Vatican Issues Guidelines for Psychological Screening of Priests: What took so long?

by John McKiggan

The Vatican has issued guidelines for psychological screening of new priests. The Associated Press has reported that the guidelines were issued in response to sexual abuse scandals that have cost the Roman Catholic Church hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements for victims of sexual abuse.

Weeding Out Psychopaths

According to AP, the guidelines are supposed to help church leaders weed out candidates with “psychopathic disturbances.”

Scapegoating Homosexuals?

The BBC has reported that the voluntary tests should also aim to vet for those with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies”. Of course being homosexual has nothing to do with whether someone is more likely to commit sexual abuse. Needless to say, Gay rights groups have denounced the guidelines as unfairly targeting homosexuals.

Is It Enough?

SNAP (The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests) has responded by claiming that the screening guidelines do not go far enough. SNAP has called for an end to what SNAP calls the church’s “virtually unchanged culture of secrecy and unchecked power in the hierarchy” that left dangerous priests in parishes.

Is the Catholic Church the Problem?

I have posted before about research that suggests that the way in which the Catholic Church educates/trains it’s priests may actually create sexual abusers.

Only the First Step

Screening out people who may be potential sexual abusers is a good first step. But the screening, which is now voluntary, needs to be mandatory.

But the bigger problem, one that the Church has so far failed to address, is the culture of secrecy that still permeates the Church. There are persons in authority throughout the catholic Church that will do anything to protect the reputation of the Church. Even at the expense of innocent victims of sexual abuse.

I have represented hundreds of victims of childhood sexual abuse in claims for compensation. As a public service I have prepared a resource guide for survivors of sexual abuse in Atlantic Canada. You can receive a free copy of this report by contacting me through this blog, or my website at or by calling toll free in Atlantic Canada 1-877-423-2050.

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