ROME, NOV. 20, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Forming priests in the world today is no easy task, since a general climate of fog envelops everything, said an expert on priestly formation at a forum in Rome.
A Nov. 7-9 symposium at the Pontifical Spanish College of St. Joseph focused on “15 Years After ‘Pastores Dabo Vobis,'” Pope John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation on priestly formation.
The Fraternity of Diocesan Worker Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus organized the symposium to commemorate the first centenary of the death of their founder, Blessed Manuel Domingo y Sol.
The fraternity’s general director and the college’s rector accompanied Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, at the symposium’s opening session.
The cardinal stressed the central importance of spirituality, which unifies what the priest is and does, in formation and in priestly ministry.
The first address was given by Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, secretary of the Congregation for Clergy. His talk illustrated the challenges of priestly formation today.
Of modern society, he said: “It is not that a heresy has been put forth, which would have made the Church react quickly, but there is a general climate of fog that envelops everything.”
Based on this, the Vatican official highlighted certain conditions that make it possible to educate “on the true meaning of the Church, in the love of our Holy Mother, who has begotten us and propagates all, in the faith and in the holy Catholic priesthood.”
Man and priest
Bishop Juan Uriarte Goiricelaya of San Sebastian, Spain, focused on human formation as the foundation of the total priestly formation. He stated: “The priest’s concrete humanity is ‘humus,’ the inherent seat of the other dimensions.
“It is not an inert seat, but simultaneously active and receptive. Formation in the other dimensions should not be a superimposed addition, but must be rooted within the human person, in his mentality, affectivity and will.”
Father Francisco Andrades Ledo, professor and rector of the Merida-Badajoz seminary, concentrated on “Pastoral Formation: To Communicate the Pastoral Charity of Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd.”
He affirmed that this dimension unifies and determines the whole of a priest’s formation, given that the pastoral objective ensures some concrete contents and characteristics for the other dimensions.
Bishop Josep Sáiz Meneses closed the symposium with a brief review of the talks, and gave a final note on the importance of witness from the pedagogical point of view.
“We must present a joint work, aware of the force of witness,” he said. The prelate stressed the importance of the testimonial dimension in the formation of future priests, based on the pedagogical principles of social cognitive learning.