CLEVELAND (ChurchMilitant.com) - A priest ordained in 2017 for the diocese of Cleveland, Ohio just had his bond related to child porn charges tripled.
Geauga County Judge Terri Stupica raised the bond from $50,000 to $150,000 for Fr. Robert McWilliams owing to recent charges from multiple counties following his arrest last month. Stupica also ordered that McWilliams, who pleaded not guilty to all charges, avoid contact with any juveniles and be outfitted with a GPS ankle monitor if he's released.
In view of such recent cases following last year's so-called "summer of shame," Michael Voris, senior executive producer at Church Militant, asks whether U.S. seminaries need a spiritual overhaul.
"If everything is so much better now and the problems in seminary are all resolved as we keep being told," asked Voris, "then how did this guy get through so recently?"
Borromeo Seminary, Cleveland's college seminary that helped form McWilliams, has issues with its formation program. It has not been publicized yet whether the porn charges against McWilliams are of a homosexual nature. But Borromeo does have a history of accommodating gay seminarians and those with unresolved sexual issues.
The school has a handbook for its seminarians. In the section on celibacy, it states: "Each person must come to terms with his own sexual drives and sexual orientation."
Elaborating on "heterosexual or homosexual orientation" of seminarians, the handbook continues, "Both persons are capable of making and keeping a commitment to celibacy. But in either case, the expectations are the same: the ability to refrain from genital sexual experiences."
Further on it says "fraternal charity" means "not engaging in unwarranted interference into another's personal life, and not nurturing homophobia within the community."
Nowhere does the handbook speak directly of the Church's mandate to dismiss seminarians who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies.
One concerned mother, after reading the seminary's handbook, contacted Church Militant and asked, "How can I support my son entering here? I simply cannot."
The seminary's website does say: "The Program of Priestly Formation is the guiding document issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)."
In section 56 of the USCCB's document we read: "With regard to the admission of candidates with same-sex experiences and/or inclinations, the guidelines provided by the Holy See must be followed."
The Holy See, in two documents, directs seminaries to dismiss those seminarians who have "deep-seated homosexual tendencies."
The Congregation for Catholic Education in 2008 published a document, signed by Pope Benedict XVI, called "Guidelines for the Use of Psychology in the Admission and Formation of Candidates for the Priesthood." This document, speaking of psychological deficiencies of seminarians, states, "Such immaturity would include ... uncertain sexual identity; deep-seated homosexual tendencies; etc. If this should be the case, the path of formation will have to be interrupted."
In another area, the document lists problems that "block the vocational journey," which include "a sexual identity that is confused or not yet well defined."
It further says it's necessary to "evaluate his sexual orientation, according to the indications published by this Congregation."
The document adds a footnote referencing a 2005 document by the same congregation titled "Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations With Regard to Persons With Homosexual Tendencies in View of Their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders."
In this document, the congregation addressed the "urgent" question of "whether to admit to the seminary and to Holy Orders candidates who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies." The answer is no.
The dicastery declared that bishops or major superiors "cannot admit to the seminary or to Holy Orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called 'gay culture.'"
The congregation explicitly declares: "If a candidate practices homosexuality or presents deep-seated homosexual tendencies, his spiritual director, as well as his confessor, have the duty to dissuade him in conscience from proceeding towards ordination."
It further instructs it would be "gravely dishonest for a candidate to hide his own homosexuality" so that he could be ordained.
The same dicastery in its 2008 document cited above also clarifies: "If it should be ascertained that the candidate needs therapy, this therapy should be carried out before he is admitted to the seminary or house of formation."
This is in stark contrast to the Cleveland seminary handbook:
An individual may require professional counseling to work through his feelings, come to a sense of peace with his own sexuality, and proceed to live a healthy celibate lifestyle. ... If professional counseling is required, it will be made available. Financial assistance will be provided when needed.
The Holy See makes clear the seminary is not the place to work out one's emotional problems, and deep-seated homosexual tendencies render a man unfit for the priesthood.
Rome emphatically warns: "One must in no way overlook the negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies."
Considering what he knows about seminary formation from insiders, Voris wonders if more cases against recently ordained priests will be coming out: "Is this just an isolated example, or are there more who just haven't been caught yet?"