St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, a neighborhood of Boston. Photo courtesy Creative Commons

Seminary investigation to begin in wake of sexual misconduct allegations

(RNS) — Cardinal Sean O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, has placed the rector of St. John’s Seminary in Boston on leave and launched an investigation of the seminary’s culture following allegations of sexual misconduct at the school.

O’Malley said Friday (Aug. 10) he was responding to recent social media posts by former seminarians, adding that he could neither verify nor disprove the allegations.

According to what was claimed in the posts, “they witnessed and experienced activities which are directly contrary to the moral standards and requirements of formation for the Catholic priesthood,” O’Malley’s statement said. He also said he is “committed to immediate action to address these serious matters.”

The allegations, which were not specified in the archbishop’s statement, come two weeks after Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, resigned from the College of Cardinals following allegations that he had sexually abused minors and adult seminarians for decades.

The continuing attention to sexual behavior among Catholic clergy suggests to some observers that a new front in the battle against sexual misconduct in the church might have opened up now, 16 years after the clergy sexual abuse scandal began receiving widespread attention in the Archdiocese of Boston.

“The sexual abuse revelations at St. John’s Seminary are just a continuation of how the Archdiocese of Boston and the Catholic Church have allowed sexual abuse to occur within its ranks for centuries,” said attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who represented many of the victims of the child sexual abuse scandal.

O’Malley said the investigation will look into the allegations as well as the “culture of the seminary regarding the personal standards expected and required of candidates for the priesthood.” He also said the inquiry will cover “any seminary issues of sexual harassment or other forms of intimidation or discrimination.”

Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston speaks at a news conference in Rome on Feb. 16, 2015. Photo by Paul Haring/Catholic News Service

 This image is available for web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

While the archbishop’s statement does not disclose the names of the people who made the allegations, John A. Monaco, a former St. John’s seminarian, wrote in a blog post on Aug. 3 how other students had acted sexually inappropriately towards him and how his complaints had been brushed aside.

In one instance shortly after he started at the seminary, Monaco writes, a fellow seminarian asked him if he masturbated and then showed him his erect penis. In another case, at a party, after being encouraged to drink, another student groped him, Monaco alleges.

When he told a priest about the party, where seminarians who were committing themselves to a life of celibacy were reportedly cuddling one another, “He told me I needed to be more charitable and understanding with my brother seminarians.”

In a Facebook post on Aug. 7, another former St. John’s seminarian writes that he could confirm that Monaco’s account “is true and in fact there are so many similar stories about this place.”

The archdiocese did not respond to a request for comment. The former seminarians who made the allegations could also not be reached for comment.

Thomas Groome, a professor of theology and religious education at Boston College, praised O’Malley’s response to the allegations. Pope John Paul II appointed O’Malley archbishop in 2003 following Cardinal Bernard Law’s resignation after he was accused of shielding priests from consequences for sexually abusing children. O’Malley has been credited with promoting swift action and greater accountability for priests facing credible allegations of sexual abuse.

In this case, O’Malley has appointed an inquiry committee led by Rev. Mark O’Connell, auxiliary bishop of Boston; Francesco C. Cesareo, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops National Review Board, which deals with matters of child and youth protection policies and practices; and Kimberly Jones, CEO of Athena Legal Strategies Group, according to the archbishop’s statement.

Thomas Groome. Photo by Caitlin Cunningham/Boston College

 This image is available for web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

“I think Cardinal O’Malley has shown real leadership in addressing the whole issue of sexual abuse by clergy whether it’s with children or seminarians,” said Groome. “Given his role, it’s perfectly appropriate that he move quickly to investigate the allegations.”

Garabedian, however, described the archbishop’s actions as “nothing but spin control to deflect the ugliness of sexual abuse and indications that the church has once again allowed sexual abuse to occur within its ranks.”

In January, the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests issued a statement calling for women to play a larger role at seminaries and asserting that “human sexuality is too complex for the priestly formation system alone to assure healthy and mature celibate priests.”

The typical seminary is “significantly buffered if not largely isolated from the larger world and parish-level,” the association said. If seminarians were allowed to engage more with the “diocesan presbyterate and parish communities," it would provide "better community contexts for forming a candidate for servant priesthood.”

Groome wonders if in the aftermath of the McCarrick resignation, “we are going to have a lot of seminarians coming forward and saying, ‘Me too.’”

As to what is needed going forward, Groome said, “I think we have to consider whether isolating a group of young men is the wisest way to train them for priestly ministry in the present-day church.”

O’Malley emphasized the importance of trust in the priesthood.

“The ministry of the Catholic priesthood requires a foundation of trust with the people of the Church and the wider community in which our priests serve,” he said in the statement. “I am determined that all our seminaries meet that standard of trust and provide the formation necessary for priests to live a demanding vocation of service in our contemporary society.”


  1. So this is essentially a story about college kids groping each other in the dorm room, which as we all know never happens anywhere. But since they’re seminarians who have pledged to one day be celibate it suddenly becomes a story.

    This is not the same thing as Cardinal McCarrick using his position to coerce sexual favors out of the adult men under his charge. Those people were victimized by a serial abuser. That’s not the same thing as nubile college kids groping each other in the dorm room.

  2. It’s a seminary, not a college.

    It male only, not co-ed.

    They are in training to become religious leaders.

    If they can’t comport themselves consistent with that religion’s code, they should not be there.

    The allegations seem to involve either condoning or tolerating immoral behavior.

    No one alleged it is the same thing as Cardinal McCarrick.

  3. Yes, college kids groping each other is immoral. Very, very immoral.

    Two Hail Marys and three Our Fathers.

  4. “O’Malley emphasized the importance of trust in the priesthood.”

    It is hard to know if this is naivete or deflection. After decades of cover-up, it is trust in the hierarchy that is the issue. The appointed leaders of the investigation appear to be just more of the same.

  5. It is easy to see how you wound up an ex-Catholic.

  6. I sincerely hope that O’Malley speaks to every seminarian that left or was forced out over the decades. They are the ones with all the answers as they can give real insight as to why they left, or why they were REALLY asked to leave. I would also want him to speak to their fellow seminarians at the time to see what they experienced as well.

    I don’t think people really understand how dysfunctional the church is in their formation practices. In fact, I wish someone would do a psychological investigation by leading (outside the church) researchers because there is something quite odd as well as defies logic in many cases. In some cases, one may actually ponder seriously, whether or not a vowed member (male or female) even has basic christian manners you would expect any 5 yr old to have. Perhaps it’s a hang over from when everyone was either cloistered or severely restricted that has damaged so many that a healthy normal formation is impossible. This goes above and beyond any homosexual tendencies and is some kind of ingrained dysfunction. I just hope O’Malley or someone can really do something about it for the sake of new comers and the church.

  7. The whole reason that they’re even separated , male from female, is to lessen any sexual tendencies. If someone is homosexual, male of female, then that temptation is going to be there. How can someone have a chance of living their vow of celibacy when there is ample opportunities for people to engage in sexual acts. I would think that any catholic who has any respect for vows would say to themselves, this is too tempting so this life is not for me.

  8. The RCC is doing everything it can to save further churches from shutting down due to lack of attendees ($$$$).
    It is pushing evangilization worldwide.
    This is a joke !
    There aren’t enough priests to staff the existing parishes – what’s left of them.
    To think they will take any steps to tighten seminarian vetting procedures is absurd.
    Voluntary castration would help.

  9. One of the stated reasons for the ban on homosexuals as seminarians is that the all-male seminary would be a near occasion of sin. This article seems to confirm the wisdom of that.

    If you’re still wagging willy you’re obviously not cut out for the priesthood.

  10. There are parts of the world where there are more than sufficient priests.

    In the USA the largest contributor to parishes closing has been the population shift to the suburbs.

    Have you considered thorazine?

  11. Considering 95+% of priests have kept their vows over the decades, it is neither naiveté nor deflection.

    It appears to be ensuring that yet another layer of bad actors aren’t ordained to bring discredit to the work of the majority.

  12. I agree that what is being reported here is substantially different from the abuse of power attributed to Abp. McCarrick. I think the fear being expressed by some is that “groping” is just a code word for a broader set of behaviors incompatible with a life of committed celibacy.
    My concern would be that this will trigger all manner of speculation about what those behaviors were, and that folks with axes to grind will do so based on innuendo. Until the Church comes to terms with a more developed theology of human sexuality, I don’t see how they can confront this issue honestly or effectively.

  13. I tend to agree, and would put the issue of clerical celibacy at the top of the list of sexual issues to be dealt with first.

  14. It’s hilarious to see all the sanctimonious homophobes panicking over what has been the culture in seminaries and in the priesthood for well over 1,000 years now. It’s their Church and they helped create this.

  15. “Until the Church comes to terms with a more developed theology of human sexuality, I don’t see how they can confront this issue honestly or effectively.”

    Translation: the Church should abandon its definitive teaching that the gift of sex is ordered towards co-creation and the selfless giving of oneself to another, and should be confined exclusively to a life long marriage, between a man and a woman, and be open to life.

    Just how can this be “developed”?

  16. Why would the celibacy of the priesthood be at the top of your list of sexual issues to be dealt with first by the Church?

  17. No, its a story about men preparing for the priesthood who appear to be unable and/or unwilling to conform their lives to disciplines in keeping with the demands of their calling to be holy in the service of God and His people.

  18. Elag, here’s where that discussion falls flat: one side begins with a prescriptive understanding of sexuality (for this reason, a man shall….cling to his wife….”) and the other side begins with a phenomenological understanding of sexuality (these are the behaviors in which humans engage….”) and never the twain shall meet.
    Even within the prescriptive approach, the Church discusses sex as a concept, while real people experience it as passion. Finally, even the Church’s discussions of sex as a concept presume a male paradigm, as if only men experienced desire, passion, etc.

    Which is why they’re surprised that men exhibit behaviors that fall outside the male-female-marriage-for-procreation model. Go figure….

  19. Well, for starters, the fact that for the first millennium of the church’s history priests were allowed to marry, which meant they were allowed to have sex. Since that’s part of the church’s own history I think that’s a good place to start, especially since the church had to change it’s “theology of the body” for priests once it no longer allowed them to marry and by extension, have sex. Addressing why that major change happened in an honest manner would be a launching pad for further discussions about other sexual issues. You have to start somewhere.

  20. Is there an alternative to seminary? How about parish apprenticeships where training is done without a bunch of guys living together in a heap?

  21. That’s a very sophisticated grasp of the underlying situation. Any suggestions on how to muddle through it?

  22. I work in the financial sector. My firm recently had an employee resign to leave for the seminary. This is a highly unusual move as this young guy was headed to a 7 figure salary about 10 years down the road.
    His is devoutly catholic; so in a way it was no surprise when he announced it. His seminary class is 17. The trend in our state is flat to slowly increasing.
    I asked him about the homosexual/pedophile issue and the seminarians understand what they face. The group overall is more conservative; so much that older priests in our state are concerned that the newly minted priests will undo some of Vatican II. That won’t happen of course, but the fact that he mentioned it gives me hope that the millennials and those that follow will swing the church back a bit to the center. He kept saying that they are seeking the sacred – not something you hear with the novus ordo priesthood.
    This may be an outlier, but it brings hope for a smaller more orthodox RCC.

  23. Hi – What you’re describing is actually a pre-Tridentine model of a cathedral seminary, attributed to St. Augustine of Hippo, where young men were first apprenticed to the parish priest to learn some Latin, then sent to the cathedral, where they spent several years working under the eye of the bishop and his staff. As part of the Counter-Reformation and in response to what was perceived as the general ignorance of the clergy, Trent prescribed seminaries as they are known today. Back then, bishops were less consumed by administrative functions and could devote time to the training of priests. Today, I’m not sure it would work, or even that it’s a good idea. But we need to find something….

  24. You’re still “wagging willy” on this forum. You’re obviously not cut out for civilized society.

  25. “In the USA the largest contributor to parishes closing has been the population shift to the suburbs”

    This would explain why parishes are springing up like mushrooms in the suburbs?

  26. They are in my part of the USA.

    Perhaps you can take it up with the 5,500 bishops when they assemble to hear your words of wisdom on how they should be running their dioceses?

  27. Hi. I’m an old married guy, grandfather, and not even a Catholic. I only asked this because there was never a time in my life when I thought hanging around with a bunch of guys was either 1) the best way to learn anything, or 2) socially healthy. I thought a Boy Scout camp and a state college dorm were both insane when I was young, would have thought the same of military barracks, and have always suspected that there is little worse than piling men up on top of each other in prisons. So, in general, I would lean toward educating clergy in some other ways if possible.

  28. I think it would be essential to begin with the right question — not “What do Scripture and Tradition say about human sexuality?” but “Why is it that human beings seek to express themselves sexually?” The obvious answer is not “to reproduce the species,” but “to maximize pleasure and intimacy.” The fact that engaging in sexual behaviors has the general effect of reproducing the species is a secondary explanation of the behavior, not its primary purpose (else people would only have sex when fertile).
    The traditional difficulty with this obvious answer is that, in Pauline-Augustinian theology,the human drive for sexual pleasure is seen as concupiscence — a weakness in human nature caused by original sin. So Catholic theology has traditionally ignored the obvious and proceeded on the basis of an illusion, i.e., that we’re all having sex only when we’re “open to procreation.” No one asked women whether they’re trying to have babies every time they touch their husbands.
    So…I would say the Church has to abandon its Augustinian misunderstanding of human sexuality and begin with reality: men and women have sex in order to maximize pleasure and intimacy. In my opinion, it is in that drive for intimacy that theology can explore what the Thomists called a “drive toward transcendence” (Rahner’s supernatural existential).
    But I won’t hold my breath.

  29. I think the church also needs to abandon its adherence to the ancient Greek notion of the duality between the spirit (good) and the flesh (bad) especially since Jesus redeemed the flesh through his Incarnation.

  30. “They are in my part of the USA”

    Of course they are, in BobWorld. But are they in the real world?

  31. How would you know anything about the real world?

    Other than endless niggling about things over your pay grade and outside your ken, you seem to be pretty much focused on missing the Comments Section at National Catholic Reporter.

  32. Oh, I think there’s a much more obvious place to start and I suspect you do too. To wit: why has the America priesthood so many homosexuals in its midst and why is this tacitly supported by so many bishops?

    More significantly, as Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany, recently stated in a letter to clergy: the abuse revelations are sign of a “profoundly spiritual crisis”, the root of which is “sin and a retreat from holiness, specifically the holiness of an integral, truly human sexuality.” He adds: “In negative terms, and as clearly and directly as I can repeat our Church teaching, it is a grave sin to be ‘sexually active’ outside of a real marriage covenant.”

    The “problem” isn’t that priests are forbidden sex. The problem is we’ve lost sight of the meaning and purpose of sex:

    Let me be clear, however, in stating my firm conviction that this is, at heart, much more than a crisis of policies and procedures. We can – and I am confident that we will – strengthen the rules and regulations and sanctions against any trying to fly under the radar or to “get away with” such evil and destructive behaviors. But, at its heart, this is much more than a challenge of law enforcement; it is a profoundly spiritual crisis.

    Blessed Pope Paul VI prophetically warned us in Humanae Vitae of the long-range consequences of the separation of sexuality and sexual behavior from the conjugal relationship. Contemporary culture in our part of the world now holds it normative that sex and sexual gratification between any consenting persons for any reason that their free wills allow is perfectly acceptable. This is not a sexuality befitting of human beings that responds to the need and true desire of every human person to be respected and loved fully and unconditionally.

    All of us who are ordained to preach what the Church teaches must practice what we preach and teach. We also need to uphold what our faith proclaims about the gift and beauty of human sexuality, fully lived in its essential conjugal meaning. A culture of virtue and chastity – in short, personal holiness – rooted in a trusting and committed relationship with Jesus Christ is the path toward healing and wholeness, even as we seek to drive the evil behaviors among us from the womb of the Church.

  33. There, there, BobBob. Ask your caretaker to wipe the drool off your chin, bless your precious little heart.

  34. Goodness gracious, infalliblyperpelexed, that IS a BUNDLE of passive-aggressive hostility. You’ll give yourself the vapors.

    Do ask your mommy for your pacifier and your binkee and your psychiatrist for a thorazine refill, and soon you’ll be as happy as a dead pig in the sunshine and forget all about it and get right on back to wiggling your fingers and giggling and remembering those happy days at National Catholic Reporter.

  35. Well, for starters, some priests in some parts of the Church were allowed to marry, usually in mission areas to jump start getting started.

    Celibacy was the preferred status (St. Paul).

    Of course mature individuals in control of their impulses can practice celibacy as easily as marriage, so your suggestion is a solution in search of a problem.

  36. The Catholic Church does not incorporate an adherence to the ancient Stoic notion of the duality between the spirit (good) and the flesh (bad) into its theology.

  37. From the natural law the answer to the question “Why is it that human beings seek to express themselves sexually?” is the same one that answers “Why is it that animals seek to express themselves sexually?”: “to reproduce the species”.

    Because human beings are both sentient and emotional, intimacy and pleasure are secondary purposes, which are themselves legitimate and in fact desirable.

    The proposition that Catholic theology has traditionally ignored the obvious and proceeded on the basis of an illusion “that we’re all having sex only when we’re ‘open to procreation’” misstates Catholic theology and begs the question.

    What Catholic theology teaches is that seeking pleasure and intimacy are morally good in and of themselves, but that creating a barrier to reproduction to raise them to the primary good is immoral.

    This theology is very closely related to explaining why same sex relations are immoral, since they do apparently provide pleasure and perhaps even intimacy.

  38. why has the America priesthood so many homosexuals in its midst?

    Oh I can give you the answer to that: because society has steered them in that direction, that’s why. I see that happening even to this day. A Catholic male child is perceived as effeminate and therefore homosexual so parents and other relatives plant the seed in the child’s head very early on. I’ve actually heard people say, “that one’s going to be a priest.” I had relatives say that to me, even though I had expressed not the slightest interest in the priesthood. For generations the priesthood was only socially acceptable outlet for Catholic men who were gay. That way they didn’t have to be an embarrassment for the rest of the family when they were long past the acceptable age when men were supposed to marry, thus avoiding awkward questions.

    Just as gay people for generations have been consigned to the margins of society and them blamed for being there, so too for generations have Catholic boys been steered toward the priesthood as a way of channeling their “inappropriate sexual desires”only to have people react with surprise when their suppressed desires manifest themselves in inappropriate ways.

    How very convenient it must be to pontificate from the vantage point of the great heterosexual majority – you get to write all the rules, assign blame to “offenders” and then render punishment. How convenient that must be, and how utterly lacking in charity.

  39. [M]en and women have sex in order to maximize pleasure and intimacy.”

    They do indeed – that’s why God gave us the gift of sex and the strong passion for it. It is enjoyable and it ought to be an intimate activity and not a recreational one. However, it is not ordered towards pleasure, even if people do directly experience it as such. To argue from the experience is to replace the driver with the purpose; to put the cart before the horse, as it were. And when one forgets the purpose, confuses it with the passion, and then replaces the passion as the purpose, that’s when moral disorders arise.

    “The fact that engaging in sexual behaviors has the general effect of reproducing the species is a secondary explanation of the behavior, not its primary purpose (else people would only have sex when fertile).”

    And there you’ve logically confused why people enjoy having sex with it’s God given purpose(s) – self-giving intimacy and co-creation. We enjoy eating because its pleasurable but its purpose is not to seek pleasure but nutrition and sustenance.

    “The traditional difficulty with this obvious answer is that, in Pauline-Augustinian theology,the human drive for sexual pleasure is seen as concupiscence — a weakness in human nature caused by original sin.”

    Oh, the Church has long since developed its theology. The human drive for sexual pleasure is no longer seen as per se as entailing concupiscence, just as hunger is not. The teach teaches they are natural human drives that have to be controlled and rightly ordered in their expression. And that is: towards co-creation and the selfless giving of oneself to another within a life long marriage between a man and a woman.

  40. I look forward to Monica making mincemeat out of all your various absurdities. I’m already popping some corn.

  41. You may or may not be correct in your assessment and I suspect you might be. However, it’s neither “blaming” nor “punishing” such men, or lacking in “charity”, to say they are unsuited to seminary life or to the priesthood.

    More worryingly, you seem to be suggesting that when the sexual desires of these men “manifest themselves in inappropriate ways”, the responsibility lies with others and not themselves. That somehow they are the “victims” and the fault rests with those who caused them to “suppress” these desires. If the above reports into seminary life are accurate, there seems to be very little suppression taking place!

  42. It’s actually a fundamentally logically flawed and hence confused analysis, and one that dishonestly misrepresents Church teaching..

  43. First of all, I do not believe that college-aged young men are victims of one another for having sex with each other if the sex was truly consensual. Children who are victimized by predatory priests, on the other hand, are indeed victims, so there’s that distinction which ought to be made right off the bat. I think there’s plenty of responsibility and blame to go around. My own personal belief about why sexual abuse happens in the Catholic priesthood (and I’m talking about men abusing underage children here) is because when Catholic boys realize they’re gay during puberty they immediately realize that they’re committing a grave sin according to church teaching, so they suppress their desires to the subconscious level, where it festers, leading to a form of psychosis. I also believe their emotional maturity is stunted around that same time, which is why they’re attracted to children. Emotionally speaking, they’re the same age as their victims. I believe this because of the testimony of reputable psychiatrists who have dealt with such cases.

  44. Thank you, sir – Since the Charles Borromeo-sponsored seminary model implemented by Trent (1545-63) was a response to the Reformation, its value can and should be questioned.

    The challenge today is not that our clergy are ignorant (at least not in the sense that Trent was concerned about it), but they are few, aging, increasingly unable to meet the demands of the people, and engaging in questionable behaviors, including sexual behaviors. That’s a situation for which seminaries were not primarily designed. In fact, by putting young men together in isolation from women, seminaries tended to create different problems.

    In terms of sacramental theology, there is no reason why the Church could not ordain a number of persons from each community to preside at the local celebrations of the Eucharist, which requires only the ability to recite the words and perform the ritual. Some measure of theological preparation would be required for those who preach at such celebrations, but there are already solutions being worked out in mission territories. In the mountains of Peru, for example, local men are ordained to the priesthood (what used to be called Simplex Priesthood), but not given faculties to preach or hear confessions. Preaching is accomplished by: 1) providing prepared sermons from the chancery; 2) allowing men or women with theological degrees and approved by the bishop to preach; and 3) having circuit riders who both preach and celebrate other sacraments.

    A seminary professor in Rome used to tell us ad nauseam that the Church has never said that only priests may celebrate the Eucharist. What the Church states is that when an ordained priest celebrates the Eucharist as prescribed, the Church “guarantees” that Christ’s promise to “be with you” is fulfilled. (That professor is today Cardinal Archbishop in Italy….) Something to think about – Monica.

  45. Even more reason then to bar such men from the priesthood. And we don’t know the origins of same sex attraction and what it means to “realize that they’re gay during puberty” and the Church doesn’t teach that the desire, in itself, is a “grave sin”.

  46. In a similar manner we also don’t know the origins of opposite-sex attraction, or why some people write with their left hand or their right hand. I believe scientists refer to such things as “natural variation.” Only the church continues to “struggle” with these issues. I’m speaking as one who was taught by my first-grade teacher, a Catholic nun, to write with my right hand because to do otherwise would be “of the devil.” So all the naturally left-handed students had to go into the closet, so to speak. That was in the mid-sixties, not so very long ago.

  47. My personal opinion is that anyone who has a real, authentic, tuned in heart for Jesus and people, and who has practiced the mechanics, could perform Eucharist. But, I’m so opinionated about so many things that no one would ever let me either be a Catholic or fiddle around with church traditions.

  48. Who is it, Elag? Nothing appears on my screen except your responses to him/her/it. I had a friend develop an algorithm to block writers who don’t comment on articles, but simply respond negatively to everyone else. Maybe they got caught in that. Anyway, you’re on your own, my friend. – M.

  49. The ever-ubiquitous Bob Arnzen. Can your friend please let me know how to do that myself? I would be very happy to have access to such an algorithm.

  50. When you insist that sex exists for procreation, you have lost sight of the meaning and purpose of sex. It is more than that.

  51. The algorithm is imaginary.

    She did the same thing in the Comments at NCR.

    If someone knows their beans, she avoids them like a plague.

  52. He says, swinging on a trapeze wearing fishnets.

  53. And you would know that how? Have you lent him the keys to your wardrobe?

  54. Well you’d know all about passive/aggressive hostility, wouldn’t you?

  55. Thanks. Never heard of him. Could be an old troll with a new name.

  56. Wrong guy.

    I’d say “Nice try”, but you’re the third one.

  57. Wrong again, “Bob.” That’s the pic Monica’s been using for years. So what if it’s a stock photo? So’s mine. Who cares?

  58. Bobbob, you seem to have lost control. Have your caretaker check your Depends, bless your precious little heart.

  59. Ah, you’re left-handed. That explains a lot….:)

    Here’s a question I could use some help with. How did we get from a majority opposed to same-sex marriage/behaviors to a majority tolerating/accepting/indifferent to same-sex marriage/behaviors in just a few years?

    I’m afraid the answer is that most folks made the transition based on marketing of some sort, instead of rethinking the issue and arriving at a decision. I think most of them assume there’s solid research “out there” somewhere, but they haven’t looked for it and couldn’t tell you what it says if they tried. They heard that “love is love” and similar slogans, and simply agreed with them. But there’s no intellectual basis for their transition, which means they’re liable to swing back and forth again, depending on the stimuli they receive from their environments.

    If that’s the case, then I would expect a kind of soft consensus in favor of being tolerant toward others, but whenever an actual situation is discussed, many people revert to form. Isn’t that what we’re seeing today?

  60. The blogger mentioned in the article made clear that it was not consensual on his part.

  61. Goodness gracious, habituallymystified, aren’t you just the cleverest, with your “Bobbob”, and your “caretaker”, and your “Depends”, and “bless your precious little heart”.

    Now you’re as happy as a dead pig in the sunshine and can forget all about it and get right on back to wiggling your fingers and giggling and remembering those happy days at National Catholic Reporter where someone took you seriously.

  62. The number of years can’t exceed the date of the copyrighted picture.

  63. “How did we get from a majority opposed to same-sex marriage/behaviors to a majority tolerating/accepting/indifferent to same-sex marriage/behaviors in just a few years?”

    (a) An expensive program of propaganda.

    (b) Obergefell v. Hodges

    (c) Indifference based on the futile attempts to overturn/mitigate Roe v. Wade.

    But the patience of the populace is not unlimited, as the 2016 presidential election demonstrated.

    Once we get a constitutional amendment before the states declaring that “privacy” is not a right protected by the Constitution, and the regulation of marriage belongs to the states rather than the federal government, interest will perk right up.

    Limiting the lower Federal courts, which are completely creations of the Congress, won’t even require an amendment.

  64. Yes, it is and if you read my posts you’ll see this. Whilst it is more, neither is it less.

  65. Oh no, she used “special” software written by an “expert” using a secret “algorithm” that – and this is a direct quote:

    “to block writers who don’t comment on articles, but simply respond negatively to everyone else”.

    I believe that algorithm would be rather valuable if it were not imaginary.

  66. No, I didn’t say that. I’m actually right-handed, so therefore “normative” in that respect if “deviant” in others.

    But to answer your question, I think the answer lies in the fact that in just one generation millions of gay people “came out” to their families and friends. The issue then was no longer abstract but became personal. It’s one thing to hate on an abstract idea, it’s another to hate on people you love.

  67. So a grown man hit on another grown man who didn’t ask for it. I’m not excusing that behavior any more than I would if grown straight men hit on grown straight women who don’t ask for it. But this article made it sound (without giving more specific detail) that there was a systemic sort of “gay problem” at St. John’s that went well beyond that one alleged incident, hence my response.

  68. Thank you. I think you may be right about the family and friends angle. I suspect I’m right that the tolerance of many people is still soft and shallow.

  69. For people who don’t know any gay people, I think you’re right – their tolerance is soft and shallow.

  70. The article said that when it was reported, the report was disregarded.

    That appears to be topic for investigation and for suspension of the rector.

    There was no allegation of a “systemic sort of ‘gay problem” at St. John’s” in the article I read.

  71. “Until the Church comes to terms with a more developed theology of human sexuality, I don’t see how they can confront this issue honestly or effectively.”

    Well said, Monica.

    There is a good article by an acknowledged gay priest on the wider issue of human sexuality as it is understood and lived today especially in the priesthood. The article is by James Alison, identified in The Tablet article as “a priest, theologian, lecturer, retreat giver and itinerant preacher.” The article is reprinted in the Association of Catholic Priests Ireland website (accessible without charge) here: The comments on this article are outstanding and worth reading as well.

    A teaser: “For honesty is effectively forbidden by a Church teaching that tells you that you are an intrinsically heterosexual person who is inexplicably suffering from a grave objective disorder called ‘same-sex attraction’. And so we get seminaries in which there are no gay seminarians, but whose rectors nevertheless push programmes like those of ‘Courage’ on their oh-so-non-gay-but-transitorily-same-sex-attracted charges.”

    There is much more that also has to do with the problem of identifying when sexual expression is or is not a power play. This is something of great significance in the wider #MeToo movement.

    While I think O’Malley needs to look at what happened at the seminary in Boston – it isn’t enough, just as it is stupid to think the child sex abuse scandal is a problem of gay priests. There is a lot of dysfunctionality in the with all-male, mandatory/supposed celibate, clerical caste system within the Church. The “good ol’ boys” club of Peter Pans who never grow up. AND there is a lot of dysfunctional understanding of human sexuality.

  72. Thanks, ATF – It’s Augustinian theology all over again, no matter how vociferously some folks try to deny it. Paul and Augustine were, as we all are, imperfect proclaimers of the Gospel, and we can’t keep blindly passing on their personal dysfunction as normative and prescriptive. What makes their personal stories so compelling is precisely the fact that they were so royally messed up prior to their conversions — a condition they brought with them to their experience as disciples.
    Original sin is a theological symbol that helps us understand the human condition. It’s not an actual condition of “fallen human nature” that manifests itself in concupiscence. When Augustine says that sexual relations even within marriage are at least a venial sin, he shows how much baggage he carried with him into Christian discipleship, as well as how little he understood human nature.
    I’m not even going to mention my husband, bless his heart – Monica.

  73. Whilst it is more, neither is it less. Nor is it only.

  74. Correct – sex isn’t given for pleasure beyond its intended purpose

  75. If the late Richard Sipe and the late Andrew Greeley were right, ca. 95% of priests didn’t abuse children. Sipe estimated the numbers of clerical abusers of minors at 6%. Other studies have estimated 4 or 7%. According to Cardinal Wuerl, “It turns out about 5 percent of the priests in Pennsylvania over those 70 years had some allegation against them.” So a 5% failure rate is not an unreasonable guess. Of course, the cost of those failures has been horrendous, much more so since the system failed to weed out the perps in a timely manner, even when the abuse was known. That is the key point in the Pennsylvania investigation. But not abusing children (the barest minimum standard if there ever was one) is not the same as keeping a vow of celibacy. Richard Sipe estimated that at any one time 50% are keeping that vow. I don’t have a way of verifying that figure, but the number keeping that high standard is surely different than the number meeting the barest minimum standard. For the RCC to reform itself, the numbers, whatever they are, must be faced honestly and openly. A combination of celibacy, clericalism, and secrecy has been proven to be very dangerous.

  76. 5% allegation does not constitute 5% failure.

    Richard Sipe can estimate anything he wants since there is no data to confirm or deny it.

    Celibacy had zero to do with it.

    Non-celibates in Protestant denominations, including but not limited to Anglicans, the various Lutheran synods, and the UCC have about the same rate of abuse.

    “Clericalism” is jargon.

    The only secrecy that was a problem involved violations of Canon Law.

    Canon Law requires that offenders be dismissed from the ministry, not given counseling and put back on the line.

    Canon Law requires that in countries with functional justice systems the authorities be notified if the allegations are credible. Bishops took upon themselves to not comply with Canon Law. Many of those bishops had their own dirty secrets to hide – Rembert Weakland in Milwaukee is a good example.

  77. Do you like sowing confusion?

    Personal opinion or not, Cardinal Archbishop or not, here is what the Church clearly states:

    1411 Only validly ordained priests can preside at the Eucharist and consecrate the bread and the wine so that they become the Body and Blood of the Lord.

    Can. 900 §1The minister who is able to confect the sacrament of the Eucharist in the person of Christ is a validly ordained priest alone.

    Saint Aquinas would disagree with your Archbishop’s opinion and gives the reasons:

    I answer that, As stated above (III:78:4), such is the dignity of this sacrament that it is performed only as in the person of Christ. Now whoever performs any act in another’s stead, must do so by the power bestowed by such a one. But as the power of receiving this sacrament is conceded by Christ to the baptized person, so likewise the power of consecrating this sacrament on Christ’s behalf is bestowed upon the priest at his ordination: for thereby he is put upon a level with them to whom the Lord said (Luke 22:19): “Do this for a commemoration of Me.” Therefore, it must be said that it belongs to priests to accomplish this sacrament.

  78. Well, your personal opinion is wrong! The power to consecrate the sacrament on Christ’s behalf, is bestowed at ordination.

  79. Saint Paul was an “imperfect proclaimer” of the Gospel, with a “personal dysfunction” and “royally messed up prior to his conversion” and brought this “experience as a disciples”. He may well have been, but his Epistles were written under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and so we can be sure they contain no human error.

    “Original sin is a theological symbol that helps us understand the human condition. It’s not an actual condition of “fallen human nature” that manifests itself in concupiscence.”

    There’s goes 2000 years of constant Church teaching!

  80. Seriously, is she for real? If she’s a Catholic, one trusts she understands the implications of what she’s been writing here.

  81. That’s why I’m not a fan of big organized church. I know that anyone with a good heart for the meaning can serve communion to anyone else, any time, any place with no permission required from any authority whatsoever. Most people don’t know that because no one ever told them.

  82. “Here’s a question I could use some help with. How did we get from a majority opposed to same-sex marriage/behaviors to a majority tolerating/accepting/indifferent to same-sex marriage/behaviors in just a few years?”

    Loss of faith in the teachings of the Church and the failures of its minsters to teach her doctrines and defend them. It doesn’t mean the Church is wrong. It just means the external means of grace are diminishing and the Church is failing to resist the influence of modernist “scholars” and the media. Tolerance is one thing; declaring evil to be good is quite another.

  83. She was a regular at the National “Catholic” Reporter.

    I do believe she understands the implications of what she posts.

  84. Not to forget the emergence of the “magisterium of the theologians” that told everyone what they wanted to here and seduced them into believing it was all about “personal conscience”.

    The theological roots of the present crisis
    It is not insignificant that the Pandora’s Box opened up by the McCarrick scandal should occur during the very year the Church is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the promulgation Humanae Vitae. In the midst of all the celebrations, however, little attention has been given to fact that the Church’s teaching on the central principles of Catholic sexual morality newly articulated by Pope Paul VI was almost immediately rejected by dissenting theologians within days of its promulgation. Before the text of the papal document could have reached Washington, DC in the pre-fax-machine (and pre-email) era, Professor Charles E. Curran of Catholic University of America whipped up some 87 signatories to a letter that publicly rejected its teaching. Soon the list of signatories reached some 300, when, as Cardinal Stafford once testified, huge pressure was put on theologians and priests to sign, even though few if any could have actually read the document. Similar dissent was expressed in other countries throughout the world, though perhaps not as aggressively as in the USA or Germany.

    For the first time in the history of the Church, leading theologians openly dissented from the Magisterium. And this happened even though Pope Paul VI expressly affirmed his authority as Successor of St. Peter to interpret the natural moral law as clarified by Divine Revelation in order to answer to the grave issues raised by demographic and cultural developments in the modern world (cf. HV 4). It was rejected as “non-infallible,” as though what is be accepted as authoritatively binding in conscience was limited to (rare) infallible ex cathedra pronouncements.

  85. Your entitled to your own beliefs, it’s just not a Roman Catholic (or Orthodox) belief and I wouldn’t want you to be misled about this. And you wont find any support for it in scripture or the Church Fathers.

  86. I already mentioned here that I’m not a Catholic, not suitable for being a Catholic and not wishing to be a Catholic. That’s not saying I knock people who are or want to be, but the Church Fathers are simply not authoritative to independent Christians. As for scripture, you’re telling me that Jesus rejects those who would take a communion together in his name without an ordained priest? Seriously?

  87. The point I was making is that the advice you received about Catholic belief is not actually orthodox Catholic belief. Quite the opposite, in fact. My intention was to clarify that issue and not to explore your particular beliefs about the Eucharist.

    Jesus would not reject those meeting and praying to Him. However, the question is whether the “communion” shared would consist of eating and drinking His real, substantial, body, blood, soul and divinity under the appearance of bread and wine.

  88. The actual roots are not “Augustinian theology”, no matter how vociferously some folks try to deny it.

    The actual roots are in the Old Testament and “go forth and multiply”.

    Both a ban on birth control and rejection of same sex relations have Old Testament roots.

  89. There is a clique of posters who arrived after the National “Catholic” Reporter closed its Comments section.

    The origin of NCR is closely tied to the rejection of Humanae Vitae and the creation of the alternate magisterium with an imagined veto power over unpopular teaching. 50 years later their positions are indistinguishable from those of the Episcopal Church, e.g.:

    “The traditional difficulty with this obvious answer is that, in Pauline-Augustinian theology,the human drive for sexual pleasure is seen as concupiscence — a weakness in human nature caused by original sin. So Catholic theology has traditionally ignored the obvious and proceeded on the basis of an illusion, i.e., that we’re all having sex only when we’re ‘open to procreation.’”

    which is complete silliness.

  90. Indeed, let’s reject 3,000 years of constant teaching on human sexuality and substitute instead “a good article by an acknowledged gay priest on the wider issue of human sexuality”.

    One does get the impression that readers of National Catholic Reporter should receive treatment for Post Cult Trauma Syndrome.

  91. And it’s not my intent to argue against orthodox Catholic beliefs either. I was raised Protestant and communion is a big spiritual deal without literal transubstantiation. There are just differences in how these things are seen and done. I hope the best for the Catholics, that they can deal effectively with a priest shortage, and that they can stop whatever problems seminary may have caused in the priests they have.

  92. So you say. But if you have ever had sex without intending to procreate, you have just invalidated your own argument.

    In the hundreds of catholic weddings I have been to, the priest almost always says about children”when it is god’s will”. It would seem that god himself disagrees with you.

  93. Apparently the argument went right past you.

    That is, of course, no surprise.

    The teaching is not that you have to have an intent to procreate to licitly engage in sex.

    The teaching is that you not place barriers which would render it impossible to procreate.

    This entails understanding, among other things, the natural law – which of course leaves you out of the conversation.

  94. The teaching of the Church is that sex should be “open to life” i.e. no artificial contraception or sterile acts.

  95. I am curious. Why do you use the name “Just Curious”, when you seem to be certain that you have all of the answers?

  96. Thank you for writing this, Elagabalus. I have been wanting to write it on several occasions, but you have done a much better job than my attempts. Would you mind if I used this in other places? I will be glad to attribute it to you if you wish,.

  97. But since gay people have come out en masse, more and more straight people know gay people — and know that they know them. From my interaction with younger colleagues and with college students up to a few years ago, I think that most younger people in the US accept LGBT people as a matter of course.

    I realize that there are still pockets in the population that resist LGBT people, but I think that those groups are growing smaller. It seems to me that this is a large part of the reason why they are protesting so much and insisting that the support for LGBT people is not real. .

  98. Oh, I’m curious by nature – and you seem to be too.

  99. FYI. Crackers do not turn into the flesh of 2000 year old Jewish zombies, not matter how many magic words are spoken, or over whom.

  100. You’re completely free to hold that opinion. Faith is a freely accepted gift.

  101. Likewise. But by believing that some people have supernatural authority you place those humans in a position to abuse that authority. Wnen children are being hurt, it is time to reexamine those beliefs.


  102. This is true.

    The bread and wine are transformed into the real flesh and blood, body, soul and divinity of our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

  103. A priest holds the power to forgive sin in Jesus’ name and to transform the bread and wine into Christ’s body and blood. His “supernatural power” does not extend beyond the ontological change to administer and dispense the sacraments. The culture built up around this (clericalism), is just as much the responsibility of the laity to overcome as it is the ordained priest’s.

  104. Setting aside accuracy / truth of whether priests possess this power for the moment, look at the facts on the ground.

    Priests in PA and all over the globe have for decades (centuries) used their claimed power to forgive sin as a weapon that allowed them to commit brutal rape. And then they used the same weapon to command silence.

    As thinking adults, we have a responsibility to ensure nobody uses temporal or spiritual weapons to commit child rape. Given the harm that comes from believing certain humans have magic powers to speak for god, it is time for adults to look closely at these beliefs.

  105. That apparently is not going to happen.

    Yesterday she rather completely bombed out at First Things:

    and this morning repeated the performance at RNS:

    The Comments at NCR were a special case where you could get away with writing “1+1= 3” and get high fives for it.

  106. The two sons who killed the prince of Shechem were Simeon and Levi.
    [Simeon (root word Shema) is the Law. He is the scribes.
    Levi (his descendants, the priests) is the priests.
    Prince of Shechem is a shadow of the Prince.]

    In the Gospels, the two groups leading charge against Jesus were the “chief priests and scribes ” Astonishingly, they were troubled even when He was just a new born baby. “When King Herod heard this, he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired where the Christ was to be born.…” Their head knowledge does not help with their love of God or those from God. (Don’t look to Herod and his horses for your salvation. Don’t look to the chief priests and scribes either. You turn around to see Jesus rather than look to man’s righteousness for blessing, healing and peace. )

  107. I sincerely hope a thorough investigation into the sexual shenanigans, affronts, affairs, and abuses of the “theologian” priest at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago will be included in this. Ask lay staff members. New staffers got “hit on” with absurd regularity by priests who thought it was perfectly alright to “date”. Priest/nun in longterm affairs on the faculty. Not a crime, but an ethical abuse. And of course, teacher/student/seminarian abuse. The homosocial culture of CTU is legendary, the seminarians from various orders revel in the gay social network and joke about celibacy and chastity. Priests who travel for their speaking engagements routinely take alone attractive young seminarians or already priests who are doing D.Min. degrees. One room, of course. Open secrets of all the sexual affairs and favors. Do something about. This garbage has destroyed the church. Good heterosexual men and women are faced with either studying and working in a homosexual culture or leaving. Many leave. Lay and seminarian. There are virtually no heterosexual seminarians at CTU. There are occasional heterosexual affairs by the handful of older, either not-gay or just confused priests. Priest behave in overtly seductive ways all the time with students. Investigate.

Leave a Comment