Papal Address to Congregation for Catholic Education

"To Help Seminarians Understand the Exigencies of the Priesthood"

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 1, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address John Paul II delivered today to Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, on the occasion of the dicastery's plenary session.



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To the Venerated Brother
Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski
Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education

1. With great pleasure I address my cordial greetings to you and to the venerated brothers in the episcopate and priesthood, as well as to the members of that Dicastery, gathered on the occasion of the Plenary Session. I wish you success in the working sessions of these days, during which you are examining some questions that affect Seminaries, Ecclesiastical Faculties, and Catholic Universities.

2. You are giving particular attention to the educational plan in the seminaries, which takes into account the fundamental complementarity of the four dimensions of formation: human, intellectual, spiritual and pastoral (see "Pastores Dabo Vobis," 43-59).

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. 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.

3. Your Plenary Assembly has also focused its attention on the Ecclesiastical Faculties and Catholic Universities, which represent a rich heritage for the Church. In the "great Christian spring" that God is preparing (see Encyclical Letter "Redemptoris Missio," 86), they must be distinguished by the quality of the teaching and research, so that they are capable of dialoguing fully with other Faculties and Universities.

Given the speed of the present scientific and technological development, these institutions are called to a continual renewal, seeing the way in which "the new discoveries may be used for the genuine good of each person and of the whole of human society" ("Ex Corde Ecclesiae," 7). From this point of view, the interdisciplinary dialogue is, without a doubt, useful. In particular, dialogue is revealed fruitful with "a philosophy of a genuinely metaphysical scope" ("Fides et Ratio," 83), and with Theology itself.

4. Another interesting argument of your working sessions is Christian education through school institutions. Forty years ago, the conciliar declaration "Gravissimum Educationis" delineated, in this connection, some principles that subsequently were further developed by the Congregation for Catholic Education.

In the context of globalization and of the changing crossroads of peoples and cultures, the Church feels the urgency of the mandate to preach the Gospel and intends to live it with renewed missionary impetus. Therefore, Catholic education appears increasingly as the fruit of a mission that must be "shared" by priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful. In this horizon is set the ecclesial service that teachers of Catholic religion offer in the school. Their teaching contributes to the integral development of the students and to knowledge of the other in reciprocal respect. For this reason, the desire is extremely intense that the teaching of religion be recognized everywhere and that it have a proper role in the educational plan of school institutions.

5. I would like to mention, finally, the effective vocational work carried out by the Pontifical Work for Ecclesiastical Vocations, instituted by my venerated predecessor Pius XII. Above all, it supports the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, an annual event that interlaces initiatives and events of vocational pastoral care in all the dioceses.

In expressing profound gratitude for this worthy and fruitful institution, I encourage with pleasure those who dedicate time and effort to promote a pastoral vocations network within the ecclesial community. Very opportune, it seems to me, is the spiritual initiative undertaken by this institution during the year dedicated to the Eucharist, to create through a shift of prayer in each continent, a chain of petition that unites the Christian communities of the whole world among themselves.

6. I would like to confirm, in this context, that the Eucharist is the source and nourishment of every priestly and religious vocation. I wish, therefore, to express my appreciation for all initiatives integrated in this "network" of prayer for vocations, and I hope it will embrace the world.

May Mary, "Eucharistic woman," watch over those who dedicate their energies to vocational pastoral care.

To all of you and to your loved ones I impart from my heart the Apostolic Blessing.

Vatican, February 1, 2005

IOANNES PAULUS II

[Translation by ZENIT]