Francis Doesn’t Like the Seminaries. Because They Form Priests Who Are “Rigid” and Incapable of “Discernment”

Francis Doesn’t Like the Seminaries. Because They Form Priests Who Are “Rigid” and Incapable of “Discernment”

Over just a few days, a hailstorm of rebukes. Which show the pope’s irritation over the criticisms of “Amoris Laetitia,” these too the fruit, in his judgment, of a legalistic and decadent mentality

by Sandro Magister

ROME, December 16, 2016 – In this fourth autumn of his pontificate, Jorge Mario Bergoglio is showing special concern for the seminaries, meaning the formation of new priests.

On December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, the Vatican congregation for the clergy published a new 90-page “Ratio fundamentalis” for seminaries all over the world, which in reality departs very little from the previous instructions issued in 2005, and also repeats as-is the ban on admitting to the seminary and to sacred orders “those who practice homosexuality, present deeply rooted homosexual tendencies, or support ‘gay culture’”:

> Il dono della vocazione presbiterale

This reconfirmation of the ban raised the predictable protest from those who were expecting from Pope Francis an “openness” in keeping with his famous motto “Who am I to judge?” And the Jesuit Thomas Reese, the former editor of “America,” has been the most adamant in calling for non-discrimination toward gay priests, who according to him are “between 20 and 60 percent” of the entire Catholic clergy:

> Yes, there are lots of good gay priests

But it is difficult to imagine that the reconfirmation of the ban could have escaped the attention of the pope, who has one of his most dutiful lieutenants in none other than Beniamino Stella, prefect of the congregation for the clergy. And then for Bergoglio theory is one thing and practice another, considering the number of homosexual priests in the circle of his closest collaborators and confidants.

More than the publication of the “Ratio,” the true indicator of the reason why the seminaries are so close to the pope’s heart is found in the discourses he recently dedicated to the subject.


First of all it must be kept in mind what Francis said last October 24 in meeting with the Jesuits gathered to elect their new superior general, in the transcription released in “La Civiltà Cattolica” of December 10:

“Discernment, the capacity to discern, is the key element. And I am referring precisely to the lack of discernment in the formation of priests. We are in fact at risk of getting used to ‘black and white’ and to that which is legal. We are fairly closed off, by and large, to discernment. One thing is clear: today in a certain number of seminaries a rigidity has again established itself that is not closely compatible with a discernment of situations. And it is a dangerous thing, because it can lead to a conception of morality that has a casuistic sense. [. . .]

“I and those of my generation – perhaps not the younger, but my generation and some of the next – were brought up in a decadent scholasticism. We studied theology with a manual, and also philosophy. [. . .] It was that decadent scholasticism which provoked the casuistic attitude. And it is curious: the subject ‘Sacrament of penance’ was usually – but not always – taught by professors of sacramental moral theology. The whole field of morality was restricted to ‘permitted’ and ‘not permitted,’ ‘this far yes and this far no.’ [. . .] It was a moral theology very much estranged from discernment. [. . .] I believe that Bernard Häring was the first to begin seeking a new way to revitalize moral theology. Obviously in our days moral theology has made a great deal of progress in its reflections and in its maturity; by now it is not casuistic anymore.”

As can easily be noted, Bergoglio’s polemic against the “rigidity” that he still sees being taught today in the seminaries is interwoven with the much more important and grave controversy that divides the Church today in interpreting and applying “Amoris Laetitia,” on the key question of communion for the divorced and remarried.

It should suffice to look at the terminological resemblance between what the pope said in this conversation with the Jesuits and the telegraphic non-answer that he gave in the November 18 interview with “Avvenire” to the five “dubia” made public by four cardinals regarding none other than the post-synodal exhortation:

“Some still fail to understand, it’s either black or white, even though it is in the flux of life that one must discern.”


In the second place, “discernment” is also a key word of the guidelines for seminaries published on December 8.

Cardinal Stella emphasized this in “L’Osservatore Romano” of that same day, in an interview presenting the “Ratio”:

“Discernment is a gift that pastors must exercise over themselves and, even more, in pastoral areas, to accompany and interpret in depth above all the complex existential situations by which the persons entrusted to us are often marked, burdened, and wounded.”

And to put to rest any doubt that this is the pope’s main concern, Stella continued by citing a remark taken straight from the words Francis spoke to the Jesuits:

“One thing is clear: today in a certain number of seminaries a rigidity has again established itself that is not closely compatible with a discernment of situations.”


But the pope was even more explicit and biting in addressing the seminarians and superiors of the major seminary of Rome, in the homily for the Mass of December 9 in the chapel of Casa Santa Marta:

> Preti autentici

It must be added that the relationship between Francis, who is the bishop of Rome, and his seminary has never been a happy one.

With John Paul II and Benedict XVI the tradition had been established that the pope would go at least once a year to deliver a meditation to the seminarians, on the feast of the Madonna della Fiducia.

But Bergoglio, as soon as he was elected pope, interrupted this tradition and cancelled the visits. Only once has he granted the Roman seminarians a transient greeting, at the end of the ordination as bishop, at Saint John Lateran, of the new auxiliary of the diocese Angelo De Donatis on November 9, 2015. And he made a point of going in to greet them on his own, brusquely leaving outside the door both the cardinal vicar Agostino Vallini, who was accompanying him, and the rector and other superiors who were preparing to do the honors.

Francis has never explained in public the reasons for this aversion of his. Nor did he want to call any attention to the invitation he addressed to the seminarians and superiors of the major Roman seminary – although without the presence of the cardinal vicar and of the auxiliary bishops – to attend Mass with him at Santa Marta last December 9.

In the homily, however, he brought out all of his misgivings concerning the contemporary formation of the clergy, not caring that he was heaping them upon those with the misfortune of being present, who were treated as if they were the guilty ones.

Here are a few passages from it, taken from the official account in “L’Osservatore Romano”:

“In order to make themselves important, the priests take the way of rigidity: so many times, detached from the people, they do not know what human suffering is; they lose what they had learned in their own homes from their father, mother, grandma, grandpa, siblings.” In losing “these things they are rigid, those rigid ones who load upon the people so many things that they themselves do not carry.”

“Rigidity” means “whip in hand with the people of God: this is not permitted, this is not permitted.” And “so many people who draw near seeking a bit of consolation, a bit of understanding, are pushed away with this rigidity.”

But “rigidity cannot be kept up for very long, completely.” Above all “in its essence it is schizoid: you will end up appearing rigid, but on the inside you will be a disaster.”

And “together with rigidity” there is also “worldliness.” Thus “a worldly priest, rigid, is someone who is unsatisfied because he has taken the wrong road.” Precisely “with regard to rigidity and worldliness” Francis wanted to make reference to an episode “that happened some time ago: there came to me an elderly monsignor of the curia, who works, a normal man, a good man, in love with Jesus, and he told me that he had gone to the Euroclero to buy a couple of shirts, and he saw a young man standing in front of the mirror – he thinks he wasn’t more than twenty-five years old, either a young priest or one who was about to become a priest – in front of the mirror, with a cape, big and wide, with velvet and a silver chain, and he was looking at himself. And then he took the ‘saturno’ [hat], put it on and looked at himself: one who is rigid and worldly.” And “that priest – he is wise, that monsignor, very wise – was able to get over his grief with a bit of healthy humor, and he added: ‘And they say that the Church does not allow the priesthood for women!’” This is how “the trade that the priest practices when he becomes a functionary ends up in ridicule, always.”

Curiously, from the brief video released by the Vatican Television Center it appears that none of the Roman seminarians present at the Mass was wearing the cassock, a “ladies’” garment that Bergoglio doesn’t like:

> Casa Santa Marta, Santa Messa del 9 dicembre 2016

On the other hand, there are cassocks on all of the numerous seminarians from the regional pontifical seminary of Puglia “Pio XI,” whom the pope received on the following day in the Sala Clementina of the Apostolic Palace, together with their bishops:

> Udienza Pontificio Seminario Regionale Pugliese “Pio XI”, 10 dicembre 2016

For this audience, the papal offices had prepared a written speech, which Francis however did not read, replacing it with one of his off-the-cuff speeches.

A very warm speech, entirely focusing on the positive and without a speck of that acrimony which shone through in the homily with his seminarians of Rome, and capped off with a festive group shot of the seminarians all packed together around the pope (see photo).

Here is the complete transcription of it:

> Grazie tante…

It remains a mystery why there should be this dual treatment, negative with the seminarians of Rome and positive with those of Puglia.

Just as an explanation remains to be given for the dramatic scarcity of vocations to the priesthood that the diocese of Buenos Aires suffered during the fifteen years of Bergoglio’s tenure as archbishop:

> La crisis de vocaciones impacta en la Iglesia

Get AQ Email Updates

6 comments on “Francis Doesn’t Like the Seminaries. Because They Form Priests Who Are “Rigid” and Incapable of “Discernment”

  1. I don’t think anyone, besides the professional neo-Catholics who profit from defending the indefensible and their mindless Kool-Aid drinking minions would doubt that Jorge Bergoglio suffers from serious spiritual problems when it comes to upholding the Catholic faith.
    Nor would one have to be Sigmund Freud to realize that Bergoglio has a screw or two loose in his wiring also.
    They say we get what we deserve.
    If that’s true then Bergoglio is our punishment.
    Lord help us

  2. Yes, there are lots of good gay priests

    By Fr. Fem Reese, S.J.

    The idea that gays cannot be good priests is stupid, demeaning, unjust, and contrary to the facts. I know many very good priests who are gay, and I suspect even more good priests I know are gay.


    There are “lots” and “many” of the pederast variety. This is reason number one why all diocesan parishes and diocesan schools must be avoided. Until the bishops have the will to remove them, not a dime should be given to them. Furthermore, anyone who accommodates himself to this status quo is to be avoided as well.

  3. Let’s be clear: the official Vatican policy is to ordain queers, per Benedict’s 2005 “Instructions.” This is unchanged under Francis.

    Here’s a description of the “Instructions” from Steve Brady of Roman Catholic Faithful (RCF), a man who had been fighting the lavender mafia for more than a decade. The following is taken from his spring 2006 newsletter:

    In the section marked “II. Homosexuality and ordained ministry” the document states:
    “the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, may not admit to the seminary and Holy Orders those who practice homosexuality, show profoundly deep-rooted homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called gay culture… If, however, one is dealing with homosexual tendencies that may be simply the expression of a transitory problem, such as for example an adolescence not yet complete, such tendencies must be overcome at least three years before ordination to the diaconate.”

    [Brady] If any of you mistakenly believe that this document has not opened the door for the ordination of homosexuals, the current president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops will clarify it for you in the news blurb below. You cannot forget the fact that the same Bishops who protected the sodomites who abused children still control the seminaries. These same Bishops, many who are sodomites themselves, have constantly refused to address this issue.

    Bishop Says Edict Allows Some Gay Priests (Washington Post, Nov. 30, 2005):

    “[Bishop William S. Skylstad] The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said yesterday that under a new Vatican directive on homosexuality, men with a lasting attraction to members of the same sex can still be ordained as priests, as long as they are not `consumed by’ their sexual orientation.”

    “…Several prelates, including Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick [Uncle Teddy, to his victims] of Washington, indicated that they will continue to ordain seminarians regardless of sexual orientation,… ”

    [back to Cyprian] Should we imagine that the seminaries have been emptied of queers? Consider the following interview of a former seminary rector published in the Washington Post in Dec. 2005, during the Vatican “visitation.” Entitled Letter Advises Against Gay Seminary Teachers, the article regards a Vatican letter that accompanied the homo Instruction:

    The Rev. Donald B. Cozzens, a Catholic author and former seminary rector, called the letter a “bombshell” because it affects current priests, not just future ones.

    Cozzens, whose survey research indicates that a quarter to half of all U.S. priests are gay, said the letter “doesn’t say that rectors or professors in our seminaries who have already been appointed should be removed, but one wonders if that’s not what might begin to happen — a kind of culling of gay rectors and professors.”

    Furthermore, he said, “I think it could also raise questions about people working in chanceries and about bishops who happen to be gay. And why stop there? I see it as a logical extension of the instruction, but it underscores the problematic nature of the instruction.”

    What Fr. Cozzens confirmed is that: 1) There are a lot of queer priests, 2) There are likewise a substantial number of queer rectors and professors, 3) There are bishops who “happen to be gay” (it just happens!!), and 4) The Vatican will have problems if they get serious about removing the queers. It seems the Vatican inspectors missed this!

    Bishops “happen” to be gay!! Stuff just happens!

    Francis happens!

    • And all that “happening” falls under a larger category, designated by a certain four-letter word.

      Good info, Cyprian. Thanks. We must never forget that, when it comes to rules, liberals and modernists dictatorially demand that you follow theirs, but when a rule aligns with Tradition, they feel that all can and must disobey.

  4. June Cleaver: Did anything unusual happen at school today, Beaver? You look like you might be worried about something.

    Beaver: Well, Miss Landers had a guest teacher come in for the new Health class.

    June Cleaver: Oh, that’s nice, Beaver. Did anything unusual happen?

    Beaver: Well, Miss Landers said his name was Mr. Liberace and he told us some pretty nutty stuff.

    June: Did Mr. Liberace say or do something in class that has got you worried, Beaver?

    Beaver: Well, he said that Sal Mineo could marry Perry Mason if he wanted to…
    and that Gilbert and Larry Mondello could get married or even marry me if they wanted to.

    Larry Mondello: Yeah, it was kinda creepy.

    June Cleaver: I guess we better call your father. Did anything else unusual happen, Beaver?

    Beaver: Yeah. He kept looking at the back of our pants and grinning kind of funny.

    June Cleaver: Ward!!!

  5. Fr. Long Neck confirms that fags can be good priests: Vatican document on gay priests doesn’t mean they all have to be barred

    Dwight, writing for Crux, starts with a strawman and goes downhill from there:

    Does a new Vatican document assume all homosexual men are freaks and must be barred from priesthood? It’s a little more nuanced than that. The question is whether this attraction is “deep-seated.” The question is whether, by God’s grace, they have learned to integrate their feelings and have grown into a mature love for God and others which transcends erotic attachment.

    Integrate your nuanced feelings, Dwight, and tell moms that their boys should be OK serving Mass for pederasts. Good grief.

Leave a Reply