a visitation if you already know the results? More diplomacy: "what is homosexuality" & "nunanced" & "degrees of acting out." Should we draw the bishop a picture? The Church needs successors to the apostles, not diplomats.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 14, 2004 12:43 PM ET USA

    It isn't just jet fuel they will be wasting. Their last effort has cost the laity billions of dollars, the Lord potentially millions of despairing and unconvertible souls, and may yet cost the Church 1800 years of evangelization -- welcome to the northern hemispherical catacombs of the 21st century. However, it hasn't cost the Bishops anything; they just "Downsize". The Church is supposed to be teaching capitalist captains but instead they are borrowing their euphemisms and management styles.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 14, 2004 12:35 PM ET USA

    I'm sure and, at least, I sincerely hope I'm underinformed, but I'm not aware of a single bishop directly intervening in their seminary programs, their content, their administrators, or faculty in the last 40 years except to close them due to lack of funds or interest. If the Bishops don't manage the seminaries, they will be managed by the reigning zeitgeist, which is the Culture of Death. These Bishops need to replace their pectoral crosses for their more appropriate Pollyanaism.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 14, 2004 11:19 AM ET USA

    Two points: First, a bishop cannot give what he doesn't possess. If he is a man without character, courage, supernatural charity, etc., he cannot hope to pass these qualities on to his seminarians. If he is just an administrator he will produce cogs for his diocesan machine. Second, the Church would do well to jettison anyone with "nuance" in his resume. What is needed is the peasant rigidity of St. Pius X. The modernist wars of our time require clarity of vision that is not nuanced.

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