"Mean" Michael Rose

March 2003

Some of our readers may be wondering why we’re paying so much attention to Michael Rose’s Goodbye, Good Men and the reactions to it. The answer is that Rose has put his finger on the primary source of the Great Sex Scandals of 2002 & Beyond, namely, most of our seminaries and the failure of certain bishops to keep them on the straight-and-narrow. It is in seminaries where the dissent and homosexuality germinate and go on to infect the rest of the Church. The immediate culprits are certain vocations directors, certain seminary formation teams, and the psychologists whom they employ to do the dirty work of rooting out candidates and seminarians who are manifestly orthodox or pious or manly or all three.

Now, no one can credibly deny that the Church has a big problem with priests and sex, especially homo sex, and so in the negative reactions to Rose’s book one often finds ritualistic bows to the problems Rose describes, but the bottom line, it’s said, is that Rose’s book is on the whole flawed and therefore unreliable.

The latest such reaction appeared in the softly liberal St. Anthony Messenger (Jan.). The reviewer is Fr. Thomas Buffer, and he performs the necessary ritualistic bows: “I was a seminarian from 1986 to 1991, and my own experience makes me ready to believe that many of the things Rose recounts really happened. Rose is right to expose the pernicious influence of a gay subculture within some seminaries. It is true that priests and religious who dissent from Church teaching have harassed good seminarians or even kept them out of the seminary in some places. Someone needs to report the scandal of seminary personnel who ridicule seminarians for devotion to the Eucharist.”

So, what’s the problem? Well, Buffer asserts that Rose’s book is “not carefully researched or objective.”

Not carefully researched? The book’s sources come not only from the public record, but from interviews with over 150 people, of whom 125 are or were seminarians, representing 50 dioceses and 22 major seminaries. Rose spent two and a half years researching and writing the book, and employed two research assistants.


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New Oxford Notes: March 2003

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