How does the Bishop ensure the safety of current men in the seminary?

The Diocese of Arlington's seminarians study at five seminaries in the United States, Spain and Italy. Bishop Burbidge and the diocesan Director of Vocations maintain a very open dialogue with each seminarian. The Bishop annually visits each seminary, meets with each man and works closely with the leadership of each seminary. Bishop Burbidge has confidence in the way each seminary is run based on his own examination of their practices to ensure adequate safeguards for each man.

On episode 15 of the Walk Humbly Podcast, Bishop Burbidge stated
“…I've been involved in seminary work for much of my priesthood and since I've been ordained a bishop. And, I have to say, I have great confidence in our seminaries right now. There is really an atmosphere of transparency. …the atmosphere's much different than when I was a seminarian. It was just a different time, a different culture, you had rules to follow, you did it, and there wasn't much discussion.”“Our seminarians today are encouraged to be very transparent with their Bishop, with their spiritual director, with their formation advisor, with the administration of the seminary. How are you doing? Where are your strengths, where are your weaknesses? Where are your struggles? And, I have to say, I am so inspired by our seminarians of how honest and transparent they are with me. I'm in direct communication with them. And, I am confident that if they were in any way experiencing something that was not right and there was a misuse of power, we've created a culture within our Diocese and within our seminaries that that would be expressed.”

On episode 16 of the Walk Humbly Podcast, Bishop Burbidge spoke about conversations he has had with the parents of our seminarians. He said, in part:
“I assured their families that and their parents that I am the spiritual father to their sons. I treasure that responsibility and privilege and assured their parents that I will do everything possible to support, to encourage them in their formation.”
Each man entering the seminary goes through a very extensive application process that includes background and reference checks. Additionally, there are multiple interviews and psychological assessments completed with each candidate to evaluate thoroughly his capacity for a lifetime commitment to the priesthood, especially to living a chaste, celibate life.


Is there a policy on the admission of homosexual men to study for the priesthood in this diocese?

Seminarians are put through a rigorous screening process. This process includes background checks, references, multiple interviews and thorough psychological evaluations to evaluate thoroughly the candidate's capacity for a lifetime commitment to a chaste, celibate life.

The Holy See has long held that men with "deeply rooted homosexual tendencies" or who are sexually active, regardless of sexual orientation, cannot be ordained to the priesthood. It was reported in the news media that, during a meeting with Italian bishops, Pope Francis has recently spoken about this issue directly and upheld this practice of the Church.

In the 2016 edition of the Congregation for Clergy's ratio on priestly formation, the dicastery wrote: “In relation to people with homosexual tendencies who approach seminaries, or who discover this situation in the course of formation, in coherence with her own magisterium, 'the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called 'gay culture.'”

The Diocese of Arlington follows the Holy See's teaching on this issue.