Monday, June 7, 2010

Absurdly Intrusive

I found a great article responding to the article on seminary screening I shared earlier:
Some may think it a matter of progress if the church is aware of danger coming from pedophiles in the ranks. And if tests become elaborate, to go beyond Father Toups’s educated hunches, so much the better. But read what applicants to the seminaries are going to be asked, and apply the same tests to a would-be medical student, or law student, or science professional, and it will be clear what absurdity the church has backed itself into.


Defenders of this program might say that it differs from the professional reviews required of doctors or lawyers because priests deal with intimate human needs. Doesn’t a doctor? Don’t lawyers, when they deal with sticky divorces or child custody issues? In the modern world, many people feel closer to their doctors or lawyers (or accountants) than to their priests.


You can be a good doctor or lawyer and be gay. You can be a good lawyer or doctor and be a woman. You can be a good lawyer or doctor and be married. But all such possibilities are ruled out for priests. Besides, there is nothing in being a lawyer or doctor (or scientists or engineer) that makes those callings especially attractive to single men or gay men.


Besides, Mark D. Jordan, the R. R. Niebuhr professor at Harvard’s Divinity School, says that the odds are that the new screening rules will be enforced, ridiculously, by men who are themselves gay.

What does it take to make the hierarchy see that its mandatory celibacy rule is self-destructive for the church? Vitello notes that “half of the nation’s seminaries have one or two new arrivals a year, and one-quarter get none.” That number is bound to be reduced even further by this new obstacle course. No self-respecting person aspiring to be a doctor or lawyer would put up with such absurdly intrusive questioning. Neither should anyone who thinks there is some remaining dignity to the priesthood.

"Neither should anyone who thinks there is some remaining dignity to the priesthood." Indeed. It's especially absurd for those of us who, frankly, could be doctors or lawyers and for whom the priesthood would be, in some sense, underemployment anyway.

But one gets the sense that a lack of self-respect is actually exactly what they're looking for in candidates for the priesthood (except they'll call it "humility" or "docility" and their pathological malleability and passivity will be extolled as "obedience"). This sort of intrusive (and absurdly naive) screening is part of the creepy culture that is scaring people away from the seminaries in the first place.

They've got three main criteria for acceptance...and they're all sexual: you must be a male, celibate, and straight. That should tell us pretty much everything we need to know about this institution.

It's funny how the beggars keep trying to be choosers. Having already narrowed the pool so much (and it's that second one, mandatory celibacy, that is really the limiting factor here), they will not be able to afford being any more picky in terms of competence, efficiency, leadership, or charisma among candidates. They're going to have to desperately take whomever they can get...and that's not exactly the recipe for a healthy or effective clergy.


sortacatholic said...

See my comments on Rev. Mr. Greg Kandra's blog at Beliefnet:

my handle here is 'praesta'

The post title is "The priest -- and his Mrs." Here Deacon Kandra discusses the ministry of a former Lutheran pastor and now married Catholic priest.

Towards the end I posted a long and rambling post in frustration. I've come to the following conclusion: some people enjoy the "priestly pedestal". They'd rather their priests resemble "asexual angels" and miniature lords of the manor rather than real, sinful, normal men.

We've been around this roundabout a billion times here at RT. The absurd new seminary screening criteria only enhances the need for optional celibacy. I've noticed that some Catholics greet each dysfunctional development in Orders with increasing conviction in clerical celibacy. Their conviction strengthens despite the glaring failures of the current formation system. I'm not sure why. Some fear that married priests will use contraception and divorce. Others maintain this candyland view of celibacy as this special charism that Holy Orders magically grants to all comers. I'd rather deal with contraception and divorce issues than sexually immature priests that groom children for rape. Hey, that's just me.

A Sinner said...

"I've noticed that some Catholics greet each dysfunctional development in Orders with increasing conviction in clerical celibacy."

It may be one of those things mentioned in the article on "No Organizations" I recommended at the beginning of the blog:

"They see every problem as a reason to justify their struggles not realizing they their worst enemy may, indeed, be themselves."

I think it's an effect called "attitude polarization" as the result of confirmation bias:

sortacatholic said...

I apologize for the strident tone of the first post. I also have my fair share of confirmation bias. and attitude polarization. I've certainly worn my biases on my sleeve.

I must remind myself that the last fifty years have been extremely turbulent for the Latin Church. What is needed reform for some is a further erosion of security for others. How many periti of the Council enthusiastically backed liturgical reform, only to witness the destruction of the ancient rite? How many devout couples have obeyed HV and welcomed a large family despite their wishes? Maybe a priest with a small family would scandalize some married faithful. I'm certain that any person of good will wants an end to child abuse. Still, others' fears must be respected even if they are incomprehensible to those on the other side of the ideological divide.

I need to chill. Maybe I should take some downtime in Helen Thomas's nursing home and play some Parcheesi. ;-)

A Sinner said...

I just don't see why a priest using contraception or divorcing matters. No one would have to know about the contraception, maybe he has a small family just because they don't do it much, or use NFP, or she is having fertility problems, or they got married later in life. This idea of a big family as obligatory is silly.

Divorce, well...that happens. It would be remarriage that would be the problem. But assuming that an annulment was required and obtained...I don't see the problem. Priests who remarry without one would be laicized as a matter of course.

Again, these sorts of objections that people raise show that they, basically, just want a facade. They want to be able to put on their rose-colored glasses and PRETEND everything is okay with a nice comforting image, even though plenty of priests are sexually active (at least with themselves)...