A new Program of Priestly Formation has been issued for use in all U.S. Catholic seminaries. It is reportedly "stricter" and designed to address issues dealing with the "human" formation of seminarians. There will also be a greater emphasis on philosophy and theology, an emphasis on priestly celibacy, and guidelines that exclude men who have engaged in sexual misconduct with minors (if it was ever otherwise, I am baffled as to why) or who have same-sex attraction or had same-sex experiences.
All of these things are good, but unfortunately, it seems like too little, too late. Having two years of Theology is terrific if you are studying the right kind of Theology and have orthodox teachers. Weeding out candidates with homosexual tendencies is a wonderful idea, but why wasn't this done in the first place, and how can we be sure that these norms will be properly implemented?
Most importantly, what about cases where the fox is guarding the hen house? What if the very people in charge of implementing these guidelines (including bishops) are of dubious orthodoxy, homosexual, or both? Catholic seminaries throughout the country have been documented to have more than their fair share of agenda-driven, dissenting liberals and homosexuals. There are also a lot of well intentioned, well meaning, but poorly formed men in some formation programs; men with lots of degrees, but a poor understanding of sound, orthodox, Catholic Theology. There are also good men, who know the truth, but remain silent. They are afraid to make waves because they know they are outnumbered or that they will pay dearly for not towing the party line.
If you aren't aware of this, check out: Goodbye, Good Men: How Liberals Brought Corruption Into the Catholic Church, Amchurch Comes Out: The U.S. Bishops, Pedophile Scandals and the Homosexual Agenda, and The Rite of Sodomy.
In the past, many priests were poorly schooled in philosophy, theology, Sacred Scripture, traditional spirituality and the like, and instead trained as social workers with little sense of the supernatural. With such poor formation, the liberal ideas of society quickly invade and take root in the mind, which the often well-intentioned priest or seminarian re-interprets as the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Hence, rather than discussions of personal sin, eternal salvation or damnation, grace, original sin, etc., the priest is only able to talk about the standard social "sins" of the day: racism, sexism, "homophobia", pollution, etc.
True to the maxim that one cannot give what he does not have, these poorly trained priests may sincerely want to help their parishioners, but are ill equipped to do so. They deliver fluffy homilies devoid of content; offer appallingly bad advice in the confessional, particularly in the area of sexual morality; wonder, sometimes publicly, when the Church is going to give up Her medieval views and become more in touch with the needs of 21st century Catholics; spend countless hours watching television, going to movies and indulging in other entertainments without making an effort to grow in personal holiness, thus being little different than anyone else in society; and are reduced to little more than professional nice guys who have little or no impact on the lives of their parishioners.
Lacking a sense of purpose and mission, and never trained to maintain intense prayer lives, they can fall victim to a variety of personal sins and end up unhappy and disillusioned. While this is certainly not universally true among diocesan priests, for some are self-taught and provide excellent role models despite the corrupted system, it is a widespread problem among the priesthood.
Sadly, many of the people who decide who is admitted to ordination had the type of formation described above, and will therefore not be the best men to implement these guidelines.
Here is an article describing the guidelines: New, stricter Priestly Formation Program issued for U.S. Catholic seminaries
The entire document is available here: USCCB Home Page