October 21, 2005

Today's seminarians: The Vatican survey

The Tidings

By Father Richard P. McBrien

In his "Beliefs" column in The New York Times (Sept. 24), Peter Steinfels takes a broader look at the current Vatican-run investigation of U.S. seminaries.

While the focus of almost every commentary has been on the issue of homosexuality, Steinfels is also concerned with the quality of education that future priests receive and the profiles of candidates, gay and heterosexual alike, that seminaries attract and admit.

He points out that the official Vatican guidelines for the teams of "apostolic visitors" consist of 96 questions to be posed to faculty, seminarians and some alumni.

"The thrust of these questions," Steinfels notes, "is to assure that future priests are fully prepared to live celibate lives, as well as morally disciplined and prayerful ones, and that they are thoroughly committed to church teachings, especially as laid out in recent official documents from the pope and Vatican offices."

However, what properly concerns Peter Steinfels --- and should be a matter of concern for all Catholics --- is that there are no explicit questions about the seminarians' "capacities for initiative, creativity or imagination and consultative leadership...."

"There is," he points out, "no explicit question about concern for social justice.... By comparison, there are numerous questions about recitation of the rosary, visits to the Blessed Sacrament, devotion to Mary and the saints and many other 'exercises of piety'."

Posted by kshaw at October 21, 2005 04:57 PM