VATICAN CITY, FEB. 1, 2005 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II says the emotional maturity of candidates for the priesthood, and their ability to live in celibacy, must be verified from the moment they enter the seminary.
The Pope made this proposal in the message he sent today to Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, on the occasion of the Vatican dicastery’s plenary session in Rome.
“Already from the moment of the admission of young men to the seminary, their ability to live in celibacy must be carefully verified so that, before ordination, they will develop a moral certitude about their emotional and sexual maturity,” wrote the Holy Father, who was unable to attend the session because of the flu.
The Congregation for Catholic Education has the authority to watch over the formation imparted in seminaries, making use in particular of the Office for Seminaries which, among other things, carries out apostolic visits to them.
In his message, John Paul II warned implicitly about the danger of focusing only on the academic formation of future priests.
“The educational plan in seminaries” must take into account “the complementarity of the four dimensions of formation: human, intellectual, spiritual and pastoral,” he said, citing his 1992 apostolic exhortation “Pastores Dabo Vobis.”
“In light of the present social and cultural changes, it might be useful on occasions that educators make use of the work of competent specialists to help seminarians understand more profoundly the exigencies of the priesthood, recognizing in celibacy a gift of love to the Lord and to brethren,” the Pope wrote.
With this additional help, he stated, seminarians will have, before their ordination, the necessary “emotional and sexual maturity.”