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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