Sunday, May 26, 2013

IVE Admissions Process: Non-Existent

The IVE (and the SSVM) are very concerned about recruiting and growing in numbers which results in them prioritizing their own growth over the well-being of candidates and others in their care.  

This begins with their troubled approach to discernment (see here) where the Institute replaces the Church's tradition of prudent and prayerful discernment with an approach centered around impulsiveness and thoughtlessness.  

Admissions processes exist for a reason

It continues with their admissions process.  Traditionally orders have counseled patience to candidates and have been very discerning in who they allow to enter. Think of all the saints who have had to search for places that will accept them or who have been told to wait.  Little St Therese even went all the way to the Pope in her pursuit to enter the cloister and was still counseled to be patient!  

This was a long tradition prior to Vatican II and many orders are again being careful to require a bit of a 'courtship' before entering.  Even dioceses now have a reasonably thorough process as can be seen here.  This makes sense.  After all, many people pursuing the priesthood or holy orders may just be suffering from mental illness, past abuse, or immaturity and are using formation as some form of escape.  

An obligation to know the candidates suitability

Preventing these people from entering protects the church, the laity, and those currently in formation.  It also protects the individuals themselves.  Instead of escapism and further denial, these individuals need counseling and honesty about their situation.  For these individuals formation has the potential to be harmful both psychologically and spiritually - which is why these lengthy admissions processes are in place. 

The Institute even claims to agree with this.  From it's own book on vocations it says it has: "not only the right, but also the obligation to use all necessary means to know the candidates suitability."  

Unfortunately as we'll lay out below, this isn't at all what the IVE practice.  As you'll see, they don't have any real admissions process at all.  The results are troubling: candidates enter without sacraments of initiation, men knock on the door one week and receive a cassock the next, victims of abuse and mental illness are routinely admitted, and these cases don't even touch on the otherwise "suitable" candidates that haven't done any discernment or spiritual direction. 

The IVE has no real admissions process 

Not only do most entering the IVE novitiate never attempt any proper discernment, but they don't complete any admissions process either.  For most, applications are only a formality after they have already quit school, quit their jobs, and moved into the novitiate house.  

A few will fill out applications beforehand, but it's not necessary.  As long as you don't have a large amount of debt and aren't a practicing homosexual you'll be told you can come.   

Nothing will bar you from entering:  No canonical questions will be asked.  No background check or psychological exam will be performed.  Immigration status won't matter either.  In fact, the IVE are the only catholic diocese or order in the US that accepts illegal aliens.  Illegal aliens easily make up over 50% of the men in formation.  

People will even be let in without the sacrament of baptism or confirmation!  Think about how strange that is (on so many levels) for a Catholic house of formation to be accepting candidates to the priesthood who have not even been baptized or confirmed.  

If you have any background on religious orders then you will know how odd all this sounds

Psychological exams are not given until the Spring of the novitiate year (after novices have already been given cassocks) and the majority of the IVE seminarians who are undocumented immigrants will never have a background check performed because of their status.  All this despite the fact that people with severe psychological conditions, childhood abuse, and even criminal records enter regularly every year.

Even if you do not have any of these issues, it means that some of the people you will be around 24/7 likely will have them.  You will all be living together in close quarters in a high stress environment (the IVE novitiate is not a peaceful, tranquil experience) with almost zero supervision from the novice master - because he is never there

People with severe psychological problems, histories of abuse, and even criminal records will be allowed to enter without any paperwork, background checks, or psychological exams, and will then be given cassocks,  making them indistinguishable from priests to the laity  

These novices are given cassocks, clerical collars, and access to the local parish and the community without any psychological exams!  The half that are in the country legally and speak English will have the usual background check run by the diocese for teaching CCD and will teach at the local parish.  The rest will be sent door to door in the community, unsupervised, wearing cassocks and clerical collars like priests - with no psych exams or background checks!

This is hard to believe after the Church scandals in the last decade, but it is unfortunately the case.

Numbers are the priority

Why does the IVE do this?  Because having a large number of members is and has always been important to them and their founder Buela.  They talk about it often and they plaster pictures of large groups all over their website.  They blame their problems with bishops on "jealousy" over their many seminarians.  

However, what if the IVE actually had an admissions process?  If it actually checked a person's residency status?  Conducted background checks and psychology exams? if it forced a person to think and consult others before entering? If it actually had an admissions process like every other religious order/congregation/society does?

If it had these things, the Institute's numbers would diminish considerably and their ability to recruit new members would diminish along with their number, since much of the recruitment work is done by seminarians.   Since numbers are a priority for the IVE, the choice for them so far has been to continue these practices.