Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 10, 2008
Edmonton seminary already tests most seminarians
By RAMON GONZALEZ
“The Church is not going to replace the judgment of its ministers who are entrusted with the work of formation with the judgment of a psychological professional.”
- Fr. Shayne Craig
“We also have seminarians in philosophy and they would often do a psychological test before they go into theology. But in no instance is it a requirement for admission,” Craig said. The seminary formation team, not psychologists, makes the decision.
In a document released Oct. 30, the Vatican said the early detection of “sometimes pathological” psychological defects in men before they become priests would help avoid tragic consequences.
Currently, 39 seminarians are at various stages of formation at St. Joseph, including 10 studying for the Edmonton Archdiocese.
Craig said that to his knowledge a seminarian has never refused to take a psychological test if it becomes necessary.
Anyway, all seminarians must go through the seminary’s human formation program, which uses psychology and psychological testing to help seminarians deal with issues such as conflict resolution, anger and addiction.
This program is led by outside professionals who do group sessions with seminarians. The psychologists are not part of the formation team.
Craig said even though the Vatican appreciates the importance of psychological testing, it makes it clear it should not be the determining factor in whether a candidate can proceed on the path to the priesthood.
“The Church is not going to replace the judgment of its ministers who are entrusted with the work of formation with the judgment of a psychological professional,” Craig said. “It’s not their role. I think most psychologists would say that’s not their role.”
Craig said psychological testing is not used to weed out bad candidates but to improve good candidates who may be having problems.
“We would ask someone to go for further psychological testing or counselling if we thought there was some sort of problem that he needed help surmounting in order to be a good pastor,” he said.
But the decision as to whether a man is fit to be a pastor is the responsibility of the seminary’s formation team, not the psychologist.
“If we are going to ask somebody to leave, that’s going to be a judgment that we would arrive at on the basis of observing their external conduct — on seeing how they comport themselves in seminary life and how they (behave) in their pastoral placement,” Craig explained.
“If we really think they don’t show the aptitude to be a future pastor, we will reach that judgment sometimes without recourse to any kind of counselling or anything like that.”
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.