Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Goodbye, Good Men! – A book review

August 10th, 2010, Promulgated by Nerina


In 2002, Michael C. Rose published his book, Goodbye Good Men!. In the months prior to its publication, revelations of widespread sexual abuse in the U.S. Church, later referred to as “the long Lent,” were made public. At the same time we learned of a massive cover-up perpetrated by the hierarchy where Church officials knowingly protected repeat sex offenders and routinely reassigned them. The question on everyone’s mind then and now, with new revelations of sexual abuse in the European Church, is this: How could this have happened?

In his introduction, Michael Rose explains that his book, researched for over two years with over 150 individual interviews, might provide a partial explanation. It was a stunning answer eight years ago and remains so today. In brief, the author believes the formation process of our priests has been systematically dismantled by individuals influenced by radical liberalism, feminism, the homosexual movement and cultural relativism. He argues, convincingly I think, that the “priest shortage” now so much lamented, is at least, partially man-made and that seminaries are frequently rejecting viable candidates for the priesthood for political reasons.

In his words he states:

Goodbye, Good Men presents documented evidence that the root of this problem – the cover-up and the sexual scandals themselves – extends down to the very place where vocations to the priesthood germinate; the seminary. Too often men who support the teachings of the Church, especially the teachings on sexual morality, are dismissed for being ‘rigid and uncharitable homophobes,’ while those seminarians who reject the Church’s teaching or ‘come out’ as gays to their superiors are given preferential treatment and then ordained to the Catholic priesthood. A corrupt, protective network starts in many seminaries where gay seminarians are encouraged to ‘act out’ or ‘explore their sexuality’ in highly inappropriate ways” (p. xi).

This quote is the book’s premise in a nutshell. But don’t be fooled. Michael Rose has gone to great lengths to give us example after example of corruption in seminaries both in the United States and abroad. He reveals interviews from over 100 people all with similar stories – i.e. they were either ostracized, “black-balled” or rejected from seminary formation because they held fast to their beliefs in the traditional teaching of the Catholic Church. We learn of the “gatekeeper phenomenon,” the “gay subculture,” the prevalence of heterodox teaching and the reliance on psychiatric evaluations often conducted by non-Catholics or former Catholics (one was even a Mason in good standing – Dr. Joseph Wicker, p. 34-35).


Mr. Rose exposes how traditional expressions of piety are frowned upon or ridiculed and how complaints filed by persecuted seminarians are ignored. He also reveals how seminarians undergo a type of inquisition as attempts are made to identify and persecute orthodox seminarians. To be sure, the picture Rose paints is not pretty. But it was needed then and may still be relevant ten years later.

Fortunately, the author closes his book with promising examples of seminaries “done right.” It will surprise no regular readers of this blog that where orthodoxy is promoted, seminaries are full. Where heterodoxy prevails, vocations are non-existent.

Criticisms and Controversy

When first published, this book was very controversial. A cursory look at the reviews of this book at Amazon reveal that many appreciate what it has to say, while others reject the premise outright. Even tradition-friendly print journalism at the time had concerns with Mr. Rose’s research.

Publications like Crisis Magazine, National Catholic Register and Our Sunday Visitor all issued reviews and commentary that wondered about Rose’s research and ethics. For the record, Mr. Rose did respond to each of these reviews two of which can be found here, and here. Fr. Robert Johansen, writing for “Culture Wars” (whose blog, “Thrownback” I’ve enjoyed in the past), said this about Michael Rose:

“Rose’s tendency to play fast and loose with the facts, to use dubious sources, and to stick with stories which have shown false undermines his credibility.”

Rose responds to Fr. Johansen’s 5 page review here. His response makes it clear that Fr. Johansen might be the one playing “fast and loose with the facts.”  Read and decide for yourself.

Personal observations

I am certainly no expert in investigative journalism or in research methods, but so much of what Michael Rose writes about rings true. Take, for example, the fact that 35 Rochester diocesan priests signed a letter protesting a Vatican document dealing with homosexuality. How about the almost cult-like adulation given to Fr. Charles Curran? How does the diocese welcome dissenting speakers like Edwina Gateley, a CTA favorite or allow Sr. Patricia Schoelles to teach at TOT events given her predilection towards heterodoxy? Why do priests make statements like this: “Divine Mercy Sunday was the devotion of dead pope and we will not be celebrating it here!” or make derogatory comments about Marian devotions? Why have most of our churches been stripped of any traditional markings? Why are people like Fr. Shaw allowed to rant week after week in bulletins?

These and numerous other examples lead me to believe that much of what Mr. Rose writes about in his book is true. I also understand that many seminaries have undergone reform (thank God) and perhaps this book was one small step toward that reform.

*Author’s note: I realize that this review is about a book published almost 10 years ago, but I was intrigued when I discovered that many people have not actually read it.  It had been on my “to read list” for a long time and I finally found some time to do so.  I hope this review encourages others who may have put it off (btw, I found a copy of the book in my local library system).  There are other books I hope to review for the blog.  I am currently reading In the Shadow of His Wings by Fr. Gereon Goldmann (a fascinating true story about faith under fire – literally in some cases) and also plan on reading AmChurch Comes Out.  Suggestions appreciated.

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3 Responses to “Goodbye, Good Men! – A book review”

  1. Anonymous says:

    That mentality is operational in the DOR.

  2. Anonymous says:

    This was the most depressing book I ever read. Remember, though, that many of the accusations are decades old and cannot be blamed on the current state of the seminaries. Other than the mystery of iniquity, the biggest blame goes to the sexual revolution and to an over confidence in psychological treatment.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Many Parishes today are very hostile to devotions such as Eucharistic Adoration, the Rorary and the Divine Mercy. These devotions are needed more than ever today and we see more and more Parishes not only doing away with these devotions, but responding with great hostility to those who request them. There has got to be a reason for this and this book gives at least some insight as to why devotions which offer so many blessings would be kept from people.

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