Sunday, January 5, 2014

Pope calls for stricter and better seminary training

Pope Francis gestures as he arrives for a meeting with superiors of men's religious orders at the Vatican Nov. 29. During the meeting, the pope ordered the revision of norms on the relations between religious orders and local bishops. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano)
This is the photo of the meeting of religious superiors.

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis has warned that priests can become "little monsters" if they aren't trained properly as seminarians, saying their time studying must be used to mold their hearts as well as their minds.  [We'll learn later on what this training means.]

Francis also warned against accepting men for the priesthood who may have been implicated in sexual abuse or other problems, saying the protection of the Catholic faithful is most important.  [Unfortunately, there is no system in place to check on these men.]

The pontiff made the comments Nov. 29 during a closed-door meeting of 120 superiors of religious orders who gathered at the Vatican for their regular assembly. On Friday, the Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica provided a report of the three-hour, informal question and answer session. The Vatican never provided a transcript of the meeting.  [If it is the Jesuit paper that published the Jesuit pope's comments, then we can trust it right?]

The magazine, which interviewed Francis last year, quoted the first Jesuit pope as telling the superiors he wants them to "wake up the world" with their work, particularly with the poor.

"Truly to understand reality we need to move away from the central position of calmness and peacefulness and direct ourselves to the peripheral areas," he said.  [FYI, this is what most liberation theologians call the evangelization of the margins.]

Francis, who headed the Jesuits' novice training program in his native Argentina in the 1970s, also warned the superiors of some of the failings of seminary training, or "formation," such as when would-be priests merely "grit their teeth, try not to make mistakes, follow the rules smiling a lot, just waiting for the day when they are told 'Good, you have finished formation."  [OH!  This is the advice we tell traditionalist seminarians who might be targetted by their superiors!  Ha!]

"This is hypocrisy that is the result of clericalism, which is one of the worst evils," Francis was quoted as saying, returning to the issue of clericalism — or a certain cronyism and careerism among the men of the cloth — that he has frequently criticized.  [I know one!  Newly ordained!  His ordination picture splashed over the archdiocese's website...suddenly made personal secretary...acts as IF he is already the know this one do you?  RM]

The training of priests, he said, must be a "work of art, not a police action."  [It must be the work of God.  Christ was the first formator and he formed and trained the apostles.]

"We must form their hearts. Otherwise we are creating little monsters. And then these little monsters mold the people of God. This really gives me goose bumps," he was quoted as saying.

Francis has spoken on several occasions about life in religious orders — the good and the bad — and hasn't shied from offering his own personal experiences when speaking with groups of nuns and priests. The former Jorge Mario Bergoglio was only 36 when he was made superior of the Jesuits in Argentina in 1973, during a particularly turbulent time for the order in general and Argentina in particular.  [Ah!!!  The turbulent 70s.  How liberation theology screwed the Church!  Very vivid memories of these years.  Imagine attending a Mass that looks more like a gathering of the Communists rather than a Catholic Mass.  Complete with red vestments even if the Mass was not for a martyr or the Holy Spirit, with one act plays for a sermon about tortures, justice, blah blah blah...Ah! Glad those days are over....are they?]

In his remarks to the superiors, Francis flagged as a risk the "huge problem" of accepting into the seminary someone who has already been asked to leave another religious institute, and cited Pope Benedict XVI's tough line on priests who commit sexual abuse.  [Hmmm...I know a lot of these 'men'.  Even a priest!]

"I am not speaking about people who recognize that they are sinners: we are all sinners, but we are all not corrupt," Francis said. "Sinners are accepted, but not people who are corrupt."  [And this includes....never mind.]

The Civilta Cattolica report didn't elaborate on Francis' comments, or on how "huge" a problem this was. The priestly sexual abuse scandal has mostly concerned abusive priests who were transferred from parish to parish, not problem seminarians who were kicked out of one institute only to be picked up again by another.  [because they are protected by these problem priests.  Ever heard of the Gay Lobby in seminaries or of the Married Clergy lobby in the Chancery?  Yes.  They exist.  Good thing Carlos Celdran did not get hold of this one.  Imagine what she held.  Ha!]

He told the superiors that conflicts within religious communities are inevitable but that problems between religious orders and bishops in dioceses where orders operate must be worked out. Francis tasked the Vatican's department for religious congregations to revise a document on the relationship between religious communities and dioceses.  [Will the bishop of Cubao be able to do something against Ateneo and MST?  ABANGAN!!!]

The interview was released on the same day that Francis celebrated Mass with some 350 of his Jesuit colleagues at the main Jesuit church in Rome to celebrate his recent decree naming the order's first recruit, Pierre Favre, a saint. During his homily, Francis told his fellow Jesuits to use mercy, not morality, when they preach.  [Not morality?  Poor Fr. Pavone...Poor Archbishop Oscar Cruz... Poor Archbishop Soc Villegas...  Christ preached about the morality of marriage.  So when this Gospel comes up on a given Sunday, what would the Jesuits say?  "Let's go to this wonderful island resort!"]

"The temptation, that maybe many of us experience, and many other people have comes to mind; that of linking the proclamation of the Gospel with inquisitorial beatings of condemnation. No, the Gospel is preached gently, fraternally, with love," he said.


I agree with the pope that the Gospel must be preached gently, fraternally, with love, but we must also remember that Christ reminded the Apostles that they must "shake off the dust from their sandals" for those who would refuse to hear the Gospel.

Mercy is shown to the merciful and to those who desire them.  Justice is meted out to the unmerciful.

And that includes those who hop from one seminary to the next.

And careerists of the cloth...

I have tons of stories about monsignori and how they got their titles...

But that is another story.

What we are after is how will the episcopal conferences and individual bishops implement the reforms in seminary training called for by the Holy Father.

Will the CBCP have a database of those who entered the seminary?

Will the CBCP have a database of problem clergy?

Will the CBCP even seriously consider the recommendations of the Holy Father?

He is not Time Man of the Year for nothing, no?

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