TLM: Give us a little background about
your new book Goodbye, Good Men. That’s quite a title. What
does it mean?
Rose: The thesis boils down to this: for
more than thirty years now, qualified candidates for the
priesthood have been turned away precisely for political
reasons. Not because they were found unsuitable for seminary
or for ordination, but because they were seen as a threat to
the liberal status quo. What I’m talking about in my book is
a systematic, ideological discrimination against orthodox
candidates to the priesthood.
TLM: What exactly is meant by the
Rose: As I employ the term throughout the
book, “orthodox” connotes adherence to the Magisterium of
the Church and full acceptance of authentic Church teaching.
It refers to the man who embraces the authentic traditions,
devotions, and piety of the Church. The orthodox man is he
who does not support women’s ordination, who defends the
Church’s teaching on human sexuality and artificial birth
control, who exhibits piety toward devotions such as the
Rosary and Eucharistic adoration, and who accepts the
Church’s understanding of the priesthood and doesn’t have an
agenda to redefine or “re-envision” it.
TLM: One would think that the orthodox
candidate, at least in most ways, would be an ideal
candidate for the priesthood in the Catholic Church.
Rose: Yes, that’s certainly what common
sense would dictate. But unfortunately there have been other
forces at work throughout the last three decades that defy
common sense, that defy even common decency. Turning away
candidates who explicitly and proudly accept the Church’s
teaching has been likened to a Marine recruiter turning away
prospects because they profess a love for America—or perhaps
more to the point, because they won’t embrace a Communist
agenda, an agenda that would intrinsically undermine the
TLM: You mentioned “forces at work.” What
do you mean by that? Is it the “smoke of Satan” that has
entered the Church?
Rose: That’s one way of putting it—and it
would be most accurate. I think we ought to remember though
that the devil uses men (and women too, of course) to carry
out his works. And what we see are dissenting Catholics who
have hijacked the priesthood in order to change the Church
in illegitimate ways from within—the Church’s structure, the
Church’s disciplines, and the Church’s teaching. Often they
are concerned with justifying their own lifestyle, their own
sins, especially in the area of sexual sin.
TLM: In one chapter you detail the ways in
which heterodoxy drives “good men” away from the seminaries.
What’s the modus operandi at work there?
Rose: Let me preface my answer by giving a
little background about how I came to write this book about
vocations and seminaries. When I was editor of St. Catherine
Review, I was put onto a story about the seminary in
Cincinnati. What I found was that one professor (Aaron
Milavec), hired to teach a generation of future priests,
denied two essential doctrines of the Catholic faith: the
ministerial priesthood and the Real Presence of Jesus in the
Eucharist. And another theology professor, Sr. Barbara Fiand,
who had been teaching there for seventeen years, was a
resolute opponent of the male, celibate priesthood.
Seminarians there said she gave the impression that she
wanted no man ordained to the priesthood, not even the
liberal ones that went along with her program.
TLM: It’s hard to believe that seminary
professors wouldn’t believe in the Catholic priesthood.
Rose: It’s outrageous—and hypocritical, I
might add. With further research I found that professors
like Milavec and Fiand weren’t exactly anomalies.
TLM: I know this might seem to be a naďve
question—yet an obvious one—but, why don’t they become
Protestant theologians and Protestant seminary professors
Rose: In order to answer that question one
must realize that the essence of their academic careers
doesn’t seem to be to teach their idiosyncratic theology,
although that is a prerequisite for sure. The essence of
their careers is to change the structure, doctrines, and
mission of the Catholic Church. They appear to be teaching
at Catholic seminaries primarily to train seminarians not to
TLM: And getting back to the
discrimination against orthodox seminarians, how does that
Rose: Well, it works in several ways. Some
candidates are screened out right from the beginning, being
denied even admission to the seminary. Now, admittedly the
Church has the grave duty of screening out candidates that
don’t belong in seminary, and there are any number of
legitimate reasons not to admit a man. But I’m not talking
here about a process designed to winnow out false vocations.
Rather, the orthodox candidate often times must pass a
litmus test, so to speak.
TLM: Is this a sort of test to determine
whether or not a candidate is “politically correct”?
Rose: That’s exactly what it is. So what
we have seen over the past thirty-some years is that
candidates who, for example, expressed the Church’s teaching
on sexual issues were labeled “sexually disordered” or
TLM: Who are these gatekeepers who are
sizing up the candidates for PC reasons
Rose: At this stage we’re talking about
the vocations office and the psychologists who are hired to
assess the suitability of a candidate. In the case of the
vocations office, one of the common probing questions is
“What do you think about women priests,” and too often the
honest candidate who states correctly that the Church has no
ability to ordain women to the priesthood is dismissed. The
politically correct answer is: “Oh yeah, I’m open to it,
In the case of the psychologists, what too often happens is
that a man or woman who does not accept the teachings of the
Church nor even understands those teachings evaluates the
orthodox candidate. Questions posed by psychologists on
celibacy and homosexuality are part of the litmus test. The
orthodox candidate who reveals that he embraces celibacy in
the priesthood or who makes known that he doesn’t accept the
gay lifestyle, risks a negative psychological evaluation
which is used to turn him away at the gate.
TLM: But obviously some orthodox men do
make it into the seminary; what then
Rose: It’s important to understand that
there are certain dioceses which don’t put their candidates
through unethical psychological tests or give them PC litmus
tests. These are, by and large, the same dioceses which
don’t have a vocations crisis or a priest shortage, and it’s
no coincidence. But yes, even other dioceses and religious
orders let some orthodox guys through the gate—perhaps
hoping that they can be formed according to the PC norms to
accept the tenets of feminism, the gay agenda, secularism,
and modernist liturgical practices.
The orthodox man who arrives at seminary
expecting to find like-minded faculty and peers can be sadly
disappointed. But I might add here that these days—at least
since the mid-1990s or so, the problems are more with the
faculty than with the students. The seminarians in the 21st
century are, overall, much more conservative and
tradition-minded than the seminarians of 20 or 30 years ago.
TLM: Does that create a tension between
the young orthodox seminarian and the middle-age Modernist?
Rose: It does. Faculty and formation
priests and nuns at many seminaries still have a difficult
time hiding their animosity for the Church and the
priesthood. And their effects on the seminarians are
deleterious. Some guys stick it out and “play the game,”
saying what the liberal faculty want to hear, playing dumb,
and so forth. And some of them are able to advance to
ordination. Others are driven away—repulsed really, by the
affront to Church teaching and discipline they witness. They
leave on their own initiative even if they believe they
still have a genuine vocation to the priesthood. Other
orthodox seminarians are sent to psychological counseling to
be “re-treaded,” or simply intimidated. Others have been
ridiculed and persecuted and expelled for being “rigid” or
“doctrinaire.” Their crimes are piety, devotion, love of the
Church and her teaching.
TLM: Obviously one of the great strengths
of Goodbye, Good Men is that it helps one understand the
current spate of sexual abuse scandals that have been
plaguing the Church this year. What’s the relationship
between the current scandals and what has transpired in
seminaries over the past thirty years?
Rose: In bringing the “sexual revolution”
into the Church, liberals have welcomed—even
preferred—radicalized active homosexuals to orthodox
seminarians in the name of “tolerance.” Now that tolerance
has been exposed as a toleration of criminal acts. The
extent of the sex abuse scandals and the accompanying
payoffs and cover-ups has mystified many of the faithful who
are simply at a loss to understand how this could have
occurred, and why it was swept under the rug for so long.
Goodbye, Good Men presents evidence that the root of this
problem—both the cover-up and the sex abuse itself—extends
down to the very place where vocations to the priesthood
germinate: the seminary. The corrupt, protective network
starts in many of these seminaries, where gay seminarians
were encouraged to “act out” or “explore their sexuality” in
highly inappropriate ways.
Through the seminaries, moral and
religious liberals have brought a moral meltdown into the
Catholic priesthood. If the sex scandals that have rocked
the Catholic Church are to end, the individuals responsible
for this moral meltdown must be rooted out. Only then will
the “dark shadow of suspicion,” as the Pope calls it, be
removed from “all the other fine priests who perform their
ministry with honesty and integrity, and often with heroic
TLM: I’ve read some reviews of Goodbye,
Good Men. Some have been very positive—in secular newspapers
like the Philadelphia Inquirer and in some Catholic
periodicals like Crisis and Homiletic & Pastoral Review. The
New York Post even ran excerpts from the book. But I’ve
noticed that others have been very critical, not so much of
your thesis but of your methodology. Some so-called
conservative Catholic periodicals have run bitterly critical
reviews. Why are they so bothered?
Rose: Most of the negative reviews have
taken issue with the fact that much of the evidence I
present is anecdotal. In the course of my research I
conducted 150 interviews, most of them with former and
current seminarians, about half of whom are now Catholic
priests. It is mainly from these interviews that I was able
to identify a pattern. With little variation these men told
me of essentially the same unnatural obstacles placed in the
path of authentic vocations to the priesthood: a biased
application screening process, the abuse of psychological
counseling, seminary gay subculture, promotion of ideas and
teachings which undermine Catholic belief, an open contempt
for traditional devotions and liturgy, and so on.
Taken together the testimony of the 150
interviewed demonstrates how widespread these problems have
been over the past three decades. How else could such a book
as Goodbye, Good Men have been written if not by including
actual personal accounts illustrating these roadblocks?
TLM: But your book seems to rely on more
than just anecdotes, isn’t that true?
Rose: Absolutely. Textbooks used in
seminary courses are reviewed. Comparative statistics are
presented, and a vast amount of information from previously
published sources is culled together under one cover. That
amounts to a whole lot more than just anecdotal evidence.
Some people seem to want to fault me for not writing a
“current state of the seminaries report.” Well, that’s not
the book I wrote. Goodbye, Good Men is not meant to be a
sociological, statistical analysis. What my book does is
tell the stories of men who, until now, had no recourse to
justice, and who were humiliated and silenced by leaders of
their beloved Church.
TLM: Another criticism leveled against
your book is your choice of sources. One publication faults
you for the use of what they deem “dubious sources.” And
others try to say that these men just have axes to grind.
Rose: In order to demonstrate that I used
“dubious sources” the one publication took issue with one
statement by one former seminarian who was quoted once in
the book. The reviewer, a recently ordained priest, did not
personally find this man credible. And he went on for two
whole pages, rather hysterically, about that. The fact is,
however, that I did find the man credible; he was
recommended to me by two prominent and well-respected
priests and other laymen; he was willing to go on record;
and his statement was corroborated by several other men from
the seminary in question. Since that time the
reviewer-priest has been on an Internet smear campaign to
try to discredit the book, even though by his own admission
he too suffered through much of what I discuss in the book,
and was even expelled from two seminaries.
TLM: The National Catholic Register and
other critics also fault you for being “one-sided”—not
getting the seminaries’ response to the allegations made by
Rose: The Register ran an op/ed piece
written by David Pearson accusing me—and others— of
destroying Catholic journalism (“Goodbye, Good Journalism?”
June 30, 2002). Pearson was “hopping mad,” he wrote, because
I published criticisms of a personal friend of his, Father
Marcel Taillon, the vocations director of the Providence
diocese in Rhode Island. I was said to have attacked his
friend. But anyone reading the book will see that Father
Taillon is never attacked. It is his media campaign to sell
the priesthood that is criticized—a campaign which includes
advertising on the raucous MTV cable station.
What really makes Pearson upset is that I
didn’t phone in to Father Taillon or his bishop for comment.
Pearson neglects, however, to mention that I quoted his
priest friend from previously published comments, which are
amply footnoted; and I also quote a defense of his media
campaign written by the editor of Providence’s diocesan
newspaper. After all, I was writing a book based on
thirty-some years of material. Books often rely on
previously published material. In fact almost every
nonfiction book on the market quotes from secondary sources.
In many other cases I do quote seminary
officials giving their official denials, usually from
written documents. Again, this seems to be overlooked by
critics. And the standard response to criticism of
seminaries over the years has been just that: denial,
denial, and more denial. This is a big part of the problem.
The official response is invariably: “all is well.” Even the
Vatican’s investigation of U.S. seminaries in the mid-1980s
could not get the truth out of them. That investigation was
recognized widely as a whitewash.
TLM: Besides these few criticisms how has
the book been received? I’ve noticed that the book has been
on the New York Times bestseller list for several weeks now.
I take that as a good sign?
Rose: The response has been varied, of
course, but from what I can tell it has been overwhelmingly
positive—especially from priests and seminarians who’ve been
waiting for a book like this to come out for years. Some
bishops have praised it while others have denounced it as
tabloid journalism. I’m told by sources in Rome that it is
being read in Vatican circles and taken very seriously. I
hope that’s true.