Archive for the ‘priests’ Category

Due To Sex Scandal; Future Candidates for Catholic Priest Must Meet These Psychological Screening Guidelines

October 31, 2008

The Vatican issued new psychological screening guidelines for seminarians Thursday — the latest effort by the Roman Catholic Church to be more selective about its priesthood candidates following a series of sex abuse scandals.

The church said it issued the new guidelines to help church leaders weed out candidates with “psychopathic disturbances.” The scandals have rocked the church in recent years, triggering lawsuits that have cost hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements.

Three priests cross St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, in this ... 
Three priests cross St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, in this
Oct. 18, 2002 file photo.
(AP Photo/Luciano Del Castillo)

“(The guidelines) became ever more urgent because of the sexual scandals,” Monsignor Jean-Louis Brugues told reporters. He stressed, however, that psychological testing was used in some seminaries as far back as the 1960s — or at least a decade before the sexual abuse scandals exploded in public.

“In all too many cases, psychological defects, sometimes of a pathological kind, reveal themselves only after ordination to the priesthood,” the guidelines said. “Detecting defects earlier would help avoid many tragic experiences.”

The guidelines said problems like “confused or not yet well-defined” sexual identities need to be addressed.

The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests said the Vatican needs to go beyond screening seminarians to end what the group calls the church’s “virtually unchanged culture of secrecy and unchecked power in the hierarchy” that left dangerous priests in parishes.

“Every barrel will always have some bad apples,” the Survivors Network said. “Real change requires effectively reforming the barrel and those who oversee it.”

Vatican officials conducted an evaluation of U.S. Roman Catholic seminaries in response to the abuse crisis to look for anything that contributed to the scandal. The evaluation was completed in July of 2006, but the results have not been made public.

The bishops and seminary staff who conducted the onsite reviews gave special attention to what seminarians are taught about chastity and celibacy. The Vatican also directed the evaluators to look for “evidence of homosexuality” in the schools.

Studies commissioned by the bishops’ conference have found that the majority of known victims of abuse by priests in the last 50 years were adolescent boys. In response, some Catholics have blamed gay clergy for the scandal; experts on sex offenders contend homosexuals are no more likely than heterosexuals to molest children.

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Future Candidates for Catholic Priesthood to Undergo Psychological Tests

October 30, 2008

Candidates for the Catholic priesthood should undergo psychological tests to screen out heterosexuals unable to control their sexual urges and men with strong homosexual tendencies, the Vatican said on Thursday.

In a new document — the second in three years to deal with the effects of a sexual abuse scandal that rocked the Church six years ago — the Vatican said the early detection of “sometimes pathological” psychological defects in men before they become priests would help avoid tragic consequences.

By Philip Pullella, Reuters

Seminary rectors and other officials should use outside experts if they cannot handle the screening themselves, it said.

Petersdom von Engelsburg gesehen.jpg

“The Church … has a duty of discerning a vocation and the suitability of candidates for the priestly ministry,” said the document from the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education.

“The priestly ministry … requires certain abilities as well as moral and theological virtues, which are supported by a human and psychic — and particularly affective — equilibrium, so as to allow the subject to be adequately predisposed for giving of himself in the celibate life,” it said.

Vatican officials told a news conference the tests would not be obligatory but decided on a case-by-case basis when seminary rectors wanted to be sure a man was qualified for the priesthood.

The testing by a psychologist or psychotherapist should aim to detect “grave immaturity” and imbalances in the candidates’ personality.

“Such areas of immaturity would include strong affective dependencies; notable lack of freedom in relations; excessive rigidity of character; lack of loyalty; uncertain sexual identity; deep-seated homosexual tendencies, etc. If this should be the case, the path of formation will have to be interrupted,” the document said.

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Vietnamese Demand Return of Seized property

January 6, 2008
by Frank Zeller

HANOI (AFP) – Hundreds of Vietnamese Catholic Christians held prayer vigils in the capital at the weekend, the latest in a series asking for the return of church land seized by the communists half a century ago.

Vietnamese Catholic Christians sing and pray for the return ...
Vietnamese Catholics sing and pray for the return of church land in Hanoi, taken by communist authorities half a century ago, in the latest of a string of such meetings, on January 5.(AFP/Frank Zeller)

Priests and Catholic followers lit candles, placed flowers and sang at the iron fence around a property near Hanoi‘s central St Joseph’s Cathedral after Saturday prayers and Sunday masses.

They say the large French-colonial villa and the 1.1 hectares (2.7 acre) it sits on are the former office of the Vatican‘s delegate to Hanoi, confiscated by the state when he was expelled in the late 1950s.

Hanoi authorities have kept the building intact but used it as a sometime discotheque while local officials have also used the garden area, shaded by an enormous banyan tree, as a motorcycle carpark, the Christians say.

“It’s the land and the property of the church. We have the certificate of ownership of the property since 1933,” one priest from the Hanoi archdiocese told AFP, speaking on condition he not be named.

Catholics are now hopeful the dispute will be resolved after Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung met Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet during a prayer meeting with thousands of followers in late December, pledging to consider the issue.

Vietnam, a former French colony and a unified, communist country since the war ended in 1975, has Southeast Asia’s largest Catholic community after the Philippines — about six million out of a population of 84 million.

Its officially atheist communist rulers have long worried that religious groups, both Christian and Buddhist, could undermine their authority, but conditions have improved, especially for Catholics, in recent years.

While all religious activity remains under state control, the government started a dialogue with Catholics in the 1990s which led to a milestone visit to the Vatican almost a year ago by Prime Minister Dung.

Hanoi had tense relations with pope John Paul II, deemed a contributor to the defeat of Soviet communism, but congratulated his successor Benedict XVI soon after he became pontiff in 2005, saying it wanted closer relations.

Christian festivals such as Christmas have become popular, with thousands of followers and curious now crowding Vietnam’s cathedrals and churches.

Still, religious issues remain sensitive, and the state-controlled media has refrained from covering the mass prayer meetings.

Undercover police have milled in the crowds, taking video and photographs, the priest said.

“Some Catholic followers were questioned by security officials, and some say they were pressured not to attend the prayers,” said the priest, who stressed he was not speaking on behalf of the Catholic church.

Asked how he rated religious freedom in Vietnam, the priest said Catholics still cannot study to become diplomats or police officers, and that the church remains barred from operating its own newspapers, schools and hospitals.