Pope Francis wants psychological testing to prevent problem priests. But can it really do that?

LOY64FBY3MI6TMIL6BNCFZ2YMUSource: The Washington Post

March 21

As the Catholic Church quakes through one sexual abuse scandal after another, Pope Francis recently announced a policy he wants to implement on a worldwide scale: No man should become a priest without a psychological evaluation proving he is suited to a life of chastity.

In the United States, most men seeking to enter a Catholic seminary undergo psychological testing, often a battery of questions that probes their deepest secrets and can last for days.

As Francis elevates the visibility of this type of testing, it raises the question of just how this profiling works and whether any psychologist can truly determine a young man is cut out for a lifelong vow to abstain from sex or is likely to commit sexual crimes. As it stands, there is no single agreed-upon method for conducting these assessments of priests. There is also no reliable way of measuring the tests’ effectiveness at weeding out problem priests.

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