Vatican Assembly Pondering Profile of Future Priests

Cardinal Grocholewski Voices a Warning

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 4, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The admission of candidates to seminaries cannot depend entirely on the judgment of a psychologist or psychiatrist, says the prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education.

Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski made his comment Sunday on the eve of a three-day plenary assembly of the congregation in Rome.

“It is a very delicate problem because it is obvious that admission or non-admission to the priesthood cannot depend on the psychologist or psychiatrist,” he said. “However, their contribution can be very valuable. This will be one of the most difficult problems on which we will debate.”

Some 30 cardinals and bishops participating in the assembly are addressing the question of the formation of future priests. The congregation oversees seminaries, ecclesiastical universities and educational institutions of the Church.

John Paul II himself addressed the use of psychological sciences in the admission and formation of candidates for the priesthood, when he received the assembly participants today.

In speaking of the formation of seminarians, Cardinal Grocholewski explained that “the challenges of the contemporary world call for priests who are more solid in the faith, more united to Christ in prayer, more conscious of the indispensable role they play in the Church, priests who have more courage and more zeal in their pastoral activity.”

Given the above, the cardinal said that the assembly is hearing reports on apostolic visits carried out by the congregation to virtually all seminaries over the last three years, “with our observations.”

“We want to hear the opinion of our members,” he added.

“We will study the reports that the different seminaries present, the statutes that are elaborated; we will speak of specific seminaries, such as the Redemptoris Mater of the Neocatechumenal Way, which has founded its own seminaries,” the Polish cardinal said. “In fact, they are diocesan seminaries, dependent on the bishop. They have created a new reality, which we must discuss.”

The assembly is also paying special attention to ecclesiastical faculties, because “seminary professors are prepared in them,” the cardinal continued.

Not only “are they connected to the promotion of the doctrine of the Church,” but “the quality of their pastoral work in the Church depends on them,” the prefect added.

“These faculties must collaborate with the magisterium of the Church. Hence, it is a very difficult area,” the cardinal said.

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