Seminarians in house dress taking a stroll in front of St. Peter’s in Rome……..

Over coffee last week, I had a long chat with a bright and outgoing young seminarian who will be ordained in July. He is dedicated and intelligent. He has a quick smile and is a handsomely athletic young man. And he is totally committed and obedient to whatever requests the Church will make of him.

Future bishop material? Perhaps.…he IS held in VERY high regard by his bishop and is VERY obedient and VERY conservative in a nineteenth century sort of way.

I told Jim (not his real name of course) that I had just written a letter to Fr. Edward Dougherty, Maryknoll Superior, to protest the planned expulsion from Maryknoll of Fr. Roy Bourgeois  and his forced laicization.

Father Roy Bourgeois….

Seminarian Jim was dumbfounded and very surprised that I would defend Roy Bourgeois:  a “dissident and heretical priest.” In fact he launched into a little tirade against all people who support  (in his words) the “pseudo-ordination” of women.

Before I could get a word in, Jim then stressed how delighted he was that our American bishops are once again “showing some muscle.”

Jim, adjusting his Roman collar,  meant of course Cardinal Donald Wuerl and the USCCB’s condemnation of Sister Elizabeth Johnson’s book:  Quest for the Living God. Our bishops with muscle have banned the book because it opposes “authentic Catholic teaching.”

Time ran out. Jim had to get to class. I had to get an aspirin, for a major theological headache………………….

The Vatican has great plans for today’s seminarians. In coming months we can expect to see a new  mandate from Pope Benedict (or the appropriate papal mouthpiece) that all seminarians be trained in Latin so that they can celebrate the Latin Mass of the Council of Trent. And, certainly to the delight of today’s seminarians who love old-style clerical threads, the word coming from Rome is that the Vatican will re-emphasize the importance of “traditional” clerical dress for priests and the “traditional” ornate dress for bishops…… But for now back to heresy!

Sorry to say, there are a lot of Jims in today’s church. I don’t know what happened to them in their seminary programs, but they all need remedial theological education…..along with their bishops 🙂

For the record………………

Father Roy Bourgeois has publicly supported women’s ordination. And there is every good reason why he should and no good reasons why he should not. Jesus’ early disciples were men AND women. Jesus did not ordain anyone! Ordination was a later creation of the early church. Before ordained ministers, the people who presided at Eucharist were the heads of households. We know that men AND women were such heads of households. And we know today that there is a long tradition of women being ordained in the Church right up through the Middle Ages.

AND……What did Cardinal Wuerl and his episcopal colleagues find so problematic with Elizabeth Johnson’s book?

(1) In our contemporary secularized world, Johnson says, we need to think about God and talk about God in contemporary and not medieval language and thought categories.

(2) Johnson reminds us that all of our names for God are metaphors. I would say: but of course! All of my affectionate names for my wife are metaphors as well! We use special language for those whom we love…..More poetic but certainly appropriate.

(3) Cardinal Wuerl was particularly bothered that Johnson wrote that God suffers along with us when we suffer. I guess he forgot that Jesus – Son of God, God from God — suffered under Pontius Pilate…..

(4) Johnson writes that God is present in all religions. Vatican II said that as well. Maybe some US bishops don’t. WHO then is the deviant Catholic?

(5) But perhaps what really rattles Cardinal Wuerl is that Sister Elizabeth challenges the old boys club’s hang up that GOD HAS TO BE A GUY.!

Cardinal Wuerl

Not Cardinal Wuerl


4 thoughts on “Today’s Seminarians: Tomorrow’s Pastors and Bishops

  1. What a sad day for the chruch – today and down the road with these Romanized future clerics. They need to study and medoitate on the documents of Vatican II.

    The treatment of Father Roy is vindictive and I am sure the superior of Maryknoll had to hold his nose as he went about this terrible task that was laid upon him. His was not an enviable position.

    I am sorry for Maryknoll too – beloved by so many. After we are all dead and gone and, if our church survives, it will be because of the ministry of married men and women who were allowed to share in the fulness of the Christ’s priesthood – omething they already share by virtue of the their baptism.

    We live in reactionary times and the language of the church today is no longer that of Vatican II. It is harsh, close-minded, the only message being “My way or the highway.”

    People will look back on this sad chapter of American Catholic history and they will wonder where was the Catholic Tahrir Square.

    Where was the courage to stand up to our own despots?

    They will ask, “Where was our Luther – when we needed him?

    Our institutional church had made one end run after another around Vatican 2 , looking backward to Trent and Vatican 1.

  2. Re: seminarians. Thank God I’m in my 70s and will be gone to God (I hope) before these characters are fully in charge. But I worry for my kids and grands that they will not have an experience of Catholicism as I have had. I struggle with the notion that the GUYS enamored of fancy clothes and strict rules are Christian at all.

  3. Notice that bishop Woerl is angrily pointing a finger with his royal episcopal ring finger. I bet he would still do that even if he were left-handed!!

    Pax. Aristophilos

  4. I detect a strong whiff of inverted clericalism here. Those who advocate for women priests seem to think that this way women will have more “power” or “influence”, yet they decry the supposed power and influence of “the boys’ club”. Nah, don’t buy it.
    Becoming a priest is about supreme service – first of all, and MOST importantly, to God. Secondly, service to the Church founded by Jesus Christ and guided through all ages by the Holy Spirit (so male ordination is no invention – this comes from Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit). This service to the Church includes receiving with faith and humble reverence the traditions handed down, and passing them on to the faithful who benefit from them. This includes theology and liturgy. Service to the people of God (i.e. the Church) is part of a priest’s service to God. Whence the idea that we somehow know best now? That we are the enlightened ones? Sounds awfully like pride, and it was the same temptation that Adam and Eve faced in the garden of Eden.

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