The New York Times has an unbelievable story today about the seminary application process and the concentration on whether someone is homosexual or not. Here’s a snip with a few snarky comments of my own in parentheses.
Msgr. Stephen Rossetti, a psychologist at Catholic University who has screened seminarians and once headed a treatment center for abusive priests, said the screening could be “very intrusive.” (Ya think?) But he added, “We are looking for two basic qualities: the absence of pathology and the presence of health.” (Pathology, here, is defined as gay.)
To that end, most candidates are likely to be asked not only about past sexual activities but also about masturbation fantasies (OK, THAT’S going to be awkward), consumption of alcohol (Better search a lot of rectories, Catholic schools and homes first), relationships with parents and the causes of romantic breakups (Wow! So if she broke up with me because she didn’t think I was ambitious enough, would that be a negative?). All must take H.I.V. tests and complete written exams like the 567-question Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, which screens for, among other things, depression, paranoia and gender confusion (good to know that they weed people out who have treatable mental illnesses too). In another test, candidates must submit sketches of anatomically correct human figures (I’d fail on this part alone. I can’t draw a straight (or gay) line WITH a ruler, never mind a penis or vagina).
In interviews by psychologists — who are usually selected because they are Catholic therapists with religious views matching those of the local church leadership (What a surprise!) — candidates are also likely to be asked about their strategies for managing sexual desire.
“Do you take cold showers? (Only in Nicaragua and Miami)Do you take long runs? (Not if I can help it! And not since the last time the cops were chasing me.)” said Dr. Plante, describing a typical barrage of questions intended both to gather information and to let screeners assess the candidate’s poise and self-awareness — or to observe the tics and eye-avoidance that may signal something else.
Yeah, because the creepy people asking these embarrassing questions will make candidates want to look you right in the eye. And if the candidate is able to answer in that manner –then good Lord, RUN FOR THE HILLS!
Harvard’s Mark D. Jordan hits the nail on the head later in the column:
“A criterion like this may not ensure that you are getting the best candidates,” said Mark D. Jordan, the R. R. Niebuhr professor at Harvard Divinity School, who has studied homosexuality in the Catholic priesthood. “Though it might get you people who lie or who are so confused they do not really know who they are.”
Bingo. And guess who those people are most likely to become?
Yep, you guessed it, PEDOPHILES.
Wake up, Bishops. You are STILL asleep at the switch. Perhaps the folks at the Dallas Charter might want to take some time to write a nice little op-ed here?
And since they haven’t answered that call, Fr Jim Martin has and has done so admirably here.