In 2005-2006, the Congregation for Catholic Education conducted an Apostolic visitation of all the seminaries and houses of formation which prepare men for the sacrament of Holy Orders. The visitation was coordinated by Baltimore Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, a veteran seminary rector. The Congregation’s document is signed by Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, the Prefect and Archbishop Jean-Louis Bruguès, O.P. the under-secretary.
Cardinal O’Malley notes in his letter to the US bishops that, in general, the report is positive, healthy but indicates the holes in the formation programs, namely:
– Mariology and Patristics;
– a commitment to sentire cum Ecclesia in the area of moral theology, particularly homosexual behavior;
– need for continued vigilance toward matters of the internal forum;
– that there be a greater collaboration between bishops and rectors to ensure consistency of formation for seminarians during times of vacation (what do seminarians do when they aren’t in school or being supervised?);
– that Mass be celebrated every day in the seminary, including Sunday;
– that only priest personnel vote for the advancement of candidates;
– that there be a check for irregularities the program;
– and to know and deal with the impediments candidates may have incurred at the start of formation.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s letter to the US bishops
The Final Report from the Congregation
NO formation program of priestly formation is perfect. As is all reports there are some items that never surface with honesty: prayer life, assent to
what the Gospel teaches, assent to magisterial teaching on all matters, sexuality, service to those in need, healthy interpersonal relationships with men, women and consecrated religious. Though I can’t say with certainty that the interviews were dishonest I can say that there is a certain amount of non-disclosure based on the context of the seminarians and faculty and who made up the visitation committee. Not all committees were equal. Plus, the bishop with a seminary in his diocese had an opportunity to dispute what was written in the report. Some things can be rewritten. What I am also interested in are the names of the seminaries and formation houses who are doing the good work and those who need to revamp their programs. In all of this review and hype about programs, we need to keep one cnetral fact straight: keep the focus on Jesus Christ crucified and risen. Without Christ, what’s point?