Dialogue 01

Sex in Seminaries

A currently active priest wrote about a 1976 summer renewal course:

“I attended a three-week special Vatican II oriented refresher short course in theology that was held for English Speaking priests at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Priests from all over attended. An outstanding theological faculty from all over the world provided the lectures. The moderator was   Canadian Jesuit Theologian, Father Bernard Lonergan, who was then teaching at Boston College.

Lonergan gave a lecture on the “Single Celibate.” He made the distinction between good, bad and indifferent acts differentiating between actus humanus, (a human act: that is an act of decision, whose source is in rational knowledge and free will.) and actus hominum (a human act that involuntarily occurs without responsibility; as a natural function).  At the end of the lecture we students understood that if we desired a healthy mental state, free of tension, and if having sexual relations was necessary for achieving that healthy mental state, we could choose the good, (i.e. the healthy mental state) and the act of sex would remain indifferent. But one couldn’t choose sex for its own sake, because in that circumstance sex would no longer be indifferent.”

The same priest reported that he observed priests in Rome having sex with each other in several venues including the religious house in which he was staying. He also reported that not one hand was raised when Lonergan asked how many of the priests in the audience had abided completely by their promise of celibacy.

John Shuster wrote from Seattle:

“I was ordained in 1979.  I lasted 4 years.  If I were a gay man, I would still be in.  Today I am gay-friendly, but very much aware of how gay politics has played a role in my religious life.  There is a definite system of gay patronage in the clergy.  Older influential priests help move younger gay men up the ladder in trade for companionship and intimacy.  I was invited into this system on a number of occasions.  The most surprising kiss I ever received was from a priest.  I guess I should be flattered that men as well as women found me attractive in my youth.  My wife and I have two sons that are grown and out of the house.  She and I work closely with the SNAP group here in Seattle.

It is my opinion that the priesthood has become a safe haven for a persecuted sexual minority in society.  Gay men have hidden in the priesthood for decades and have slowly networked and politicized their presence into a majority power block.  From my time hearing confessions in convents, I think the same dynamic has occurred simultaneously in the sisterhood.”

Comments on Sexual Orientation #4

A reader corrected me: Archbishop Eugene Morino of Atlanta died in 2000. He was listed among the living.

Sufficiently credibly observations have been reported to list Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Bishop Donald Wuerl (formerly of Pittsburg & currently of Washington DC) and Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles among the homosexually oriented hierarchy.

USCCB promulgated the 5th Edition of PROGRAM OF PRIESTLY FORMATION   on August 4th, 2006

The latest edition of the Bishops’ guidelines for the training of candidates for the priesthood relies heavily of Pope John Paul II and his 1992 instruction Pastores dabo vobis.

The document bases its structure on four principal foundational areas: human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation. It is a good schema and well thought out and articulated.

The glaring failure of the document is the assumption that the simple appointment of “trainers,” specifically vocation directors, confessors, spiritual directors, rectors and faculty will transmit the ideals and form the characters of the candidates.  The document fails to aver to the difficulty of finding personnel of sufficient merit and control to fulfill those responsibilities.

The history of seminaries is full of accounts of spiritual directors, faculty, and rectors who are themselves sexually active and many times with the students they are directing. This is not a minor problem. Vocation directors have among their corps a host of sexually active priests (often chosen for their physically attractiveness rather that their stability and virtue).

How long will it take for the Bishops start to deal with the sexual problems in seminaries and the ministry where they reside: With themselves and clergy in responsible positions? What will it take? Do they have to be named? Do they have to be sued for harassment, rape, and worse?

If Bishops do not address this reality it will be taken out of their hands.

Posted:  2006-09-02

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