Bishop Terence Fulham in Florida is one of the most sensible of the traditionalist bishops and his column tells it like it is. This article, which appeared on his site some two years ago, is an expose of the lack of education that many traditionalist priests have received at their seminaries.
When I read this for the first time, I was not in the least surprised. Most of the trad priests I knew were not well educated in the least. While I was not at Mount St. Michael during the reign of Francis Schuckardt, I have heard that the seminarians received their training by reading from dust covered books out loud and then being quizzed on them. I’m sure that the formulators of the seminary system at Trent would be rolling their graves!
It seems to me that many priests make up for their lack of formal seminary education by educating themselves. This makes sense because they need to answer thorny theological questions and they need to back up what they say with what the Doctors have written. Yet one cannot read theology manuals without a background in theology and no amount of extra studying can make up for previous deficits.
Before I converted to the faith, I attended a parish run by a priest who had left the CMRI years before. He is a very intelligent man and probably one of the most knowledgeable that the Schuckardt system produced. At the time I attended his parish, he had posted on his site that he would be willing to conduct seminary courses through the mail (!) for any aspiring young man that wished to study for the priesthood. Mail order seminary? Why not do it over the internet with teleconferencing? It can’t be any worse than what it already is, can it?
I personally have thought about becoming a priest, but I have always resisted the call. After reading Fulham’s article, I understand that if I had gone to a trad seminary I probably would not have lasted a day due to the circumstances that he describes.
Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!