Mutuae Relationes 31: Higher Learning for Clergy and Religious

SenanquecloisterAs always, you can check the full document online at the Vatican site here.

Today, we discuss the importance of doctrine. We aren’t talking doctrine as the catechism presents it, but how advanced learning is done in this area. Both clergy and religious need it:

31. Greater maturity of the priestly and religious vocation depends also, and to a decisive degree, on the doctrinal formation given usually in centers of study on the university level or in institutes of higher studies or in other institutes specially adapted to this purpose.

Bishops and superiors both are responsible:

Bishops and religious superiors involved in this work should offer effective collaboration for the upkeep of these centers of study and their proper functioning, especially when such centers are at the service of one or more dioceses and religious congregations, and guarantee both the excellence of the teaching and the presence of teachers and of all others who, duly prepared, are able to meet the requirements of formation. They should, moreover, assure the most effective use of personnel and facilities.

It strikes me that the continuing separation of seminarians is not at all a more effective use of personnel and faculties. It is important to recall that neither clergy nor religious function in the classroom–except in rare exceptions for particular ministry in academia. Priests will need distinctive formation in parishes. The same is true of both men and women in religious life.

Some cautions are listed:

In preparing, reforming and implementing the statutes of these study centers, the rights and duties of each participant, the obligations which by virtue of his very ministry belong to the bishop or bishops, ways of operating and the measure of responsibility of religious superiors who have a shared interest, should be clearly defined. In this way an objective and complete presentation of doctrine, structured in harmony with the Church’s Magisterium, can be fostered. On the basis, then, of the general criteria of competency and responsibility and according to the statutes, the activity and initiatives of these centers should be diligently followed up. And in all this delicate and important discipline, the norms and directives of the Holy See should always be observed.

If we’re talking one Church, one faith, one doctrine, then what’s the point of parallel institutions? The Church advises careful spelling out of expectations–that seems natural. Following Rome’s guidelines–we would expect nothing less. Recognizing this creates a “delicate” situation–goes without saying. But I’m glad they said it.

Thoughts or comments?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in bishops, Mutuae Relationes, women religious. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s