04 January 2006

The National Catholic Reporter’s John L. Allen, Jr., looks into the ongoing apostolic visitation of American seminaries, a Vatican order that coincides with its recent ruling against gay priests, and finds that most host seminaries found the one-week visits to focus less on rooting out gay seminarians than on issues of moral theology, specifically relativism, subjectivism, the church’s relationship to culture, and fidelity to church doctrine. Though only one seminary reported that the visiting delegations had questioned seminarians about their sexual practices, most non-bishop visitors were conservatives, and no faculty from liberal or Jesuit institutions were among the visitors. So, more than the occasional questions about masturbation, or the consideration, by many seminaries, of using psychological testing and admissions material as part of a process to root out possible pedophiles, several seminaries noted that the visitation seems intended to reinforce doctrinal orthodoxy among students and professors — an aim that former seminary rector Fr. Donald Cozzens warned could be intellectually compromising, turning the seminaries into “‘graduate schools of apologetics.’”