Pope wants psych tests for incoming priests; Diocese of Salt Lake City says that’s already common

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) The Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City said priests who serve in Utah generally have undergone thorough psychological evaluations before they begin their ministries; meanwhile, Pope Francis is calling on all Dioceses to implement the practice of having incoming seminarians undergo the same process.

The papal call comes as the Catholic Church deals with widespread allegations of sex abuse among priests. In the United States, this practice of psychological evaluations for incoming priests is already common. 

But Judy Larson, a volunteer board member for the Utah chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said she fears these psychological evaluations are not doing enough to keep predators out of the priesthood. 

Because they will lie. Who’s gonna admit ‘I’m a pedophile’, said Larson Who’s gonna admit ‘I want to have sex with kids?’

Asked about its procedures for psychological evaluation, the Diocese of Salt Lake City said it follows the processes outlined by the Church in the United States. 

Seminaries and dioceses have long required a thorough psychological evaluation as one portion of the entrance requirements for candidates for the priesthood. The evaluations are performed by independent, professional specialists.
The seminaries we use in other states have their own professional psychologists who provide ongoing therapy where needed. Psychological evaluations have been part of the admissions process for the seminaries we use from at least the 1980’s.

Read the full statement below: 

While many accused priests in the United States are dealt with by law enforcement and sent to the treatment center in Maryland, Larson said the process isn’t enough to deter pedophiles from entering the priesthood. 

This is just an attempt to make it look like they’re trying to do something, she said. 

Last fall, the Diocese of Salt Lake City publicized the names of at least 20 Utah priests who had been accused of sex abuse in incidents dating back to the 1950s. In addition, a Utah Catholic priest arrested for soliciting a prostitute back in September was poised to be reassigned, according to a letter sent to his parishioners from the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City.

These incidents, for Larson, indicate psychological evaluation of priests even before they enter the seminary are not effective in weeding out those who may have problems with vows of chastity. 

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