1970-Ratio fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis



At the Synod of Bishops, held in Rome in October, 1967, the following request was put by the Cardinal Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, and met with the approval of the Fathers:

“Would it seem opportune to list the themes which ought to be included in all Schemes for Priestly Training, and to prepare, in collaboration with the Episcopal Conferences, a Basic Scheme (Ratio Fundamentalis), in accordance with the Decree Optatam totius and the other conciliar documents; in the next plenary meeting of the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education this Scheme should be examined and drawn up definitively, so as to serve as a norm for all Schemes

later to be made: its purpose being to preserve unity and at the same time allow sound variety.”

As regards the list of themes mentioned above, the Sacred Congregation prepared a special index, entitled De Ratione Institutionis sacerdotalis iuxta documenta Concilii Vaticani II renovanda (Reforming the Scheme for Priestly Training according to the documents of Vatican Council II), and sent this to the individual Episcopal Conferences, to assist them in their work.

As for the second task, drawing up a Basic Scheme, its text is here put before the Episcopal Conferences as a necessary way to preserve unity in variety.

To clarify further its importance and purpose, the following points should be kept in view:

1. This document is intended to indicate to the Episcopal Conferences, whose task it is to draw up Schemes for Priestly Training proper to each nation, the solid foundations for carrying out or completing this serious task; also to supply sure standards to the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education in its examination and approval of individual Schemes in accordance with the Decree Optatam totius, no. 1.

 An Obligatory Document

 2. Since this document has been worked through by delegates of the Episcopal Conferences, and approved by the Holy See, it is to be taken as obligatory as regards its principal points (which are more precisely defined later), so that it may become the norm for the drawing up of individual

Schemes, as the First Synod of Bishops decided.

The more easily to distinguish what is essential and therefore necessarily to be observed from what is not to be so considered, the following points must be noted:

a) For the most part it is clear from the nature of the matter itself what is of necessity required everywhere for the right formation of future priests.

b) In some paragraphs elements which must be held essential, but which can (still) vary according to local circumstances, are clearly indicated: cf. e.g. nos. 50 (general coordination of studies), 75, 80, 81 (study programs, the drawing-up of syllabuses), 93, examinations, 84, 101 (how to meet needs for special study and completion of post-Seminary formation).

c) Some points are mentioned simply by way of example or practical advice for the easier application of the principles laid down: cf. e.g. nos. 9 (variety of means for fostering vocations),

39, 40, 41 (the need for serious trial is laid down, but certain means to obtain it are only recommended), 48, 49, 50, 51 (virtues and qualities proper to the priest are stated, but some means and methods of developing them are only proposed), 52, 53, 54, 56 (the necessity of certain helps to spiritual life is affirmed, but they are not to be considered exhaustive), 91 (necessity affirmed, but not way of revising teaching methods); 27 (list of various Superiors), 29 (activity and way of life of Superiors, e.g. community life), 31, 36 (variety of means for achieving right pedagogical and scientific approach), 38 (what is said in the concrete about Professors’ combined work, e.g. “they should meet at least once a month”), 67, 68 (the way in which training of alumni can be brought to a richer completion), 89 (reading of books in common to sharpen critical sense), 90 (the coordinator of studies), 94, 95, 97, 98, 99 (the objects, places and times of pastoral exercises are mentioned only by way of examples)].

If in some nations or regions situations exist which demand special adaptations of priestly formation even in important points, adaptations beyond the scope of this Basic Scheme, the matter must be dealt with between the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education and the Episcopal Conferences of those places.

3. As is obvious from the nature of the case, the Document indicates only certain more general basic principles, on which the Episcopal Conferences must rely when defining their own rules. Its task is to point out suitable ways of meeting the various needs of priestly training, and to draw certain limits within which the life of Seminaries may safely go ahead.

According to the nature of its various subjects, therefore, the Document often foresees differing situations, in which individual Conferences will be able to choose their own path, more in keeping with the local conditions (cf. nos. 17, 18, 19, 42, 60, 63, 83, 84, 85, 97, 98, 101). Thus it aims at the greater good of every nation, not holding up their endeavors and undertakings, but stimulating them.

4. Some of the norms proposed in the Document are already drawn up in the form of separate sections which, if desired, may be inserted whole into national Scheme for Priestly Training (e.g. nos. 5-7, 11-14, 16, 20-26, 28-41, 44-58, 67-74, 76-79, 82, 86-89, 94-95, 99); others, on the other hand, just put forward principles to guide the necessary further elaboration (e.g. nos. 9, 15, 19, 27, 42, 43, 61-66, 75, 80, 93, 98,99,101).

5. In the drawing-up of the Document, three main requirements had to be met as far as possible: clarity, to do away with the dubious views about priestly training which are being spread about here and there in our day; universality, to supply, with the variety of conditions in view, suitable norms for the making of rules adapted to different localities; actuality, i.e. after special consideration of the problems of our time in priestly training, to apply remedies for the dangers arising.

6. The Document is deeply penetrated with the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, and in places recalls its exact words. Experience teaches that it is not a waste of time to present some of the Council’s obligatory rules and principles again and again, to prevent their being neglected because not expressly mentioned in the Basic Scheme (e.g. nos. 11, 13, 20, 29,30,44,45)

7. Therefore the Document took for itself the following rules, in order to be of the greatest possible assistance to the Episcopal Conferences in the preparing or revising a Scheme for Priestly Training: to omit nothing that seemed useful; to add nothing superfluous; to lay down nothing that was not universally valid; always to pay attention to modern conditions. This multiple aim laid down, it was impossible to avoid some defect in the proportion of the parts, since some matters demanded more ample treatment, some more brief; some needed the style of a code of laws, others of a directory: elegance must yield to necessity.


By the decree De institutione sacerdotali (On Training or the Priesthood), the Second Vatican Council provided the principal and more general rules for today’s efforts towards Seminary reform, to insure that these efforts might go forward safely, and produce a salutary increase of piety, learning andpastoral zeal in candidates for the priesthood. Certain further determinations the needed in order that the reforms may be adapted in the best possible way to the special needs of individual

nations, and for the preservation of that unity and that image of the Catholic priesthood which it demands of its very nature, and on which the Council earnestly insisted.

With this twofold need in view, the Basic Scheme for Priestly Training here proposed has been worked out by the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education and the delegates of the Episcopal Conferences, in common effort and consultation. Their constant care and sincere prayer, too, was to express in this document the genuine spirit and pastoral purpose of the Second Vatican Council; also that these, expressed in more clearly defined form, might be more effective towards fitting the work of education in Seminaries to the new needs of our times.

1. In what sense the Second Vatican Council confirms the validity of Seminary training

In the Second Vatican Council, the Church decreed that its experience of Seminaries, tried out for many centuries, was to be maintained as valid, affirming that Seminaries were necessary as institutions set up for the formation of priests, and provided with those excellent educational features which, combined with others, can effectively promote the integral formation of future priests.(2) However, while confirming afresh this well-tried path to the priesthood, it by no means wished to pass over in silence the manifold and varied needs arising, in course of time, from out-dated means or changed conditions; it allowed for, or even prescribed not a few changes to increase the power and pedagogical efficacy of this useful institution.

Although the Council differentiated between Seminaries which are called Major and those called Minor, or Junior, it determined certain principles valid for both.(3) Before the particular problems of each are brought out, however, it is first necessary to give careful consideration to what is in a way presupposed in all that is to be said below: the Seminary, as a community of young men,(4) derives its primary force and fitness to train future priests from its own circumstances and way of life; here the young men live; its air, one may say, they breathe; they themselves have a part in determining and reforming its character. It is a question of various concurrent factors, both internal and external; of the structure of the whole community, and of its spirit, which can check or promote improvement, whose influence is, in varying degrees, apparent in everything.

In this situation, then, the primary duty of the Superiors is to obtain the collaboration of all concerned, in order to produce and perfect this spiritual climate. It should be such as to insure that whoever enters the Seminary may find there the aids necessary for developing his own vocation and carrying out God’s will wholly and entirely.(5) The material setting should not be reckoned as of little importance towards this purpose: the sober and suitable arrangement, that is, of site, buildings, furniture and so on, adequate for the life the young men are leading.

2. Position of modern youth as regards education

In any sound reform of Seminaries, moreover, present day circumstances and their special educational needs must certainly be considered.(7) The young men who are called by Divine Providence to exercise the priestly office among men of our time bring, a special dispositions that match the mind and attitudes of modern men. So, as their outlook manifests itself at various times, one observes in them an ardent longing for sincerity and truth; they are noticeably very prone to take up everything new and out-of-the-ordinary; they admire the world with its scientific and technical progress; we see them wanting to work their way more deeply into the world to serve it, with a sense of “solidarity,” particularly with the poorer classes and the oppressed, and a spirit of community. But besides all this they have clearly a distrust for everything old and traditionally accepted; they cannot make up their minds, and are inconsistent in putting plans into effect; they show a lack of docility-very necessary for spiritual progress-with a disposition difficult and critical towards authority and the various institutions of civil and ecclesiastical society, etc.(8) In this pedagogical work, the educator not only does not neglect these special qualities, but endeavors to understand them, and to turn them, as far as he can, to his purpose of formation, with the cooperation of the future priests themselves: he makes a clear distinction always between what is more useful for better priestly formation and what is less useful, not useful at all, or an actual obstacle. All things considered, it is impossible to ignore the fact that in these last years particularly there are problems, originating from youth or from modern society, which exercise a powerful influence on the whole work of formation, and therefore demand greater efforts from educators.

Two features of modern youth need particular attention: their keener sense of their own dignity as persons, and their keener feeling for the things and the men of this world, whether for its undoubted goods, or its particular spiritual situation, which displays more perceptibly as the days go by the effects of a neglect of religion.(9) These two factors combine with others in their hearts and create a kind of common mentality, one which requires in Seminaries, besides other remedial measures, a greater esteem for the person, and the removal of anything whose reason is an unjustified “convention”: everything must be done in accordance with truth and charity; genuine dialogue must be established among all parties; more numerous contacts with the world must be encouraged, to meet the just needs of right formation; finally, everything that is prescribed or demanded should show the reason on which it is based, and should be carried out in freedom.(10)

If these things require the revision of certain elements of training accepted from past practice, they also demand a genuine pedagogical effort, one relying on mutual trust and understanding, with a right notion of freedom, and particularly the knowledge of how to distinguish the means and the ends of education. For if useful dialogue and fruitful inquiry about means can be instituted in collaboration with the students, at all times and from the beginning there should be kept well in view the purpose of the Seminary and of all education, as the basis of all considerations,(11) to which any discussion of this kind must be referred. The more clearly the sublime purpose of their formation is put before the young men, the more willingly will they join forces to seek means best fitted to attain it. Guided by their resolve to promote the common good, and by the will of God, they will arrive at a true sense of freedom and authority.

3. Catholic priesthood as the proper end of priestly education

The proper end of priestly education is based on the idea of Catholic priesthood as it arises from divine revelation, clarified by the constant tradition and magisterium of the Church. This teaching, which must be the formative element in every Scheme of Priestly Training, infusing therein its special force and significance, can be taken from the very words of the Second Vatican Council.

All priestly power and ministry in the Catholic Church derives its origin from the unique and eternal priesthood of Christ, who was sanctified by the Father and sent into the world (cf. Jn. 10:36), and made his apostles in the first place, and their successors, the bishops, sharers in the same priesthood. In different ways the various members of the Church share in that one same priesthood of Christ: the general, or common, priesthood of the faithful constitutes a certain simple degree of this sharing, the faithful who through baptism and the anointing of the Holy Spirit “receive consecration as a spiritual house, a holy priesthood. It is their task, in every employment, to offer the spiritual sacrifices of a Christian man.”(12) Priests share in the priesthood of Christ in a different way: they “do not possess the high dignity of the Pontificate they are dependent on bishops for the exercise of their power. They are nevertheless united to them in priestly honor. In virtue of the sacrament of order, they are consecrated in the likeness of Christ, high and eternal priest (cf. Heb. 5:1-10; 7:24; 9:11-28), as genuine priests of the New Testament, for the work of preaching the gospel, tending the faithful, and celebrating divine worship.”(13) For this reason, therefore, the ministerial priesthood of priests surpasses the general priesthood of the faithful, since through it some in the body of the Church are assimilated to Christ the Head, and are promoted “to serve Christ, their Master, Priest and King, and to share his ministry. Thus the Church on earth is constantly built up into the People of God, the Body of Christ and Temple of the Holy Spirit.”(14)

“There is an essential difference between the faithful’s priesthood in common and the priesthood of the ministry or the hierarchy, and not just a difference of degree. Nevertheless, there is an ordered relation between them: one and the other has its special way of sharing the single priesthood of Christ.”(15) When raised to the priesthood, priests enter into manifold relationships with their own Bishop, with all other priests, and with the people of God.(16) For “since all priests share one and the same priesthood and ministry of Christ with the Bishop, the very unity of their ordination and function demands their communion in the hierarchy with the Order of Bishops…Bishops, therefore, must regard their priests as indispensable helpers and advisers in the ministry and office of teaching, sanctifying and nourishing the people of God.”(17) Together with their Bishop “they make a single priesthood, though there is a difference in the duties by which it is carried into effect. They render the Bishop present, in a way, in individual local communities. Their association with him is marked by confidence and generosity. To the best of their ability they shoulder his tasks and anxieties and make the exercise of them their daily care.”(18)

This true sharing in one and the same diocesan priesthood creates many close ties among the priests themselves; “priests in virtue of their ordination are established in the priestly Order and are intimately united in sacramental brotherhood,” “which should be spontaneously and cheerfully demonstrated in mutual help-spiritual and material alike, pastoral and personal-shown too in reunions and a fellowship of life, work and charity”(20); “in this way priests display that unity by which Christ desired his own to be made perfect in one, in order that the world might know that the Son was sent by the Father.”(21) Every priest, however, is taken from among the people of God in order to be appointed on behalf of the same people. Though by the sacrament of order they exercise the office of father and teacher, “they too, like the faithful, are our Lord’s disciples, and are called by God’s grace to share his kingdom. For they are brothers among brothers with all who have been reborn in the font of baptism. They are likewise members of the one same Body of Christ which all Christians are called to build up.”(22) Therefore “they must, like fathers in Christ, take care of the faithful, by baptism and instruction (cf. 1 Cor. 4:15; 1 Pet. 2:23). Being examples to the flock (1 Pet. 5:3), they must take charge of their local community and serve it in such a way that it may deserve to be given the title of the Church of God (cf. 1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 1:1) which is the titlethat d istinguishes the one People of God in its entirety. They must be mindful of their obligation truly to show the face of the priest’s and pastor’s ministry to believers and unbelievers, to Catholics and non-Catholics, by their daily life and care; to bear witness to all of truth and life; as good shepherds, to search out even those (cf. Lk. 15:4-7) who after baptism in the Catholic Church have fallen away from sacramental practice, or worse still, from belief,”(23) that through their tireless work “the Church as the universal sacrament of salvation”(24) may shine out before all men and become the sign of God’s presence in the world.(25) “Together with the Religious and their faithful, they should show by their lives and utterance that the Church, merely by its presence here with all that it has to offer, is an inexhaustible source of those virtues which the world needs today.”(26)

“A priest, however, has a duty not only to his own flock but to the whole community, to which he must strive to give a truly Christian character,”(27) which should be penetrated with a genuine missionary spirit and one of Catholic universality. 

Ministry of the Word

 The priestly ministry as expounded by the Second Vatican Council is chiefly put into practice in the ministry of the Word and the work of sanctification.

“Since nobody can be saved without faith, the first duty of priests as fellow workers with the Bishops is to preach the Gospel to all men,”(28) carrying out our Lord’s command: Go into the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature (Mk. 16:16). This they fulfill when “being on good terms with people, they turn them to God; or by preaching openly they proclaim the mystery of Christ to unbelievers; or give Christian instruction or explain the Church’s teaching, or endeavor to discuss contemporary problems in the light of Christ’s word.”(29)

The aim of the ministry of the Word is to bring men to faith and the sacrament of salvation, and it attains its peak in the celebration of the Eucharist: “The mightiest exercise of their sacred office is at the eucharistic worship or assembly. There, acting in the person of Christ, they make the proclamation of His mystery; they unite the aspirations of the faithful with the sacrifice of their head: in the sacrifice of the Mass, until the coming of the Lord (cf. 1 Cor. 11:26), they present and apply the sole sacrifice of the New Testament, the single offering Christ makes of Himself as an unblemished victim to the Father (cf. Heb. 9:11-28). The ministration of reconciliation and relief is their high function on behalf of penitent or sick faithful. They convey the needs of the faithful and their prayers to God the Father (cf. Heb. 5:1-4).”(30) Thus the office of preaching has as its special characteristic that it must be completed by the work of sanctification, by which the priest, acting in the person of Christ, cooperates in building up the Church.

The priest presides over the People of God when they are gathered together, through the preaching of the Gospel, through the sacraments, and above all through the celebration of the Eucharist. He should, therefore, be such a man as can likewise be recognized by everyone as acting in the place of Christ the Head; for “priests with the authority they have been given carry on the work of Christ their Leader and Shepherd. In the name of the Bishop they gather the family of God together into one united brotherhood. In union with the Holy Spirit they lead them through Christ to God the Father. To enable them to do this, or any other priestly work, priests receive spiritual strength.”(31) By this power the priestly or hierarchic ministry differs from the general priesthood of the faithful not only in degree but essentially.(32) For though the faithful can and must have some part in the task of spreading the Gospel and in pastoral duties,(33) only the man who has received the sacred order of priesthood can fully exercise the sacramental ministry, above all that of the Eucharist, from which the other ministries derive, and to which they are directed. And so, set apart for the Gospel of God (Rom. 1:1) he should not hesitate to dedicate his whole life to the service of God and man, indeed to lay down his life for his sheep.(34)

4. Activity and life of the priest today

The priestly office, as essentially defined by the Church, is today carried out in an entirely new situation, which comes to light as a result of mankind’s new needs, and from the nature of modern civilization.(35)

The main factors today determining mankind’s needs arise from the heightened regard for the human person, or the progressive alteration of the religious sense. If not always openly and in fact, at least virtually, the dignity of every man is acknowledged, his right to progress, to manifest his mind freely, to have a part in his own development and in that of the material world. As man’s dominion in the world grows more complete, in conjunction with great changes in society, less room is granted to traditionally accepted forms of Christian life. While, in the general upheaval, Christian groups display a more personal form of religious life, which shows itself in special reverence for the Word of God and the sacred liturgy, and in the acquisition of a more mature conscience. The number is daily increasing, too, of those who are partly or wholly losing their due familiarity with the Church, and leaning towards a natural sort of religion and ethic. Indeed, all too often they go to such lengths that atheism-once restricted rather to philosophers-is becoming ever more common, little by little affecting the minds of great numbers of people. These various features of modern civilization must be constantly borne in mind, since the life and activity of the priest, and his preparation for his task must have reference to them.(36)

Through the various ways of social communication, young men who today enter a Seminary are closely attached to that kind of society, and their outlook is affected by problems concerning religion, especially priestly activity and life. They often approach theological studies with a sincere will to serve God and men in the priestly life, without, however, what was formerly the normal thing, a confident and clear grasp of the benefits of religion, of which they must at sometime become the heralds and administrators. These things from time to time cause grave difficulties to arise in the Seminary,,yet they form the true and principal object of education, to which superiors must give special care and attention. In their method of formation they should first of all try, not so much to remove these various obstacles by some sudden, radical intervention, but rather step by step to purify minds and intentions. In particular, they should employ prudent judgment and moderation, to insure that the sound element in the young men’s aims may steadily grow and gain strength; thus their priestly life and work may in the future bear richer fruit.

The generous and keen spirit of the young men will help towards this end, and their zeal to be of use to human society; even at times also the doubts they must overcome and their critical examination of the faith: since the people to whom they will be sent as priests, whose religious outlook is full of doubt and uncertainty, will not accept a priest’s teaching authority easily and without reaction; nor are they going to believe and hold uncritically and without prejudice the doctrine which the priest tries, ex officio, to teach them. The young men, then, must be so trained that this particular situation, which they at present experience with the whole Church, may not only not lead them into any danger of spiritual collapse, but in fact stimulate them, with firm hope and faith in God, to try new ways and means of easier communication with the men of today. For the world “now entrusted to the pastors of the Church to cherish and serve, was so loved by God that for its sake He gave His only-begotten Son (cf. Jn. 3:16). Indeed this world, held down by many sins, does in fact possess abundant possibilities and could provide the living stones (cf. 1 Pet. 2:5) with which to build a dwelling place for God in the Spirit (cf. Eph. 2:22). The same Holy Spirit, while urging on the Church to open up new ways of approach to the world of today, inspires and fosters timely adaptations for the priestly ministry.”(36)

This up-to-date adjusting of priestly activity and life is at present causing anxious concern in many minds, and raising all kinds of questions everywhere. Hence, too, much discussion and writing, and many proposals about the priest himself, his nature, his proper place in society, his style of life, his better preparation for more effective fulfillment of his task.(38) The Seminary, obviously, must never be unaware of these things nor ever neglect them; but on the other hand must carefully guard and preserve what the priesthood possesses of certain and lasting good. The task of this Ratio Fundamentalis will be to safeguard this acquired good; the Episcopal Conferences, with full freedom, will see to the adaptation to the needs of time and place of other contingent elements.


1. The Scheme for Priestly Training drawn up by an Episcopal Conference in accordance with no. 1 of the Decree Optatam totius, is approved by the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education first of all “ad experimentum,” for trial.

If within the period of trial some urgent need arises to adapt the Scheme in any part to fresh circumstances, such changes are not excluded as long as the Holy See is informed in good time

Before the period of trial is finished, the Episcopal conference’s scheme will be revised in the light of experience by the Episcopal Commission for Seminaries, with the help of experts, and will be submitted for fresh approval of the Sacred Congregation.

Such revision and approbation will afterwards be repeated at certain times, as shall seem necessary or useful to the individual Episcopal Conferences.

The right and duty of drawing up a Scheme for Priestly Training in their own nation or region, and of approving special experimentation as may seem opportune, belong to the Episcopal Conference alone, and not to individual Bishops.

2. The rules of a Scheme thus worked out are to be observed in all the Seminaries for diocesan clergy, whether regional or national; their particular adaptations will be determined by the competent Bishops in the Rule of Life proper to each Seminary.

Training Schemes of religious institutes are also to be adapted to these rules, comparing like with like.(37)

Where Seminary students carry out their philosophical and theological studies in faculties or other institutions of higher studies, for what pertains to studies, reference should be made to the rules laid down by the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education in the document Normae quaedam(42) under no. 33.

3. The Scheme embraces basic priestly training under its human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral aspects these parts must be aptly fitted together to insure that the priest is prepared for the needs of our time.

4. It is of primary importance that all priestly training, while taking account of the documents of the Holy See concerned with the formation of students, should conform to the spirit and norms of the Second Vatican Council, as they clearly appear in the Decree Optatam totius and in the other Constitutions and Decrees which touch on the education of clerics.(43)


5. Vocation to the priesthood has its setting in the wider field of Christian vocation, as rooted in the sacrament of Baptism, by which the People of God “is founded by Christ for a fellowship of life, charity and truth it is taken up by Him as the instrument of salvation for all men; it is sent on

a mission to the world at large as the light of the world and the salt of the earth (cf. Mt. 5:13-16).”(44) This vocation, aroused by the Holy Spirit, “who dispenses His gifts in variety, for

the Church’s advantage, according to His wealth and the requirements of the ministries (cf. 1 Cor. 12:1-11),”(45) is aimed at the building up of the Body of Christ in which “there exists a diversity of members and functions.”(46)

6. As manifestations of the unsearchable riches of Christ (cf. Eph. 3:8) in the Church, all vocations claim high esteem, and therefore must be developed with all care and concern towards their maturity and increase. It is, then, for the whole Christian community,(47) but in a special way for priests, “as educators in the faith, themselves or through others, to train each of the faithful to follow his vocation according to the Gospel, and practice sincere and fruitful charity. They must show the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit how to use that liberty with which Christ has made us free”(48) so that they “may reach their Christian maturity.”(49)

7. Among the many vocations unceasingly aroused by the Holy Spirit in the People of God, the vocation to a state of perfection, and above all the vocation to the priesthood has a special importance. By the latter a Christian is chosen by God(50) to share in the hierarchical priesthood of Christ “to nourish the Church by the Word and grace of God.”(51) At the different stages of life this vocation shows itself in different ways: in youths, in men of more mature years, and also, as the constant experience of the Church testifies, in boys-in whom it not infrequently shows itself, like a “seed,” in company with a distinct piety, an ardent love of God and neighbor, and a leaning towards the apostolate.(52)

8. From consideration of the great needs of Christ’s faithful and an understanding of our divine Savior’s invitation to all: “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest” (Mt. 9:38; Lk 10:2), it is obviously a serious duty for the whole Christian community continually and in faith to foster religious and especially priestly vocations. Therefore in every diocese, region, or nation, a vocations organization should be established and build up, in accordance with the pontifical documents on the matter. Its function is the due coordination of all that belongs to pastoral action for the fostering of vocations, neglecting no suitable means, and to promote this work with equal prudence and zeal.(53)

“This vigorous collaboration of all God’s People springs up in response to the initiatives of Divine Providence, which endows with the natural qualities they need those whom God has chosen to share the hierarchic priesthood of Christ, and assists them by His grace. At the same time, God leaves the rightful ministers of the Church to designate as acceptable those candidates whose acknowledged fitness is combined with the complete freedom and honest purpose essential in those who seek so great a role. Once she has accepted them, the Church then dedicates them by the seal of the Holy Spirit for the worship of God and the service of the Church.”(54)

To promote the organization and foster vocations, Bishops should take the greatest care to make use of the combined efforts of priests, religious and lay people, especially of parents and teachers,(55) and also of Catholic associations, on the pattern of any general, organically coordinated pastoral care.

9. Everything necessary to obtain vocations from God should be encouraged, in the first place the prayer demanded by Christ Himself (cf. Mt. 9:39; Lk. 10:2). Private prayer is called for, and prayer in common at suitable times in the liturgical year, and on solemn occasions fixed by ecclesiastical authority. This is the primary purpose of the World Day for Vocations, instituted by the Holy See, to be kept every year by the Church throughout the world.(56) Everything, too, should be encouraged that can rouse and open men’s minds to recognize and welcome a divine vocation. The example of priests “who openly manifest true paschal joy”(57); well-organized pastoral care of youth in the dioceses; sermons and catechesis that treat of vocation; spiritual preparation such as retreats: all should be regarded as important features of this pastoral work.

This activity should observe the laws of sound psychology and pedagogy, and must be aimed at men of different ages; but nowadays fresh effort is urgently needed: more men show a vocation at a more mature age (sometimes after practicing a career): special undertakings and programs are demanded to detect, develop and form vocations.(58)

10. The fostering of vocations should be done in a generous spirit, not only for each one’s diocese and nation, but also for other dioceses and other nations: the needs of the universal Church should be remembered, and the action of God who calls individuals to different tasks: to the secular priesthood, or missionary work, or to the religious institutions. To make this end easier of attainment, single centers are desirable in the individual dioceses, which may be expressions of the cooperation and unity existing between both clergies, diocesan and religious, in favor of all vocations.(59) 


11. The specific purpose of the minor Seminary is to help boys who seem to show the initial signs of vocation to recognize this vocation more easily and clearly, and to respond to it. In a matter demanding so much prudence and judgment, which can be dealt with only by the light and guidance of the Holy Spirit, who distributes His gifts as He wills (cf 1 Cor. 12:11), candidates should be led by superiors, parents, the parish community, and others concerned, to respond faithfully to the intentions of divine Providence; to live up the their baptismal consecration ever more completely, and fulfill it; and to advance in the spirit of the apostolate: thus in the end they may be better prepared to see the sublime gift of their vocation in its real nature, and if lawful authority approves, to embrace it freely and gladly.(61)

A vocation to the priesthood, though a supernatural and entirely gratuitous gift, is necessarily based on natural endowments: if any is lacking, it is to be doubted if a vocation is really there. Hence the young students must be carefully examined as regards their families, their physical, psychological, moral and intellectual qualities; in order that sure factors for a judgment of their fitness may be had in good time.(62)

12. The Minor Seminary should be given due importance in the life of the diocese. It must be prudently open to this life and form part of it. Then it may not only attract the ready cooperation of faithful and clergy, but also-as the center of pastoral care for vocations-exercise a beneficent and effective influence on the young students, promoting their spiritual progress. From this opportune contact with the outside world, they should learn, according to their ability, to grasp the more important problems of the Church and of human life, and to interpret them in a Christian spirit, and in this way they will make steady progress in the spirit of the Church and of her mission.(63)

Due and necessary contacts should be maintained also with their own families and contemporaries, as they need these contacts for a sound psychological, and particularly, emotional development. The right sort of spiritual help should be given to their families to enable them to take ever more effective care of vocations, working in union with the Seminary.(64)

13. The young seminarians should lead a life suited to their age and development, in line with the sound rules of psychology and pedagogy. Carefully to be avoided is anything that could lessen in any way their free choice of state; and it must always be borne in mind that among them there are some who see the priesthood clearly as their goal, others who admit it as a possibility; and others who show themselves hesitant and doubtful about their vocation, yet are well gifted and do not cause all hope to disappear of their ability to reach the priesthood.(65)

All factors demand in the Minor Seminary a lively familiar trust towards Superiors and brotherly friendship among the students, so that all may grow into one family, with the possibility of developing their own natural selves in the right way and in accordance with the plans of divine Providence.(66)

14. In his spiritual formation, every student should be helped by suitable direction, so that all his physical, moral, intellectual and emotional faculties develop harmoniously, and he becomes imbued with an increasing sense of justice, of sincerity, and of brotherly friendship; with appreciation of truth and of just freedom, and with a sense of duty. With all the elements of his nature developed with proper care,(67) he may be the more easily disposed to follow Christ our Redeemer with a generous and pure heart, and serve Him in an apostolic life.(68)

The principal and necessary factor in this spiritual formation of the student is the life of the liturgy, in which they should take part with growing appreciation as they grow in age; and likewise other devotional exercises, either of daily practice or to be fixed for specified times in the Seminary

Rule. These practices should be designed for Christian youths, and they should carry them out gladly and willingly.(69)

15. The Seminary should have its own rules for the other elements of its life, too, suitably arranging the various duties of the students and their activities throughout the day and the whole year.(70)

16. The students should complete the curriculum of studies which is demanded in their own country as a preliminary to studies of university standard; but so far as the program of studies allows, they should also cultivate the studies that are necessary or useful for candidates for the priesthood. As a general rule they should endeavor to acquire a public certificate of studies, so as to be on a par with other young people, and have the possibility of taking up another way of life should they be found not to have a priestly vocation.(71)

17. These studies should be done either in the Seminary’s own school, or if the bishops judge it better, for local conditions, and it can be done prudently, in Catholic schools outside, or even in others.

18. The same purpose is served by institutions that have been established in various places, colleges, i.e., and schools, etc., in which budding priestly vocations are cared for and developed alongside other students. Similar rules should be laid down for these institutions, to provide for the solid Christian education of their pupils, and the right training needed for higher studies; to cater also for their interest in apostolic work through various associations and other aids.(72)

19. As the needs of each nation demand, there should be built and developed institutions destined for the formation of those who are called to the priesthood at a more advanced age. With the help of the bishops of the region or of the country, these houses for special priestly formation should be planned and equipped the correspond fully with their established purpose.(73)

Such foundations ought to have their own Rule of devotional practice, discipline and studies: its aim, taking into account the previous training of the individual students, is to ensure them through suitable methods of teaching and training, the spiritual and scientific formation which may appear necessary as a preliminary to ecclesiastical studies.

With reference to local conditions, it will have to be decided whether the students should be set to normal seminary curricula after completing a suitable period of school work, or placed in special philosophical and theological schools. 


20. The Major Seminary accepts students who, after finishing Grammar School or High School studies, desire strictly priestly training. The aim of the Seminary is the more explicit and fuller development of a vocation; and, after the example of our Lord, Jesus Christ, Teacher, Priest and Pastor, to form and produce true pastors of souls for the ministry of teaching, sanctifying and ruling the People of God.(75)

21. A Major Seminary cannot be set up and kept in being without the following elements: a suitable number of students; superiors soundly prepared for their office and united in brotherly cooperation; professors sufficient in number and quality, where the institution includes a school of philosophy and theology; and suitable buildings, equipped with a library and the other aids needed for an establishment of its level and kind.(76)

Where these conditions cannot be had in the one diocese, it is necessary to set up an interdiocesan (or Regional, Central National) Seminary. As local circumstances suggest, the brotherly collaboration of diocesan with religious clergy is called for; the rights and duties of both bodies being safeguarded as they should be, by their joint forces suitable places for ecclesiastical studies may be more easily established. The students of both clergies could attend those centers while receiving spiritual and pastoral formation in their own places of residence.”

22 Primary training and education have as their aim to bring the candidates, once they are made sharers in the one priesthood and ministry of Christ, into hierarchic communion with their own bishop and the rest of their brethren in the priesthood, forming the one single Presbyterium of the diocese. It is therefore very desirable that right from Seminary years close links should bind students to their own bishop and the diocesan clergy, based on mutual charity, frequent conversation, and cooperation of every kind.(77)

23. To assist the right formation of each student, depending on their numbers, it can be useful to form separate groups, in the same building, or in houses near one another to avoid loss of regular communication. However, an effective unity of regime, spiritual direction, and scientific teaching must be retained.(78)

The individual groups should have their own priest-director, one well prepared for his task. He should maintain close and constant contacts with the Seminary Rector, with the students of his own group, and with the directors of other groups: through this close collaboration the progress may be assured of everything conducive to first class training.

24. The cooperation of students with superiors should be encouraged, to obtain the best order and efficiency in the life of the Seminary and to foster the students’ industry and sense of duty. This cooperation should gradually increase in extent and quality as the students grow in maturity. While they all work together, however, the different responsibility of superiors and students should be kept clearly defined.

Mutual trust between teachers and students, therefore, is to be fostered in every way, leading to a genuine and effective dialogue, so that decisions, which by right belong to the superiors, may be made after a fair inquiry into the common good (cf. n. 49),(80)

25. In every Seminary there must be a Rule (disciplinae Ordinatio) approved by the bishop (or by the group of bishops in the case of an inter diocesan Seminary) in which are set out the important points of discipline affecting the students’ daily life and the order of the whole institution.”(81)

26. All should observe, generously and willingly, the regulations laid down in the Rule or in other decisions, acting through conviction of how necessary this is for a genuine community life, and for the unfolding and strengthening of each man’s own character. So the rules affecting community or private life, which should leave fair room for freedom, are not just to be suffered passively, or by coercion, but accepted cheerfully and without hesitation, out of deep conviction and charity. As time goes on and the maturity and sense of duty of the students increase, the Rules should gradually be diminished so that the men may learn, as they go along, to be their own guides.(82)


27. Following local practice, in every Seminary there should be a staff of men responsible for its direction, consisting, for example, of Rector, Vice-Rector, Spiritual Director or Directors, Prefect of Studies, Pastoral Director, Prefect of Discipline, Bursar, Librarian. The functions, rights and duties of each, and their just emoluments, should be clearly defined.

There is no strict need in Seminaries of smaller size and number of students to allot individual men to each individual task.

28. The superiors are nominated by the bishop-unless the statutes of the Seminary prescribe otherwise-after careful consultation. They should all be genuinely concerned for the progress of the Seminary, welcoming frequent dialogue with the bishop and the students, the better to discover the common good, and steadily perfect their pedagogical work.(83)

29. The principal and most serious task in the direction of the Seminary is undertaken by the Rector. It is his part to keep the staff together, and he should work closely with them in brotherly charity, always religiously respecting the forum of conscience, to ensure harmonious progress in the work of training the students. Community life among the superiors can contribute very much to this end. They should often-once a month for example-meet to arrange their communal activity, to assess the Seminary’s affairs and problems, and find fitting solutions.(84)

30. Superiors should be chosen with the greatest care and should be men of deep priestly and apostolic spirit, fit to work with one another in their common task of education, in a fraternal collaboration. They should be open and alert to grasp the needs of the Church and of civil society, taught by pastoral experience in parish ministry or elsewhere, and outstanding in their clear understanding of young minds.(85)

The task of Seminary superiors is the most excellent of all arts, one which cannot tolerate an off-hand or chance mode of action. Of necessity, therefore, besides natural and supernatural gifts, they must have, as each one’s duty demands, due spiritual, pedagogical or technical training, which they would best have acquired in special institutions founded, or to be founded, for this purpose in their own or in other areas.

31. The superiors’ preparation should also be completed by being regularly brought up-to-date through attendance at conferences or courses, such as are held to review progress in spiritual or pedagogical sciences, or to learn about new methods and recent experience. The various experiments and undertakings through which superiors can better know, and in the light of faith solve modern problems, particularly those of youth, should not be neglected.(87) 


32. A suitable number of professors should be provided, taking into account the subjects to be taught, the method of teaching and the number of students; where philosophical and theological teaching is given, there should be a regular list of the professors who are needed in the various courses and subjects.

33. As a general rule, professors for the sacred subjects ought to be priests. All should willingly work with the rest in brotherly association; and they should be of the quality to show the students an example of Christian or priestly life, according to their status. Unless it is otherwise provided they are appointed by the bishop, or in the case of regional Seminaries by the bishops in charge of those Seminaries, after consultation with the rector and the body of professors, who can propose suitable candidates.(88)

34. The professors should be genuinely expert, each in his own subject, and with a reasonable knowledge of kindred subjects.(89) So they must have had proper preparation and attained the requisite academic degrees: to teach sacred sciences and philosophy, they ought to have at least the licentiate or its equivalent, and for the other subjects fitting academic qualifications.

35. They should possess the art of teaching, so care is to be taken to ensure to them due preparation in this matter also. Training in active teaching methods is required, which will enable them to teach their students through group work and discussions.(90)

36. It must be the professors’ own concern to keep their scientific preparation up-to-date by reading periodicals and new books, by frequent discussions with men of learning, and by taking part in study conferences.(91)

37. They ought not to undertake duties which will hinder them from carrying out their proper tasks; for this reason they should be given a just remuneration, to enable them to devote themselves entirely to their own important office. However, a moderate amount of pastoral ministry is commendable: by pastoral experience they can be helped to a fuller knowledge of modern problems, those of youth in particular, and can present their own subjects to better advantage for the training of future pastors of souls.

38. As they carry out their work, let them think of themselves as educators in the proper sense of the word; hence they must keep in view the rules about presentation of doctrine and methods of teaching which are mentioned below. They should be concerned for the training and whole priestly formation of each individual student, to ensure his real progress in learning and in the spiritual life. Frequent meetings, once a month for example, should be held to go over scholastic matters in common, to promote the instruction and formation of the students by serious and united effort.

They should keep up a close collaboration with the superiors of the Seminary too, in order to make a more effective contribution not only to the scientific but also to the whole priestly formation of the students. Superiors and professors, lastly, should make up a single community of educators, to present together with their students the genuine image of one family, which fulfills the prayer of our Lord “that they may be one” (Jn. 17:11).(92) 


39. Right training demands not only prudent selection of students but also serious trial of individuals during their course of studies, to be made with the advice of experts, in order to reach certainty about the will of God regarding their vocation. The candidates themselves should readily be asked to share in this sincere search for God’s will, the more quickly and surely to obtain their greater spiritual good.

Consideration is to be given to the young men’s human and moral qualities (e.g. sincerity, emotional maturity, good manners, keeping their word, steady concern for justice; feeling for friendship, for just freedom and responsibility; industry, the will to work with others, and so on): to their spiritual qualities too (e.g. love of God and neighbor, spirit of fellowship and self-denial, docility, well-tried chastity; appreciation of the faith and tho Church, Apostolic and missionary concern), and intellectual qualities (e.g. correct and sound judgment; sufficient ability to complete ecclesiastical studies; a right notion of the priesthood and of what it involves, etc.). Such consideration makes it possible to judge whether they are suited for priestly ministry.

Likewise as a general rule their physical and mental health should be examined by expert doctors and others competent in psychological science; possible inherited traits should also be given attention.(93)

The first thing is to help the students seriously and sincerely to ponder before God whether they can really believe themselves called to the priesthood, and make them able to sort out the motives of their intention. So, if God wills, they may proceed to the priestly office with a right and free will.”(94)

40. Every student’s personal position should be examined at certain times, with his own cooperation. In that way the rector and his advisers may discover the unsuitable, and invite them, in all kindness, and help them to take up a different state of life, for the good of the Church and their own.

This definite choice of a state of life should be obtained in good time and as soon as possible, to prevent any harm to the candidate from too long and useless delay.”(95)

41. Special importance is to be given to the assessments (“scrutinia”) prescribed before the taking of Holy Orders. As a duty of conscience arising from his office, the rector should himself, with the help of others who know them well, gather accurate information about each candidate. Parish priests, other priests and selected lay people may help him-the forum of conscience being always religiously respected. The rector should send this information to the bishop, so that he can make a safe judgment about the candidate’s vocation. Should a doubt persist, the safer opinion is to be followed.(96)

42. To improve the training of the students and give them a more mature preparation for Holy Orders, the Episcopal Conferences should consider the opportuneness of introducing in their own regions special experiments or tests, for all students, or for some individuals, as their own ordinary may judge fitting.(97)

The following experiments, among the various possibilities, are suggested by way of example:

a) At the beginning of the philosophy-theology course, a special period can be given for serious thought about the excellence of the priestly vocation, its nature, and the obligations connected with it: this is to initiate the students to mature decision, through very careful consideration and really intense prayer.

This initiation, which can be of varying length, is normally combined aptly with the introduction to the mystery of Christ and the history of salvation which the Council prescribed for the beginning of the philosophy-theology course.

b) During the said course, an interruption of residence in the Seminary is possible, e.g. for a year or six months, during which the student breaks off either studies and life in the Seminary together, or just his life in the Seminary while pursuing his studies (of philosophy-theology) elsewhere. During this interval, under the guidance of a skilled priest, he gives help in the pastoral ministry, learns about men and the problems and difficulties among which he will have to work, and tries out his own fitness for the priestly life and ministry. Trials of secular life in manual work, or in military service, where that is obligatory, are not ruled out.

Or after the first year of the Major Seminary the students may be given permission either to enter the second year, or to take up secular studies in a university, or to pursue study of some special subject outside the Seminary: in this way the student, after completing his first experiences in the Seminary, will be offered a period of real freedom both interior and exterior to develop his vocation more solidly and with greater effort.

c) Having finished the philosophy-theology course, they will be able to work as deacons for one or more years. This work, under the direction of a competent priest, should let them acquire a fuller maturity and strengthening of their vocation; they should better assimilate the pastoral teaching which they learned as young men in the Seminary, and so pass on more smoothly and easily to the ministry of a priest.

The experiments described under b) and c) should have their terms of reference properly designed to ensure a safe and successful result.

43. The Episcopal Conference should also consider whether, with reference to local conditions, the age required by the common law for Holy Orders should be raised.”(98) 


44. The end of spiritual training is the perfection of charity, and it should lead the student, not just by dint of his ordination, but from the intimate fellowship of his whole life, to become in a special way another Christ; deeply penetrated by His spirit, he should truly realize what he is doing when celebrating the mystery of the Lord’s death, should imitate what he is handling, and follow Him who came not to be ministered to but to minister (cf. Mt. 20:28).(100)

45. While the pastoral purpose of all priestly formation should constantly be borne in mind, the spiritual life of the student, with the help of the spiritual director,(101) should develop in an orderly way in its various aspects.(102) Together with the virtues most esteemed among men,(103) the young students should endeavor to bring the grace of their baptism to perfection; they should have an ever clearer and more definite appreciation of their special priestly vocation, and so make themselves better able to acquire the virtues and habits of priestly life.

46. The community should also be given its due weight in spiritual formation: here the students, as members, should get used to putting aside their own will, and with common purpose and effort seek the greater good of their neighbor. In this way they do their best to perfect both their own lives and the common life of the whole Seminary, like the early Church, in which the whole group of believers was united, heart and soul (cf. Acts 4:32). For by charity the community enjoys God’s presence, observes the law in its fullness, attains the bond of perfection, and puts into practice great apostolic virtue.(104)

47. Their community life in the Seminary should prepare candidates for the priesthood, so that in the end, raised to Holy Orders, they may be united in a “sacramental brotherhood” with the wider community of the diocesan presbyterium, “by the bond of charity, prayer, and manifold cooperation, in order to build up the Body of Christ, a task demanding, in our days particularly, many duties and up-to-date reforms.”(105) So the students should gradually be introduced to the actual conditions of the diocese (cf above no. 22), in order to be aware of the situation and needs of clergy and faithful, and be able to carry out their future pastoral duties with greater success.(106)

48. The Church of the Latin rite has established the rule, which claims respect from long usage, of choosing for the priesthood only those who by the grace of God are willing freely to embrace celibacy for the kingdom of God’s sake.(107) This way of life is rooted in the teaching of the Gospel and the authentic tradition of the Church, and in many ways matches the priesthood. The entire mission of the priest is dedicated to the service of the new human race which Christ, Victor over death, raises up in the world by His Spirit; it is a state by which priests “more easily stay close to Christ with undivided heart, more freely dedicate themselves to the service of God and man…and so are better fitted to receive their fatherhood in Christ with great generosity….” In this way, then, choosing the state of virginity for the kingdom of heaven’s sake (Mt. 9:12), “they are made a living sign of that world to come which is present now through faith and charity,” “in which the children of the resurrection do not marry” (cf Lk. 20:35-36).(108)

Therefore those who are preparing for the priesthood should recognize and accept celibacy as a special gift of God; by a life unstintingly devoted to prayer, to union with Christ, to sincere fraternal charity, they should create the necessary conditions in which they can fully and joyfully preserve their celibacy, anxious always for the sincerity of their gift of self.(109)

In order that the choice of celibacy may be really free, a young man must be able to see the evangelical force of this gift by the light of faith, and at the same time rightly esteem the good of the married state.(110) He should enjoy full psychological freedom, both interior and exterior, and have the necessary degree of emotional stability, in order to appreciate and live his celibacy as his personal fulfillment.(111)

Adequate education in matters of sex is required for this.(112) In students of some maturity, this education consists rather of formation leading to a chaste love of people than in an anxiety to avoid sins, a thing at times very disturbing. Such formation must prepare them for the future involvements of the pastoral ministry. Gradually, then, with sound and spiritual discretion, the young men should be asked and guided to experience and show, in groups and in various areas of the apostolate and of social cooperation, a love that is sincere, human, fraternal, personal, and offered to God after the example of Christ; a love for all men, but above all for the poor and the distressed, and for their fellows. In this way they will overcome any sense of loneliness. They should expose this love openly and with confidence to their spiritual directors and superiors, and learn to judge it in the Lord with their help. They should however, avoid individual relationships, particularly any of a solitary and protracted nature, with people of the opposite sex. They ought rather to endeavor to practice a love open to all and therefore truly chaste. This they should habitually ask for as a gift from God.

The nature of this gift being clearly of a special order, from above, coming down from the Father of light (Jas. 1:17), candidates for the priesthood must rely on God’s help without too much confidence in their own strength, and “should practice mortification and custody of the senses. They should not leave aside the natural means favorable to mental and physical health. Thus they will not be disturbed by false teachings which represent perfect continence as impossible or hurtful to human development; and they should reject, by a kind of spiritual instinct, everything that leads their chastity into danger.(113) 

Close Relationship with Christ

49. The student should aim at a close and friendly relationship with the person and mission of Christ, who completed His task (cf Jn. 4:34) in humble submission to the will of the Father. This

relationship of necessity demands that a candidate for the priesthood should know how to “dedicate his own will, by obedience, to the service of God and his brethren,”(114) with sincere faith. One who wishes to have a part with Christ crucified in the building up of His Body is under a grave obligation not only to learn to accept the cross, but also to love it, and to take up in a willing and pastoral spirit all the heavy tasks required to carry on his apostolic mission.

So it lies with the superiors to train the young men to true and mature obedience in reliance on Christ, who indeed required obedience from His followers, but first showed Himself as the exemplar of this virtue, and by His grace made Himself the principle of obedience in us. The superiors, then, must exercise authority with prudence and respect for persons. In this matter the young men will surely offer their cooperation, so long as obedience is put forward in its true light, i.e., if it is made clear how all must join in pursuing the common good, and how authority is designed for this (cf. no. 24).

The students should show this full and sincere obedience first of all to the Pope, the Vicar of Christ, with humble service and filial piety and to their own bishop in the same spirit, so that through the priesthood they may become his faithful co-workers, generously and freely giving their help in fellowship with the other priests of the presbyterium.(115)

50. The spirit of poverty, so much demanded from the Church these days, and itself necessary for fulfilling the work of the apostolate, is what the students should learn to foster by deeds and not just by words: relying on the Father’s Providence, they may thus know both how to have plenty and to be in want (Phil. 4:12) like the Apostle, without anxiety. Although not obliged like religious to renounce material goods completely, still they should as spiritual men strive to acquire the liberty and docility of the children of God, and attain that spiritual restraint which is necessary for finding a right attitude towards the world and worldly goods.(116) Following the example of Christ, who became poor for our sakes though he was rich (2 Cor. 8:9), they should consider the poor and the less well-off to be their own special charges(117): By a simplicity and austerity of life, let them be able to bear witness to poverty, with self-denial of superfluous goods already a habit.(118)

 Formation of the Whole Man

51. Spiritual formation should take in the whole man (cf. nos. 14, 15). Grace does not take away nature, but raises it to a higher level, and no one can be a true Christian unless he has and exercises the virtues befitting a man, and demanded by charity which has to animate and make use of them. The future priest, then, must learn to practice sincerity, a constant concern for justice, good manners in dealing with people; he must keep to his word, be controlled and kind in conversation(119); must have a spirit of fellowship and service and of readiness to work, and the ability to work with others, etc. With these qualities he may teach that harmony in reconciling human with supernatural good which is needed for the true witness of Christian life in modern society.

A priest must preach the Gospel to all men, and therefore the candidate for the priesthood must do his best to develop his ability for forming right relationships with men of different sorts. He should learn in particular the art of speaking to others in the right way, of listening patiently, and of making himself understood. In this respect he must treat all men with great reverence, filled with the spirit of humble charity, so that he may reveal to others the mystery of Christ living in the Church.(120)

52. Daily celebration of the Eucharist, which is completed by sacramental Communion received worthily and in full liberty, should be the center of the whole life of the Seminary, and the students should devoutly take part in it. Sharing in the sacrifice of the Mass, “source and culmination of all

Christian life,(121) they share in the charity of Christ, drawing from the richest of sources supernatural force for their spiritual life and apostolic labor.

Therefore the Eucharistic sacrifice, and indeed the whole sacred liturgy, as the Constitution Sacrosanctum concilium wishes, should occupy the place in the Seminary which will truly reveal it as “the peak point towards which the activity of the Church tends, and at the same time the source from which its strength flows.”(122)

A sound variety in the manner of participation in the sacred liturgy should be provided for, so that the students may not only realize greater spiritual progress themselves, but also be prepared practically, from their Seminary years, for their future ministry and liturgical apostolate.(123)

53. With formation for Eucharistic worship there should be closely combined formation for the Divine Office, by which priests “pray to God in the name of the Church for the entire people entrusted to them, and indeed for the whole world.”(124) Students should learn the Church’s method of prayer by means of a suitable introduction to Sacred Scripture, the Psalms, and other prayers of scriptural content; also by frequent recitation in common of part of the Office (e.g. Lauds or Vespers). So they may with more understanding and reverence know the Word of God speaking in the Psalms and in all the liturgy, and be trained at the same time for faithful observance in their priestly life of the obligation of the Divine Office.(125)

This liturgical instruction will lack completeness unless it reveals to the students the close connection between the sacred liturgy and their daily working life, with its needs of apostolate and of sincere witness that reveals a living faith acting through charity.(126)

54. To live the life of a priest uprightly and loyally, the students should gradually attain, corresponding with their own age and maturity, a firm pattern of life, safeguarded by solid virtues, without which they will not be able to persevere in a genuine close attachment to Christ and the Church.

 Features of the Priest’s Life

 For the following must be features of the priest’s life:

a) he must learn “to live in familiar and constant company with the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit”(127);

b) he ought to be able to find Christ habitually in the intimate communion of prayer;

c) he should have learned to keep by his side the Word of God in Sacred Scripture, with an affection rooted in faith, and to give it to others;

d) he should be willing and happy to visit and adore Christ sacramentally present in the Eucharist;

e) he ought, as the Church desires, to have a fervent love for the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ, who was in a special way associated with the work of Redemption;

f) he should readily consult the documents of Sacred Tradition, the works of the Fathers, and the examples of the saints;

g) he must know how to examine and judge himself, his conscience and his motives, with honesty and sincerity.

The priest will keep to all these duties only if in his Seminary days he has faithfully practiced the devotional exercises that have long proved their worth, and are sanctioned by the rule of the Seminary; and if he has correctly grasped their importance and force. If it should be necessary

to adapt one or other of these practices to modern needs, its inherent and essential purpose should carefully be kept in mind so that it may be attained in some other suitable way.

55. To follow Christ in the spirit of the Gospel is an intention certainly to be renewed every day. The virtue of penance, then, should be instilled into future priests. Penitential acts made in common may be used, which serve both for personal formation and for mutual instruction. Students should strive to acquire a real enthusiasm for a life crucified with Christ, through love of Him, and for purity of heart. They should therefore pray fervently for the help of the grace they need; frequent recourse to the sacrament of Penance should become a habit: there everyone’s efforts are in a sense consecrated; moreover each should have his spiritual director to whom he may humbly and confidently open his conscience, so as to be guided safely in the way of the Lord.(129)

The students are to choose their spiritual director and confessor with full freedom, from among those appointed as fit for the task by the bishop.(130)

56. The only way to the priesthood is by stages: these stages give their meaning to the Minor Orders, which appoint a man to definite functions in the Church, after duly completed training and spiritual preparation. In fact the spiritual training of the students proceeds by degrees, and needs to be adapted to the age, experience, and ability of individuals. Its efficacy is considerably helped by fixed periods of more intensive training, for example when men first enter the seminary, at the beginning of the theology course, or at the approach of priestly ordination, and so on. Besides the spiritual direction of individuals, the students should also be given, at fixed times as each Seminary’s rule determines, a spiritual instruction or conference suited to the situation and outlook of modern youth: their efforts in the spiritual life receive in this way a regular fresh impulse, and can be directed towards the gaining of a genuine mature priestly spirituality, according to the mind of the Church. Self-examination, regular periods of recollection and other exercises of the kind should also have their place. Every year all should spend some days in retreat.

57. In the midst of His daily labors Christ used to readily seek solitude, in order to pray to His Father without distraction; following His example and counsel (cf. Mt. 6:6; 14:13; Mk. 6:30, 46) students should try to develop “a life hidden with Christ in God (cf. Col. 3:3) from which arises irrepressibly the love of one’s neighbor, directed towards the salvation of the world and the building up of the Church.”(131) They ought, therefore, to be concerned about the keeping of external silence, without which there is no interior silence of soul, and which is needed for thought and for the work and the repose alike of the whole community.(132)

58. Much good will result from communication with their fellowmen, among whom Christ was sent by the love of the Father (cf. Jn. 4:9) and there accomplished His work of redemption. This will allow the student to be trained in observing correctly the signs of the times,(133) and judging events by the light of the Gospel; also to interpret accurately the various circumstances and exigencies of human life which contain the true “seeds of the Word hidden in themselves,”(134) and demand “to be illumined by the light of the Gospel; to be set free and brought back under the sway of God our Savior.”(135) As regards this mixing with the world, it should be carefully noted that all experiences of this sort are designed for the pastoral purpose of the Seminary, and for the spiritual preparation of the students, to ensure that their future activity will be not an obstacle but a help towards the development and strengthening of their own spiritual life.(136) 


59. The purpose of the intellectual formation is to enable the students to acquire, along with a general culture which is relevant to present-day needs, an extensive and solid learning in the sacred sciences such as can give a firm foundation to their faith, enable it to mature, and can equip them to

proclaim the teaching of the Gospel effectively and make it part and parcel of the culture of modern man.(137) This formation includes

a) after finishing the curriculum of studies mentioned in n. 16, the completion, where necessary, of their education in the arts and sciences;

b) philosophical formation;

c) theological formation.

60. There are three main ways of providing this:

a) in three distinct and successive periods of time; the arts and sciences where necessary-the study of philosophy-the study of theology.

b) Arts and sciences along with philosophy (cf. American College); then theology.

c) The arts and sciences followed by a combined course of philosophy and theology. If this is done, care must be taken to present philosophy as a separate entity having its own special method, and not reduce it to a fragmentary consideration of problems arising from questions in theology.

These are to be taken merely as examples, and do not exclude other methods of arranging the studies. In their scheme for priestly training the Episcopal Conference should indicate what systems they choose to approve, and, in doing so, they should take into account their local conditions.

61. Whatever study arrangement is adopted, the following principles should be carefully observed:

a) it should always commence with an introductory course in the Mystery of Christ, such as will be found described in the following section (132);

b) if philosophy and theology are taught at separate times, an attempt should be made to coordinate subjects in philosophy with those of theology, particularly natural theology with the tract in dogma concerning God, ethics with moral theology, the history of philosophy with Church history and the history of dogmatic theology, etc.(133)

c) the time devoted to studies of a particularly philosophical nature should be equivalent to at least two years (or, where certain countries use a system of computing the length of studies by hours per term, the equivalent number of such hours); the time devoted to theological studies should equal at least four years (or, the equivalent number of hours per term), so that the study of philosophy and theology should take no less than six years (or, the equivalent number of hours normally requiring six years to cover).(134)

62. The Introduction into the Mystery of Christ and Salvation History which is to inaugurate the course of philosophy and theology is designed to enable the students to appreciate the idea which lies behind ecclesiastical studies, their general plan and connection with the apostolate. At the same time it should help to give roots to their own faith, to understand at greater depth their priestly vocation, and consequently to commit themselves with greater awareness.

The program and length of this course should be regulated for in the Scheme for Priestly Training. Before doing so, account should be taken of the experiments which have already taken place in the country concerned and in the Church abroad, and care is needed to link the course properly with the rest of the theological studies. It should also continue afterwards especially by means of Scripture Reading under the direction of professors.(141)

63. The professors, as a body, when teaching their own subject, must be concerned for the internal unity and harmony of the whole corpus of doctrine about the faith, which is being taught (cf. n. 90). This they can do by emphasizing the salvation aspect of their particular subject. But to really do the job properly, as the course of studies comes to an end-or, if the Bishops’ Conferences prefer, after a few years of pastoral experience-time might be set aside, even a fairly lengthy period, when the students can be directed in a methodical way and in the light of what they have already learned, to examine the Word of God, contemplate it as it were and experience it, simply from the point of view of the unity of its message of salvation in the way it is to be put over to the faithful, and thus mold together into one the main points of each subject which have been taught as separate entities. This time set aside for a final round up is to be highly recommended.

It can prevent acquired pieces of knowledge from remaining out on a limb and isolated from each other. It enables the priest to see everything wedded to one aim: the spiritual development of his people. It creates that harmony which is necessary for his own spiritual maturing, and enables him to see the use of the knowledge he has acquired and thus give him a greater love of theological learning.

If individual bishops, or their Conferences as a whole, should decide to restore the exercise of the Diaconate for a year or so after the completion of studies (cf. n. 42 c), this general unification, or knitting together, of different branches of theology would be more usefully transferred to the time when the deacons return to the Seminary to prepare themselves for the priesthood. But the period will have to be sufficiently long to make it a really effective and immediate preparation.

64. An overriding consideration to be borne in mind is that the whole of the intellectual formation of students must take into account their differing backgrounds. They have to be capable of understanding and expressing Christ’s message in a form, which has meaning for them. They are products of a certain culture, and they have to translate the Christian life into terms, which will be relevant to their own cultural ethos.

Therefore, professors of philosophy and theology should always draw comparisons between Christian teaching and the particular ideas about God, the world, and man which are enshrined in popular traditions that are held as sacred by the people concerned, and as far as possible, use these notions to enrich the wisdom of the philosophers and the understanding of the faith. (142)


 65. Before the students embark on their specific studies for the priesthood they must have completed the schooling which is required in their own country as a necessary qualification for commencing University studies, and, if possible, have obtained a State-recognized diploma of proficiency. (143)

66. On the completion of these studies, any deficiency in knowledge which is required in a priest must be made good either before or during the study of philosophy, as n. 60 indicates. An example would be that reasonable proficiency in Latin, which the Church continually and insistently demands. (144) A list and program of these studies should be included in the Scheme for Priestly Training.

67. Students should learn, apart from their own language, whatever languages are deemed necessary or useful for their future pastoral ministry. In this matter the civil program of education should also be observed. But in addition they should be taught how to express themselves in an idiom acceptable to modern people, how to communicate in the spoken and the written word, and how to get to’ the heart of the meaning of a question, an art which is so necessary for the priest. Training in the appreciation of art and music, whether sacred or profane, would also be an advantage for them. (145)

68. Nowadays people receive their information and convictions not only from books and teachers, but more and more through audio-visual aids. It is of the utmost importance, therefore, that priests should be versed in these methods. They should, however, have the right attitude towards them; be ready to use them critically, not be merely passive spectators or listeners. This demands that they be used, with moderation and with prudence, for experimental teaching purposes in the Seminary under expert guidance. Their controlled use should enable the students to exercise restraint themselves and teach others the same, while availing themselves of their usefulness for the apostolate. (146)

69. Right from their first Seminary years, and increasingly as they grow older and maturer, the students should be introduced to the social problems of their own country in particular. Their studies, their contact with people and the world around them, and the events of daily life should make them acquainted with questions and disputes of a social order and they should come to grips with them, with their real significance, the pros and cons, problems and consequences inherent in them and learn to see where, in the light of the natural law and the precepts of the Gospel, just and equitable solutions are to be found.(147)


 70. Studies in philosophy and kindred subjects-no matter how they may be distributed over the years (cf. n. 60) must be equivalent to a two-year course. Their purpose is to form the students as human beings by sharpening their judgment and refining their appreciation of the wisdom of the ancients and moderns with which the human family has been enriched through the course of the centuries. At the same time the method of teaching these subjects should assist the student to a deeper awareness and a more intense living out of his faith. They should also be a preparation for his theological studies and for the right performance of his apostolic ministry, which requires him to be properly trained for dialogue with people of this day and age. (148)

71. Systematic philosophy and its component parts should be regarded as of particular importance in leading one to the acquisition of a solid and coherent understanding of man, the world, and God.

This training in philosophy must be based on that always-valid philosophical patrimony (150) whose witnesses are the great Christian philosophers. They are the ones, who have handed down those first philosophical principles, which have a constant value, since they are founded in nature itself. Granted such a philosophical basis, the students’ attention should be directed towards contemporary philosophy, and, in particular, to the schools of thought, which exercise special influence in their own country, and to recent scientific progress. In this way they will be in a position to view the modern age in its right perspective and be adequately prepared for dialogue with society. (151)

72. The History of Philosophy must also be taught to show the origins and development of the great problems, which have faced mankind. From an understanding of the different solutions, which have been proposed to these problems over the centuries, students will be able to discern the truth, detect error, and refute it. (152)

73. Related sciences should also be taught: the natural sciences, for instance, and mathematics, insofar as they are related to philosophy. But a due sense of proportion should be observed; their purpose is not to produce superficial and encyclopedic minds, but to he of real complementary value to the principal subjects. (153)

74. The matter and manner of presentation in all subjects should take cognizance, not only of the intrinsic importance of each question, but also of its relevance to present-day circumstances, whether of the students or local conditions. (154)

75. In the National Schemes for Priestly Training (or, in an Appendix) an outline should be given of all the subjects taught in the philosophy curriculum and a brief note of the program, number of years or terms and hours per week given in class to each subject.

If, for one reason or another (e.g. because different systems are employed in a large country) this be too difficult or impossible to do, some examples at least of study-programs should be included, which could provide a clear indication of what is in progress and be of help to everyone.


 76. The whole of four years at least must be devoted to theological studies. (155) Their purpose is to enable the students to make as profound a study as possible of the teaching of Divine Revelation in the light of faith and under the guidance of the authoritative magisterium, nourish their own spiritual lives with what they have learned, guard it in their priestly ministry, and proclaim and expound it for the spiritual good of the faithful. (156)

77. No matter under which aspects (ecumenical, missiological, etc.)(157) Theological subjects are treated, they should be so taught as to clearly reveal their interrelation (158) and their proper place in the setting of the mystery of the Church. (159) Moreover, each subject in its own way should be seen to fit in neatly with the overall pattern of explaining the history of salvation as it continues to be worked out, among the ups and downs of the world, in the life of the Church. (160)

78. The whole of theology finds its soul in Sacred Scripture, which is to be the inspiration of every part of theology. (161) For this reason due importance should be accorded to biblical studies. Students should be introduced into the correct methods of exegesis after a suitable introduction and with the support of auxiliary courses. In accordance with their needs, the professors should explain what the main problems are and their solution, and really help them acquire a vision of the whole of Sacred Scripture with a clear insight into the principal chapters of the history of salvation. Moreover they should give their divinity students a theological synthesis of divine revelation which is so necessary for their spiritual life and future preaching, since these require a firm basis. (162)

79. Sacred Liturgy is now to be regarded as one of the principal subjects. And it is to be presented, not so much in its juridical aspect, as in a theological and historical context, and, on the spiritual and pastoral plane, it should be linked up with the other subjects in order that the students may realize how the salvation mysteries are rendered present and operative in the liturgical ceremonies. Texts and rites of Oriental and Western liturgies should be explained in order to illustrate the eminent place which, theologically speaking, the Sacred Liturgy occupies in expressing the faith and spiritual life of the Church. (163)

They should have the norms governing the restored liturgy explained for a better understanding of the adaptations and changes, which the Church has decided. They also ought to he capable of evaluating what is legitimately optional, and, while we are in the middle of the present heated debate of more serious and thorny problems, they should be able to draw a clear line between what is changeable and what is, by divine institution, liturgically immutable. (164)

Dogmatic Theology should be presented in full and systematically. It should begin with an exposition of its biblical sources, followed by an explanation of the contribution which the Oriental and Latin Fathers have made to the formulation and handing down of the truths of revelation, and how dogma has developed through historical progression. Finally, there should be a full, speculative study, based on St Thomas of the mysteries of salvation and their interrelation. Students should be taught to recognize how the mystery of salvation is present and operative in the liturgy. They should learn to look for solutions to human problems in the light of revelation, and of only have an insight into the eternal, embodied in the changeable conditions of this world, but also be able to communicate these eternal truths to modern man. (165)

There is no objection to the teaching of dogmatic theology by the so-called regressive method, which begins with conciliar definitions and works backward through the Fathers to Sacred Scripture, if in this way one can learn to read and understand Scripture in the light of the living tradition of the Church. (166)

Right from the beginning of a theological training it is important that solid doctrine based on theological sources is imparted. (167) And although it now needs to be adapted to this ecumenical age and to the circumstances of the day, one should not neglect what is called Apologetics, which is concerned with the preparation necessary for the gift of faith and with the rational foundations of a living faith in relation to the sociological conditions which influence the Christian life in a particular way. (168)

The teaching of Sacred Scripture should also animate moral Theology. It has to demonstrate how the Christian’s vocation is founded on charity and give a scientific explanation of the obligations incumbent on the faithful. It should endeavor to discover the solution to human problems in the light of revelation and make eternal truths relevant in a changing world. It should seek the assistance of reliable and modern anthropology in its efforts to restore a sense of virtue and of sin to men’s consciences. (169) The teaching of morals is completed by a study of Spiritual Theology which, apart from anything else, should include a study of the theology and spirituality of the priesthood and of a life consecrated to God by the following of the evangelical counsels, in order that spiritual direction can be given according to one’s state of life. (170)

Pastoral Theology has to explain the theological principles of action-of the action by which God’s salvific will through the various ministries and institutions in the Church of today is actually realized. (171) However, since a solid training in social questions is of considerable importance in making for a successful pastoral ministry, efforts should be made to reserve a definite number of lectures, as many as are necessary, for the Social Doctrine of the Church in order that the students may learn the means of adapting the teaching and the principles of the Gospel to the life of society. (172)

Church History should explain the origins and progress of the People of God as it unfolds itself in time space. It should be scientific in weighing its historical sources. It will be necessary to pay attention in the course of the treatment of the subject matter, not only to the development of theological doctrine, but also to social, economic and political factors, their theories and doctrines which have had the greatest influence over the course of Church History, since the evolution of one cannot be explained except through its dependence and connection with the other. The history of the Church is also the story of a wonderful partnership between God and man, and it should inculcate in the students a genuine sense of the Church and Tradition. (173) Due attention should also be paid to the history of their own country.

Canon Law should be taught in relation to the mystery of the Church as more profoundly understood by the Second Vatican Council. While explaining principles and laws, the point should be made plain, apart from anything else, how the whole system of ecclesiastical government and discipline is in accord with the salvific will of God, and, in all things, has as its scope the salvation of souls. (174)

80. Ancillary subjects and special courses ought also to be determined, and which of them are obligatory or not. Likewise the students should be offered the opportunity of learning Hebrew and Biblical Greek, (175) to enable them to tackle the original biblical texts, and understand and explain them. But, on the other hand, care must be taken to avoid multiplying the number of courses. Rather insert new questions, or new ways of looking at things, into the courses, which are already provided, where this is possible. (176)

Means should be found of leading the students to a fuller understanding of the Churches and ecclesial communities separated from the Apostolic See as a step to the re-establishment of unity, (177) which is provided for in the Decree De Oecumenismo and the Directorium Oecumenicum published by the Holy See. (178) Facilities should also be provided for them to get to know other religions which may be more prominent in certain areas; to recognize what is good and true in them, what errors are to be refuted, and to communicate the full light of the truth to those who do not possess it. (179)

Equal attention should be paid to questions concerning modern atheism in all its aspects, so that as priests they can be better qualified to tackle the grave pastoral responsibilities, which arise therefrom. (180)

81. In the National Schemes for Priestly Training (or in an Appendix) an outline should be given of all the subjects taught in the Theology Curriculum with a brief note made of the program and the number of years or terms and hours per week given in class to each subject.

If, for one reason or another (e.g. because different systems are used in a large country), this be too difficult or impossible to do, there should be included at least some examples of study-programs as an indication of the general pattern of studies approved by the Episcopal Conference.


 82. The apostolate of today demands that, besides a general formation, which is common to all church students, there should be some special preparation provided with a view to the various tasks to be performed in the future by each priest. (181)

83. Having established the principle of a general philosophical and theological formation for all, the specialization can take two forms:

A) One useful for priests who will be engaged in pastoral activities and which can be organized in the Seminary, particularly in the final year, without any attendance necessary at a special institute: for instance, preparation for an apostolate among a certain class industrial workers, farming communities, etc);

B) Training for a particular post requiring its own preparation in specialized institutes; e.g. training to teach sacred or secular subjects.

84. As regards A: the aim should be to provide this special preparation during the six years’ course of philosophy and theology. This can be done:

a) If special courses are properly organized, particularly in the latter years, within the scholastic year, so long as they are not disproportionate to the principal subjects and fit into the scheme of general formation. Alternatively, such courses might be arranged for the vacation period;

b) by concentrating on giving all, or the majority, of the general course in the first five years, and in the sixth year giving a full and intensive specialized training in a special course of subjects.

Through schemes like these, different groups of students will be able to receive a varied specialized formation according to their aptitude, and, in particular, according to what the bishop decides are the peculiar needs of the diocese. In its Scheme for Priestly Training the Episcopal Conference should state what it has decided for each region and for each Seminary faculty.

85. As regards B: it is essential that the general formation be first completed and also some pastoral experience be had before sending candidates to higher institutes and universities where they can obtain the specialized training along with their degrees or diplomas.

Only those should be chosen for this purpose who are really suitable from the point of view of character, virtue, and intelligence, and it is of the utmost importance that their spiritual and pastoral formation, particularly if they are not yet ordained priests, should be fully completed.(182)

Episcopal Conferences in each country should make suitable provisions in this matter.(183) Moreover, where Major Seminaries have their theological studies organized on a scientific basis, they should see if they cannot have them affiliated to a university faculty of theology in order to enable a number of Seminary students to gain a first degree (baccalaureate) in theology within the university system.

Seeing the unique importance of the Roman Colleges,(184) on account of their being able to offer a wide choice of specialized courses, the Episcopal Conferences should preserve close links with these, their own colleges. By their joint effort they can promote their special function, and increase the contribution, which they can make to the new needs which face their countries and the Universal Church.


86. God’s revelation is the foundation and real scope of the whole formation of a priest, since of this students must become devoted and trust worthy ministers. Therefore, both professors and students must adhere faithfully to the written and unwritten Word of God. They must love it, make it their careful study, and in it find their spiritual nourishment.(186) Tradition and Sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of God’s word and this is committed to the “Church’s care.(186) Consequently students should have a lively appreciation for this Tradition as it is found in the works of the Fathers, and should pay special attention to the doctrine of the Fathers and or the other Doctors who are renowned in the Church.(187) They should regard St. Thomas as one of the Church’s greatest teachers while still esteeming authors of more recent times.(188)

87. Professors of the ecclesiastical sciences hold a very honorable position in the Church, but also one which entails great responsibility: they teach, not in their own, but in the Church’s name, since it is from the Church that they have received their commission. They should keep before their eyes the special place they occupy in the Body of Christ, and ever manifest a spirit of respect and submission to the Church’s magisterium. In this way they will play their part in the building up in faith of their students and the faithful.(189)

88. Professors should take into account present trends and state of doctrine. They should use their rightful freedom of inquiry and of speaking their minds, but, as true cooperators of the truth,(190) they should always approach new questions with the prudence and seriousness which the weight of their office, their responsibilities towards the truths of revelation, demand.

In view of the fact that there exist different degrees of theological certainty, professors should make it clear in their teaching what is proven doctrine of faith and what is so by the consent of theologians. For this to be done properly a basic and reliable text is essential. Only when doctrine which is certain has been fully expounded should they turn their attention to all unemotional exposition of what is only probable or novel or their own personal theories.(191)

89. While candidates for the priesthood are to concentrate on the Church’s teaching in their studies, efforts should be made to make them open, in moderation and for the right motives, to modern culture. With this in mind, their teachers should strive to make them into men of balanced mind and mature judgment.(192) Students for the priesthood are to learn to be men of discernment, to read with a critical eye, to know what the approve and what to reject of the culture of today. A very useful method is group reading of the Press and of books followed by a critical discussion in the company of professors.


 90. The program of studies should be revised at stated intervals so that obsolete questions can be omitted from the curriculum and the teaching of questions, which are still in vogue, can be improved and be given more detailed treatment.

New courses-as already mentioned (cf. n. 80)-should not be lightly introduced: rather, new questions should be fitted into the already existing subjects where possible. Professors should realize that they are, and should be eager to be, a unified teaching body. It is only when this unity is present in the teaching staff that there will be the desired unity in teaching. They must be concerned for the interrelationship and unity of the subjects they teach, so that the students themselves realize they are learning, not many, but the one science of the faith and the Gospel.(194)

In order to facilitate this unification, someone in the Seminary should be in charge of integrating the course of studies.

91. Teaching methods should also be revised, but, as a premise to this revision, the following should be borne in mind:

a) Professors must be agreed upon a definite number of lectures for all formal courses which are necessary to cover the presentation and explanation of the main topics to be taught, the general direction of the students’ private study, d useful reading-lists.

b) There should be a system of seminars and practical exercises to encourage the active participation of the students; professors whose task it is to direct these activities should be aware of the seriousness of their work which demands as much of them as do formal lectures.

c) Work in small groups with a master in charge should also be encouraged; likewise, private studies under the direction of professors with whom they can have frequent discussions. Ways like these teach the students a personal method of study.

d) Finally, appropriate surveys might be undertaken by candidates for the priesthood to study scientifically the pastoral problems affecting their dioceses.(195) A joint study of a theological nature to examine events and factors more clearly connects their life with their spiritual formation and their formal classroom learning. Apart from this, it imparts to the students a fuller theological preparation. However, to satisfy all these requirements in teaching-methods and the demands of personal study, professors must be sufficiently numerous and well trained for their duties.

92. A library is an indispensable instrument for study, both for the professors and the students. Each major Seminary should have one carefully arranged and looked after by a qualified librarian. It should be kept continually well stocked with books: for this purpose an annual allowance should be generously allotted and the assistance of all that use it should be enlisted. Students should be taught the modern methods of making use of a library.

93. The Episcopal Conferences are to determine definite standards of attainment required of their students, whose progress should be ascertained at stated intervals by means of discussions and written essays and examinations.


 94. The entire training for the priesthood must have a thoroughly pastoral slant, because the purpose of the Seminary is to form pastors of souls (cf. n. 20), and consequently the pastoral aspect must receive special emphasis in all the subjects, which are taught.(197)

Special pastoral training, however, is also to be given, adapted to local conditions which vary according to whether the Christian way of life is flourishing, neglected, or is simply non-existent, or whether it is a country with confessional differences or a plurality of religions. In particular, this pastoral training should include catechetics and homiletics, the administration of the sacraments, spiritual direction according to the varying states of life, parochial administration, pastoral joint-action with non-Catholics and non-believers, and other questions necessary for the building up of the Body of Christ.”(199)

Together with all this the students should be trained how to acquire the ability to involve themselves with true pastoral concern in the lives of the faithful. The study of psychology,

pedagogy, and sociology are of great assistance in the acquisition of this fuller knowledge of People and their problems, which, however, should always be taught according to correct methods and the rules established by ecclesiastical authority.(200)

95. The students are also to be trained in the various forms of the modern apostolate: Catholic Action and its associate bodies, working with deacons, enlisting the support of the laity to encourage and develop their own special apostolate and promote their greater active cooperation, methods of assisting all men without distinction needs and local conditions require, and the art of entering into worthwhile dialogue with them.(201)

Particular attention should be paid to the preparation of students for a correct and healthy relationship with women. This will involve instruction in the character and psychology of women as it is affected by the sort of life they lead and by their age. The purpose of this is to enable them as priests engaged in the pastoral ministry to undertake a more effective spiritual care of women and behave towards them with the normality and prudence, which befit ministers of Christ.(202)

96. Students should be imbued with a true spirit of Catholicity, which transcends diocesan and national boundaries, and barriers imposed by differences of rite, and be open-heartedly disposed to be of assistance to others. They should, therefore, be instructed in the needs of the whole Church, as for instance, in the problems of ecumenism or of the missions, and anything else which is a matter of urgency in various parts of the world.(203) With special care they should be prepared for dialogue with non-believers.(204)

97. Throughout the whole of the scholastic year, as well as in vacation time, provided the bishops think it fit, practical works of the apostolate, which form a necessary part of the strictly pastoral training, should be introduced in accordance with the age of the students and local conditions.(205)

Since it often happens nowadays that students go abroad during their holidays in order to gain pastoral experience, it would be as well if the Episcopal Conferences concerned were to lay down, by common consent, suitable provisions to ensure that the experience intended is really obtained.

98. A selection should be made of the more suitable practical activities, taking into consideration where the Seminary is, the number of students involved, and any other circumstances which can be undertaken during the scholastic year: for instance, giving religious instruction, taking an active part on feast-days in the parish liturgy, visiting the sick, the poor, prisoners, helping priests engaged in youth-work, etc.

Due proportion, however, should be observed between the time given to these practical exercises and the demands of study. Moreover, they should be performed in the light of theological principles and under the direction of experts and wise priests who will assign each one his work, teaching them how to go about it, be at hand while the work is being done, and arrange for a review of its performance afterwards with the students in order that they may reflect on what the experience has taught them and receive effective advice. This is the right way of ensuring that these activities are help, not a hindrance, to their spiritual and doctrinal formation.

99. These exercises can be more easily performed during vacation time if arrangements are made by the seminary superiors. They might help priests in their pastoral work, or assist workers, etc., but always under the direction of experts as explained in the foregoing section.


 100. Priestly training, of its nature, is such that it must be continued and increasingly perfected throughout the whole of a priest’s life, but more particularly during the first years after Ordination.(206) It is for this reason that the Decree Optatam totius, n. 22, prescribes that training should be maintained and developed in the spiritual, intellectual and, above all, pastoral fields, so that new priests may be better equipped to undertake and perform the duties of the apostolate. One might here recommend teamwork for priests which, particularly today, has much to offer for the pastoral ministry.(207)

101. As a means towards the realization of a post-Seminary training, the Scheme for Priestly Training should indicate the practical measures which the Episcopal Conference proposes and recommends. A few examples which are already in use are suggested(208):

a) A pastoral year or biennium in which new priests live together and divide each week between a few days of classroom work and pastoral studies, and the rest of the week in parish work;

b) pastoral training given to young priests over a number of years while they are engaged in the ministry. This involves one or two days a week of school and pastoral studies;

c) vacation courses or courses given at an opportune time when the younger priests are given pastoral questions for consideration and study, and in which they prepare for triennial examinations;

d) a “Priests’ Month” after about five years of priestly ministry, during which young priests renew themselves spiritually by a retreat, and bring themselves up-to-date in doctrine and pastoral matters by means of special courses and the study of pastoral problems under the guidance-of experts.

None of these projects, however, will come up to expectations and be successful unless there is coordination between the Seminary and the post-Seminary courses, nor unless they are organized by a priest who is genuinely outstanding in intellectual ability, virtue, and experience.

Finally, the fraternal cooperation of parish priests and of priests of mature age and experience is needed. They are responsible for furthering the pastoral formation of the younger clergy. But, at the same time, they must also encourage that brotherhood of priests which the Decree Presbyterorum

Ordinis (n. 8) recommends, and make sure that there is no division between the new and older generations of priests.

This Basic Scheme for Priestly Training has been ratified, confirmed and ordered to be published by the Supreme Pontiff, Paul VI, by divine Providence, Pope.

Given at Rome from the offices of the Sacred Congregations on the feast of the Epiphany, January 6, 1970.


1. Vatican Council II, Decr. Optatam totius, Intro.; Decr. Presbyterorum Ordinis, nos. 1, 2, 7, and passim.

2. Cf. Vat. Council II, Decr. Optatam totius, nos. 4-6.

3. Ibid. no. 3.

4. Note no. 74 in this document gives a more detailed description of a Seminary.

5. Pius XII, Apostolic Exhortation, Menti Nostrae, Sept. 23, 1950: A.A.S. 42 (1950), p. 685; Paul VI, Address, Non e senza, given at the inauguration of the buildings of the Pont. Lombard College, Rome, Nov. 11, 1965: Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, III, pp. 604-605, Vat. Polyglot Press, 1965.

6. John XXIII, address E grande, to the First National Italian Congress on Vocations to the Priesthood, Apr. 21, 1961: A.A.S. 53 (1961), p. 311.

7. Vat. Coun. II, Declar. Gravissimum educationis, Introd.; Const. past. Gaudium et spes, ch. II; Paul VI, Address, Salutiamo con vivissima, to the leaders of the association “Movimento Adulti Scouts Italiani,” Nov. 5, 1966: Insegnamenti, IV, pp. 538f.

8. Cf Paul VI, Radio address, La ricorrenza, for the feast of the Nativity of our Lord, Dec. 22, 1964: Insegnamenti, II, p. 761; Address, Le parole, to the members of the Catholic University Confederation of Italy (FUCI), Dec. 6, 1966: Insegnamenti, IV, p. 611; Address, Noi sappiamo, to the faithful in audience, Sept. 25, 1968: Insegnamenti, VI, pp. 927f.

9. Cf. Vat. Coun. II, Const. Gaudium et spes, nos. 25, 26, 47; Paul VI, Address, Salutiamo con vivissima, cf. note 7.

10. Cf. Vat. Coun. II, Const. Gaudium et spes, n. 31.

11. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, passim.

12. Vat. Coun. II, Dogmatic Const. Lumen gentium, no. 10.

13. Ibid. no. 28.

14. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Presbyterorum Ordinis, no. 1.

15. Vat. Coun. II, Const. Lumen gentium, no. 10.

16. Which is to be borne in mind particularly in the spiritual and pastoral formation of the students (cf. chs. VIII and XVI).

17. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Presbyterorum Ordinis, no. 7.

18. Vat. Coun. II, Const. Lumen gentium, no. 28.

19. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Presbyterorum Ordinis, no. 8.

20. Vat. Coun. Il, Const. Lumen gentium, no. 28.

21. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Presbyterorum Ordinis, no. 8.

22. Ibid. no. 9.

23. Vat. Coun. II, Const. Lumen gentium, no. 28.

24. Ibid. no 28.

25. Cf. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Ad gentes, no. 15.

26. Vat. Coun. II, Const. Gaudium et spes, no. 43.

27. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Presbyterorum Ordinis, no. 6.

28. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Presbyterorum Ordinis, no. 4; Const. Lumen gentium, no. 28.

29. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Presbyterorum Ordinis, no. 4.

30. Vat. Coun. II, Const. Lumen gentium, no. 28.

31. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Presbyterorum Ordinis, no. 6.

32. Vat. Coun. II, Const. Lumen gentium, no. 10.

33. Ibid. nos. 11, 12.

34. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Presbyterorum Ordinis, no. 13.

35. There is a more detailed picture of this new situation in which the priest’s apostolic work is carried out, in the documents of the Second Vatican Council and in the more recent Papal documents, e.g. Vat. Coun. II, Const. Gaudium et spes; John XXIII, Enc. Pacem in terris, Apr. 11, 1963: A.A.S. 55 (1963), pp. 257 seq., Enc. Mater et Magistra, May 15,1961: A.A.S. (1961), pp. 401 seq.; Paul VI, Enc. Ecclesiam suam, Aug. 6, 1964: A.A.S. 56 (1964), pp. 60 seq.; Enc.

Populorum progressio, March 26, 1967: A.A.S. 59 (1967), pp. 257 seq.; address, Potrebbe bastare, to those present at the Congress held in Rome on the adaptation of pastoral care to modern needs, Sept. 9, 1966: Insegnamenti, IV, pp. 388-392; address, Benedicamus Domino, to their Excellencies the Bishops of Latin America about to attend the second General Assembly held in Medellm, Aug. 24, 1968; Insegnamenti, VI, pp. 403, seq.; address, Questo annuale incontro, to the Lenten preachers and parish priests of Rome, March 17, 1969: L’Osservatore Romano, March 17-18, 1969, p. 1; address, 11 Sig. Cardinale, to the Sacred College, Dec. 15, 1969: L’Osservatore Romano, Dec. 15-16, 1969, p. 1 seq.

36. Vat. Coun. II, Const. Gaudium et spes, nos. 4-10; Paul VI, homily Modie Concilium, at session IX of the Second Vat. Coun., Dec. 7, 1965: Insegnamenti, III, pp. 720 ,eq.

37. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Presbytetorum Ordinis, no. 2a.

38. Paul VI, cf. address, Questo annuale incontro, loc. cit.; cf. address 11 Sig. Cardinale, loc. cit., cf. note 35.

39. In these rules, certain more general points are put before the Episcopal Conferences, with which they can draw up the Schemes for Priestly Training proper to each nation.

40. Either by a Commission or a Secretariat, to which the care of the Seminaries has been entrusted. Such Commissions or Secretariates, as also the so-called technical Commissions of experts, were highly recommended by the Synod of Bishops in 1967; their composition, duties and competence are to be more accurately determined by the Episcopal Conference.

41. Cf. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, Introd.; Paul VI, in the Motu proprio, Ecclesiae Sanctae, Aug. 6, 1966: A.A.S. 58 (1966), p. 781; as regards missionary areas, cf. Decr. Ad gentes divinitus, no. 16.

42. Normae quaedam ad Constitutionem Apostolicam Deus scientiarum Dominus de studiis academicis ecclesiasticis

recognoscendam, published by the S. Congregation for Catholic Education, May 20, 1968.

43. E.g. Decr. Presbyterorum Ordinis, Declar. Gravissimum educationis, Decr. Perfectae caritatis, Const. Lumen Gentium, Gaudium et spes, Decr. Unitatis redintegratio, Const. Sacrosanctum Concilium, Decr. Apostolicam actuositatem, etc.

44. Vat. Coun. II, Const. Lumen gentium, no. 9; cf. Paul VI, address, 11 nostro desiderio, to the faithful in audience, May 5, 1965: Insegnamenti, III, pp. 928 seq.

45. Vat. Coun. II, Const. Lumen gentium, no. 7.

46. Ibid.

47. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 2.

48. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Presbyterorum Ordinis, no. 6.

49. Ibid., Cf. Decr. Christus Dominus, no. 15.

50. Cf. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. a.

51. Vat. Coun. II, Const. Lumen genfium, no. 11.

52. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Presbyterorum Ordinis, no. 11; Pius XII, Apostolic Const. Sedes sapientiae, May 31, 1956: A.A.S. 48 (1956), pp. 357 seq.; Paul VI, Apostolic letter, Summi Dei Verbum, Nov. 4, 1963: A.A.S. 55 (1963), pp. 984 seq.; cf address, 11 Brande rito, on the completion of 400 years since the institution of Seminaries by the Council of Trent, Nov. 4, 1963; Insegnamenti, I, pp. 288-290; address, I1 nostro desiderio, loc. cit., note 44; address, Vous nous

offrez, to the “Altar boys” from all Europe, March 30, 1967: Insegnamenti, V, pp. 126-127.

53. Cf. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 2; Decr. Presbyterorum Ordinis, no. 11; Decr. Perfectae caritatis, no. 24; Decr. Christus Dominus, no. 15; Decr. Ad gentes divinitus, nos. 16, 39; cf also Pius XII, Motu proprio Cum nobls “on the creation of the Pontifical Organization for Vocations to the Priesthood in the S. Congregation for Seminaries and Universities,” Nov. 4, 1941: A.A.S. 33 (1941), p. 479; with the added Statutes and Rules promulgated by the same S. Congregation Sept. 8, 1943; Motu proprio Cum supremae “On the primary Pontifical Organization for religious

vocations,” Feb. 11, 1955: A.A.S. 47 (1955), p. 266; with the added Statutes and Rules promulgated by the S. Congregation of Religious (ibid., pp. 298-301).

54. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 2; Pius XII, Apostolic Const. Sedes sapientiae, May 31, 1956: A.A.S. 48 (1956), p. 357; Paul VI, Apostolic Letter, Summi Dei Verbum, Nov. 4, 1963: A.A.S. 55 (1963), pp. 984 seq.

55. Cf. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 2; Decr. Presbyterorum Ordinis, no. 11; Const. Lumen gentium, no. 11; Decr. Perfectae caritatis, no. 24; Decr. Apostolicam actuositatem, no. 11; Decr. Christus Dominus, no. 15; Const. Gaudium et spes, no. 52; Decr. Ad gentes dioinitus, no. 39; cf. also Pius XII, Apostolic exhortation, Menti nostrae, Sept. 23, 1950: A.A.S. 42 (1950), 683; address, Una parola, to newlyweds, March 25, 1942: Discorsi e Radiomessaggi IV, pp. 11-17; John XXIII, address, E grande, to the First Congress from ali Italy for the fostering of vocations, held in

Rome, April 21, 1961: A.A.S. 53 (1961), pp. 308-314, address, Quod spectaculum, to those present at the first international Congress for ecclesiastical vocations, May 26, 1962: A.A.S. 54 (1962), pp. 451-453; Paul VI, Apostolic Letter Summi Dei Verbum, Nov. 4, 1963: A.A.S. 55 (1963), pp. 985 seq.; Radio message given for the celebration of the “World Day for Vocations,” Pregate il Padrone, April 11, 1964: Insegnamenti, II, pp. 240-24a; Quest’anno,

March 5, 1967: Insegnamenti, V, pp. 699-702; La Quinta Giornata, April 19, 1968: Insegnamenti, VI, pp. 133-136; written message, La celebrazione, March 19, 1969: A.A.S. 61(1969), pp. 330-333; S. Cong. for Seminaries and Universities, La preminente, Instruction on the work of Catholic Action for the fostering of vocations, Oct. 1,


56. Letter of Card. Amleto G. Cicognani, Sec. of State, to Card. Pizzardo, Prefect of the S. Cong. for Seminaries and Universities, Jan. 23, 1964.

57. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Presbyterorum Ordinis, no. 11; Decr. Optatam totius, no. 2.

58. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 2; cf. the documents referred to in note 55; as regards late vocations, cf. Apostolic Exhortation, Menti Nostrae, Sept. 25, 1950: A.A.S. 42 (1950), p.684.

59. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 2; Presbyterorum Ordinl nos.10, 11.

60. The Second Vatican Council expressed its mind on preparation for the Major Seminary, which is the institution

immediately designed for the priesthood and held to be necessary, and it was thinking of an institution up to that time common, called a Minor Seminary. The Council considered that it should be completely reformed, but still remained valid for our times, and useful for developing the seeds of a vocation. So that the Minor Seminary could better correspond in present conditions with this important purpose, and attain it, a few very useful rules were issued by the

Council, to ensure this institution its own proper structure, one agreeing with its nature and purpose, so that it should not just have the features of a lesser Major Seminary in which it would be impossible properly to provide for study and the genuine freedom of vocations.

While recommending the Minor Seminary, the Council does not deny the possibility of trying other ways to foster priestly vocations, which may indeed be opportune, so long as the Minor Seminary as an institution does not suffer in consequence, and the experiments themselves are seriously and prudently directed to their purpose, not just a subterfuge for dodging the issue. For the Church maintains-as is apparent from her doctrine, experience, and practice-that certain

signs of a divine vocation can be discerned right from boyhood, which demand careful and specialized attention.

61. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 3; Pius XII, Apostolic Exhortation, Menti nostrae, Sept. 23, 1950: A.A.S. 42 (1950), p. 685; Apost. Const. Sedes sapientiae, May 31, 1956: A.A.S. 48 (1956), pp. 358 seq.; Address, C est une grande joie, to the students from the Minor Seminaries of France on pilgrimage to Rome, Sept. 5, 1957: A.A.S. 49 (1957), pp. 845-849.

62. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 6; Pius XII, Apostolic Exhortation, Mentl nostrae, Sept. 23, 1950: A.A.S. 42 (1950), p. 684; Apost. Const. Sedes sapientiae, May 31, 1956: A.A.S. 48 (1956), p. 367; Paul VI, Apost. Letter, Summi Dei Verbum, Nov. 4, 1963: A.A.S. 55 (1963), pp. 990 seq. Cf. below notes to nos. 39-40.

63. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 9; Pastoral Const. Caudium et spes, no. 25; Decr. Ad gentes divinitus, no. 39; Paul VI, Enc. Ecclesiam suam Aug. 6, 1964: A.A.S. 56 (1964), pp. 621, 638; Address, L’odierna udienza, to the faithful in audience, Sept. 2, 1964: Insegnamenti, II, pp. 517-519.

64. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 3; Declaration Gravissimum educationis, no. 3; cf. Pius XII, Apost. Exhort. Menti nostrae, Sept. 23, 1950: A.A.S. 42 (1950), p. 685.

65. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no.3; Declaration Gravissimum educationls, no. 1; Pius XII, Apost. Exhort. Menti nostrae, Sept. 23, 1950: A.A.S. 42 (1950), p. 687; Apost. Const. Sedes sapientiae, May 31, 1956: A.A.S. 48 (1956), p. 357; Paul VI, Radio message La quinta Giornata, on the 5th World Vocations Day, April 19, 1968: Insegnamenti, VI, pp. 134-135.

66. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 5.

67. Vat. Coun. II, Declaration Gravissimum educationis, no. 1; cf. Pius XII, Apost. Const. Sedes sapientiae, May 31, 1956: A.A.S. 48 (1956), pp. 359-360.

68. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 3.

69. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 8; Const. Sacrosanctum Concilium, nos. 13, 14, 17, cf. Decl. Gravissimum educationis, nos. 2, 4; Pius XII, Apost. Exhort. Menti nostrae, Sept 23, 1950: A A.S. 42 (1950), pp. 671, 689; Paul VI, Address 11 Concilio, to the Bishops of Italy, Dec. 6, 1965: Insegnamenti, III, p. 710; S. Cong. for the Sacraments, Instruction Postquam Pius, sent to Bishops on daily Communion in Seminaries and other ecclesiastical insitutions, Dec. 8, 1938, S. Cong. of Rites, Instruction Intet Oecumenici, for the correct carrying out of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sept. 26, 1964, nos. 14, 15, 17, 18: A.A.S. 56 (1964), pp. 880-881; Instruction De cultu mysterii Eucharistici, May 27, 1967: A.A.S. 59 (1967), pp. 539-573.

70. John XXIII, Address, Questo incontro, to Spiritual Directors meeting in Rome, Sept. 9, 1962: A.A.S. 54 (1962), p. 676.

71. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 3, cœ no. 13, cf. Pius XII, Apost. Exhort. Merti nostrae, Sept. 23, 1950: A.A.S. 42 (1950), p. 687; Apost. Const. Sedes sapientiae, May 31, 1956: A.A.S. 48 (1956), pp. 361-362.

72. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 3; cf. no. 13. 73. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 3.

74. Vatican Council II affirms the necessity of the Major Seminary (Optatam totius, no. 4), and prescribes many rules for the reform of this institution in its various parts. To satisfy this clear wish, and to meet the new needs arising in priestly formation in the way they demand, it is absolutely necessary to see what belongs to the real nature of this institution according to the mind of the Church and what does not.

For a Seminary in the true sense to exist, the following features, as can be drawn from the documents and constant mind of the Church, are undoubtedly required: a community inspired by charity, open to modern needs, and oganically constructed, i.e. one in which the authority of the lawful superior is effectively exercised with the mind and after the example of Christ; where all help to ensure to the students real development of human and Christian maturity; where

there is opportunity to begin experience of the priestly state through relationships both of brotherly fellowship and hierarchic dependence; where the doctrine of the priesthood is clearly expounded by teachers deputed by the bishops themselves, and at the same time there is presented what priestly life means and all that is looked for in a priest: these requisites the students must gradually come to know and accept, whether they concern faith and doctrine, or their way of life, lastly there should be the possibility of testing a priestly vocation, and making certain of it by positive signs and qualities, so that a sure judgment on a candidate’s fitness may be offered to the bishops.

75. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 4.

76. Cf Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 5, 9.

77. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 7; cf Pius XI, Apost. Letter Officiorum omnium, Aug. 1, 1922: A.A.S. 14 (1922), pp. 456-457; Enc. Ad Catholici Sacerdotii, Dec. 20, 1935: A.A.S. 28 (1936), pp. 38-39.

78. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Presbeterorum Ordinis, no. 8; Dogm. Const. Lumen gentium, no. 28; Pius XII, Apost. Exholt. Menti nostrae, Sept. 23, 1950: A.A.S. 42 (1950), p. 690.

79. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. uptatam rottus, no. 7.

80. Cf Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 11; Paul VI, Enc. Sacetdotalis caelibatus, June 24, 1967: A.A.S. 59 (1967), p. 684, no. 68; Address, Libenti fraternoque animo, to the delegates of the Episcopsl Seminary Commissions meeting in Rome to work out the Ratio Fundamentalis, March 27, 1969: A.A.S. 61 (1969). pp. 253- 256.

81. Cf. note 70.

82. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatarr. totius, no. 11; cf Pius XII, Apost. Exhort. Menti nostrae, Sept. 23, 1950: A.A.S. 42 (1950), p. 686; John XXIII, Address, Questo incontro, to Spiritual Directors meeting in Rome, Sept. 9, 1962: A.A.S. 54 (1962), p. 676; Paul VI, Enc. Sacerdotalis caelibatus, June 24, 1967: A.A.S. 59 (1967), p. 684, no. 67.

83. Cf. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 5; Pius XI, Enc. Ad Catholici Sacerdotii, Dec. 20, 1935: A.A.S. 28 (1936), p. 37; Paul VI, Apost. Letter Summi Dei Verbum, Nov. 4, 1963: A.A.S. 55 (1963), p.984.

84. Cf. John XXIII, Address, L’incontro odierno. to the Rectors from all Italy who took part in the Congress on training students by up-to-date methods, July 29, 1961: A.A.S. 53 (1961), p. 562; Address, Questo incontro, to Spiritual Directors meeting in Rome, Sept.9, 1962: A.A.S.54 (1962), p.673.

85. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Otatam totius, no. 5; cf Decr. Pefectae caritatis, no. 18, Pius XI, Enc. Ad Catholici Sacerdotii, Dec. 20, 1935: A.A.S. 28 (1936), p. 37; cf John XXIII, Address, E grande, to the members of the First National Italian Congress on Vocations to the Priesthood, Apr. 21, 1961: A.A.S. 53 (1961), p. 311.

86. Cf Question n. 4 in the Synod of Bishops put for vard by the Cardinal Prefect of the S. Cong. for Catholic Education: “Should it be prescribed that the teachers of future clergy must be given special preparation, through regular attendance at some institute or school of higher studies set up or approved by the Episcopal Conference, or at least by taking part in some courses arranged for the purpose?” The Fathers voted on the question as follows: placet 120, non placet 8, placet iuxta modum 51, with 3 abstensions. Cf. John XXIII, Address, Questo incontro, to Spiritual Directors

meeting in Rome, Sept. 9, 1962: A.A.S. 54 (1962), p. 674.

87. Cf Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Christus Dominus no.16, John XXIII, Addres, L’incontro odierno, to Seminary Rectors from all Italy present at the Congress on bringing students’ education up-to-date, July 29, 1961: A.A.S. U (1961), p. 560; Address, La vostra vibrante, to Catholic teachers meeting in Rome, Sept. 22, 1962: A.A.S. 54 (1962), pp. 713-714; Paul VI, Motu proprio Ecclesiae Sanctae, Aug. 6, 1966: A.A.S. 58 (1966), p. 786; III, no. 3.

88. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. optutam totis, no. 5; Decr. Perfectae caritatis, no. 18.

89. Pius XII, Apost. Const. Sedes sapientiae, May 31, 1956: A.A.S. 48 (1956), p. 362.

90. Cf. above note 88.

91. Cf. Paul VI, Motu proprio Ecclesiae Sanctae, Aug. 6, 1966: A.A.S. 58 (1966), p. 786; III, no. 3.

92. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 5; cf Pius XII, Apost. Const. Sedes sapientiae, May 31, 1956: A.A.S. 48 (1956), pp. 362- 363; John XXIII, Address, E grande, to the First National Italian Congress on Vocations to the Priesthood, held in Rome, Apr. 21, 1961: A.A.S. 53 (1961), p. 311.

93. S. Cong. of the Holy Office, Admonition Cum compertum, on some erroneous opinions about sins against the 6th commandment and on psycho-analysis, July 15, 1961: A.A.S. 53 (1961), p. 571; S. Cong. for Religious and Secular Institutes, Instr. Renovationis causam, on reform of training for the religious life, Jan. 6, 1969: A.A.S. 61 (1969), p. 113, no. 11.

94. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 6; Pius XI, Enc. Ad Catholici Sacerdotii, Dec. 20, 1935: A.A.S. 28 (1936), p. 41; Pius XII, Apost. Exhort. Menti nostrae, Sept. 23, 1950: A.A.S. 42 (1950), p. 684; S. Cong. for the Sacraments, Letter Magna equidem sent to local Ordinaries, Dec. 27, 1955, no. 10; for religious, cf. Statuta

Generalia appended to the Apost. Const. Sedes saplentiae, May 31, 1956, art. 33, John XXIII, Enc. Princeps Pastorum, Nov. 28 1959: A.A.S. 51 (1959), pp. 842-843; Address, Ad vobiscum, at the second session of the Roman Synod, Jan. 26, 1960: A.A.S. 52 (1960), p. 224 seq.; Paul VI, Apostolic Letter Summi Dei Verbum, Nov. 4, 1963: A.A.S. 55 (1963), p. 987 seq.; Enc. Sacerdotalls caelibatus, June 24, 1967: A.A.S. 59 (1967), pp. 682 seq.

95. S. Cong. for the Sacraments, Letter Magna equidem, to local Ordinaries, Dec. 27, 1955, nos. 4 seq.

96. Cf the Code of Canon Law: can. 994, 1000; Pius XI, Enc. Ad Catholici Sacerdotil, Dec.20, 1935: A.A.S.28 (1936), pp.39 seq.

97. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 12- Paul VI, Enc. Sacerdotalis caelilatus, June 24, 1967: A.A.S. 59 (1967), p. 685, no. 71; cf. S. Cong. for Religious and Secular Institutes, Instr. Renovationis causam, on reform of training for the religious life, Jan. 6, 1969: A.A.S. 61 (1969), pp. 109, 115 seq.; nos. 5, 23,24.

98. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Otatam totitis, no. 12; cf. S. Cong. For Religious and Secular Institutes, Instr. Renovationis catisam, Jan. 6, 1969: A.A.S. 61 (1969), p. 110, no. 6 (as regards solemn vows).

99. In this chapter the priest’s spiritual life is outlined: students must acquire these features as they go along. They can be summarized as follows: The spiritual life of the students takes its main pattern from Christ the Priest, with whom future priests have a special fellowship through their vocation. Since they must share “in the one priesthood and ministry of Christ” (Presbvterorum Ordlnis, no. 7), they must be conformed to Him not only through sacred Ordination, but with their whole heart, gradually by daily effort taking up the life taught by the Gospel. They must dedicate themselves to Christ In a special way and follow Him “who in virginity and poverty (cf. Mt. 8:20; Lk. 9:58) by his obedience unto the death of the Cross (cf. Phil. 2:8) redeemed and sanctified mankind” (Perfectae caritatis, no. 1).

Growing ever more strong in faith, hope, and charity, they should open their minds to the light of the Holy Spirit, and endeavor to acquire the habit of prayer particularly from the Liturgy and from contemplation of God’s Word; drawing nourishment from regular use of the sacraments, they should try to develop all virtues harmoniously. Thus they can become worthy “ministers of Christ the Head” (Presbvterorum Ordinis, no. 12) in His Mystical Body. They will in that way be guided to a sense of the Church, prepared for their future apostolic work, and be able to cooperate with the diocesan clergy under the authority of the bishops in a spirit of service, humility and fellowship. Pastoral charity should help them to grasp quickly and intelligently how human society is changing, to interpret the signs of the times, and to unite their interior life with their external activity in the light of God’s will (cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis, no. 14).

Through the faithful carrying out of their apostolate they may then attain holiness, and though living in this world may show that they are not of it (cf Lumen gentium, no. 41).

100. Vac. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 4, 8, Const. Lumen gentium no. 28, Decr. Presbeterorum Ordinis, nos. 4, 5, 6; Pius XII, Apost. Exhort. Menti nostrae, Sept. 23, 1950: A.A.S. 42 (1950), pp. 660 seq.; John XXIII, Enc. Sacerdotii nostri primordia, Aug. 1, 1959: A.A.S. 51 (1959), pp. 545 seq., Paul VI Apostolic Letter Summi Dei

Verbum, Nov. 4, 1963: A.A.S. 55 (1963), pp. 979 seq.

101. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 8; cf. John XXIII, Apostolic Letter Pater misericordiarum, Aug. 22, 1961: A.A.S. 53 (1961), p. 677; Address, Questo incontro, to Spiritual Directors meeting in Rome, Sept. 9, 1962: A.A.S. 54 (1962), pp. 673-674.

102. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 8.

103. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 11, Decr. Presbyterorum Ordinis, no. 3; cf. Pius XII, Address Magis quam, to Discalced Carmelites, Sept. 23, 1951: Discorsi e Radiomessaggi, XIII, p. 256; Apost. Const. Sedes sapientiae, May 31, 1956: A.A.S. 48 (1956), pp. 358-360, Paul VI, Address, ll 12 dicembre, given at the opening of the new South American College buildings Rome, Nov. 30, 1963: Insegnamenti, I, p. 352; Enc. Sacerdotalis caelibatus June 24, 1967: A.A.S. 59 (1967), pp. 683-684, nos. 65-67.

104. Cf. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Perfectae caritatis, no. 15.

105. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Presbyterorum Ordinis, no. 8.

106. Cf. Pius XII, Apost. Exhort. Menti nostrae, Sept. 23, 1950: A.A.S. 42 (1950), pp. 686-687; cf. also John XXIII, Enc. Princeps Pastorum, Nov. 28, 1959: A.A.S. 51(1959), p. 842.

107. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 10; Decr. Presbuterorum Ordinis, no. 16; Paul VI, Enc. Sacerdotalis

caelibatus, June 24, 1967: A.A.S. 59 (1967), pp. 657-697.

108. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Presbyterorum Ordinis, no. 16.

109. Paul VI, Enc. Sacerdotalis caelibatus, June 24, 1967: A.A.S. 59 (1967), pp. 686-690, nos. 782.

110. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 10.

111. Paul VI, Enc. Sacerdotalis caelibatus, June 24, 1967: A.A.S. 59 (1967), p. 683, nos. 65, 66.

112. Cf. Vat. Coun. II, Decl. Gravissimum educationis, no. l; cf. Pius XII, Address Magis quam to Discalced Carmelites, Sept. 23, 1951: Discorsi e Radiomessaggi, XIII, p. 257; Enc. Sacra Virginitas, March 25, 1954: A.A.S. 46 (1954), pp. 183-186.

113. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Perfectae caritatis, no. 12; cf. John XXIII, Enc. Sacerdotii nostri primordia, Aug. 1,1959: A.A.S. 51(1959), pp. 554-556; Address Questo incontro, to students from some Italian Seminaries, Nov. 22, 1959: A.A.S. 51 (1959), pp. 904-905, Paul VI, Enc. Sacerdotalis caelibatus, June 24, 1967: A.A.S. 59 (1967), pp.

684-685, no. 70.

114. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Presbyterorum Ordinis, no. 15.

115. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, nos. 9, 11; Decr. Presbyterorum Ordinis, nos. 7, 15, Dogm. Const. Lumen gentium, no. 28; cf. Pius XII, Apost. Exhort. Menti nostrae, Sept. 23, 1950: A.A.S. 42 (1950), p. 690; John XXIII, Enc. Sacerdotii nostri primordia, Aug. 1, 1959: A.A.S. 51 (1959), pp. 556-558; Paul VI, Address A voi, che siete qua, to the faithful in audience, Oct. 5, 1966: Insegnamenti, IV, pp. 863-866; Address, ll Concilio, to the faithful in audience, Oct. 9, 1968: Insegnamenti, VI, pp. 959-963; Address Libenti fraternoque, to the delegates from Episcopal Commissions for Seminaries meeting in Rome to work out the Ratio Fundamentalis, March 27, 1969: A.A.S. 61(1969), pp. 253-256. 116. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Presbyterorum Ordinis, no. 17.

117. Ibid. no. 6.

118. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 9; cf. John XXIII, Enc. Sacerdotii nostri primordia, Aug. 1, 1959: A.A.S. 51 (1959r, pp. 551-554; Paul VI, Address, Siamo particolarmente, to the priests attending the Congress of the association Federazione Associazioni del Clero Italiano, June 30, 1965: Insegnamenti, III, pp. 385-386; Address, Benedicamus Domino, to the South merican Prelates about to take part in the second general Assembly at Medellin,

Aug. 24, 1968: Insegnamenti, VI, pp. 411-412; Address Se vogliamo, to the faithful in audience, Oct. 2, 1968: Insegnamenti, VI, pp. 943 seq.

119. Cf. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 11; Decr. Presbyterorum Ordinis, no. 3, Decl. Gravissimum educationis, no. 1; cf. Pius XII, Address Sull’esempio, prepared for the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Regional Seminary of Apulia, Oct. 1958: Discorsi e Radiomessaggi, XX, pp. 44-447; Paul VI, Apost. Letter Summi Dei Verbum, Nov. 4, 1963: A.A.S. 55 (1963), p. 991, cf. Also note 103.

120. Cf. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. no. 19; Decr. Presbyterorlum Ordinis, nos. 6, 9; Dogm. Const. Lumen gentium, no. 28; Paul VI, Enc. Ecclesiam suam, Aug. 6, 1964: A.A.S. 56 (1964), pp. 640 seq.; Address l1 Concilio, to the faithful in audience, Oct. 9, 1968: Insegnamenti, VI, pp. 959 seq.

121. Vat. Coun. II, Dogm. Const. Lumen gentium, no. 11.

122. Vat. Coun. II, Const. Sacrosanctum Concilium no. 10; cf. S. Cong. of Rites, Instr. De cultu mysterii Eucharistici, May 25, 1967: A.A.S. 59 (1967), pp. 539-573.

123. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 8; Const. Sacrosanctum Concilium, nos. 17, 18, 19; Decr. Presbyterorum Ordinis, no. 5; Decr. Ad gentes divinitus, no. 19; S. Cong. of Rites, Instr. Inter Oecumenici to arrange the carrying out of the Const. On the Sacred Liturgy, Sept. 26, 1964: A.A.S. 56 (1964), pp. 88-881; nos. 14, 15; cf. also Pius XII, Enc. Mediator Dei, Nov. 20, 1947: A.A.S. 39 (1947), pp. 547 seq., Apost. Exhort. Menti nostlue, Sept. 23, 1950: A.A.S. 42 (1950), pp. 666 seq.; 691; John XXIII, Enc. Sacerdotii nostri primordia, Aug. 1, 1959: A.A.S. 51 (1959), pp. 561 seq.; Paul VI, Address, Voi a-jete to those attending the Congress “XIII Settimana Nazionale di Orientamento Pastorale,” Rome, Sept. 6, 1963: Insegnamenti, I, pp. 121-122; Enc. Mysterium Fidei Sept. 3, 1965: A.A.S. 57 (1965), pp. 770 seq.

124. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Presbyterorum Ordinis, no. 5.

125. Vat. Coun. II, Const. Sacrosanctum Concilium, nos. 17, 90; S. Cong. of Rites Instr. Inter Oecumenici, loc. cit., nos. 14-17; cf. Pius XII, Enc. Mediator Dei, ioc. cit., pp. 547 seq.; 572 seq.; John XXIII, Apost. Exhort. Sacrae Laudis, Jan. 6, 1962: A.A.S. 54 (1962), p. 69; Address Flagrantissima voluntas, to students resident in Rome, Jan. 28, 1960: A.A.S. 52 (1960), pp. 275 seq.

126. Vat. Coun. II, Const. Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 10.

127. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 8.

128. Cf Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 8; Const. Sacrosanctum Concilium, nos. 12, 13; Decr. Perfectae caritatis, no. 6.

As regards these probarable means of practisine the spiritual life, cf. Pope John XXIII, Enc. Sacerdotii nostri primordia, Aug. 1, 1959: A.A.S. 51 (1959), p. 560: “There are various practices of priestly piety which bring about and safeguard this constant union with God; the Church has wisely laid down rules prescribing many of the more important: in particular, daily sacred meditation; devotional visit to the Tabernacle; recital of the rosary of our Lady; careful examination of conscience (C.I.C., can. 125). As regards the daily office, priests have undertaken a grave obligation towards the Church binding them to its recital (ibid., can. 135). From neglect of one or other of these rules, we can perhaps derive the reason why men of the Church are swept away in the whirlpool of exterior realities, gradually

cease to give any inspiration of things sacred, and finally, enticed by the attractions of this earthly life, are placed in grave danger, because they are destitute of any spiritual protection.”

129. Pius XII, Enc. Mystici Corporis, June 29, 1943: A.A.S. 35 (1943), p. 235; Apost. Exhort. Menti nostrae, Sept. 23, 1950: A.A.S. 42 (1950), p. 674; John XXIII, Enc. Sacerdotii nostri primordia, loc. cit., pp. 514575; Paul VI Const. Apost. Paenitemini, Nov. 17, 1966: A.A.S. 58 (1966), pp. 177 seq.

130. C.I.C., can. 1358, 1361; Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Perfectae caritatis, no. 18.

131. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Perfectae caritatis, no. 6.

132. Vat. Cuull. II, Decr. Opatam tottis, no 11 Paul VI. Address II arande rito, for the 4th centenary of the founding of Seminaries by the Council of Trent, Nov. 4, 1963: A.A.S. 55 (1963), p. 1034.

133. Vat. Coun. II, Pastoral Const. Gaudium et spes, nos. 1-4.

134. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Ad gentes divinitus, no. 11.

135. Ibid.

136. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 11; Decr. Presbvterorum Ordinis, no. 3; cf. John XXIII, Address Questo

incontro, to Spiritual Directors meeting in Rome, Sept. 9, 1962: A.A.S. 54 (1962), pp. 675-676; Paul VI, Enc. Ecclesiam suam, Aug. 6, 1964: A.A.S. 56 (1964), pp. 627, 638.

137. Cf. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, nn. 13-17; Past. Const. Gaudium et spes, nn. 58, 62; Decr. Ad gentes divinitus, n. 16; Pius XII, Apost. Const. Sedes sapientiae, May 31, 1956: A.A.S. 48 (1956), pp. 361f.; Paul VI, Motu proprio Ecclesiae sanctae, Aug. 6, 1966: A.A.S. 58 (1966), p. 786; III, 2.

138. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, n. 14.

139. Ibid.

140. C.I.C., can. 1365; Paul VI, Motu proprio De Episcoporum muneribus, May 15, 1966: A.A.S., 58 (1966), p. 470.

141. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, n. 14, cf Const. Sacrosanctum concilium, n. 16; Decr. Ad gentes divinitus, n. 16.

142. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Ad Gentes divinitus, nn. 16, 19, 22; Past. Const. Gaudium et spes, nn. 44, 58, 62; Decr. Unitatis redintegratio, nn. 4, 17; Decr. Orientalium Ecclesiarum, nn. 4, 5, 6- cœ Pius XII, Enc. Evangelii Praecones June 2, 1951: A.A.S. 43 (1951), pp. 52iff.; John XXIII, Enc. Princeps Pastorum Nov. 28, 1959: A.A.S. 51 (1959), pp. 843ff.; Paul VI, Homily Hi amicti sunt, delivered on the occasion of the canonization of the Uganda Martyrs, Oct. 18, 1964:

Insegnamenti, II, pp. 588-589; Motu proprio Ecclesiae Sanctae, Aug. 6, 1966: A.A.S. 58 (1966), p. 786, III, no. 2.

143. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, n. 13; cf n. 3, Pius XII, Apost. Exhort. Menti nostrae, Sept. 23, 1950: A.A.S. 42 (1950), p. 687; Apost. Const. Sedes sapientiae, May 31,1956: A.A.S. 48

(1956), pp. 361-362.

144. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 13; Paul VI, Apost. Letter Summi Dei Verbum, Nov. 4, 1963: A.A.S. 55 (1963), p. 993; Apost. Letter Studia Latinitatis, Feb. 22, 1964: A.A.S. 56 (1964), pp. 225 ss.

145. On harmonizing human and civic culture with Christian teaching, cf Vat. Coun. II, Past. Const. Gaudium et spes, nos. 59, 62. On art and sacred music: Vat. Coun. II, Const. Sacrosanctum Concilium, nos. 115, 12; S. Cong. of Rites, Instr. Musicam Sacram, concerning music in the Liturgy, March 5, 1967: A.A.S. 59 (1967), pp. 300 ss., cf n. 52.

146. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Inter mirifica, n. 16; Past. Const. Gaudium et spes, n. 61, Decr. Christus Dominus, n. 13; cf. Const. Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 201 Paul VI, Radio Message Ci rivolfiamo, on the occasion of the First World 70 Day for the promotion of the right use of the means of social communications, May 2, 1967: Insegnamenti, V, pp. 203-206.

147. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, n. 20; cf. Pius XII, Apost. Exbort. Menti nostrae, Sept. 23, 1950: A.A.S. 42 (1950), pp. 687, 646-697; John XXIII Enc. Mater et Magistra, May 15, 1961: A.A.S. 53 (1961), p. 453; Paul VI, Address The visit of so many, to young Catholics from Britain, July 30, 1963: Insegramenti, I, p. 94.

148. On various counts the present situation demands that a real formation in philosophy be given. For:

a) the very purpose of studying philosophy and the present-day circumstances which demand exactness in training give sufficient indication that, not only are these studies not alien to, but contribute greatly to the search for faith and the ability to communicate about it. This relationship of reason to faith needs to be increasingly highlighted in the teaching of philosophy, by professors of theology and philosophy working closely together and by the order in which the tracts of each department are distributed. Future priests are not to feel, as it were, removed by force from the love and truth of Christ during their study of philosophy, but rather experience Christ’s influence in their studies. The Second Vatican Council itself in many places, but especially in the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, clearly shows how good philosophical principles assist the preservation of true Christian values in present day social and cultural life, and enable mankind to enjoy and further their benefits (cf. nn. 23 ss., 53 ss.).

b) Leaving aside the necessary question of how and what things are to be taught, the ultimate purpose of learning philosophy is a point which has to be clearly understood, and, as proved by the end- product, it has to be constantly brought to mind. A sense of what is “being,” with which alone a firm and unequivocal “yes” can be given to a statement, is essential for a minister of the faith-the ability to discern the truth, to see it for what it is and accept it, irrespective of its provenance. Equally necessary in the priest is a keen power of judgment with which he can see, and make decisions about, the daily problems of life and situations in their true light. These are acquired qualities which equip the priest to teach, to converse and not to be bowled over by every wind which blows-to the ruination of his work. Hence the Church’s anxiety, cautious though it be, to discover and experiment with new ways of improving te teaching of philosophy in the Seminaries.

c) The post of professor of philosophy demands real preparation. It not infrequently happens that when there is no really skilled philosopher to teach, the subject is simply not learned, and the students fail to discriminate between the different philosophical opinions, which in turn they may also regard as something of a joke.

d) If the teaching of philosophy is to be genuinely useful and formative, it must be closely, related to problems which the modern age consider problems. It must, therefore, be involved in, for example, the present-day growing inclination towards atheism and to the attempts to divorce faith from religion; it must tackle the philosophical principles which endanger the true interpretation of the Word of God and the importance which psychology, sociology, and

the human sciences have for modern man.

149. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 15; cf Past. Const. Gaudium et spes, nos. 44, 59; Decl. Gravissimum educationis, n. 10; Decr. Ad gentes divinitus, no. 16; cf Paul VI, Enc. Ecclesiam suam, Aug. 6, 1964: A.A.S. 56 (1964), pp. 637 seq.

150. Cf. Pius XII, Enc. Humani generis, Aug. 12, 1950: A.A.S. 42 (1950), pp. 571-575; Paul VI, Address Nous sommes to delegates at the Sixth International Thomistic Congress, Sept. 10, 1965: Insegnamenti, III, pp. 445 seq.

151. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 15.

152. Ibid.

153. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 15; Past. Const. Gaudium et spes, nos. 44 62, Pius XII, Apost. Const. Sedes sapientiae, May 31, 1956: A.A.S. 48 (1956) p. 362; Paul VI, Address Siate i benvenuti to delegates at the Thirty-sixth Italian Congress of Stomatologists, Oct. 24, 1963: Insegnamenti, I, pp. 256-257.

154. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 15; cf John XXIII, Enc. Princeps Pastorum, Nov. 28, 1959: A.A.S. 51(1959), pp. 843 seq.

155. C.I.C., can. 1365; cf. Paul VI, Motu proprio De Episcoporum munetibus, June 15, 1966: A.A.S. 58 (1966), p. 470.

156. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 16; cf Pius XII, Enc. Humani generis, Aug. 12, 1950: A.A.S. 42 (1950), pp. 567-569; Apost. Const. Sedes sapientiae, May 31, 1956: A.A.S. 48 (1956), pp. 361-363; Paul VI, Address Incenissimo desiderio to the Academic Senate and students of the Pont. Gregorian University in Rome, March 12, 1964: Insegnamenti, II, p. 178 seq.; Address Libentissimo sane to delegates at the International Congress of the Theology of the Second Vatican Council, Oct. 1, 1966: Insegnamenti, IV, pp. 443 seq.; Address Gratia Domini, to the International Theological Commission, Oct. 6, 1969: L’Osservatore Romano, Oct. 6-7, 1969, p. 1.

157. Cf. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Unitatis redintegratio, nos. 4, 5, 6, 10, 17 Decr. Ad gentes divinitus, no. 39; Const. Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 16; Decr. Orientalium Ecclesiarum, nos. 4, 6.

158. Cf. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 17; Const. Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 16; cf. Pius XII, Apost. Const. Sedes sapientiae, May 31, 1956: A.A.S. 48 (1956), p. 363.

159. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 16; Dogm. Const. Lumen gentium, no. 8 et passim, Const. Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 2; Decr. Ad gentes divinitus, no. 16; cf. Paul VI, Address Salvete, Fratres at the beginning of the second session of the Second Vatican Council, Sept. 29, 1963: Insegnamenti, I, pp. 172 seq.

160. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, nos. 14, 16; Const. Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 16; Decr. Ad gentes divinitus, no. 16; cf Paul VI, Address Nous sommes profondement to the observers at the Second Vatican Council, Oct. 17 1963: Insegnamenti, I, pp. 232, 235.

161. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 16; Dogm. Const. Dei Verbum, no. 24; cf. Leo XIII, Enc. Providentissimus Deus, Nov. 18, 1893: A.A.S. 26 (1893-1894), p. 283.

162. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 16, Dogm. Const. Dei Verbum n. 23; cf. Pius XII, Enc. Divino afflante Spiritu, Sept. 30, 1943:A.A.S. 35 (1943) pp. 310 seq.; cf. Pont. Biblical Comm., Instructio de S. Scriptura recte docenda May 13, 1950: A.A.S. 42 (195Q), pp. 502 seq.; John XXIII, Address La diciasettesima Settimana to the delegates at the Seventeenth Meeting of the Italian Sodality for the explanation of Sacred Letters held at Rome, Sept. 24, 1962: A.A.S. 54 (1962), pp. 716-719: Paul VI, Address Noi dobbiamo esptimere to delegate of the Nineteenth Biblical Week of Italian Exegetes, Sept. 23, 1966: Insegnamenti, IV, pp. 414 seq.; Address Nous remercions to delegates of the Sixth International Congress of Old Testament Exegetes, Apr. 19,1968: Insegnamenti, VI, pp. 138 seq.

163. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 16; cf. Const. Sacrosanctum Concilium, nos. 2, 10, 14, 15, 16; Decr. Orientalium Ecclesiarum, no. 4.

164. Vat. Coun. II, Const. Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 23; cf S. Cong Rites, Instr. Inter Oecumenici, on putting into effect the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sept. 26, 1964: 56 (1964), pp. 879 seq., nos. 11, 12; cf. Paul VI Address Facile conicere, to the Eleventh Plenary Session of the Commission for Implementing the Liturgy Constitution, Oct. 14, 1968: Insegnamenti, VI, pp. 535 seq.

165. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 16, cf. Decr. Gravissimum educationis, no. 10; cf. Pius XII, Enc. Humani generts, Aug. 12, 1950: A.A.S. 42 (1950), pp. 568-569; Apost. Const. Sedes sapientiae, May 31, 1956: A.A.S. 48 (1956), pp. 362 seq.; John XXIII, Address Gaudet Mater Ecclesia, at the solemn opening of the Second Vatican Council, Oct. 11, 1962: A.A.S. 54 (1962), pp. 791 seq.; Paul VI, Address Siamo particolarm lieti to delegates attending

the symposium on original sin, held at Rome, July 11, 1966: Insegnamenti, IV, pp. 364 seq.; Address Incensissimo desiderio to the Academic Senate and students of the Pont. Gregorian University in Rome, March 12,1964: Insegnamenti, II, pp. 178 seq.

166. Cf. Vat. Coun. II, Dogm. Const. Dei Verbum, nos. 8, 9.

167. Cf. Vat. Coun. II, Dogm. Const. Dei Verbum.

168. Cf. Vat. Coun. II, Past. Const. Gaudium et spes, no. 62; Decr. Ad gentes divinitus, no. 22.

169. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 16; Past. Const. Gaudium et spes, nos. 52, 62; Decr. Ad gentes divinitus, no. 22; cf Pius XII, Address Animus Noster to the Academic Senate and students of the Pont. Gregorian University in Rome, Oct. 17, 1953: A.A.S. 45 (1953), p. 688; Paul VI, Address Praesentia vestra to the General Chapter of the Cong. of the Most Holy Redeemer, Sept. 22, 1967: Insegnamenti, V, p. 444.

170. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 19; Decr. Presbyterorum Ordinis, nos. 5, 6; Decr. Christus Dominus, no. 15.

171 The question of specialized pastoral expertise will be treated more fully in Chapter XVI.

172. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 20; cf. John XXIII, Enc. Mater et Magistra, May 15, 1961: A.A.S. 53 (1961), p. 453, Pius XII, Address Animus Noster, to the Academic Senate and students of the Pont. Gregorian University in Rome: loc. cit., pp. 686 seq.

173. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, nos. 9, 16; Pius XII, Address Sollemnis conventus, to Church students studying in Rome, June 24, 1839: A.A.S. 31 (1939), p. 248; Address Animus Noster, to the Academic Senate and students of the Pont. Gregorian University in Rome, Oct. 17, 1953: A.A.S. 45 (1953), p. 689.

174. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 16; Pius XII, Address Animus Noster, loc. cit., p. 688; Paul VI, Address Singulari cum, to the Pont. Comm. for the reform of the Code of Canon Law, Nov. 20, 1965: Insegnamenti, III, pp. 640 seq.; Address Salvere libenter, to delegates at the Second International Congress of Canon Law, May 25, 1968: Insegnamenti, VI, pp. 205 seq.

175. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 13.

176. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 17.

177. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Unitatis redintegratio, no. 9; Decr. Ad gentes divinitus, no. 16.

178. A.A.S. 59 (1967), pp. 574 seq.; the part dealing directly with Seminary students is about to be promulgated.

179. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 16; Decl. Nostra aetate, no. a; Decr. Ad gentes divinitus, no. 16.

180. Vat. Coun. II, Past. Const. Gaudium et spes, no. 21; Paul VI, Enc. Ecclesiam suam, Aug. 6, 1964: A.A.S. 56 (1934), pp. 650 seq.; Address Nous sommes, to delegates at the Sixth International Thomistic Congress, Sept. 10, 1965: Insegnamenti, III, pp. 445 seq.; Secretariat for Non-Believers, Documentum de dialogo, Aug. 28, 1968: A.A.S. 60 (1968), pp. 692-704.

181. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, nos. 18, 19, 2.0; cf. Decr. Adventes divinitus, no. 16, Decr. Apostolicam actuositatem, no. 25; Pius XII, Apost. Const. Sedes sapientiae, May 31, 1956: A.A.S. 48 (1956), p. 364; Paul VI, Address Voi avete to the delegates at the Congress called: “The Thirteenth National Week of Pastoral Guidance,” Sept. 6, 1963: Insegnamenti, I, pp. 118-119.

182. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 18; cf. Decr. Ad gentes divinitus, no. 16.

183. It is very much to be hoped that religious will also agree to the special provisions established by each Conference in this matter.

184. Cf. Pius XII, Address Le centenaire to the superiors and students of the Pont. French Seminary in Rome, Apr. 16, 1953: A.A.S. 45 (1953), pp. 287 seq.; Paul VI, Address Due fatti, given in the Vatican Basilica at a Mass concelebrated with the superiors of the Roman Colleges, June 6, 1965: Insegnamenti, III, p. 330.

185. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 16; Dogm. Const. Dei Verbum, nos. 2-26, cf. Pius XII, Enc. Divino afflante Spiritu, Sept. 30, 1943: A.A.S. 35 (1943), p. 321.

186. Vat. Coun. II, Dogm. Const. Dei Verbum, no. 10.

187. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 16; Dogm. Const. Dei Verbum, nos. 8, 23; Decr. Unitatis redintegratio, no. 17; cf. Pius XII, Enc. Divino afflante Spiritu, Sept. 30, 1943: A.A.S. 35 (1943), p. 312.

188. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 16; Decl. Gravissimum educationis, no. 10; Pius XII, Address Sollemnis

conventus, to Church students studying in the Roman Colleges, June 24, 1939: A.A.S. 31 (1939), p. 247; Address Animus Noster, to the Academic Senate and students of the Pont. Gregorian University in Rome, Oct. 17, 1953: A.A.S. 45 (1953), pp. 684 seq.; John XXIII, Address L’incontro odierno, to the Seminary Rectors of all Italy, July 29, 1961: A.A.S. 53 (1961), pp. 564 seq.; Paul VI, Address Incensissimo desiderio, to the Academic Senate and students of the

Pont. Gregorian University in Rome, March 12, 1964: Insegnamenti, II, pp. 178 seq.; Address Nous sommes at the Sixth International Thomistic Congress, Sept. 10, 1965: Insegnamenti, III, pp. 406 seq.

189. Vat. Coun. II Lumen Gentium, n. 25; Pius XII Apost. Const. Sedes sapientiae, May 31, 1956: A.A.S. 48 (1956), p. 362; Paul VI Address Libentlssimo sane, to delegates attending the Congress of the Theology of the Second Vatican Council, held in Rome, Oct. 1, 1966: Insegnamenti, IV, pp. 443 seq.; Address Benedicamus Domino, to the Hierarchies of Latin America before their Second Plenary Meeting at Medellin, Aug. 24, 1968: Insegnamenti, VI, pp. 405 seq.; Address Gratia Domtni, to the International Theological Commission, Oct 6, 1969: L’Observatore Romano, Oct. 6-7, 1969. p. 1.

190. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Presbyterorum Ordinis, no. 8.

191. Pius XII, Enc. Humani generis, Aug. 12, 1950: A.A.S. 42 (1950) p. 572 Apost. Const. Sedes sapientiae, May 31, 1956: A.A.S. 48 (1956), p. 362; Paul VI Address Siamo particolarmente lieti, to the delegates at the symposium on original sin, July 11, 1966: Insegnamenti, IV, p. 365; Address Incensissimo desiderio, to the Academic Senate and students of the Pont. Gregorian University in Rome, March 12, 1964: Insegnamenti, II, pp. 177 seq.

192. John XXIII, Address L’incontro odierno, to the Seminary Rectors of all Italy, July ag, 1461: A.A.S. 53 (1961), p. 564; Paul VI, Address En ous accueillant, to the Pont. Academy of Sciences, Apr. 23, 1966: Insegnamenti, IV, pp. 107 seq.

193. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 17.

194. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, nos. 15, 17; cf. Const. Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 16.

195. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Christus Dominus, no. 17; cf. Decr. Ad gentes ditginitus, no. 16.

196. As the chapter will show more clearly, this training presupposes that throughout their studies the students, in their love of the apostolate, keep close to Christ the Redeemer, and “are also trained in matters both human and divine to be a real leaven in the world for the strengthening and Increase of Christ’s Body” (Perfectae caritatis, no. 11). Students should, therefore, by degrees acquire a pastoral attitude of mind, and try to develop in themselves, along with

a book-knowledge of the subject, those practical abilities which enable them to bring Christ’s grace and teaching to all men. All this demands that worthwhile contacts be established between the Seminary and the world outside, both in the Churches and in lay society. It is there that the real field of the apostolate is to be found. A Seminary is not to be thought of as a hermitage, where the students feel forcibly cut off from the real world and society. Nor is it to be so

open that they think they can do exactly what they like. Everything must be done in truth-in other words, in the light of their future priestly life, a life which they understand correctly and accept. In order to get the most out of this formation, the superiors should be particularly careful to lay down suitable rules governing the life of study and prayer and for the observance of a correct order of values. These rules should have the primary purpose of training the future

priest in the right use of his liberty, and experiments should only be admitted which can genuinely further the specific purpose of forming pastors of souls. Candidates for the priesthood will always accept such rules without difficulty provided they are shown quite clearly what their purpose is-that it is a joint-affair, a searching together that goes on day by day with a love that burns ever brighter, and which becomes clearer through discussion with the superiors.

A further requirement in this practical preparation for the apostolate is that the students be put to worthwhile work, not only with the diocesan clergy, but also with the laity. In this way they will get a better insight into the pastoral situation of the diocese. They should follow the teaching of the Second Vatican Council which outlined the status of the layman in the Church (Lumen gentium, chapter 4) and described the specific, active part he has to play (Apostolicam actuositatem, chapter 3). Gradually they should make suitable contacts, under the direction of skilled leaders, with lay

apostolate groups, and so obtain for themselves a true picture of the laity’s distinctive role in the Body of Christ. They should realize the need for the lay apostolate (presbyterorum Ordinis, no. 9; Apostolicam actuositatem, no. 25), and learn how to propose to the laity the lofty role that they play in the Church in its true light, and how to carry out their own special role as priests, serving the laity in such a way as to point up clearly the true dignity and complementary

nature of the two states.

197. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, nos. 4, 17. Several papal documents describe the perfect pastor, e.g.: St. Pius X, Exhort. to the Clergy Haerentanimo, Pius XI, Enc. Ad Catholici Sacerdotii; Pius XII, Apost. Exhort. Menti nostrae; John XXIII, Enc. Sacerdotii nostri primordia; Paul VI in many Addresses: e.g. Voi avete, Sept. 3, 1963; Questo annuale incontro,March 17, 1969.

198. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 19, Decr. Ad gentes divinitus no. 16, Decr. Perfectae caritatis, no. 18; Decr. Orientalium Ecclesiarum, no. 4, cf. Pius XII, Apost. Const. Sedes sapientiae, May 31, 1956: A.A.S. 48 (1956), pp. 363 seq., John XXIII, Address L’ultimo incontro to students of various Seminaries, Aug. 10, 1962: A.A.S. 54 (1962), pp. 584 seq.; Paul VI, Address Voi avete to those present at the Meeting called “The Thirteenth National Week of Pastoral Guidance,” Sept. 6, 1963: Insegnamenti, I, pp. 117 seq.

199. Vat. Coun. II Decr. Optatam totius, no. 20; Decr. Christus Dominus, nos. 17 ; Past. const St. Gaudium of spes., no. 62: cf. Pius XII, Exhort. Menti nostrae Sept. 23, 1950: A.A.S. 42 (1950), p. 680; Apost. Const. Sedes sapientiae, May 3;, 1956: A.A.S. 48 (1956), p. 364; John XXIII, Enc. Princeps Pastorum, Nov. 28, 1959: A.A.S. 51 (1959), p. 842; Enc. Mater et Magistra, May 15, 1961: A.A.S. 53 (1961), pp. 401 seq.; Paul VI, Enc. Ecclesiam suam, Aug. 6, 1964: A.A.S. 56 (1964), passim; Address Benedicamus Domino, to the Bishops of Latin America before their Plenary Meeting at Medellin, Aug. 24, 1968: Insegnamenti, VI, pp. 403 seq.

200. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 20, Decr. Apostolicam actuositatem, no. 25; Decr. Christus Dominus, no. 17; Dogm. Const. Lumen gentium, no. 33; cf. Pius XII, Exhort. Menti nostrae, Sept. 23, 1950: A.A.S. 42 (1950), pp. 676 seq., Paul VI, Address Salutiamo i Delegati to the delegates of the bishops and Priest advisers of the Sodality for Catholic Action, July 9, 1966: Insegnamenti, IV, pp. 355 seq.

201. Cf. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Christus Dominus, no. 18; S. Cong for the Clergy, Directory De peregrinantibus Apr. 30, 1969: A.A.S. 61 (1969), pp. 361 seq. no. 21; Paul VI, Motu proprio Pastoralis migratorum cura, Aug. 15, 1969: A.A.S. 61 Instr. De pastorali migratorum cura, Aug. 22, 1969: A.A.S. 61 (1969), pp. 614-643, cf. also Vat. Counc. II, Decr. Presbyterorum Ordinis, no. 6.

202. Cf. Pius XII, Apost. Exhort. Menti nostrae, Sept. 23, 1950: A.A.S. 42 (1950), p. 664; cf. above pp. 38 seq.; no. 48.

203. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 20; Dogm. Const. Lumen gentium, nos. 17, 23, Decr. Christus Dominus, no. 6; Decr. Perfectae caritatis, no. 20; Decr. Orientalium Ecclesiarum, no. 4; Decr. Ad gentes divinitus, no. 39, cf. Paul VI, Populorum progressio, April 2, 1967: A.A.S. 49 (1967), pp. 257 seq.; Address L’odierna udienza to students gathered together for missiological studies, Sept. 2, 1964: Insegnamenti, II, pp. 517-518; Address to the Plenary Meeting of the Secretariat for Christian Unity, Apr. 28, 1967: Insegnamenti, V, pp. 187-193, Address As we look, to the faithful present at the Syro Malabar Liturgy in Bombay, Dec. 4, 1964: Insegnamenti, II, pp. 7l2 seq.

204. Secretariat for Non-Believers, Documentum de dialogo, Aug. 28, 1968: A.A.S. 60 (1968), pp. 697-704.

205. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Optatam totius, no. 21; cf. Pius XII, Apost. Exhort. Menti nostrae, Sept. 23, 1950: A.A.S. 42 (1950), p. 676; Apost. Const. Sedes sapientiae, May 31, 1956: A.A.S. 48 (1956), p. 364.

206. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Presbyterorum Ordinis, no. 19; Decr. Christus Dominus, no. 16 Decr. Perfectae caritatis, no. 18; cf Pius XII, Motu proprio Quandoquidem iemplum, Apr. 2, 1949: A.A.S. 41(1949), p. 165; Apost. Exhort Menti nostrae, Sept. 23, 1950: A.A.S. 42 (1950), pp. 691-692; Apost. Const. Sedes sapientiae, May 31, 1956: A.A.S. 48 (1956), p. 364, John XXTII, Address Questo incontro to teachers of religion gathered in Rome, Sept. 9, 1962: A.A S. 54 (1962), p; 674, Paul VI, Motu proprio Ecclesiae Sanctae, Aug. 6, 1966: A.A.S.

207. Cf. Vat. Coun. II, Decr. Presbyterorum Ordinis, no. 7

208. Cf. S. Cong. for the Clergy, Circular to the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences concerning the further education of the clergy, particularly the junior clergy, Nov. 4, 1969: nos. 16-21.

1959-John XXIII- Princeps Pastorum


9. This exhortation of Benedict XV, which was repeated by Our predecessors Pius XI and Pius XII, with the help of God’s divine Providence has had visible and copious results. We want you to join Us in rendering thanks to God for the fact that a numerous and elect legion of bishops and priests has arisen in the Mission territories, Our brethren and beloved sons, who fill Our heart with great expectations. If We cast even a cursory glance on the ecclesiastical situation in the areas which are entrusted to the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, with the exception of those at present under persecution, We note that the first bishop of east Asian origins was consecrated in 1923, and the first vicars apostolic of African negro descent were named in 1939. By 1959, We count 68 Asian and 25 African bishops. The remaining native clergy grew in number from 919 in 1918 to 5553 in 1957 in Asia, and during the same period in Africa from 90 in 1918 to 1811 in 1957. With such an admirable increase in the numbers of the clergy did the Lord of the harvest[16] desire to reward adequately the labors and merits of those who zealously did mission work, either individually or in cooperation with many others, responding with a generous heart to the repeated exhortations of this Apostolic See.

10. It was, therefore, with good reason that Our predecessor Pius XII was able to affirm with satisfaction: “Once upon a time it seemed as though the life of the Church used to prosper and blossom chiefly in the regions of ancient Europe, whence it would flow, like a majestic river, through the remaining areas which, to use the Greek term, were considered almost the periphery of the world; today, however, the life of the Church is shared, as though by a mutual irradiation of energies, among all individual members of the Mystical Body of Christ. Not a few countries on other continents have long since outgrown the missionary stage, and are now governed by an ecclesiastical hierarchy of their own, have their own ecclesiastical organization, and are liberally offering to other Church communities those very gifts, spiritual and material, which they formerly used to receive.”

11. We wish especially to exhort the bishops and clergy of the new Christian communities to pray to God, and to conduct themselves in such a way that the priestly gift they are enjoying may grow in spiritual fruitfulness; in their talks with the people, as often as feasible they should praise the dignity, the beauty, and the merits of the priesthood, and, by so doing, they will induce all those whom God has chosen for this exalted honor to respond to the call with an open and generous heart. They should also cause the faithful entrusted to their care to pray to God for this cause, in unity of spirit with the whole Church, which, in response to the Divine Redeemer’s exhortations, prays “the Lord of the Harvest to send forth laborers into his harvest,” especially at the present time, when “the harvest indeed is great, but the laborers are few.”

12. However, Christian communities to which missionaries still devote their zeal, although already governed by their own hierarchy, are still in need of the work of missionaries from other countries, either because of the vastness of the territory, or the increasing number of converts, or the multitude of those who have not yet benefited from the doctrine of the Gospel. To such missionaries, no doubt, apply these words of Our immediate predecessor: “These cannot be considered foreigners, for all Catholic priests who truly answer their vocation feel themselves native sons wherever they work, in order that the Kingdom of God may flourish and develop.” Let them therefore work united by the bond of that loving, brotherly, and sincere charity which mirrors the love they must feel toward the Divine Redeemer and His Church; and, in prompt and filial obedience to their Bishops, whom “the Holy Spirit placed . . . to rule the Church of God,” they must be “of one heart and one soul,” grateful to each other for the mutual cooperation and help; indeed, if they act in this manner, it should be apparent to everyone’s eyes that they are the disciples of Him Who, in His own and most distinctive “new” commandments, exhorted all to a mutual and always increasing love.

13. Our predecessor Benedict XV, in his Apostolic Letter Maximum illud, especially exhorted Catholic mission authorities to mold and shape the minds and souls of the clergy selected from the local population, and to do so in such a way that their formation and education would turn out “perfect and complete in every respect.” “In fact,” he wrote, “a native priest, having a place of birth, character, mentality, and emotional make-up in common with his countrymen, is in a privileged position for sowing the seeds of the Faith in their hearts: indeed, he knows much better than a stranger the ways of persuasion with them.”

14. Regarding the requirements of a perfect priestly formation and education, it is necessary that seminarians be induced, tactfully but firmly, to espouse those virtues which are the prime qualification of the priestly calling, “that is, the duty to achieve personal sanctification.” The newly-ordained native clergy of those countries must enter into pious competition with the clergy of those old dioceses which have long been producing priests in their midst who were such mirrors of virtue that they are proposed as examples to the clergy of the whole Church. In fact, it is through sanctity that priests can and must be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. In other words, they can, especially by their sanctity, show their own countrymen and the whole world the beauty and the supernatural power of the Gospel; they can teach all men that a perfect Christian life is a goal toward which all of God’s children must strive, struggling and persevering with all their strength, regardless of their place of birth, their walk of life, or the degree of civilization they enjoy.

15. Furthermore, Our fatherly soul harbors the happy hope that everywhere the local clergy will be able to select from among its ranks just and holy men capable of governing, forming, and educating their own seminarians. That is the reason why We are already instructing the bishops and the mission authorities to choose without hesitation from among the local clergy those priests who, for their exceptional virtue and wise actions, qualify as teachers in the local seminaries and are able to lead their students to sanctity.

16. Furthermore, Venerable Brethren, as you well know, the Church has prescribed at all times that priests must prepare for their calling by means of a solid intellectual and spiritual education. Indeed, no one will doubt, especially in our time, that young people of all races and from all parts of the world are capable of absorbing such an education; this fact has already been clearly demonstrated. Without doubt, the formation to be given to this clergy must take into account the circumstances which obtain in different areas and nations. This extremely wise norm applies to all students for the priesthood; it is advisable that young seminarians never be “educated in places too far removed from human society,” because “once they step out into the world, they will have problems in dealing both with simple people and with intellectuals; this will often cause them to assume the wrong attitude toward the Christian population, or to regard the formation they received as a bad one.” Indeed, it is necessary that youths not only conform to the ideal of priestly spiritual perfection in everything, but also that they “gradually and prudently penetrate the mentality and feelings of the people” — of the people, We repeat, whom they must enlighten with the truth of the Gospel and lead to perfection of life, with the help of God’s grace. Therefore, it is necessary that seminary superiors conform to this plan of training and education while yet welcoming those material and technical facilities which the genius of mankind has made the patrimony, as it were, of every civilization in order to insure an easier and better life and to preserve the bodily health and safety of mankind.

17. The formation of the local clergy, as Our same predecessor, Benedict XV, wrote, must enable them in compliance with the first requirement of their divine calling, “to assume rightly the rule of their people” — to lead their people, by the influence of their teaching and their ministry, along the path to eternal salvation. To this end, We highly recommend that everyone, whether local or foreign, who contributes to the formation in question, do his conscientious best to develop in these students a sense of the importance and difficulty of their mission, and a capability for wisely and discreetly using the freedom allowed to them. This should be done so that they may be in a position to assume, quickly and progressively, all the functions, even the most important ones, pertaining to their calling, not only in harmonious cooperation with the foreign clergy, but also on an equal footing with them.[32] Indeed, this is the touchstone of the effectiveness of their formation, and will be the best reward for the efforts of all those who contributed to it.

18. Indeed, in considering all the elements pertaining not only to the right intellectual and spiritual formation of the students for the priesthood but also the needs and to the special mentality and emotional make-up of their own people, this Apostolic See has always recommended, both to the foreign and to the local clergy, that they should study the discipline of missiology. Our predecessor Benedict XV established chairs of this discipline in the Pontifical Urban Athenaeum of the Propagation of the Faith; and Our immediate predecessor, Pius XII, remarked with satisfaction on the founding of the Institute of Missiology in the same university; “not a few faculties and chairs of missiology,” he said, “have been established in Rome and in other places.” Therefore, in the curricula of the seminaries of mission countries, there will be no lack of studies pertaining to the various missiological disciplines, nor of technical training in all the practical skills which are considered useful for the future work of the clergy in those countries. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that their training not only conform to the best ecclesiastical traditions of a solid and undiluted education, but also that it open up and sharpen the minds of the seminarians in such a way as to enable each individual to evaluate correctly his own and his country’s particular kind of culture, especially as it pertains to philosophical and theological teachings and their relation to the Christian religion.

19. “The Catholic Church,” stated Our same predecessor, “has never fostered an attitude of contempt or outright rejection of pagan teachings but, rather, has completed and perfected them with Christian doctrine, after purifying them from all dross of error. So, too, the Church, to a certain extent, consecrated native art and culture . . ., as well as the special customs and traditional institutions of the people . . .; she has even transformed their feast days, leaving unchanged their methods of computation and their form, but dedicating them to the memory of the martyrs and to the celebration of the sacred Mysteries.” We Ourselves have already expressed Our thoughts on this matter as follows: “Wherever artistic and philosophical values exist which are capable of enriching the culture of the human race, the Church fosters and supports these labors of the spirit. On the other hand, the Church, as you know, does not identified itself with any one culture, not even with European and Western civilization, although the history of the Church is closely intertwined with it; for the mission entrusted to the Church pertains chiefly to other matters, that is, to matters which are concerned with religion and the eternal salvation of men. The Church, however, which is so full of youthful vigor and is constantly renewed by the breath of the Holy Spirit, is willing, at all times, to recognize, welcome, and even assimilate anything that redounds to the honor of the human mind and heart, whether or not it originates in parts of the world washed by the Mediterranean Sea, which, from the beginning of time, had been destined by God’s Providence to be the cradle of the Church.”

20. If native priests are well instructed in these practical matters and serious disciplines, and if they overcome difficulties and are equipped to take the right course of action, they will be able, under guidance of their bishops, to make highly valuable contributions. In particular, they will find a more sympathetic audience among the educated citizens of their own countries and will be able to attract them to the Christian truth, in the manner of the famous missionary, Matthew Ricci. This will happen especially in those countries which possess an ancient and highly developed civilization of their own. Indeed, local priests are entrusted with the mission of “bringing every mind into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” as Paul, that incomparable missionary and apostle of the people, affirmed; thus, they will also be “held in great honor by the members of the intellectual elite of their country.”[38]

21. Therefore, making use of their judgment and cooperation, bishops will take care to establish, at opportune moments, study centers to meet the needs of one or more regions in order to make basic doctrine known and understood. In these, both foreign and local priests can employ their learning and experience to benefit the particular countries in which they were born or in which they have chosen to spread the Christian truth. In this connection, We should also like to quote the teaching of Our immediate predecessor Pius XII, expressed in these words: there must be promoted “the publication and dissemination of Catholic books of every description”;[39] and care must be taken to advance “the use of modem means of communication in spreading Christian doctrine. No one can ignore the importance of gaining the good will of native peoples and making them favorable to Catholicism.” Certainly, all methods cannot be employed in all places; all opportunities must be taken, however, to fulfill different needs, whenever they arise, even though, sometimes, “one sows, another reaps.”

22. To propagate the truth of Jesus Christ is the truest function of the Church. Indeed, “it is the solemn duty of the Church to impart to . . . peoples, so far as possible, the outstanding blessings of her life and her teaching, from which a new social order should be derived, based on Christian principles.” Therefore, in mission territories, the Church takes the most generous measures to encourage social welfare projects, to support welfare work for the poor, and to assist Christian communities and the peoples concerned. Care must be taken, however, not to clutter and obstruct the apostolic work of the missions with an excessive quantity of secular projects. Economic assistance must be limited to necessary undertakings which can be easily maintained and utilized, and to projects whose organization and administration can be easily transferred to the lay men and women of the particular nation, thus allowing the missionaries to devote themselves to their task of propagating the faith, and to other pursuits aimed directly at personal sanctification and eternal salvation.

23. If it is true, as We said, that in order for the apostolate to bear abundant fruits, the most important requirement the native priests must meet is that they should know, and carefully evaluate, everything connected with the institutions peculiar to their countries, what Our predecessor said of the whole world will remain even truer: “the prospects and plans of the Church, which embrace the whole world, will be the prospects and plans of their daily Christian lives.” To this end, the native clergy not only will be bound to know the affairs and developments of the universal Church, but must also be guided by, and filled with, that charity which embraces all the faithful. This is the reason why St.John Chrysostom said of Christian liturgical celebrations: “When we approach the altar, we pray, above all, for the whole universe and the common good” and St. Augustine uttered a beautiful sentence: “Extend your charity to the whole world, if you want to love Christ, because the members of Christ’s body cover the whole world.”

24. Indeed, it was in this spirit that Our predecessor Benedict XV, in order to preserve the integrity of the concept of Catholic unity, which must inspire all missionary work, sternly warned of a danger which he did not hesitate to define in these words, and which must be avoided by missionaries in their thoughts, lest it jeopardize the effectiveness of their actions: “It would be a sad thing if any missionary should appear to be so oblivious of his dignity as to think of his country on earth rather than of his fatherland in heaven, and be excessively concerned with increasing the power and the glory of his own nation above all other nations. Such conduct would greatly impair the cause of the apostolate, and would cut the sinews of charity in his heart, while lowering his prestige in the eyes of the public.”

25. This danger, in different ways and forms, could arise again in our time, especially since several countries already enlightened by the light of the Gospel have been aroused to seek freedom and self-government. The acquisition of political freedom can sometimes be accompanied by disorders and excesses which are detrimental to the common good and are the opposite of the spirit of Christian charity.

26. We feel perfectly confident, however, that the native clergy is animated by lofty purposes and sentiments which conform to the general principles of the Christian religion and entirely correspond with the teachings of the Catholic Church, which embraces all men with the same love; We are also certain that they contribute their share to the real interests of their own nations. In this connection, Our Predecessor very aptly uttered the following words of warning: “The Catholic Church is not a stranger among any people or nation.” No Christian community anywhere will ever achieve unity with the Universal Church, from which emanates the supernatural life of Jesus Christ, if the local clergy and population succumb’ to the influence of a particularist spirit, if they arouse enmity in other nations, and if they are misled and perturbed by an ultra-nationalism which can destroy the spirit of universal Charitythat charity upon which the Church of God is built and is called “Catholic.”

27. Our predecessor Benedict XV, as We mentioned above, stressed particularly the necessity of a scholarly, intensive, and adequate formation of the native clergy, which must be equal to current circumstances. Undoubtedly he was aware of another need, equally important: the need to educate and indoctrinate the laity of each nation in such a way that they will not only be worthy of their Christian calling in their private lives, but will also engage in active apostolic work. Our immediate predecessor Pius XII dealt with the subject well and significantly and recommended again and again that today this cause be attended to with great fervor and be carried out to the greatest degree and as soon as possible.

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1926-Pius XI- On Catholic Missions

1926- Pius XI- Rerum Ecclesiae


Encyclical of Pope Pius XI promulgated on February 8, 1926.

23. Moreover, since the words of Christ “the harvest indeed is great, but the laborers are few” (Matt. ix, 35; Luke x, 2) are true, even in the present condition of affairs, Europe from whence most of the missionaries have come is itself in need of priests, and this at a time when, with the help of God, it is most important that our separated brethren be led back to the unity of the Church and that non-Catholics be convinced of and delivered from their errors. It is a well-known fact that today the number of young men called to the priestly and religious life is not less than in former times, still the number of those who obey the call of God is certainly much smaller.

24. From what We have written, Venerable Brothers and Beloved Sons, it follows that it is all-important to supply your different fields of labor with as many native priests as shall be sufficient, by their individual efforts, to extend the conquests of Christianity and to rule the faithful of each nation without the necessity of depending upon the help of a foreign clergy. In some places, as We have already pointed out, seminaries for the native clergy have been opened. These seminaries are being erected in points central to the nearby missions and entrusted, as a rule, to the same religious order or congregation which has charge of the missions. At these central institutions the Vicars and Prefects send their chosen men and pay for them while they are being trained, to receive them back one day ordained priests ready for the sacred ministry. This policy, which has been followed in some places, We sincerely wish, nay, We command, shall be followed likewise by the Superiors of all missions, so that it cannot be said that any native youth has ever been kept out of the priesthood and the apostolate, provided, of course, he exhibits the mark of a true vocation and is a young man of genuine promise.

25. It need scarcely be added that the greater the number of students you select for this training (there is need of greater numbers) the greater will be the expense. Do not lose heart because of this fact, but have confidence in the most loving Savior of men to Whose Providence We must look to find ways and means whereby the generosity of Catholics shall be stimulated so that there may come to the Holy See the increased funds required to aid more adequately such worthy enterprises. If each of you must do all he can to obtain as large a number as possible of native ecclesiastical students, you must also strive to mold and form them in that sanctity which is becoming to the priestly life and in the true spirit of the apostolate. Filled with these virtues and with zeal for the conversion of their brothers, they should be ready even to lay down their lives for the salvation of the people of their own tribe or nation. It is also important that simultaneously with this priestly formation these seminarians receive a scientific education both in the sacred and profane sciences. This education should follow the most approved methods. The course of study should not be unduly shortened or curtailed in any of its important features. The students as a matter of fact should follow the general accepted course of studies. Have no fear that if in the seminary you educate subjects conspicuous for the integrity and purity of their lives, men well prepared for the work of the sacred ministry and skilled teachers of the law of God, that you will not have turned out men who will not only attract the attention of the leading and learned men of their own country but also priests who will be destined one day to govern parishes and dioceses which shall be erected when it pleases God, and all this with the prospect of lasting gain for the Church.

26. Anyone who looks upon these natives as members of an inferior race or as men of low mentality makes a grievous mistake. Experience over a long period of time has proven that the inhabitants of those remote regions of the East and of the South frequently are not inferior to us at all, and are capable of holding their own with us, even in mental ability. If one discovers an extreme lack of the ability to understand among those who live in the very heart of certain barbarous countries, this is largely due to the conditions under which they exist, for since their daily needs are so limited, they are not often called upon to make use of their intellects. You, Venerable Brothers and Beloved Sons, can bear testimony to the truth of what We write, and we Ourselves can testify to these facts since We have here under Our very eyes the example of certain native students attending the colleges of Rome who not only are equal to the other students in ability and in the results they obtain in their studies, but frequently even surpass them. Certainly you should not allow the native clergy to be looked upon as if they were a lower grade of priests, to be employed only in the most humble offices of the ministry. These priests have been admitted to the same priesthood that the missionaries possess, they are members of the selfsame apostolate. On the contrary, you should prefer the native priests to all others, for it is they who will one day govern the churches and Catholic communities founded by your sweat and labor. Therefore, there should exist no discrimination of any kind between priests, be they European missionaries or natives, there must be no line of demarcation marking one off from the other. Let all priests, missionaries and natives be united with one another in the bonds of mutual respect and love.

27. Since it is necessary in order to organize the Church in these regions, as We have already remarked, that you make use of the very elements out of which under Divine Providence they have been composed, you ought as a consequence to consider the founding of religious Congregations of men and women made up of natives to be one of the principal duties of your holy office. Is it not meant that these newly born followers of Christ be able to follow a life of evangelical perfection if they feel themselves called to take the vows of religion? With reference to this point, the missionaries and nuns who labor in your dioceses should not permit themselves to become prejudiced out of sheer love each for his own religious Congregation, a love which in itself is undoubtedly sound and legitimate. They should learn to view this matter broadly and to act accordingly. Therefore, if there are natives who desire to join one or other of the older Congregations, it assuredly would not be right to dissuade them or to prevent their joining, provided, of course, they give signs of being able to acquire the spirit of these Congregations and of establishing in their own countries houses of the Order which shall not be unworthy of the Congregation of which they are members. Perhaps it would be well if you would consider seriously and without admixture of self-interest, if it would not be more advantageous all around to establish entirely new Congregations, which would correspond better with the genius and character of the natives and which would be more in keeping with the needs and the spirit of the different countries.

We cannot pass over in silence another point most important for the spread of the gospel, namely, the necessity of increasing the number of catechists. Catechists may be Europeans, or preferably natives, who help the missionaries in their work especially by instructing and preparing catechumens for baptism. It is quite unnecessary to write of the qualities which these catechists should possess in order to be able to draw to Christ those who do not believe in Him; this they can do more by the example of their lives than by word of mouth. You, Venerable Brothers and Beloved Sons, make a firm resolution to train them with all possible care in order that they may acquire a profound knowledge of Christian doctrine, and that in teaching the Faith they may be able to adapt themselves both to the natural abilities and the level of intelligence of their catechism classes. In this catechetical work their success will be in exact proportion to the intimate knowledge which they possess of the mental ability and habits of the natives.

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1215 IV Laternal Council

1215- IV Lateran Council

Decrees related to priests and religious

27. Candidates for the priesthood to be carefully trained and scrutinized

To guide souls is a supreme art. We therefore strictly order bishops carefully to prepare those who are to be promoted to the priesthood and to instruct them, either by themselves or through other suitable persons, in the divine services and the sacraments of the church, so that they may be able to celebrate them correctly. But if they presume henceforth to ordain the ignorant and unformed, which can indeed easily be detected, we decree that both the ordainers and those ordained are to be subject to severe punishment. For it is preferable, especially in the ordination of priests, to have a few good ministers than many bad ones, for if a blind man leads another blind man, both will fall into the pit.

(Other related canons)

12. On general chapters of monks

In every kingdom or province let there be held every three years, saving the right of diocesan bishops, a general chapter of those abbots, and priors who do not have abbots over them, who have not been accustomed to hold one. All should attend, unless they have a canonical impediment, at one of the monasteries which is suitable for the purpose; with this limitation, that none of them brings with him more than six mounts and eight persons. Let them invite in charity, at the start of this innovation, two neighbouring Cistercian abbots to give them appropriate advice and help, since from long practice the Cistercians are well informed about holding such chapters. The two abbots shall then coopt without opposition two suitable persons from among them. The four of them shall then preside over the whole chapter, in such a way however that none of them assumes the leadership; so that they can if necessary be changed after careful deliberation. This kind of chapter shall be held continuously over a certain number of days, according to Cistercian custom. They shall treat carefully of the reform of the order and the observance of the rule. What has been decided, with the approval of the four presiding, is to be observed inviolably by all without any excuse or contradiction or appeal. They shall also decide where the next chapter is to be held. Those attending shall lead a common life and divide out proportionately all the common expenses. If they cannot all live in the same house, let them at least live in groups in various houses.

Let religious and circumspect persons be appointed at the chapter who will make it their business to visit on our behalf all the abbeys of the kingdom or province, of both monks and nuns, according to the manner prescribed for them. Let them correct and reform what seems to need correction and reform. Thus if they know of the superior of a place who should certainly be removed from office, let them denounce the person to the bishop concerned so that he may see to his or her removal. If the bishop will not do this, let the visitors themselves refer the matter to the apostolic see for examination. We wish and command canons regular to observe this according to their order. If there emerges out of this innovation any difficulty that cannot be resolved by the aforesaid persons, let it be referred, without offence being given, to the judgment of the apostolic see; but let the other matters, about which after careful deliberation they were in agreement, be observed without breach. Diocesan bishops, moreover, should take care to reform the monasteries under their jurisdiction, so that when the aforesaid visitors arrive they will find in them more to commend than to correct. Let them be very careful lest the said monasteries are weighed down by them with unjust burdens, for just as we wish the rights of superiors to be upheld so we do not wish to support wrongs done to subjects. Furthermore, we strictly command both diocesan bishops and those who preside at chapters to restrain by ecclesiastical censure, without appeal, advocates, patrons, lords’ deputies, governors, officials, magnates, knights, and any other people, from daring to cause harm to monasteries in respect of their persons and their goods. Let them not fail to compel such persons, if by chance they do cause harm, to make satisfaction, so that almighty God may be served more freely and more peacefully.

13. A prohibition against new religious orders

Lest too great a variety of religious orders leads to grave confusion in God’s church, we strictly forbid anyone henceforth to found a new religious order. Whoever wants to become a religious should enter one of the already approved orders. Likewise, whoever wishes to found a new religious house should take the rule and institutes from already approved religious orders. We forbid, moreover, anyone to attempt to have a place as a monk in more than one monastery or an abbot to preside over more than one monastery.

14. Clerical incontinence

In order that the morals and conduct of clerics may be reformed for the better, let all of them strive to live in a continent and chaste way, especially those in holy orders. Let them beware of every vice involving lust, especially that on account of which the wrath of God came down from heaven upon the sons of disobedience, so that they may be worthy to minister in the sight of almighty God with a pure heart and an unsullied body. Lest the ease of receiving pardon prove an incentive to sin, we decree that those who are caught giving way to the vice of incontinence are to be punished according to canonical sanctions, in proportion to the seriousness of their sins. We order such sanctions to be effectively and strictly observed, in order that those whom the fear of God does not hold back from evil may at least be restrained from sin by temporal punishment. Therefore anyone who has been suspended for this reason and presumes to celebrate divine services, shall not only be deprived of his ecclesiastical benefices but shall also, on account of his twofold fault, be deposed in perpetuity. Prelates who dare to support such persons in their wickedness, especially if they do it for money or for some other temporal advantage, are to be subject to like punishment. Those clerics who have not renounced the marriage bond, following the custom of their region, shall be punished even more severely if they fall into sin, since for them it is possible to make lawful use of matrimony.

15. Clerical gluttony and drunkeness

All clerics should carefully abstain from gluttony and drunkenness. They should temper the wine to themselves and themselves to the wine. Let no one be urged to drink, since drunkenness obscures the intellect and stirs up lust. Accordingly we decree that that abuse is to be entirely abolished whereby in some places drinkers bind themselves to drink equal amounts, and that man is most praised who makes the most people drunk and himself drains the deepest cups. If anyone shows himself worthy of blame in these matters, let him be suspended from his benefice or office, unless after being warned by his superior he makes suitable satisfaction. We forbid all clerics to hunt or to fowl, so let them not presume to have dogs or birds for fowling {4} .

16. Decorum in the dress and behaviour of clerics

Clerics should not practice callings or business of a secular nature, especially those that are dishonourable. They should not watch mimes, entertainers and actors. Let them avoid taverns altogether, unless by chance they are obliged by necessity on a journey. They should not play at games of chance or of dice, nor be present at such games. They should have a suitable crown and tonsure, and let them diligently apply themselves to the divine services and other good pursuits. Their outer garments should be closed and neither too short nor too long. Let them not indulge in red or green cloths, long sleeves or shoes with embroidery or pointed toes, or in bridles, saddles, breast-plates and spurs that are gilded or have other superfluous ornamentation. Let them not wear cloaks with sleeves at divine services in a church, nor even elsewhere, if they are priests or parsons, unless a justifiable fear requires a change of dress. They are not to wear buckles or belts ornamented with gold or silver, or even rings except for those whose dignity it befits to have them. All bishops should wear outer garments of linen in public and in church, unless they have been monks, in which case they should wear the monastic habit; and let them not wear their cloaks loose in public but rather fastened together behind the neck or across the chest.

17. Dissolute prelates

We regretfully relate that not only certain lesser clerics but also some prelates of churches pass almost half the night in unnecessary feasting and forbidden conversation, not to mention other things, and leaving what is left of the night for sleep, they are barely roused at the dawn chorus of the birds and pass away the entire morning in a continuous state of stupor. There are others who celebrate mass barely four times a year and, what is worse, do not bother to attend; if they happen to be present when it is being celebrated, they flee the silence of the choir and pay attention to conversations of the laity outside and so while they attend to talk that is unnecessary for them, they do not give an attentive ear to the things of God. We altogether forbid these and similar things on pain of suspension. We strictly command such persons, in virtue of obedience, to celebrate the divine office, day and night alike, as far as God allows them, with both zeal and devotion.

64. Simony with regards to monks and nuns

The disease of simony has infected many nuns to such an extent that they admit scarcely any as sisters without a payment, wishing to cover this vice with the pretext of poverty. We utterly forbid this to happen in the future. We decree that whoever commits such wickedness in the future, both the one admitting and the one admitted, whether she be a subject or in authority, shall be expelled from her convent without hope of reinstatement, and be cast into a house of stricter observance to do perpetual penance. As regards those who were admitted in this way before this synodal statute, we have decided to provide that they be moved from the convents which they wrongly entered, and be placed in other houses of the same order. If perchance they are too numerous to be conveniently placed elsewhere, they may be admitted afresh to the same convent, by dispensation, after the prioress and lesser officials have been changed, lest they roam around in the world to the danger of their souls. We order the same to be observed with regard to monks and other religious. Indeed, lest such persons be able to excuse themselves on the grounds of simplicity or ignorance, we order diocesan bishops to have this decree published throughout their dioceses every year.

66. Simony and avarice in clerics

It has frequently been reported to the apostolic see that certain clerics demand and extort payments for funeral rites for the dead, the blessing of those marrying, and the like; and if it happens that their greed is not satisfied, they deceitfully set up false impediments. On the other hand some lay people, stirred by a ferment of heretical wickedness, strive to infringe a praiseworthy custom of holy church, introduced by the pious devotion of the faithful, under the pretext of canonical scruples. We therefore both forbid wicked exactions to be made in these matters and order pious customs to be observed, ordaining that the church’s sacraments are to be given freely but also that those who maliciously try to change a praiseworthy custom are to be restrained, when the truth is known, by the bishop of the place.

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1179- III Lateran Council

1179 – Third Lateran Council

Canons related to religious and clergy

3. Since in holy orders and ecclesiastical ministries both maturity of age, a serious character and knowledge of letters should be required, much more should these qualities be required in a bishop, who is appointed for the care of others and ought to show in himself how others should live in the house of the Lord. Therefore, lest what has been done with regard to certain persons through the needs of the time should be taken as a precedent for the future, we declare by the present decree that no one should be chosen bishop unless he has already reached the age of thirty, been born in lawful wedlock and also is shown to be worthy by his life and learning. When he has been elected and his election has been confirmed, and he has the administration of ecclesiastical property, after the time has passed for the consecration of bishops as laid down by the canons let the person to whom the benefices which he held belong, have the free disposition of them. Further, with regard to the inferior ministries, for instance that of dean or archdeacon, and others which have the care of souls annexed, let no one at all receive them, or even the rule of parish churches, unless he has already reached his twenty-fifth year of age, and can be approved for his learning and character. When he has been nominated, if the archdeacon is not ordained deacon, and the deans (and the rest after due warning) are not ordained priests within the time fixed by the canons, let them be removed from that office and let it be conferred on another who is both able and willing to fulfill it properly; and let them not be allowed the evasion of recourse to an appeal, should they wish by an appeal to protect themselves against a transgression of the constitution. We order that this should be observed with regard to both past and future appointments, unless it is contrary to the canons. Certainly if clerics appoint someone contrary to this rule, let them know that they are deprived of the power of election and are suspended from ecclesiastical benefices for three years. For it is right that at least the strictness of ecclesiastical discipline should restrain those who are not recalled from evil by the fear of God. But if any bishop has acted in anyone’s interest contrary to this decree, or has consented to such actions, let him lose the power of conferring the foresaid offices, and let these appointments be made by the chapter, or by the metropolitan if the chapter cannot agree.

8. Let no ecclesiastical ministries or even benefices or churches be assigned or promised to anyone before they are vacant, so that nobody may seem to wish for the death of his neighbour to whose position or benefice he believes himself to be the successor. For since we find this forbidden even in the laws of the pagans themselves, it is utterly disgraceful and calls for the punishment of God’s judgment if the hope of future succession should have any place in God’s church when even pagans have taken care to condemn it. But whenever ecclesiastical prebends or any offices happen to become vacant in a church, or are even now vacant, let them no longer remain unassigned and let them be conferred within six months on persons who are able to administer them worthily. If the bishop, when it concerns him, delays to make the appointment, let it be done by the chapter; but if the election belongs to the chapter and it does not make the appointment within the prescribed time, let the bishop proceed according to God’s will, with the advice of religious men; or if by chance all fail to do so, let the metropolitan dispose of these matters without opposition from them and in accordance with God’s will.

9. Since we ought both to plant holy religion and in every way to cherish it when planted, we shall never fulfil this better than if we take care to nourish what is right and to correct what stands in the way of the progress of truth by means of the authority entrusted to us {8 }. Now we have learnt from the strongly worded complaints of our brethren and fellow bishops that the Templars and Hospitallers, and other professed religious, exceeding the privileges granted them by the apostolic see have often disregarded episcopal authority, causing scandal to the people of God and grave danger to souls. We are told that they receive churches from the hands of lay persons; that they admit those under excommunication and interdict to the sacraments of the church and to burial; that in their churches they appoint and remove priests without the knowledge of the bishop; that when the brothers go to seek alms, and it is granted that the churches should be open on their arrival once a year and the divine services should be celebrated in them, several of them from one or more houses often go to a place under interdict and abuse the privileges granted {9 } to them by holding divine service, and then presume to bury the dead in the said churches. On the occasion also of the brotherhoods which they establish in many places, they weaken the bishops’ authority, for contrary to their decision and under cover of some privileges they seek to defend all who wish to approach and join their brotherhood. In these matters, because the faults arise not so much with the knowledge or advice of the superiors as from the indiscretion of some of the subjects, we have decreed that abuses should be removed and doubtful points settled. We absolutely forbid that these orders and all other religious should receive churches and tithes from the hands of lay persons, and we even order them to put away what they have recently received contrary to this decree. We declare that those who are excommunicated, or interdicted by name, must be avoided by them and all others according to the sentence of the bishop. In churches which do not belong to them by full right, let them present to the bishops the priests to be instituted, so that while they are answerable to the bishops for the care of the people, they may give to their own members a proper account of temporal matters. Let them not presume to remove those priests who have been appointed without first consulting the bishops. If the Templars or Hospitallers come to a church which is under an interdict, let them be allowed to hold the services of the church only once a year and let them not bury there the bodies of the dead. With regard to the brotherhoods we declare as follows: if any do not give themselves entirely to the said brothers but decide to keep their possessions, they are in no way on this account exempt from the sentence of the bishops, but the bishops may exercise their power over them as over other parishioners whenever they are to be corrected for their faults. What has been said about the said brothers, we declare shall be observed with regard to other religious who presume to claim for themselves the rights of bishops and dare to violate their canonical decisions and the tenor of our privileges. If they do not observe this decree, let the churches in which they dare so to act be placed under an interdict, and let what they do be considered void.

 10. Monks are not to be received in a monastery for money nor are they allowed money of their own. They are not to be stationed individually in towns or cities or parish churches, but they are to remain in larger communities or with some of their brethren, nor are they to await alone among people of the world the attack of their spiritual foes, since Solomon says, Woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up. If anyone when demanded gives something for his reception, let him not proceed to sacred orders and let the one who has received him be punished by loss of his office. If he has money in his possession, unless it has been granted him by the abbot for a specific purpose, let him be removed from the communion of the altar, and any one who is found at his death with money in his possession {10 } is not to receive burial among his brethren and mass is not to be offered for him. We order that this is also to be observed with regard to other religious. Let the abbot who does not exercise care in such matters know that he will incur the loss of his office. Neither priories nor obediences are to be handed over to anyone for a sum of money; otherwise both giver and receiver are to be deprived of ministry in the church. Priors, when they have been appointed to conventual churches, are not to be changed except for a clear and reasonable cause, for instance if they are wastrels or live immoral lives or have committed an offence for which they clearly should be removed, or if on account of the demands of higher office they should be transferred on the advice of their brethren.

11. Clerics in holy orders, who in open concubinage keep their mistresses in their houses, should either cast them out and live continently or be deprived of ecclesiastical office and benefice. Let all who are found guilty of that unnatural vice for which the wrath of God came down upon the sons of disobedience and destroyed the five cities with fire, if they are clerics be expelled from the clergy or confined in monasteries to do penance; if they are laymen they are to incur excommunication and be completely separated from the society of the faithful. If any cleric without clear and necessary cause presumes to frequent convents of nuns, let the bishop keep him away; and if he does not stop, let him be ineligible for an ecclesiastical benefice.

12. Clerics in the subdiaconate and above and also those in minor orders, if they are supported by ecclesiastical revenues, should not presume to become advocates in legal matters before a secular judge, unless they happen to be defending their own case or that of their church, or acting on behalf of the helpless who cannot conduct their own cases. Let clerics not presume to take upon themselves the management of towns or even secular jurisdiction under princes or seculars so as to become their ministers of justice. If anyone dares to act contrary to this decree, and so contrary to the teaching of the Apostle who says, No soldier of God gets entangled in secular affairs, and acts as a man of this world, let him be deprived of ecclesiastical ministry, on the grounds that neglecting his duty as a cleric he plunges into the waves of this world to please its princes. We decree in the strictest terms that any religious who presumes to attempt any of the above-mentioned things should be punished.

13. Because some, setting no limit to their avarice, strive to obtain several ecclesiastical dignities and several parish churches contrary to the decrees of the holy canons, so that though they are scarcely able to fulfil one office sufficiently they claim the revenues of very many, we strictly forbid this for the future. Therefore when it is necessary to entrust a church or ecclesiastical ministry to anyone, the person sought for this office should be of such a kind that he is able to reside in the place and exercise his care for it himself. If the contrary is done both he who receives it is to be deprived of it, because he has received it contrary to the sacred canons, and he who gave it is to lose his power of bestowing it.

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460- Pope Leo the Great

Pope Leo the Great (440-61)
(Letter 12, I, II, IV)

 I.The disorderly appointments of bishops which have been made in the province are reprehensible.

Inasmuch as the frequent accounts of those who visited us made mention of certain unlawful practices among you with regard to the ordination of priests, the demands of religion required that we should strive to arrive at the exact state of the case in accordance with that solicitude which by the Divine command we bestow on the whole Church: and so we delegated the charge of this to our brother and fellow priest, Potentius, who was setting out from us: and who, according to what we wrote and addressed to you by him, was to make inquiry as to the facts about the bishops whose election was said to be faulty, and to report everything faithfully to us. Wherefore, because the same Potentius has most fully disclosed all to our knowledge, and has by histruthful account made clear to us, under what and what manner of governors some of Christ’s congregations are placed in certain parts of the province of (Mauritania) Cæsariensis, we have found it necessary to open out the grief wherewith our hearts are vexed for the dangers of the Lord’s flocks, by sending this letter also to you beloved: for we are surprised that either the over-bearing conduct of intriguers or the rioting of the people had so much weight with you in a time of disorder, that the chief pastorate and governance of the Church was handed over to the unworthiest  persons, and such as were farthest removed from the priestly standard. This is not to consult but harm the peoples’ interests: and not to enforce discipline but to increase differences. For the integrity of the rulers is the safeguard of those who are under them: and where there is complete obedience, there the form of doctrine is sound. But an appointment which has either been made by sedition or seized by intrigue, even though it offend not in morals or in practice, is nevertheless pernicious from the mere example of its beginning: and it is hard for things to be carried to a good issue which were started with a bad beginning.

II.In no case ought bishops to be ordained hastily.

But if in every grade of the Church great forethought and knowledge has to be employed, lest there be any thing disorderly or out of place in the house of the Lord: how much more carefully must we strive to prevent mistakes in the election of him who is set over all the grades? For the peace and order of the Lord’s whole household will be shaken, if what is required in the body be not found in the head. Where is that precept of the blessed Apostle Paul uttered through the Spirit of God, whereby in the person of Timothy the whole number of Christ’s priests are instructed, and to each one of us is said: Lay hands hastily on no one, and do not share in other men’s sins 1 Timothy 5:22? What is to lay on hands hastily but to confer the priestly dignity on unproved men before the proper age , before there has been time to test them, before they have deserved it by their obedience, before they have been tried by discipline? And what is to share in other men’s sins but for the ordainer to become such as is he who ought not to have been ordained by him? For just as a man stores up for himself the fruit of his good work, if he maintains a right judgment in choosing a priest: so one who receives an unworthy priest into the number of his colleagues, inflicts grievous loss upon himself. We must not then pass over in the case of any one that which is laid down in the general ordinances: nor is that advancement to be reckoned lawful which has been made contrary to the precepts of God’s law.

IV. Premature promotions are to be avoided.

 But when the Apostle warns and says: and let these also first be proved, and so let them minister1 Timothy 3:10, what else do we think must be understood but that in these promotions we should consider not only the chastity of their marriages, but also the deserts of their labours, lest the pastoral office be entrusted to men who are either fresh from baptism, or suddenly diverted from worldly pursuits? For through all the ranks of the Christian army in the matter of promotions it ought to be considered whether a man can manage a greater charge. Rightly did the venerable opinions of the blessed Fathers in speaking of the election of priests reckon those men fit for the administration of sacred things who had been slowly advanced through the various grades of office, and had given such good proof of themselves therein that in each one of them the character of their practices bore witness to their lives. For if it is improper to attain to the world’s dignities without the help of time and without the merit of having toiled, and if the seeking of office is branded unless it be supported by proofs of uprightness, how diligently and how carefully ought the dispensing of divine duties and heavenly dignities to be carried out, lest in anything the apostolic and canonical decrees be violated, and the ruling of the Lord’s Church be committed to men who being ignorant of the lawful constitutions and devoid of all humility wish not to rise from the lowest grade, but to begin with the highest: for it is extremely unfair and preposterous that the inexpert should be preferred to the expert, the young to the old, the raw recruits to those who have seen much service. In a great house, indeed, as the Apostle explains , there must needs be various vessels, some of gold and of silver, and some of wood and of earth: but their purpose varies with the quality of their material, and the use of the precious and of the cheap kinds is not the same. For everything will be in disorder if the earthen ware be preferred to the golden, or the wooden to the silver. And as the wooden or earthen vessels are a figure of those men who are hitherto conspicuous for no virtues; so in the golden or silver vessels they no doubt are represented who, having passed through the fire of long experience, and through the furnace of protracted toil have deserved to be tried gold and pure silver. And if such men get no reward for their devotion, all the discipline of the Church is loosened, all order is disturbed, while men who have undergone no service obtain undeserved preferment by the wrongful choice of the electing body.

V. He distinguishes between laymen who have been raised to the bishoprics and digamous clerks, forgiving the former and not the latter.

Since then either the eager wishes of the people or the intrigues of the ambitious have had so much weight among you that we understand not only laymen, but even husbands of second wives or widows have been promoted to the pastoral office, are there not the clearest reasons for requiring that the churches in which such things have been done should be cleansed by a severer judgment than usual, and that not only the rulers themselves, but also those who ordained them should receive condign punishment? But there stand on our one hand the gentleness of mercy, on our other the strictness of justice. And because all the paths of the Lord are loving-kindness and truth , we are forced according to our loyalty to the Apostolic See so to moderate our opinion as to weigh men’s misdeeds in the balance (for of course they are not all of one measure), and to reckon some as to a certain extent pardonable, but others as altogether to be repressed. For they who have either entered into second marriages or joined themselves in wedlock with widows are not allowed to hold the priesthood, either by the apostolic or legal authority: and much more is this the case with him who, as it was reported to us, is the husband of two wives at once, or him who being divorced by his wife is said to have married another, that is, supposing these charges are in your judgment proved. But the rest, whose preferment only so far incurs blame that they have been chosen to the episcopal function from among the laity, and are not culpable in the matter of their wives, we allow to retain the priesthood upon which they have entered, without prejudice to the statutes of the Apostolic See, and without breaking the rules of the blessed Fathers, whose wholesome ordinance it is that no layman, whatever amount of support he may receive, shall ascend to the first, second, or third rank in the Church until he reach that position by the legitimate steps. For what we now suffer to be to a certain extent venial, cannot hereafter pass unpunished, if any one perpetrates what we altogether forbid: because the forgiveness of a sin does not grant a licence to do wrong, nor will it be right to repeat an offense with impunity which has partly been condoned.

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