Vatican Says Gay Seminary Problem Overcome. Mostly.

A few years ago the book, Goodbye, Good Men, stunned the Catholic world by letting everyone in on a secret that priests and seminarians already knew: many Catholic seminaries were “pink palaces,” recruiting grounds for a homosexual network. Faculty were involved with each other and with their students; students preyed upon weaker students. You survived seminary, and entered the priesthood, by joining or by staying silent. Those who protested were often forced out for being “rigid.”

In the wake of the sexual abuse scandal (and more stories of cover up), the Vatican vowed an investigation of seminaries. NCR reports on the outcome; the Vatican says the problem has been overcome at diocesan run seminaries. Seminaries run by religious orders still have some problems.

The church investigators “were obliged to point out the difficulties, in the area of morality, that some seminaries had suffered in the past decades,” the report says. “Usually, but not exclusively, this meant homosexual behavior.”

The report then says that “in almost all the institutes where such problems existed, the appointment of better superiors (especially rectors) has ensured that such difficulties have been overcome.”

But in schools run by religious orders, which operate largely out of the control of U.S. bishops, “ambiguity vis-à-vis homosexuality persists,” the investigators reported.

“Laxity of discipline,” unmonitored off-campus trips and use of the Internet were additional concerns, according to the report.

In addition, the declining number of applicants for the priesthood poses a problem, the reviewers said. “Clearly, in some places, lack of vocations has caused some lowering of standards. Such a strategy risks possible wretched consequences.”

The report is on-line.

5 thoughts on “Vatican Says Gay Seminary Problem Overcome. Mostly.

  1. Is there a relative number to define the “many” pink palaces? Bill, how pervasive do you think the problem is? I came across a similar local critique of the Greek Orthodox seminary when I visited Romanian. Orthodox priest marry and to facilitate that, nunneries are provided, or so I was told . But the local knowledge said their seminaries also had a strong, hidden homosexual community.

    • The problem was worst in the late 70s and early 80s. I think Goodbye, Good Men was the best accounting to date, but it wasn’t able to approach anything like a quantitative analysis. St. Mary’s in Houston was pretty bad at one time. Mundelein was notorious, as was St. Mary’s in Baltimore and Theological College at CUA. The worst was probably St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, CA.

  2. Letter to the Editor of the Washington Post

    Regarding Rachel Zoll’s article, “Vatican: Gay `behavior’ in seminaries declines,” (01/15/2009):

    One hopes that this is not yet another attempt by the hierarchy to blame those in the priesthood with a homosexual orientation for their own failures in adequately handling the widespread problem of sexual abuse in the church whether one confines that problem to the sexual abuse of children specifically or whether one includes younger adults, male or female or other vulnerable persons.

    Even the use of such phrases as, “difficulties in the area of morality,” appear to be purposefully misleading.

    Rape, sodomy, and molestation are acts peculiar to sexual predators who may be heterosexual or homosexual, celibate or not.

    The “scandal” that individuals refer to happened because those members of the hierarchy who were in charge did not do what they should have done when they became aware of sexual abusive clergy whatever their sexual orientation.

    The clarity of that fact is well represented in any number of civil or juridical investigations and grand jury reports. The facts show that the church’s own Canon Law in this regard was not observed the way it should have been.

    It is sad to have to say that reports from across the country indicate that various kinds of cover up continue to this day. Bishops still refuse to release records even after being so ordered by the courts and they still refuse to make known the names and locations of all known sexual predators in their dioceses.

    Recently, in Delaware there have been attempts to seal all proceedings of upcoming trails to keep the public in the dark as to what has happened.

    Lawyers representing the Church and religious orders are even attempting to seal previously unsealed records.

    This does not speak well to the accountability and transparency the institutional Catholic Church promised in 2002.

    Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
    Victims’ Advocate
    New Castle,

  3. While going to college in Houston, I always heard University of St. Thomas had the reputation of being a highly gay campus. Some of the stories I heard from people who visited the campus were disturbing.

  4. Not that I’m totally impressed, but this is a lot more than I expected for when I found a link on SU telling that the info here is quite decent. Thanks.

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