A team of five led by Bishop Michael Burbidge of Philadelphia will visit Aquinas Institute of Theology from Sept. 25 to Sept. 29 to evaluate how the school prepares candidates for the priesthood. The Apostolic Visit, conducted by the Congregation for Catholic Education of the Holy See, is among the first of more than 200 to seminaries throughout the United States.
Visitors will examine the admissions process for candidates to the priesthood. They also will examine how seminaries and schools such as Aquinas Institute foster the intellectual and moral development of priesthood candidates and ensure the men are prepared to live chastely.
The visit will include an evaluation of each school’s course catalog and course syllabi and interviews with faculty members, priesthood candidates and graduates who recently were ordained. Findings will be submitted to the Vatican.
The Apostolic Visitation of U.S. Seminaries and Houses of Formation has just begun nationwide. Teams of bishops and seminary personnel will conduct visits through Spring 2006 at an estimated 230 schools of theology, college-level seminaries, houses of formation and other schools that form priests. Members of the team visiting Aquinas Institute include a seminary professor, campus chaplain, parish pastor and director of religious studies, also at a seminary.
The process is the result of a meeting in 2002 between U.S. bishops and Vatican officials who met to respond to the crisis created when a clergy sexual abuse case in Boston led to revelations of abuses by priests throughout the United States. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops pledged cooperation with the visits in the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the document drafted in response to the crisis.
Members of the media should call the Department of Commmunications at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops at 202.541.3320.