WASHINGTON – The Vatican has ordered an inspection of Roman Catholic seminaries in the United States to look for “evidence of homosexuality” and for faculty members who dissent from church teachings, according to a document containing guidelines for the yearlong review.
The inspections of more than 220 seminaries and theological schools, set to begin later this month, was authorized in the wake of the church’s child-molestation scandal. It will be carried out by a committee of 117 bishops and priests, who will break into small teams to visit each seminary for at least four days.
The Vatican’s instructions are in an 11-page document detailing how the visits should be conducted. All faculty, students and graduates from the past three years are to be interviewed. Areas to be examined include whether “there is a clear process for removing” dissident faculty; if seminarians “know how to use alcohol, the Internet, television, etc. with prudence and moderation,” and how students’ “behavior outside the seminary” is monitored.
A copy of the document was obtained by the Washington Post from a priest.
The mandate to look for “evidence of homosexuality” reflects a concern among some church officials and members that Catholic seminaries have become too tolerant of a gay lifestyle. It also reflects the contention by some Catholics that the pedophilia scandal grew out of lax moral discipline and the presence of gay men among the clergy. Other Catholics dispute that view, saying there is no evidence that homosexuality leads to sexual abuse of children.