To shed some light on the crisis in seminary formation today (see “Tomorrow’s Priests,” November 3), let me describe a priest I know, a man I will refer to as Fr. Bo. Ordained after barely scraping by in the seminary academically, Fr. Bo identifies strongly with John Paul II. The first in his class to own a cassock, he has a strong devotion to Mary, never misses a papal youth rally, and prides himself on his theological orthodoxy.
He also recently began cruising gay bars.
Bo did not realize he was sexually attracted to males until his mid-thirties. Not sufficiently challenged to face this issue in the seminary, he has remained in many respects an adolescent. He was once a strong proponent of mandatory celibacy and continues to oppose the ordination of women, but he now supports optional celibacy-because “priests need fun too.” Besides the sense of spirituality that drew him to the priesthood, Bo found the role appealing because it meant he would never have to look for another job, worry about money, clean house, or otherwise fend for himself. And because he was compliant and did little to draw attention to himself, he managed to be ordained.
Intellectually unformed, personally immature, Fr. Bo is by no means a rare exception at seminaries today. Indeed, his is a personality one encounters often among the newly ordained. And that’s the problem.