Fears are being raised that seminarians will receive no protection from homosexual predation in the Church, in spite of the pope's call for a worldwide synod on prevention of abuse. The concerns revolve around deceptive use of the phrase "vulnerable adults" — which does not as currently defined include seminarians, even though they are currently the primary target of clerical abuse, as multiple recent reports and testimonies reveal.
In the wake of the ever-unfolding crisis of homosexual predation among the clergy of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis announced he is calling a synod consisting of the presidents of Catholic Conferences throughout the world to address it. According to a press statement from the Vatican, the meeting will be "about the prevention of abuse of minors and vulnerable adults." Perhaps not ironically, the four-day synod opens on Feb. 21, the Feast of St. Peter Damian, who wrote The Book of Gomorrah, which was about sodomy and sexual abuse among the clergy in his day.
There are several things which raise immediate concern with this particular synod, the most significant being the Vatican's stated goals to begin with.
The Vatican press statement indicated that the synod will address "the prevention of abuse of minors and vulnerable adults." To the common ear, the suggestion of the prevention of the abuse of "vulnerable adults" may seem like a reference to seminarians, older altar boys or even young priests. But the reality is that it addresses something that isn't even really a factor.
There isn't any one uniform definition for "vulnerable adults," but the definitions used by various dioceses are similar enough to convey the same meaning — and they all exclude your average seminarian.
The archdiocese of Washington, in its Child Protection Policy manual, defines "vulnerable adult" as a person who "is unable or unlikely to report abuse without assistance because of impairment of physical or mental function or emotional status."
The archdiocese of Miami states that a "vulnerable person" is "a minor under 18 years of age or a person whose ability to perform normal activities of daily living is impaired due to a mental, emotional, long-term physical or developmental disability or dysfunction, or brain damage, or the infirmities of aging."
The archdiocese of Louisville, Kentucky states that, "An adult 18 years or older is considered vulnerable when, because of impairment of mental or physical functions, that person is unable or unlikely to report abuse or neglect without assistance."
In none of the definitions we were able to obtain is a "vulnerable adult" identified in such a manner that it would include men whose vocations could be destroyed by unscrupulous and wicked predators. And when we consider the fact that this entire situation exploded on the scene this summer because of the revelations regarding Theodore McCarrick's serial abuse of seminarians at a New Jersey beach house, it is a little more than perplexing that such individuals would not even merit consideration in the Vatican's planned synod this February.
Other concerns about the synod include the fact that it's scheduled for nearly six months from now. Given the rapidity with which the scandal is developing in the public sphere, the entire face of the situation could be completely different from what it is now.
There has already been one grand jury investigation in the United States, with eight others looming on the horizon. Furthermore, the possibility of a RICO suit against the Catholic Church in the United States could further complicate matters, especially if bishops are found destroying or hiding evidence.
Additionally, this synod is nothing more than a four-day meeting that addresses an issue that goes back almost 100 years. A meeting of conference heads from around the world is not going to resolve anything in four days. In fact, the purpose of the meeting itself excludes the most central element of the problem, which is the infestation of homosexual clergy into all ranks of the hierarchy.
If Pope Francis were serious about rooting out the cause of the current crisis, he would begin by directing his energies at removing all clergymen who promote, endorse support or in any way facilitate homosexuality. Instead, his focus is on scolding and hunting down whistleblowers.
The smoke and mirrors being utilized by this papacy in relation to the homosexual crisis in the clergy only lends further credence to the concerns that Pope Francis has no real intention of preserving the integrity of the Faith, but only in furthering his own agenda.