Sunday, December 30, 2012

Mentoring Seminarians And Hidden Agendas

I can't help but wonder how many of these seminarians will carry on in the long 'tradition' of mentoring. Not all of them will have the very subjective criteria that seems to attract a mentor.

There have been a lot of loose ends floating around in my head that have bothered me lately.  I felt as if there was some big connection amongst all those threads that I was just missing completely.  Two of those threads were Pope Benedict's need to conflate gay marriage with what ever ailed society and his promotion of Georg Ganswein to Archbishop with the additional title of Prefect of the Pontifical Household.  This is in addition to his first secretary duties.  Georg now has a lot of power.

I've written in the past that one of the problems with the clerical system is this form of 'mentoring'.  That is when an older cleric higher up the food chain takes on a younger man and keeps him at hand as they move up the ladder together.  On his website Richard Sipe makes the point the younger man is usually very good looking and selected for those reasons. It has proven to be the most secure way to procure personal advancement.  This is not to say that these relationships all involve a sexual content because they don't.  Many of them are more akin to father/son as I'm sure the one between Pope Benedict and Ganswein actually is.  I'm am sure of that for a number of reasons, not the least of which is if I personally were going to pick a son to mentor, I certainly wouldn't have rejected Georg Ganswein. Nothing subjective in that. LOL

Unfortunately there are too many of these relationships which do come with sexual activity.  Sipe uses Cardinal McCarrick as one case study. In this case there were known and proven accusations against McCarrick which didn't preclude 'Uncle Ted's' advancement up the curial ladder. This was similar to the treatment meted out to Cardinal Groer and Maciel Marciel whose known penchant for sexually grooming seminarians was ignored by both Cardinal Ratzinger and JPII. That is, until the outcry was such it could no longer be ignored. For whatever reason, McCarrick, like a host of other bishops, has been immune from any sanctions.  One of those others is San Diego's Bishop Robert Brom.  It was in reading his story on Sipe's website that some threads began to form a pattern and that pattern points to very powerful American cardinals doing many questionable things in order to keep a lid on this entire system of 'grooming and mentoring'.  What makes it even more interesting is that many of these players are actively involved in all the gay bashing.  

For instance, AB Sal Cordileone served as Brom's secretary, tribunal judge and adjunct judicial vicar. He received his episcopal consecration from Brom who was assisted by the then Archbishop Raymond Burke. Cordileone then served as an Auxiliary in San Diego before moving to Oakland and now San Francisco. Technically AB Sal has surpassed his mentor, but Sal only has an official DUI on his record while his mentor has a host of issues on his.

As Cordileone demonstrated in the Prop 8 campaign these men are willing to fight dirty. His mentor doesn't  play nice either. Brom has had a priest adversary laicized for what the priest claims were phoney charges and for which he could never defend himself with the CDF--a CDF then under Cardinal Ratzinger. This story is part of a series of articles Richard Sipe has in his report on Brom.  Maybe more interesting is that Brom has also put a priest convicted of a sexual abuse charge with a young adult woman back into ministry within months of his conviction.  Then Brom, along with Burke, are reputed to be the main reason the University of San Diego's president Mary Lyons was forced into the untenable position of revoking the fellowship of British theologian Tina Beattie for Beattie's mild statement endorsing civil gay marriage.  A move which resulted in the University's faculty senate voting to rebuke her.  

I just can't help but wonder why heterosexual activity, even criminal heterosexual activity, is shrugged off, but anything remotely gay is squashed pronto.  The more I looked into the circle of priests Brom was connected with the more mind numbing it all became.  Too many of them were accused, like Brom, of sexual activity with seminarians or young boys.  The connections went from Springfield IL, to Winona MN, to San Diego CA, and involved multiple American Cardinals and bishops, progressives as well as conservatives. Too many then turn out to be overt gay bashers.

It all makes me wonder how long these guys, including the ones in Rome, think this strategy of gay bashing to mask gay activity is going to last? I have no doubt they are all thankful that Pope Benedict is exactly where he is because the CDF under Ratzinger pursued none of these offenders and he hasn't while in office as pope.  Which leads me to wonder if it isn't somehow the presence of Georg himself that stops him from acting on Bishops like Brom or Cardinals like McCarrick.  In any case, this whole closed 'mentoring' system needs to go.  Anytime an organization promotes through this kind of subjective mentoring process it's lethal for the health of the organization.  In the case of the Church in the West, it's just another loop in the noose around the neck of Holy 'Mother' Church.



  1. As a former Seminarian and one who has spent over 16 years studying in Roman Catholic Institution, I pity these naive lambs. Either they will agonize their decision to join this cult or worse yet they will not grow out of it! dennis

    1. I have great sympathy for these young men because some of them will be destroyed by the system. I remember my daughter telling me about one young man in the seminary program here when Morlino was bishop. She would get so frustrated with him because he was such a lock step 'uber Catholic'. She used to tweak him all the time in theology classes. He was convinced he was going to be a priest for the ages. Anyway a few years later she runs into him a local bar and is shocked to see him completely blitzed. It turns out he had been kicked out of the seminary for 'being too overtly gay'. She really worried whether he would ever be able to put his life together because he freely admitted this was a nightly occurrence for him.

  2. They will all grow up into fine puppets of the institutional Church.

    1. I would hope less than half of them because a successful candidate can't afford to grow up.

  3. I finished theology studies at a Roman Catholic seminary in Oregon and was ready to be ordained but said no. The church was better then, fresh after Vatican II. The church was really pastoral and encouraged theologians to stretch their thanking. Seminarians are so conservative now, much like the Society of Pope Pius X. If you were gay, that was ok, just don't get in bed with someone or in someone.

  4. "I just can't help but wonder why heterosexual activity, even criminal heterosexual activity, is shrugged off, but anything remotely gay is squashed pronto."

    ## In an article on the the Daily Telegraph site Damian Thompson writes:

    "Rome (and I'm speaking of its curia rather than the person of Benedict XVI) is absolutely paranoid about homosexuality: it's partly an Italian thing, partly a reflection of the enormous number of closet cases in the Vatican and partly a reaction to the shocking crimes against young people committed by certain gay priests."

    I suspect that the distaste for "homosexuality", if one must call it that ("being gay" is a much better term, because it doesn't emphasise the s-word)is based to some degree on the notion of sex as "dirty", and therefore, as causing cultic impurity. This is a very ancient idea, taken over into the Torah by the Jews, which the NT shows Jesus as being very relaxed about: He mingles with a woman who had gonorrhea or something similar, & with prostitutes, & people like that. This old idea about sex, and thus about semen and other sexually-related discharges, is also related to procreation and not spilling seed deliberately as in Gen. 38. The CC retained (because of some of its Jewish members ?) or went back to, the old idea of cultic purity - whereas Jesus, like the Prophets, emphasised ethics & inward purity. The Church was traumatised by its contest in the second & third centuries with Gnosticism - which was strongly anti-material and no friend of the body at all. So if sex is "unclean", gay sex and the gay identity are even more so. STM it must be very difficult for Church authorities to cope with all this.

    So the answer to the question has many strands, and goes back deep into the past. That's my go at it anyway. Self-denial is one thing - requiring people to live a lie, and especially to do so from fear of discovery, is something else entirely. Living a lie is pernicious.

    "If you were gay, that was ok, just don't get in bed with someone or in someone."

    ## That relaxed attitude sounds just right. The crazy thing is, that those who are gay already know that it's OK and no big deal - the trouble is that the teaching Church is lagging behind, seeing a problem which is to some extent of its own making.

    1. I can remember that with in hours of the Boston scandal my friend who was a semi out gay priest was terrified the whole crisis would be blamed on gay priests. I was quite frankly surprised he would say that, celibacy being celibacy for either orientation, and asked him if he wasn't being paranoid. He told me I didn't get the system at all. That it was the most perverted form of gay life possible and because so many hierarchy were closeted and active, or utterly in denial, they would strike out at other gay priests to protect their precious closet.

      Needless to say I was stunned with how prophetic he turned out to be

  5. What can one say ? That is just dreadful, from just about every possible angle. Have you any info on well - or badly - Catholic Churches not in union with Rome cope with gay priests ? If the independent Catholic Churches, or any of them, welcome gay priests, *and* don't have any notable problems with them, that would be worth knowing. The CC might learn a lot by not looking only at its own life; by looking outside, at comparable groups.

    ISTM that it has, at least corporately, great difficulty accepting that gay people are fully, genuinely human, and not subhuman monsters. I fear it may have several problems of this kind, or be working through several such problems like this: it could never have treated the Jews as it did, had it been convinced of their essential humanity. If we demonise people, ISTM we are not taking them seriously as humans like ourselves. I know I'm guilty of this - I'm in *no* position to throw stones. I do think this a genuine problem for many in the Church. And if we demonise people, there is the danger that we shall hate them not because they hurt us, but because we are hurting them. ISTM that kink in the human psyche deserves more attention than it gets. If people really love gay people as they sometimes claim they do, it would show as love - it would be so luminously self-evident as to be all but undeniable.

    What is so alarming in the anecdote you tell is that people have to be afraid and to live a lie and be concealed and not be open with others. How can there be love, without openness, and with fear and dishonesty ? If seminarians have to live like that, STM that it will need a series of miracles for them not to be perverted (one uses the word deliberately) by doing so. Deeply-wounded people can be a great help to others who are wounded, but that is no reason to wound people.

  6. I can't stress enough how important it is to accept and integrate one's sexuality. I don't mean this is just some sort of gay issue either. Many sexually abused people have this exact same issue. Many women, especially women raised in conservative religious cultures, also experience difficulty acknowledging their sexuality and integrating it in a positive and wholesome way.

    We need to teach sexual touch very differently than we do now. It isn't just a function of biology, nor is it a 'dirty' bestial impulse we need to control. In some pretty fundamental respects, it's the reason we are all here. We really do need to focus more on the process and less on the end products.