Screening Applicants is at best a Partial Solution

Mount Saint Mary’s is screening applicants to the seminary.

Problems with this approach:
1. The screening is largely based on secular ideas, secular psychological testings. I wonder how many Saints who were wonderful priests would be screened out because holiness does not register as normal on a secular test. Sure, psych testing can identify the truly mentally disturbed, some of the time. But it will not identify more than a small fraction of potential abusers.

2. Some persons do not become sexual predators until AFTER they become priests. There are no signs to look for when they apply to the seminary. If you put a thousand men in a position of power, where they will be viewed as holy and above reproach no matter how they behave in private, some men will go astray into various types of grave hidden sins. Screening does not fix this problem.

We need to have a different CULTURE in the priesthood, so that priests are not assumed to be holy or above reproach. We seem to be moving in that direction, in public discussions. But in small parishes, the priest is still above reproach.

3. You can end up screening out conservative men and screening in liberals, if the person in charge of screening have a bias — or vice versa. I don’t believe that only conservative men should be priests. So much of the time, the screening serves a political-religious purpose. This is described well in “Good-bye Good Men” by Michael Rose.

4. Too much screening and scrutiny drives men away from the priesthood. It is terrible to treat these men constantly as if they might be abusers or future abusers.

5. Are we accusing some men of future crimes by means of this screening? How is that fair?

Screening is necessary, but it can so easily cause more harm than good.

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3 Responses to Screening Applicants is at best a Partial Solution

  1. Alex says:

    It is an absurd. No one is guilty in advance. What does it mean “potential predators”? Maybe something like, never been with a woman, or what? A modern witch hunt, that’s it. If that will be the trend of the Church priestly selection from now on, it will be worse than before the sex scandals. Because 95% of the priests selected back then, were innocent and serving God and the faithful quite good. And as we read, sexual offenders are everywhere, among school and scout leaders even in bigger percentage.

    I hope the Vatican will come out with something New and Soon. Far not only for the sexual crisis. The reform is dragging feet. It is nowhere near to what was expected in 2013. The pope alone cannot do much. He needs full support, including support of ideas.

    What you Ron are doing here, is a good example. Maybe the Vatican should make one big forum platform, moderated. To hear ideas from those who are outside the circle of elected ones. Try for example to find the pope’s email in the Vatican site, and you will end up with the email of the Vatican museums, that will never answer you of course. Pope Francis is literally blocked by too much bureaucracy. I hope and pray he will find strength at his senior age to go forward with his heavy cross.

  2. erm6 says:

    Hi Ron,

    I’ve often read you stating, “the abuse crisis is not caused by a network of homosexuals” or other similar words. Most recently here:

    I also recall you several times mentioning the book Goodbye, Good Men. I haven’t read it yet, but you’re getting me interested in it.

    But one thing puzzles me. I have a past impression (perhaps from something that somebody else said) that Goodbye, Good Men does not accord with your statement, “the abuse crisis is not caused by a network of homosexuals”

    The Amazon page for GBGM confirms my confusion: “How did the American Catholic priesthood go from an image of wise, strong men… to an image of “pedophile priests”?”

    May you please clear this up for me, Ron. Maybe you interpret GBGM in a different way than some other fans of the book. Or maybe you agree with portions of this book, while disagreeing with other portions.

    • Ron Conte says:

      I read it quite a while ago. I don’t recall the book asserting a homosexual network. If it does, I disagree. There are gay persons in the leadership. I don’t think they are all working together. And many of the persons doing harm to the Church are not gay.

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