THE BLOG
05/30/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Employment Testing for the Priesthood Can Prevent Child Abuse


Do you have the propensity to molest young boys? What about girls? If you become a messenger of God, will you exploit your powers to fulfill your sexual fantasies? Can you handle celibacy without having affairs with your parishioners?

In a pre-employment test for the priesthood, these questions will need to be answered. The questions will be cloaked with ambiguities so that the applicant will not be sure what the questions mean. The tester will gain insight to personal characteristics of the job applicant applying to enter the clergy. Unsuitable candidates will be disqualified.

Abuse by Catholic priests is continuing to capture the headlines. Psychological testing is needed to screen out would-be priests and other candidates for religious or spiritual leadership, regardless of their faith.

Some say that the vow of celibacy required for the Catholic priesthood is unsustainable and should be abolished. They attribute the unreasonable sexual constraint to deviant behavior by some priests. Whether or not celibacy is an achievable goal, testing could separate the candidates that can handle it from the ones that cannot.

Currently, the press is focused on the church hierarchy. Did they tolerate misdeeds by priests? What did they know and when did they know it. Culpability is spreading from the priests that committed the acts to the bishops who might have known what was going on. If they knew, they failed to clean it up.

John Allen, senior correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter says that the Catholic Church is focused on two distinct problems. One is on the priests who abused the children and the other is the bishops who failed to expose the problem and do anything to solve it. Furthermore, he says that Pope Benedict XVI's legacy may depend on his ability to handle the latest crisis of abuse by priests in Europe and more specifically in Munich, Germany.
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Allen cites the Pope's tenure as the former Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger. Critics say that Ratzinger should have known about Peter Hullermann, a convicted German priest who was permitted to work in Munich for many years after he was suspected of child molestation.

As archbishop, Ratzinger was head of the Munich archdiocese while the abuse was going on. Some say that the bishop should have known about it and acted to stop the abuse.

Meanwhile, Erica Klein says that, "Most large human resource consulting firms and some corporations will use organizational psychologists." she authors the Ask the Headhunter newsletter. "Questions about sexual orientation, sexual practices, with whom you live, your religious beliefs or your ethnic background are also inappropriate although not necessarily illegal," she says.

But given the magnitude of the crisis in the clergy, asking the hard questions to ferret out prospective sexual abusers is a necessity.

"Good testing results in better predictions of job performance but not perfect predictions," Klein says. "The principle behind this testing is that the employer has identified the qualities (often called "competencies") it takes to do well at the job and wants to see to what extent you possess those qualities."

So testing can catch most potential abusers before they are hired. And if history foretells the future, the time to eliminate unwanted priests is at the time they interview for the job.


Jerry Chautin is a former entrepreneur, commercial mortgage banker, commercial real estate dealmaker and business lender. You can follow him at www.Twitter.com/JerryChautin