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Pope discusses priestly formation with dicastery heads

VATICAN CITY –  Vocations, formation in the seminaries and permanent training of the clergy were discussed on 13 November 2017 in the Bologna Hall of the Apostolic Palace, where Pope Francis presided over a meeting of the heads of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia.

It was the so-called “interdicasterial” meeting, which takes place at least twice a year, with cardinals, bishops and prelates at the head of Congregations and Pontifical Councils.

The meeting discussed the formation of new priests according to the Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis, a document published by the Congregation of the Clergy in December 2016.

The document takes into account the papal magisterium and insists on the importance of integral human formation, and not only academic formation.

It emphasises the goal of becoming “missionary disciples and pastors” in the three phases of vocational pastoral work, formation of seminarians and permanent training for priests.

Discipleship and mission concern all baptised people while being pastors is specific to the priesthood.

It highlights the importance of integral human formation including affective formation so as to form shepherds capable of living among the people and sharing their expectations, joys and wounds.

The document, in the wake of Francis’ Magisterium – and in particular of the great responsibility that the exhortation Amoris laetitia brings upon the shoulders of priests, especially in accompanying the increasingly frequent difficult marriage situations – insists on the importance of discernment and formation for discernment.

In fact, there is a lack of adequate preparation for this accompaniment to married persons and the formators of future priests must verify whether seminarians are able to assume these responsibilities, as they require commitment, sharing and the ability to identify themselves in situations that are always different from one another.

Paragraph 120 of the document discussed by the Pope with his collaborators reads, “The call to be pastors of the people of God requires a formation that makes future priests experts in the art of pastoral discernment, that is to say, able to listen deeply to real situations and capable of good judgment in making choices and decisions. To make pastoral discernment effective, the evangelical style of listening must take central place. This frees the pastor from the temptation of abstraction, to self-promotion, to excessive self-assurances and to that aloofness that would make him a ’spiritual accountant’ instead of a good Samaritan.” – vaticaninsider

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