Pope´s Guidelines on Psychology´s Contribution to Seminaries

Must Respect Understanding of Christian Conscience, He Says

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 4, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II encouraged seminaries to avail themselves of the science of psychology, provided it is harmonized with a profound understanding of the Christian conscience on life and the vocation to the priesthood.



During an address delivered today to the plenary assembly of the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education, the Holy Father clarified that "the help of psychological sciences must be inserted in a balanced way in the vocational journey, integrating it in the framework of the candidate´s global formation."

The Pope encouraged the writing of a document, being prepared by this institution entrusted with overseeing the life of seminaries and Catholic universities, which might be entitled "Guidelines for the Use of Psychological Competencies in the Admission and Formation of Candidates for the Priesthood."

John Paul II said the document will help to keep in mind the contribution of the psychological sciences while safeguarding "the value and space proper to the spiritual" dimension.

"Only in the climate of faith can a generous response mature to the vocation received from God, which will allow for a correct understanding of the meaning and usefulness of recourse to psychology," the Pope explained.

Psychology´s help, the Holy Father added, "does not eliminate all kinds of difficulties and tensions, but favors a broad awareness and more fluid exercise of freedom to engage in an open and honest struggle against them, with the indispensable help of grace."

"For this reason, it would be opportune to pay attention to the preparation of psychological experts, who must combine a high scientific level with a profound understanding of the Christian conscience on life and the vocation to the priesthood," the Bishop of Rome counseled.

Psychologists can "offer effective supports for the necessary integration of the human and supernatural dimensions," the Holy Father added.

Attention to seminaries, he explained, "is of absolutely singular importance today, given the general situation the Church is experiencing."

"It is necessary that the formation imparted to [seminarians] is of an excellent level, both from the intellectual as well as the spiritual point of view," John Paul II said. "Candidates must be introduced to the practice of prayer, meditation and personal asceticism, based on the theological virtues lived in ordinary life."

To achieve these objectives, "the joy of their vocation must be fostered in students," the Pontiff said. "Celibacy itself for the Kingdom of God must be presented as an eminently favorable option to the joyful announcement of the risen Christ."

From this point of view, John Paul II recommended awakening in the spirit of seminarians "the taste for ecclesial and apostolic charity: to live in communion with Christ, with superiors, with companions is the most adequate preparation for future ministerial commitments."