From the Telegraph:
Do you know what makes liberal Catholic clergy wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night? It’s not the return of the Tridentine Mass. It’s not the fact that Ratzinger is Pope. It’s not their rapidly dwindling congregations.
Seminarians are taking over the world
What terrifies the old trendies is a new generation of conservative seminarians, who are gradually turning into a new generation of conservative priests – just as the supply of liberals is drying up.
Until very recently, seminaries managed to screen out the more orthodox candidates. “Psychologically immature” was the code for “obedient to the Magisterium”, and so effective was the process that dozens of vocations were successfully squashed. In the 1980s and 90s, English seminaries were run by a grey-shirted Magic Circle politburo, assisted (not to say bullied) by frightful middle-aged women whose liturgical preferences were only just the right side of Wicca.
One or two conservatives slipped through the net, by hiding copies of Fortescue under their beds and slipping each other photographs of fiddleback chasubles that they could admire in private. In public, however, they were careful to wear the seminary uniform of jeans and CND T-shirt, and even to swallow the Bitter Pill without gagging.
But times are changing. Dreary Leftist seminary rectors have retired or became Magic Circle bishops, the Wiccan “pastoral advisers” have fallen out of favour, and conservative candidates for the seminary have started presenting themselves faster than they can be turned down. “It’s a bit like the Somme – no sooner have you wiped out one wave of infantry than another appears,” says my source.
Futurechurch is losing this battle. Some Magic Circle rectors are ready to run up the white flag. I could mention a couple of English seminaries where orthodox doctrine is taught pretty rigorously. That’s in sharp contrast to the situation 20 years ago. (As one London priest told me this week, “I came away from seminary knowing only two things – that St Augustine of Hippo and St Augustine of Canterbury were different people, and that Julian of Norwich was a woman.”)
The other day, I saw a photograph of seminarians and staff at Allen Hall, Westminster. I reckon you could tell just by looking at them that the students were more conservative than their teachers. The same is true of the Venerable English College in Rome, where – perhaps because it is a breeding ground for bishops – the Magic Circle is clinging on to power. “Students still have to don a false beard if they slip out to attend a Tridentine Mass,” I’m told.
Some of the really Left-wing dioceses have adopted a disgraceful tactic: rather than put forward conservative candidates for ordination, they’ve stopped looking for future priests completely. Hence all this guff about “lay empowerment”: the lay people being empowered are all “made men” (if I can use such a sexist term) in the mafia of the mediocre.
But don’t despair. Conservative seminarians are getting ordained, and in a few years’ time the dioceses will run out of goody-goody Tabletistas on whom to bestow plum parishes. And then, who knows? A conservative bishop? Stranger things have happened.