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Pontifications

…A major component of the new document, reported today by CNS, is to screen out men who, as Rome put it before, “are active homosexuals or who have “deep-seated” homosexual tendencies.” The document says psychological testing was appropriate in “exceptional cases that present particular difficulties” in seminary admission and formation, and “whenever there is a suspicion that psychic disturbances may be present.” According to CNS, “Such problems may include “excessive affective dependency,” disproportionate aggression, incapacity to be faithful to obligations, incapacity for openness and trust, inability to cooperate with authority and confused sexual identity…”
It also cites as red flags “excessive rigidity of character and lack of freedom in relations.”
This won’t be welcome news for ideologues–nor, sadly, for gay men either considering the priesthood or already ordained. Alas, that’s nothing new. The Vatican did indicate this document (13 years in the making!) was a response to the sexual abuse crisis, which could be fodder for unfortunate conclusions about homosexuals:

A psychologist who helped prepare the document, Father Carlo Bresciani, alluded to the priestly sex abuse crisis when he told a Vatican press conference that such precautions were prudent and necessary. “One cannot forget that unsuitable people with inconsistencies in their sexual-affective and relational life provoke negative repercussions on the church and on the faithful,” he said.

But will this change much? Do seminarians in the U.S. go through psychological testing now as a matter of course? And won’t bishops and religious orders keep the safety net’s holes as large or small as they like?
I think some form of psychological testing should be a part of formation, obviously. But it has to be done wisely. Vatican officials clearly want to keep psychological testing at arm’s length, in part lest it interfere with a true vocation, I imagine.

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