Saturday, April 30, 2005

I don't know how to feel about this

The Reasons for Feeling Conflicted are (in no particular order):
1.) As I went to a very good seminary for graduate studies, and even the college was generally above average with some serious exceptions, it's hard for me to get excited about "cleaning house." The best you will get from me is Schadenfraude at the collapse of other houses of cards.
2.) Upon what standard are these seminaries going to be evaluated? Generally speaking, when a group of people from very different backgrounds get together to write up a standards sheet, the goals tend to skew low, aiming for the lowest common denominator.
3.) Upon whose evidence are they going to evaluate these seminaries? Granted that asking only seminary administration is not going to garner great information -- certainly nothing probative of any real problems -- neither is going to students with an axe to grind. Further, there has to be a "safe" way to spill the beans for the seminarians. Yes, I know that this is supposed to be a seedbed for vocations but like any situation, some men will not feel free to divulge sensitive information with the cover of anonimity. Yes, I also realize that this is a potential for baseless or even loony accusations to be taken too seriously. Yes, I also recognize that the evaluators should ask those who made it to ordination whether or not the priests trained at these places feel they were well-prepared and well-formed for priesthood and what should have been added. Again, if you were to ask me, there were only a few issues missing which I might discuss here at another time.
4). Then there is the "So What?" factor. Again, this is true of us all but generally if there is no punishment, there is no motivation to change. I can speak to my own experience of the seminary on this one. If I didn't loathe meeting with my formation advisor or the dean of men each and every time I missed morning prayer, and if you missed you had to check in with either of these two men, then would I have been so quick to change my ways? It is a valid question. So the same thing applies here. If they find a den of iniquity at a particular seminary (not mentioning names -- just throwing out a theoretical), then what? If you don't shape up, we close you down? What would happen if a bishop said "Thanks for the input, but nothing's going to change?" Could he lose his see? See my problem. Without some threat of exposure, I can't see how merely wagging a finger and saying "Shape up" is going to change anything? My apologies if that sounds cynical, but that is the downward inertia of the human heart after the fall.
5.) Who is going to do the evaluating? If there is a concern that American faculties are too lax or too whatever (but don't use that word "liberal" otherwise I will have to pull out the pastoral photon torpedo launcher of hope and use it -- like David Banner, I don't think you would like me armed and angry), then who is going to stand there as the judge and arbitor? Further, wouldn't this weaken what ever criticism is leveled as "they don't understand, not being American"?

With all this said, don't misunderstand. I really am pleased that intervention is happening, I am just not convinced it will have any demonstrable results.

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