Pope Urges Solid Training for Seminarians and Priests

Says Christianity Cannot Be Reduced to "Merely Human Wisdom"

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 26, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II asked India's bishops to guarantee a "solid theological training" to seminarians and priests, overcoming the temptation to make Christianity "merely human wisdom."



The Pope made his appeal today to the bishops of the ecclesiastical provinces of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, Patna and Ranchi, who were concluding their five-yearly visit to the Holy See.

His appeal was particularly significant since India now has the most Catholic seminarians in the world. According to the Church's Statistical Yearbook, India at the start of last year had 11,303 students of philosophy and theology (candidates to religious or diocesan priesthood) and 10,547 students in minor seminaries.

By comparison, countries with many more Catholics have fewer seminarians in philosophy and theology: Poland, for instance, has 6,767; Mexico, 6,700; and the United States, 5,080.

Addressing the bishops, the Holy Father expressed the hope "that you will persevere in your efforts to guarantee a solid theological training in your seminaries and a sound continuing formation for your priests, thus rejecting the temptation to reduce Christianity to a merely human wisdom, a pseudo-science of well-being."

"Proper theological preparation requires instruction which, while respecting that part of the truth found in other religious traditions, nevertheless unfailingly proclaims that Jesus Christ is the Way and the Truth and the Life," he said.

"To this end Catholic educational institutions must offer a sound philosophical formation which is necessary for the study of theology," highlighting that truth "transcends the limitations of both Eastern and Western thought and unites every culture and society," the Pope said.

He continued: "As sharers in Christ's prophetic mission, we have a solemn responsibility to bring that truth ever closer to ourselves and to others. This sacred duty is especially incumbent upon those who are entrusted to train priests and religious.

"Formators and professors are obliged to teach the message of Christ in its completeness as the only way, not as one way among many."

"In so doing," he added, "theologians, as servants of the divine truth, dedicate their studies and labors to ever deeper understanding of that truth, and never lose sight of the meaning of their service in the Church."