More than 2,300 religious hang up their habits every year, quitting their vocation. The most worrisome part is that most of them are not newly ordained young people, but religious between the ages of 30 and 50.
FR. AMEDEO CENCINI
“The problem we have is not only that the initial preparation has had shortcomings; it is that there is no ongoing formation. FLASH. The formation to the priesthood desires to create in each man’s heart the same sensitivity as the Good Shepherd, Jesus. This is not a project that can be reduced to only a few years or only a limited time during life.”
As a psychologist, it is normal to see Fr. Amedeo Cencini at conferences like this one. It is organized by the Regina Apostolorum and dedicated to seminary rectors.
His specialty is self-criticism and he says that seminaries do not talk enough about a central aspect of a person’s life: sexuality.
FR. AMEDEO CENCINI
“We have to admit it. This is the first thing we can conclude from seeing the painful drama of sexual scandals and abuse: they signify that we did not know how to form the heart. FLASH. We cannot continue to view sexuality as an untouchable subject, or one spoken about only when young people ask for it. If it is not talked about, there are obvious contradictions. Sexuality has to be confronted from the beginning of formation. If a young man says, ‘I don’t have any problems in becoming a priest.’ You have to say, ‘The problem is you.’ Because to a normal young man, this decision to give up something beautiful, like the love of a woman, should cause a problem.”
In fact the Vatican is already working on this. In December, the Congregation for the Clergy published a new document: “The gift of the priestly vocation.” It recalls that the formation of seminarians for the priesthood must be integral.
Not only should the spiritual part be developed, but they should help form a stable personality in each person so they know how to live out their sexuality into their new state. This is a way in which they intend to confront the situation. Even the pope has described the problem of religious quitting as a “hemorrhage” that weakens the life of the Church.