Visitation of U.S. Seminaries to Begin This Fall

Backed by Bishops in Wake of Scandals

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WASHINGTON, D.C., AUG. 25, 2005 ( The apostolic visitation of U.S. seminaries and houses of formation, by a Vatican congregation, will begin in late September, says the country’s episcopal conference.

In their Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, adopted in June 2002 in the wake of the clerical sex-abuse scandals, the U.S. bishops pledged their “complete cooperation with the apostolic visitation of our diocesan/eparchial seminaries and religious houses of formation recommended in the interdicasterial meeting with the cardinals of the United States and the conference officers in April 2002.”

A previous visitation of seminaries and houses of formation was conducted in the 1980s.

The upcoming visitation will begin in late September and possibly finish by the end of the 2005-2006 academic year, according to the U.S. bishops’ conference. The visitation involves the Vatican congregations for Catholic Education and for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, of Military Services, is the coordinator of the visitation.

The visitation will include schools of theology as well as college-level seminaries, houses of formation, and academic institutions that form future priests — both secular clergy and members of religious institutes and societies of apostolic life. There are 229 such institutions.

The Congregation for Catholic Education aims to examine the criteria for admission of candidates and the programs of human formation and spiritual formation aimed at ensuring that they can faithfully live in celibacy. The Vatican congregation also hopes to examine other aspects of priestly formation in the United States.

Particular attention will be paid to the intellectual formation of seminarians, to examine fidelity to the magisterium, especially in the field of moral theology.

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