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.