Vatican--Discipline reckless seminary heads, don't beg them, SNAP says

For immediate release: Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016

Statement by Judy Jones of St. Louis, SNAP Associate Midwest Director (+1 636-433-2511 home, [email protected])

In a new document, the Vatican says bishops should be careful about accepting seminarians who've been rejected by other bishops, seminaries and dioceses. We’re glad for the new language. But given the tremendous and persistent priest shortage, we doubt a sentence or two in some new “guidelines” will make any difference at all.

There is, however, a more effective approach. It’s called discipline.

Consider Joel A. Wright. He was rejected by 40 seminaries (according to his mom and one news account). He locked up now for 16 years. Why? Because he was caught trying to buy babies or toddlers to abuse.

Imagine the shock that would roil the church hierarchy if Francis were to demote or discipline the bishop who sponsored Wright (Steubenville Ohio’s Jeffrey Montforton) or the 41st seminary director (Josephinum President Monsignor Christopher Schreck) who finally accepted him?

We submit this would go very far in deterring such recklessness in the future.

We suspect there are hundreds of men like Monforton and Schreck who Francis could and should punish for irresponsibly accepting repeated ‘rejects,’ be they seminarians or priest, despite clear “red flags” and the collective wisdom of dozens of his colleagues who turned them down.

Or, a Vatican official could just add a sentence or two to some church documents and we can all keep our fingers crossed.

If Vatican officials refuse to demote or discipline these two men, they should voluntarily step down from their posts.

The problem is not just troubled seminarians. Bishops must likewise be very cautious about taking priests already ordained into their diocese for another diocese. We see this happening over and over again despite either proof or admissions or strong red flags indicating sexual crimes or misdeeds. 

Finally, while we urge Vatican officials to take effective action here, we also urge parishioners and the public to be especially careful around clerics who have moved across state or national borders without clear or compelling reasons.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is

Contact - David Clohessy (+1 314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (+1 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected]) , Barbara Blaine (+1 312-399-4747 cell, [email protected]

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