Seminary rector responds to L.A. Times
November 21, 2005
Re "Trail of Abuse Leads to Seminary," Nov. 17
Your story implies that decades ago, St. John's Seminary in Camarillo may have been less thorough in preparing young men for the priesthood. But it ignores the fact that the vast majority of graduates have gone on to rich lives of service. Indeed, most of the extraordinary parish priests serving in Southern California today are graduates of St. John's. There is no mention of their tireless efforts to provide spiritual and physical sustenance to those in need or to provide leadership in addressing issues such as homelessness or poverty.
We have been humbled by this crisis and have worked diligently to make sure it won't happen again. Just as our churches are providing mandatory training, education and, yes, even screening to our thousands of priests, teachers and volunteers who work with children, we have instituted tough application and admission standards that include psychological testing and background checks.
In the last 20 years, we have ordained 155 priests for the Los Angeles Archdiocese. Of those, two have been accused. Of course we are not happy with any number above zero, but this statistic reflects the success of our more informed approach to this problem.
The Times has an obligation to inform its readers of the reforms that have taken place as a result of lessons learned.
REV. MSGR. HELMUT A. HEFNER
Rector, St. John's Seminary