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Was Pope Francis warning against bishops ordaining ‘traditionalist’ seminarians?

John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry

ROME, February 20, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- In comments to Roman clergy yesterday Pope Francis referred to cases that “happen often” where bishops have accepted “traditionalist” seminarians who were rejected by other dioceses.  Because “they presented themselves very well, very devout,” said the pope, the bishops failed to find out information about them, and they were later found to have “psychological and moral problems." Ordaining such seminarians, said the pontiff, is like placing a “mortgage on the Church.”

The comments came in a meeting with Roman clergy that, in order to be allowed to flow freely, Pope Francis asked not to be televised.  However, Rome’s Zenit News Agency, with close ties to the Vatican, constructed a report of the proceedings based on interviews with priests, some of whom had audio recordings of the pope’s remarks.

While, according to the Zenit report, the pope only raised the negative assessment of ‘traditionalist’ seminarians using their piety as a cover for psychological and moral problems, liberal clerics too have exhibited such problems.  Nevertheless, liberal Catholics have gleefully taken up Pope Francis’ words as a prescription to avoid traditional seminarians.

The pope’s negative reference to “traditionalists” is not new.  He used the term in his closing address to the Synod Fathers gathered in the Vatican for last October’s explosive Extraordinary Synod on the Family.  In comments widely interpreted as referring to Cardinal Raymond Burke and other cardinals at the Synod who fought to maintain the teaching of the Church on homosexuality and Holy Communion, Pope Francis spoke of the temptation of “traditionalists” with their “hostile inflexibility,” and their failure to allow themselves to be “surprised by God.”

In the meeting with clergy Thursday, the pope also spoke of the mistaken notion of a “reform of the reform,” referring to the desire and work of many faithful, both lay and clerical, to work toward restoring some of the dignity of the Catholic liturgy that was lost with abuses stemming from reforms of the Second Vatican Council. Pope Francis said that some of those promoting the “reform of the reform” are “saints” and acting “in good faith,” but they are nevertheless “mistaken.”

While the ordaining of elsewhere-rejected traditionalist clergy might occur on occasion, the rejection of orthodox candidates to the priesthood was frequent enough to be put into a book. The 2002 book Goodbye, Good Men by Michael Rose revealed that homosexuals and their radical feminist supporters in seminaries and chancery offices have created a “lavender mafia” or homosexual underground.

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For many years in many seminaries, reported Rose, only those sympathetic to the cause of the sexual revolution made it past these gatekeepers. Those men who applied to seminaries who upheld the teachings of the Catholic religion - especially believing homosexual acts are gravely sinful and the homosexual inclination is intrinsically disordered - were systematically excluded.

The recent sexual scandals of high-ranking clergy have also painted a rather different picture of the type of prelate who has “psychological and moral problems.”

The quintessential example of a liberal bishop with psychological and moral problems was Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland.  Throughout his 25 years as a powerful bishop in the United States he created havoc for faithful Catholics. In 2009, he admitted in an autobiography that he was an active homosexual.

At the time, Rose said Weakland’s revelation was not surprising at all. “What is most disappointing,” he told LifeSiteNews then, “is that his sexual perversions and obsessions colored the way he led the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, turning it during his long tenure there into a bastion of liberalism that encouraged dissent from the teachings of the Church on sexual issues and a host of others. Gay ministry and radical feminism were welcome while orthodoxy was maligned.”

In addition to a false liberal vision of the Church, Archbishop Weakland supported and failed to discipline dissident left-leaning clergy who distorted the faith. One such Catholic leader, Daniel Maguire, was a tenured professor at the Jesuit Catholic Marquette University in Milwaukee and is renowned for his effort to show that the Catholic faith justifies abortion.

During his episcopal career, Weakland held a variety of key positions in the US hierarchy, including chairman of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops’ ad hoc Committee on Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy. As a liturgical expert and musician, he was a leading figure in the US Church’s ruling liberal elite that worked to suppress traditional forms of music and liturgy.

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