We are at a crisis point in the Church that rivals anything in our 2000 year history. Yet another sex abuse report came out today, this one from Germany.
A study commissioned by the German Bishops Conference examined 3,677 cases of abuse allegedly perpetrated by clergy nationwide, German magazine Der Spiegel reported on Wednesday. The universities of Giessen, Heidelberg and Mannheim were involved in the research, which implicated 1,670 priests in sexual abuse spanning from 1946 to 2014.This is a worldwide scandal in the Church. It seems to be happening everywhere and has been for decades. Most likely it has been happening much longer than that, but was much more easily covered up in the days before mass communication.
The question is, why is this happening? What is the common denominator in these scandals? What do all priests in the Catholic Church have in common?
They all went to seminary.
The idea of seminaries was developed in the Church after the Reformation at the Council of Trent, Session 23. The Council fathers felt that developing priests was best done by taking young men out of the world before they developed "bad" habits.
Wereas the age of youth, unless it be rightly trained, is prone to follow after the pleasures of the world; and unless it be formed, from its tender years, unto piety and religion, before habits of vice have taken possession of the whole man, it never will perfectly, and without the greatest, and well-nigh special, help of Almighty God, persevere in ecclesiastical discipline; the holy Synod ordains, that all cathedral, metropolitan, and other churches greater than these, shall be bound, each according to its means and the extent of the diocese, to maintain, to educate religiously, and to train in ecclesiastical discipline, a certain number of youths of their city and diocese, or, if that number cannot be met with there, of that province, in a college to be chosen by the bishop for this purpose near the said churches, or in some other suitable place. Into this college shall be received such as are at least twelve years old, born in lawful wedlock, and who know how to read and write competently, and whose character and inclination afford a hope that they will always serve in the ecclesiastical ministry.You can read the rest of the document HERE.
As you can see, the Council fathers were advocating taking boys as young as 12 years old away from their families and friends and isolating them from the world despite the fact that kids at this age are still very much attached to and in need of the support of their families.
These young boys and men in seminary have no one to interact with but each other. They are isolated from everything and everyone else. Their days are rigidly structured. They are living an artificial life where everything is planned for them. And they are expected to be as disciplined and committed as an ordained priest.
But the big problem with this is that when a young boy or man goes into seminary, it means he is "discerning" a vocation. He doesn't know if this is the life for him or not. And yet although they are not priests, they are expected to live the life of a priest. This is not only unrealistic, it is unhealthy.
They are young boys and young men with barely any real life experience. They are dealing with their growing sexuality which is driving them in ways they have never experienced before. They are then surrounded with other young boys and men who are dealing with the same issues.
Wow, I wonder why there is a "homosexual network" among priests? If we wanted to create homosexuals among our priests, we could not do it better than by isolating them and putting them together when their sexuality is developing.
Seminaries are breeding grounds for homosexuality. One of my uncles was a priest. He went to seminary as a young boy back in the 40's. He hated it there because as he told my mother, "they are all in love with one another."
Is that a surprise?
Former Cardinal McCarrick is now a known pervert, but where did he learn it? McCarrick was in seminary from a young age. He was a "lifer." It was all he ever knew. McCarrick never lived in the "real" world. He was never allowed to grow and develop naturally. He lived a completely artificial life. And I believe it destroyed him.
There is a truly fascinating article on Crux entitled, "Clergy sex abuse not about gay priests, top psychologist says." The article is about Santa Clara University psychologist Dr. Thomas Plante who has worked with priests for over 30 years, and he has some very interesting things to say.
Although many blame the abuse scandals on homosexuality among the clergy, same-sex attraction does not make priests more likely to sexually abuse children, Plante said.
“It’s perfectly understandable that people could be confused by this, because we know that 80 percent or more of the clerical sexual abuse victims are boys,” Plante said. “So people conclude that if you get rid of homosexuals in the clergy, then you’ve got the problem solved. And it doesn’t work that way.”This, of course, goes against all of those who insist that homosexuality is the cause of all sexual abuse in the Church. But that is just an easy cop-out. The truth is, many of our priests are emotionally stunted and immature, and have great difficulty in adult relationships:
Most of the clerical sexual abuse perpetrators have been “situational generalists,” a term used throughout extensive John Jay College of Criminal Justice summary reports, the most recent in 2011, to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Generalists do not have a specific sexual preference for youth, but instead “turn to children as a sort of substitute” due to psychological and emotional difficulties in bonding with peers, Plante observed.
Such individuals - who often exhibit issues with substance abuse and impulse control - “can’t develop successful, negotiated, intimate relationships with adults,” said Plante, who recently served as vice chair of the USCCB’s National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Youth.
Since generalist offenders seek readily available victims, boys have historically - though by no means exclusively - been a target for many clerical abusers.
“Priests for the most part had access to boys, and trust with boys, much more so than girls,” said Plante, noting that this proximity has led to the erroneous correlation between homosexuality and clerical abuse.I believe much of this dysfunction among priests is the result of living in a seminary. They are naturally more comfortable with men because they have never really interacted with women. The only close relationships they have known have been with other males.
But worse, many are emotionally stunted and immature because they were never allowed to naturally mature. They were told from a young age what to think and how to act. They never discovered who they really were. Ergo, "Such individuals - who often exhibit issues with substance abuse and impulse control - can’t develop successful, negotiated, intimate relationships with adults."
I think taking boys as young as 12 years old and isolating them in a seminary is abuse in and of itself. Children should never be arbitrarily taken away from their families. They need the support and guidance of their parents. There is no substitute for that.
Secondly, why do we need seminaries for priestly formation? Deacons live with their families and continue to work while they prepare for the Diaconate. There is no reason why men who are discerning the priesthood cannot do the same thing. We should never isolate young men together for long periods of time. It is unnatural and unhealthy.
Monks and monastaries are a whole different matter. These are men who have discerned their vocations and made the commitment. They know who they are and where they want to be. They have made a voluntary decision to take themselves out of the world.
We do not expect a man and woman who are discerning marriage to live together until they have made a commitment to each other before God. Until that time, they continue to live their normal lives apart from each other, often still living with their families. And they certainly don't even think about such a commitment until they have reached a mature age when they have developed mature relationships.
This is the same situation for young men who are still discerning the call to the priesthood. They should continue living in the real world experiencing real life situations and developing mature, adult relationships while they discern their calling.
I believe that seminaries are also breeding grounds for clericalism. These men are isolated and taught that they are different. They are told that they are not like the families and friends they left behind. They are being called to higher and better life. Yes, they are giving up a lot, but they are the elite of the Church. One of them could even be Pope someday.
Our priests are given great educations in the seminaries. They learn to recite all the rules and regulations of the Church. They learn philosophy, science, mathematics and history. They get degrees so they have fancy letters behind their names.
But our priests, for the most part, do not learn humility and true spirituality in the seminaries. They do not learn how to relate to people in their ordinary, every day lives. They are not taught how to be true, loving individuals. The truth is, these things cannot be taught. We learn them by living life in the real world, not in the artificial environment of the seminaries.
We need to let men grow and develop and find out who they are before they become priests. We need to let them experience the world as it really is, that it is more than just the structured life of the seminary. We need to allow men to discern the priesthood while still living in the real world.
Get rid of the seminaries. They are killing our priests and our Church.