The Catholic Church’s US seminaries need reform

Religion News Service | 2/12/2019 | Staff
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(RNS) — No one has a greater impact on a Catholic parish than its pastor, which is why diocesan seminaries are key to the future of the church in America. Diocesan seminaries evaluate and then form those men who want to be parish priests. Sadly, in recent decades, too many of the priests coming out of these seminaries have been trained to be authoritarians with few pastoral skills.

Some of them come to seminary with an authoritarian mindset, but faculty at today’s seminaries often do little to change that. Some faculty members even foster it, teaching their students that they have all the answers and that their job is to kick the laity into shape. In these cases, seminarians are not taught to listen, to delegate, to work with committees or to empower the laity, especially women.

Seminaries - Seminarians - Chicago - Mundelein - Seminary

This is not true of all seminaries and seminarians. Chicago’s Mundelein Seminary has improved under the leadership of Cardinal Blase Cupich. Some are mixed bags. Others are disaster areas.

In the worst programs, students are told not to ask questions but to consult “The Catechism of the Catholic Church,” the book-length presentation of the teachings of the church prepared under the papacy of John Paul II. The documents of the Second Vatican Council are either downplayed or interpreted through a conservative lens. In too many places by too many faculty, moral theology is presented in a legalistic framework in which everything is black or white.

Seminaries - Mid-1990s - Bishops - Control - Seminaries

This has been going on in American seminaries since at least the mid-1990s, after conservative bishops had consolidated their control of seminaries. The result is that many parishioners are unhappy with their pastors.

Seminaries were one of the great reforms that came out of the Council of Trent, the long meeting of the church in the mid-1500s spurred by the Protestant Reformation. Until...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Religion News Service
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