for Entry into Holy Cross Seminary
Holy Cross Seminary
accepts vocations to the Priesthood and to the Brotherhood in the
Society of Saint Pius X. In both cases, it is very demanding as
to the requirements for admission, in line with Church practice
and law prior to the Second Vatican Council. The requirements for
admission to both the Seminary and to the Brothers' Novitiate are
those contained in the magnificent and very clear instruction of
1961 which is to be found here below. It is the statement of the
Church's teaching and practice in verification of religious and
priestly vocations on the eve of the Second Vatican Council. All
potential vocations must be presented by a priest of the Society
of Saint Pius X, who will verify that the candidate has all the
necessary qualities for a priestly or religious vocation, following
the guidelines described in the document attached below. He will
also have to assure the Seminary Rector that none of the impediments
mentioned below apply to the applicant.
Selection And Training Of Candidates
For The States Of Perfection And Sacred Orders
(S. C. Rel.,
2 Feb., 1961).
Religiosorum institutio, to the Superiors of Religious Communities,
Societies without vows, and Secular Institutes on the careful selection
and training of candidates for the states of perfection and Sacred
Orders is as follows.
Force, And Extent Of This Instruction
The Instruction Quantum Religiones
of religious and of others pursuing perfection and aspiring to the
ranks of the clergy in the states of perfection has always been
particularly close to the heart of the Sacred Congregation for Religious.
Thus, in the Instruction Quantum Religiones, of 1 December, 1931,
the Sacred Congregation instructed the superiors general of religious
communities and clerical societies on the proper religious and clerical
training of their subjects, and on the investigation to be carried
out before profession and the reception of Sacred Orders.1
The main purpose
of this Instruction was, in so far as human frailty may permit,
to forestall serious cases of defection not only from the religious
state but likewise from the sacred ranks in which religious had
been enrolled through the reception of Orders.
The Purpose Of This Instruction And Its Binding Force
without any change in the chief directives and criteria contained
in the aforesaid Instruction, this Sacred Congregation proposes
to take up this same question again and to treat it anew (can. 22),
especially as regards the selection and training of candidates and
the investigation to be made prior to professions and Sacred Orders
in order that the aforesaid Instruction may be in complete harmony
with subsequent developments and with later pertinent pontifical
The Principal Sources Of This Instruction
In the Jubilee
Year of 1950 there was held at Rome an International Congress of
the States of Perfection, in which specialists summoned from all
over the world on the basis of their knowledge and experience, spoke
and wrote on the selection, nurturing, and perfecting of religious
and clerical vocations. These discussions were published in the
four-volume Acta et Documenta of the Congress. Later, congresses
were held in various nations and in them the same topics were taken
same period other documents of the utmost importance appeared. These
were the encyclical letter of Pope Pius XI, of immortal memory,
Ad Catholici Sacerdotii, of 20 December, 1935,2
and various others published by Pope Pius XII, of venerable memory,
to whom the states of perfection are so indebted, such as his Exhortation
to the Clergy, Menti Nostrae, of 23 September, 1950,3
his encyclical letter, Sacra Virginitas, of 25 March, 1954,
his allocution, Sollemnis Conventus, of 24 June, 1939, to all clerical
students and their superiors,5
his allocution, Haud Mediocri, of 11 February, 1958, to the superiors
general of religious orders and congregations resident in Rome.6
and especially the Apostolic Constitution, Sedes Sapientiae, of
31 May, 1956, on religious, clerical and apostolic training of clerics
in the states of perfection.7
Nor of any lesser value are those documents which the Sovereign
Pontiff, John XXIII, happily reigning, has issued on the priesthood
and priestly formation, both in his solemn allocution on the occasion
of the first Roman Synod and likewise in the Synodal Constitutions.8
There was also published a reserved Circular Letter of the Sacred
Congregation of the Sacraments on 27 December, 1955,8a
addressed to local Ordinaries for secular clerics, imposing an investigation
of candidates before their promotion to Orders.
was most opportune for, and even the duty of, this Sacred Congregation
to incorporate the fruits of this longstanding and rich experience
and evolution into a new Instruction, which would likewise serve
as a particularized commentary on the Apostolic Constitution, Sedes
Sapientiae (cf. n. 40 and the Statuta Generalia, art. 17).
To Whom This Instruction Is Addressed
is addressed to the superiors of religious communities, societies
living the common life, and secular institutes, especially as far
as the last are concerned, if their members are incorporated into
the institute as clerics. Therefore, although frequently, for the
sake of convenience, only religious will be mentioned, the norms
and criteria set forth in this Instruction are also applicable to
the members of the other states of perfection (cf. Stat. Gen., art.
16, §§ 1-2).
the Instruction refers especially to candidates for the clerical
state, nevertheless those points which by their very nature deal
with the selection and training of candidates for the states of
perfection are, with due adaptations, to be applied also to lay
religious, including religious women (Ibid., §3, 2°).
The More Common Causes Of Defection
An Inquiry Into The Causes Of Defections
It is necessary
at the very outset to set down the most frequent grounds alleged
for defections and to lay before superiors the reasons which religious
priests claim to be the causes why they lose interest in the life
they have embraced and ask the Holy See for secularization or even
for "laicization," i.e., reduction to the lay state. Attention
must be drawn also to the pretexts under which these same religious
priests presume to leave the religious life and return to the world
on their own initiative, or even make so bold as to question before
the Apostolic Dicasteries their clerical obligations, especially
celibacy. Once the causes of defections are known, superiors will
be able to exercise more experienced care and vigilance either in
examining the divine vocation of candidates or in strengthening
and preserving it by their devoted efforts.
the aforesaid religious claim either that they entered on this way
of life and continued in it without a genuine divine vocation, or
that they lost the genuine divine vocation during the period of
their formation or in the early years of their ministerial life.
Undue Family Influence
religious claim undue influence from parents and members of their
family, inasmuch as they were born into a large or poor family and
thus were advised either by their parents or by other relatives
to leave the paternal home and go to the seminary as a happy solution
of family difficulties and were even at times pressured by request,
persuasion, or even disguised threats, into embracing the life of
perfection and the priestly life and continuing in it. As a result,
they allege that their repugnance or reluctance to accept the religious
clerical state, for which they had an aversion, was broken down.
Undue Influence Of Superiors And Directors
There were also
those who lay at the door of their religious superiors and their
spiritual directors the responsibility for their most difficult
situation, claiming that these latter, although they had noticed
in them no happiness in the religious clerical life, no spirit of
piety, and no zeal as they grew older, nevertheless did not hesitate
to urge them on, either because they hoped the subjects would do
better in the future or because they were more interested in the
number than in the quality of vocations, or because, blinded by
a false sense of kindness toward the candidates, they threatened
them with the danger of loss of eternal salvation if they left the
religious clerical state.
Ignorance Of Obligations And Lack Of Liberty In Accepting Them
religious priests plead insufficient knowledge of religious and
clerical obligations, especially celibacy, or uncertain will in
advancing to perpetual profession or Sacred Orders. If they entered
a religious seminary as young boys or in their early adolescent
years with only a confused knowledge of the religious and ecclesiastical
vocation or with a very uncertain will, these unfortunate religious
and priests claim that they never got over this state of mind, once
they had completed their studies and their years of formation. Nevertheless,
they did not withdraw from the path on which they had entered either
because they heedlessly followed their companions according to custom,
or because, being bashful and incapable of any serious decision,
they unwillingly went along with the urgings and counsels of their
superiors. Hence they affirm that in making profession or receiving
Orders they were not sufficiently aware of the obligations of the
priestly life or did not accept them with full freedom.
Fear Of An Uncertain Future
At times such
candidates, on the verge of Sacred Orders or perpetual profession
and somewhat mature in age, finding themselves without academic
degrees and untrained in any art or liberal profession, were afraid
to leave the religious life, feeling deep down in their hearts that
if they returned to the world, they could not make an upright living
unless by manual labor, or would be obliged to make difficult and
uncertain efforts to acquire a liberal profession. Therefore they
regarded the decision to continue in the religious clerical life
as a lesser evil.
Difficulty With Chastity
religious priests affirm that it is now impossible for them to observe
chastity, first because of bad habits contracted in youth, which
were sometimes corrected but still never completely eradicated,
and secondly because of sexual tendencies of a pathological nature,
which they feel cannot be brought under control either by ordinary
or extraordinary means, even those of a spiritual order, in such
a way that they frequently fall into the solitary sin.
Loss Of The Religious Spirit
infrequently there is adduced as a cause the loss of the religious
spirit either because, under the insidious impact of present-day
naturalism, these priests become incapable of discipline and religious
observance, or because, living in religious houses an indolent and
unproductive life, deceived by the desire of life outside and ill-regulated
pseudo-apostolic activism and neglecting the interior life, they
fall victims to dangers of all kinds, which they do not avoid and
do not even recognize.
Weakness And Subjective Character Of Such Arguments
religious priests bring forth these and other similar arguments,
at times even attempting to make the Church responsible for their
deplorable condition, as though the Church, through her ministers,
had admitted them to the religious and priestly life without the
necessary qualifications, or did not know how to train and protect
them once they had been called unto the portion of the Lord. But,
as the Sacred Congregation of the Sacraments states in the above-mentioned
Circular Letter: "it cannot be denied that these charges made
by the priests during the trials have only a shadowy appearance
of truth, for often the only proof is the statement made by the
plaintiff alone, a very interested party, and not by witnesses or
documents proved in court."8b
Nor is this surprising since these unfortunate religious priests
not infrequently take their present state of mind and psychic crisis,
which has gradually evolved over a period of years, and unconsciously
transfer it to the time of their profession and ordination, being
unaware of the inner change which has taken place within themselves.
Removal Of All Appearance Of Justification For These Claims; Superiors'
Obligation In Conscience
And yet the
honor of the Church, the welfare of religious communities and the
edification of the faithful demand of superiors most accurate diligence
and untiring zeal in order not to provide even a vestige of foundation
for priests advancing such claims.
see to it that they be not responsible for the mistakes or errors
of those in charge of selecting and training young men. This will
be the case if they are culpably uninformed of the norms laid down
by the Church, or ignore them, or apply them carelessly; if, ignoring
the necessary discernment of spirits, they admit into religious
life and allow to remain therein those who have not been called
by God, or if they neglect to give proper formation to those who
are evidently called and to safeguard them in their divine vocation.
Therefore, this Sacred Congregation regards it as its duty to exhort
superiors most earnestly always to keep before their eyes the norms
herein set forth, being mindful of the grave warning of this Sacred
Congregation in its Instruction, Illud Saepius, of 18 August, 1915:
"When a religious leaves his order, the superior of that same
order, if he has diligently examined his conscience before God,
will very frequently be well aware that he himself is not without
fault and has failed in his duty. This neglect of duty is often
verified either in the admission of candidates or in training them
to the religious life, or, after they have made vows, in keeping
watch over them."9
The Care To Be Taken In The Selection Of Candidates For The State
Of Perfection And The Clerical State
Quality Before Quantity
First of all,
although vocations to the state of evangelical perfection and to
the priesthood are to be promoted by every means (Stat. Gen., art.
32), still care must be taken lest an immoderate desire to increase
numbers should interfere with quality and selection.
Let all be convinced
that, unless great zeal for an abundance of students is closely
bound up with proper care for their formation, such zeal does not
produce the desired effects, and even does just the contrary. For
just as it is evident that, with the help of God's grace, nothing
contributes more to inspiring vocations than the exemplary life
of those who have been properly formed, in the same way nothing
is more conducive to impeding the growth of vocations or to suffocating
them than the example of mistakes which are unfortunately beheld
in those who are without proper solid formation.
first the kingdom of God and His justice and all these things will
be added unto you. We can say, and all superiors should repeat:
Let us seek out quality first of all, because then, if we may use
such an expression, quantity will automatically be present by itself.
This will be the concern of Divine Providence. It is not our task
to look for numbers, since it is not given to us to inspire vocations
in souls. In this truth there is contained the whole of the theology
of a vocation: it comes from God and only God can give it. It is
our task to nurture this vocation, to enrich it, and to adorn it
. . . This is the guarantee and promise of your future prosperity."10
As a matter
of fact, experience teaches us that God favors with an abundance
of vocations those religious communities which flourish with the
rigor of discipline and carry out their own proper role in the Mystical
Body of Christ, and that, on the contrary, those communities suffer
a lack of candidates, whose members do not comply faithfully with
His divine counsels.
who are suffering from a shortage of vocations and anxiously devote
themselves to collecting them, using at times methods and procedures
which are certainly not to be recommended, would do well to exert
the greatest care in training in the best way possible the candidates
who spontaneously come to them or are drawn to them by prudent means
and are already entrusted to them by the Church and Divine Providence.
For the rest,
let us not be unmindful of the teaching of Holy Scripture, which
the Sovereign Pontiff recalls to us in such timely fashion: "Gedeon,
who had at his disposal an immense multitude of men apparently ready
and prepared to fight all battles and conquer all difficulties,
heard the voice of the Lord declaring that to accomplish hard and
difficult tasks, rather than large numbers, the courage of a few
Positive Signs Of A Vocation
It will be helpful
to recall, then, that only those candidates can be admitted who
are free of any canonical impediment and who, at the same time,
show positive signs of a divine vocation, conformably to the prescriptions
of the Apostolic Constitution, Sedes Sapientiae, and the Statuta
Generalia, art. 31, § 2, 1°, 2°. Let this be the first
and absolute principle in selecting vocations. For, as we are clearly
admonished by the same Apostolic Constitution, Sedes Sapientiae:
"A call from God to enter the religious or the sacerdotal state
is so necessary that, if this is lacking, the very foundation on
which the whole edifice rests is wanting. For whom God has not called,
His grace does not move nor assist."12
fitness of the candidate for bearing the obligations of the institute
(can. 538; Stat. Gen., art. 31, § 1) must be evinced by positive
arguments (can. 973, §3), and it must consist in all the requirements
and, according to differences in age, all the physical, intellectual
and moral qualities, either of nature or of grace, whereby a young
man is rightly prepared for the worthy acceptance and performance
of religious and priestly obligations (Stat. Gen., art. 33).
Moral Certainty Of The Fitness Of Candidates
not be admitted to religious seminaries except after careful investigation
and the securing of detailed information on each individual. In
seminaries and novitiates the necessary proofs and investigations
are to be repeated with faithful observance of the General Statutes
of the Apostolic Constitution Sedes Sapientiae, art. 31-34. Doubtful
fitness is not enough but "as often as there still remains
some prudent doubt as to the fitness of a candidate, it is wrong
to permit him to contract obligations (can. 571, § 2), especially
if they be definitive, (can. 575, § 1; 637).13
Still greater care must be exercised in this regard if there be
question of Sacred Orders.14
The period of trial is to be continued as provided for in canon
law, and all possible means must be employed which may be useful
in acquiring this moral certitude" (can. 571, § 2; 574,
§ 2; Stat. Gen., art. 34, § 2, 1°, 2°, 3°).
Appropriately, therefore, all due proportion being guarded as to
the different degrees of probation and selection, should superiors
and all those engaged in deciding vocations apply to themselves
the canonical prescriptions whereby the bishop is warned "that
he should confer Sacred Orders on no one unless he is morally certain,
by positive arguments, of the candidate's canonical fitness; otherwise,
he not only sins most grievously himself but exposes himself to
the danger of sharing in the sins of others" (can. 973, §
3). For the selection and training of a religious candidate is a
step toward sacred ordination and in the ordination of religious,
as Pius XI wisely warns, the Bishop "always places full confidence
in the judgment of their superiors."15
Consequently, in case of doubt as to fitness, it is certainly unlawful
to proceed further for there is involved something on which the
welfare of the Church and the salvation of souls depend in a special
manner, and in which consequently, the safer opinion must always
be followed. "This safer opinion in the question now before
us, does more to protect the best interests of ecclesiastical candidates
since it turns them aside from a road on which they might be led
on to eternal ruin."16
The Responsibility Of The Internal And External Forum; Both Should
Use The Same Principles
In this most
important task the chief responsibility lies with major superiors.
It is their work to organize and direct this entire activity, to
be acquainted thoroughly with the norms set down by the Apostolic
See, and to make sure they are faithfully carried out. On them,
consequently, in this matter lies the greatest burden of responsibility
(Stat. Gen., art. 27, § 1).
But major superiors
need the helpful cooperation of all who are in charge of selecting
and training candidates, whether they be superiors and directors
in the external forum or confessors and spiritual prefects, each
within the limits of his office. For some of the signs of a divine
vocation or lack of it, by their very nature, come to the knowledge
of superiors in the external forum, while others, since they belong
rather to the intimate realm of mind and conscience, can oftentimes
be known only by confessors and spiritual directors. All these individuals
accept a burden in conscience in the choice of priests and religious
and in their admission to profession and to ordination, and through
their ignorance or negligence they may have a share in the sins
they must use different methods in discharging their duties. Directors
in the external forum must do their duty exteriorly according to
the norms of common and particular law. The case is different with
confessors who are bound by "the inviolable sacramental seal,"
and with spiritual directors in the stricter sense (cf. Stat. Gen.,
art. 28, § 2, 9°), who are likewise bound to secrecy "by
virtue of the religious office they have accepted." Confessors
and spiritual directors should strive, but only in the internal
forum, to see that those who either are not called by God or who
have become unworthy should not go farther.
the procedure in the internal and the external forum is different,
it is of the utmost importance that "all should use the same
principles in testing vocations and taking appropriate precautions
to the end that young men may be prudently admitted to profession
and to Orders."17
The Role Of The Confessor And The Spiritual Director
the grave duty of warning, urging, and ordering unfit subjects,
privately and in conscience, with no regard for human respect, to
withdraw from the religious and clerical life. Although they may
appear to have all the dispositions required for sacramental absolution,
they are, nevertheless, not for that reason to be regarded as worthy
of profession or ordination. The principles governing the sacramental
forum, especially those pertinent to the absolution of sins, are
different from the criteria whereby, according to the mind of the
Church, judgment is formed on fitness for the priesthood and the
religious life. Consequently, penitents who are certainly unworthy
of profession and ordination can be absolved if they show proof
of true sorrow for their sins and seriously promise to drop the
idea of going on to the religious or clerical state, but they must
be effectively barred from profession and ordination.
directors are under obligation in the non-sacramental internal forum,
to judge of the divine vocation of those entrusted to them and are
also under the obligation to warn and privately urge those who are
unfit, to withdraw voluntarily from the life they have embraced.
The Careful Choice Of Confessors And Spiritual Directors
this occasion, this Sacred Congregation earnestly stresses for superiors
both the importance and the necessity of carefully choosing as confessors
and spiritual directors in religious seminaries men properly trained
and gifted with great prudence and perspicacity in understanding
the minds of the young (Stat. Gen., art. 24, § 2). Superiors
themselves must encourage a watchful and uniform policy among all
those dedicated to the formation of the young lest they allow unqualified
candidates to ascend to Orders.
The Cooperation Of Candidates; Recommendation Of Sincerity And Docility
should be prudently urged to cooperate in the formation of a correct
judgment on their vocation, for to them this is of the utmost importance.
They should understand correctly that leaving the religious life
and the ranks of the clergy is not always and for everyone an evil.
It is not an evil but is actually something good for those who are
not called or are not properly disposed. Indeed, infidelity resulting
in the loss of a divine vocation is certainly dangerous, but the
situation would be still more serious if those who are not called
or who are unworthy were blindly to take on religious and clerical
obligations. Therefore, they are especially urged to practice simplicity
and sincerity in opening their hearts, and docility and perfect
obedience to the counsels and precepts of their confessors, directors,
and superiors: "According as young men will be known for their
integrity and sincerity, all the more effectively can they be assisted
by their superiors, when the time comes to decide if they are divinely
called to enter upon the way of perfection and to receive Sacred
all candidates should be well aware of the mind of the Church on
the manifestation of conscience as set forth in canon 530, §
2, and as explained in the Statuta Generalia.19
The Time For Definitive Selection
As for the time
when the definitive selection is to be made, every means should
be diligently employed to insure that this selection takes place
within the time limits determined by law. Superiors shall bear well
in mind that only rarely should a further extension of probation
be requested (cf. Stat. Gen., art. 34, §3). The excellent norm
laid down in the encyclical letter, Ad Catholici Sacerdotii, should
be observed: "And although it is better not to postpone this
selection unduly, since in this matter delay usually leads to error
and causes harm, nevertheless, whatever may have been the motive
for the delay, just as soon as it is evident that there has been
a deviation from the right path, then, with no trace of human respect,
the remedy must be applied."20
The Required Freedom
Freedom: A Sign Of A Divine Vocation
Among the requisites
for a genuine divine vocation there is rightly listed the free will
of the candidates or a choice free of all moral pressure along with
perfect knowledge of the obligations of their state. Full freedom
is prescribed by ecclesiastical law for the reception of Orders
and for the validity of the novitiate and profession21
and, in virtue of art. 32, § 3 of the Statuta Generalia, in
the recruitment of vocations everything must be avoided which could
diminish the freedom of the candidates or improperly affect it.
Particularly in the free acceptance of this counsel there is discerned
the special call from God or the movement of the Holy Spirit, who
interiorly enlightens and inspires a person, who has the other qualifications,
to pursue the evangelical counsels or to embrace the priesthood.
For the divine inspiration required by St. Pius X22
in a true vocation, or that marked attraction for sacred duties
mentioned by Pius XI in his encyclical letter, Ad Catholici Sacerdotii,23
in their right propensity and intention of mind or the choice of
their free will (cf. can. 538), rather than in an inner urging of
conscience and sensible attraction which may be lacking.
Superiors Should Seek Out Supernatural Motives
Since it is
the task of superiors to pass judgment on the vocation of their
candidates, they should the more carefully examine the spontaneous
response of these candidates or the decision of their free will.
Let them examine very frequently into the supernatural motives of
vocations in their students, especially if they come from poor families,
or are without the means of leading an upright life in the world,
or are lacking academic degrees, or if they are known for narrow-mindedness,
anxiety or ambivalence, worried by scruples, or completely incapable
of facing up to anything important. To provide fuller knowledge
of candidates, they can request of them an "historical sketch"
of their vocation in so far as this may be possible. Thus they can
be brought face to face with genuine personal reflection on their
Fatherly Help For Those Who Suffer Interior Or Exterior Trials
not fail to remind candidates in a fatherly way that if any one,
as the result of undue influence from parents or relatives, or because
of financial difficulties, feels himself being forced into profession
or ordination against his will, he should confidently make the situation
known to his superiors or confessor. These latter should show themselves
ready to provide assistance to enable the candidate to escape this
danger unscathed, providing ways and means, if possible, to help
him conveniently obtain a respectable livelihood in the world.24
Acquiescence To The Judgment Of Directors Of The Forum
When any student,
on the advice of his confessor or spiritual director, informs his
superiors that he does not have the qualifications for the priesthood,
then the superior should accept this statement and make no further
investigation. If the candidate in question is a subdeacon or deacon,
then, with his consent, the superior should take up with the Apostolic
See his reduction to the lay state.25
How To Handle The Hesitant
In the case
of candidates who are undecided and apprehensive and who cannot
make up their minds either to accept or leave the religious life
or to receive or decline Orders, superiors should dismiss those
whom they recognize as unworthy. Those whom they deem qualified
should be exhorted to make vows or to agree to be ordained. Nevertheless,
they should refrain from forcing profession or ordination on them
and should leave the final decision to their own free will, avoiding
all undue influence which could give the impression of drawing them
on to profession or ordination by coaxing or by threatening spiritual
disaster and the pains of hell which they would incur if they withdrew
from profession or ordination.26
Necessary Knowledge Of The Obligations
Candidates Should Be Taught The Obligations To Be Assumed
make vows and receive Orders deliberately; otherwise they would
not be free. Superiors are seriously obliged in conscience to make
sure that aspirants and novices as well as students throughout the
entire period of their studies be carefully instructed on the duties
and obligations of the religious and clerical life.
The duties and
obligations of the religious and clerical life should be discussed
frequently by novice masters and spiritual prefects, each in his
own field, by means of timely warnings and the usual instructions
and exhortations. Preachers should likewise take up this subject
in retreats before perpetual profession and sacred ordinations.
Lastly, in their explanation of the tract on Orders, professors
of moral theology should provide lectures on clerical duties and
obligations, and candidates for Orders should be questioned on these
points in their examinations.
Denunciation Of Temerity In Embracing The Religious And Clerical
It is commendable
to keep the sanctity of the religious life and the dignity and excellence
of the priesthood frequently placed before candidates from the very
beginning and throughout the whole period of their formation, and
defection from a genuine divine vocation is justly censured. But
similarly, and even more severely, should rashness in embracing
the religious and priestly state be denounced and its manifold dangers
pointed out for those who either were not called by God or have
become unworthy of a divine vocation, but who venture to make vows
or to receive Sacred Orders. Superiors should form the conscience
of candidates, carefully avoiding all error and confusion in their
teaching on the religious and priestly vocation, and on virginity
and Christian marriage. Let all be firmly convinced that the time
for sounding out a vocation does not lapse completely with the first
admission of the candidate, but continues on to perpetual profession
and ordination to the priesthood.27
The Required Chastity
Importance Of This Point; Young Persons Are To Be Properly Instructed
And Warned Of Its Dangers
Among the proofs
and signs of a divine vocation the virtue of chastity is regarded
as absolutely necessary "because it is largely for this reason
that candidates for the ranks of the clergy choose this type of
life for themselves and persevere in it." Consequently:
and diligent care is to be taken that candidates for the clergy
should have a high esteem and love for chastity, and should safeguard
it in their souls.
only, therefore, are clerics to be informed in due time on the nature
of priestly celibacy, the chastity which they are to observe (cf.
can. 132), and the demands of this obligation, but they are likewise
to be warned of the dangers into which they can fall on this account.
Consequently, candidates for Sacred Orders are to be exhorted to
protect themselves from dangers from their earliest years."28
virginity embraced for the kingdom of heaven is more excellent than
matrimony, nevertheless, candidates for Sacred Orders should not
be unaware of the nobility of married life as exemplified in Christian
marriage established by the plan of God. Therefore, let them be
so instructed that, with a clear understanding of the advantages
of Christian matrimony, they may deliberately and freely embrace
the greater good of priestly and religious chastity.
d) But should
superiors find a candidate unable to observe ecclesiastical celibacy
and practice priestly chastity, then, completely ignoring any other
outstanding qualities, they should bar him from the religious life
and the priesthood (cf. Stat. Gen., art. 34, § 2, 4°),
conforming to the following directives and using all prudence and
discretion in the application of the same, namely:
Those To Be Excluded; Practical Directives
1. A candidate
who shows himself certainly unable to observe religious and priestly
chastity, either because of frequent sins against chastity or because
of a sexual bent of mind or excessive weakness of will, is not to
be admitted to the seminary and, much less, to the novitiate
or to profession. If he has already been accepted but is not yet
perpetually professed, then he should be sent away immediately or
advised to withdraw, according to individual cases, no matter what
point in his formation he has already reached. Should he be perpetually
professed, he is to be barred absolutely and permanently from tonsure
and the reception of any Order, especially Sacred Orders. If circumstances
should so demand, he shall be dismissed from the community, with
due observance of the prescriptions of canon law.
any candidate who has a habit of solitary sins and who has not given
well-founded hope that he can break this habit within a period of
time to be determined prudently, is not to be admitted to the novitiate.
Nor can a candidate be admitted to first profession or to renewal
of vows unless he has really amended his ways. But if a novice or
a temporarily professed religious gives evidence of a firm purpose
of amendment with good grounds for hope of success, his probation
can be extended as provided for in canon law (canons 571, §2;
574, §2; 973, § 3; Stat. Gen., art. 34, § 2, 3°).
hope of amendment can be provided by those youths who are physically
and psychically normal or endowed with good bodily and mental health,
who are noted for solid piety and the other virtues intimately connected
with chastity, and who sincerely desire the religious and priestly
3. A much stricter
policy must be followed in admission to perpetual profession and
advancement to Sacred Orders. No one should be admitted to perpetual
vows or promoted to Sacred Orders unless he has acquired a firm
habit of continency and has given in every case consistent proof
of habitual chastity over a period of at least one year. If within
this year prior to perpetual profession or ordination to Sacred
Orders doubt should arise because of new falls, the candidate is
to be barred from perpetual profession or Sacred Orders (cf. above,
no. 16) unless, as far as profession is concerned, time is available
either by common law or by special indult to extend the period for
testing chastity and there be question of a candidate who, as was
stated above (no. 30, 2) affords good prospects of amendment.
4. If a student
in a seminary has sinned gravely against the sixth commandment
with a person of the same or the other sex, or has been the occasion
of grave scandal in the matter of chastity, he is to be dismissed
immediately as stipulated in canon 1371, except if prudent consideration
of the act and of the situation of the student by the superiors
or confessors should counsel a different policy in an individual
case, sc., in the case of a boy who has been seduced and who is
gifted with excellent qualities and is truly penitent, or when the
sin was an objectively imperfect act.
If a novice
or a professed religious who has not yet made perpetual vows should
be guilty of the same offense, he is to be sent away from the community
or, should the circumstances so demand, he is to be dismissed with
due observance of canon 647, § 2, 1°. If a perpetually
professed religious is found guilty of any such sin, he is to be
perpetually excluded from tonsure and the reception of any further
Order. If the case belongs to the external forum, he is to receive
a canonical warning unless, as provided for in canons 653 and 668,
there be grounds for sending him back to the world (cf. Stat. Gen.,
art. 34, § 2, 4°).
he be a subdeacon or deacon, then, without prejudice to the above-mentioned
directives and if the case should so demand, the superiors should
take up with the Holy See the question of his reduction to the lay
For these reasons,
clerics who in their diocese or religious who in another community
have sinned gravely against chastity with another person are not
to be admitted with a view to the priesthood, even on a trial basis,
unless there be clear evidence of excusing causes or of circumstances
which can at least notably diminish responsibility in conscience
(Circular Letter of S. C. of the Sacraments, n. 16; Canon Law Digest,
4, p. 314).
to religious vows and ordination should be barred to those who are
afflicted with evil tendencies to homosexuality or pederasty, since
for them the common life and the priestly ministry would constitute
5. Very special
investigation is needed for those students who, although they have
hitherto been free of formal sins against chastity, nevertheless
suffer from morbid or abnormal sexuality, especially sexual hyperesthesia
or an erotic bent of nature, to whom religious celibacy would be
a continual act of heroism and a trying martyrdom. For chastity,
in so far as it implies abstinence from sexual pleasure, not only
becomes very difficult for many people but the very state of celibacy
and the consequent loneliness and separation from one's family becomes
so difficult for certain individuals gifted with excessive sensitivity
and tenderness, that they are not fit subjects for the religious
life. This question should perhaps receive more careful attention
from novice masters and superiors of scholasticates than from confessors
since such natural tendencies do not come out so clearly in confession
as in the common life and daily contact.
Care Of Psychopathic Cases
special attention must be paid to those who give evidence of neuropsychosis
and who are described by psychiatrists as neurotics or psychopaths,
especially those who are scrupulous, abulic, hysterical, or who
suffer from some form of mental disease (schizophrenia, paranoia,
etc.). The same is true of those who have a delicate constitution
or, particularly, those who suffer from weakness of the nervous
system or from protracted psychic melancholia, anxiety or epilepsy
(can. 984, 3°), or who are afflicted with obsessions. Similarly,
precautions are needed in examining the children of alcoholics or
those tainted with some hereditary weakness, especially in the mental
order (cf. Stat. Gen., art. 33; 34, § 1). Finally, those young
men are in need of special attention who manifest exaggerated attachment
to the comforts of life and worldly pleasures. Superiors should
carefully examine all these types and subject them to a thorough
examination by a prudent and expert Catholic psychiatrist who, after
repeated examinations, will be in a position to determine whether
or not they will be able to shoulder, with honor to that state,
the burden of religious and priestly life, especially celibacy.
Care In Training And Strengthening Vocations
Experienced Directors Should Be Appointed And Sought Out Wherever
They May Be
After the accurate
selection of vocations, superiors should have as their second principle
the task of appointing excellent and experienced directors for the
education of young religious conformably to art. 24 of the Statuta
Generalia. "To these religious houses," advises Pius XI,
"assign priests adorned with excellent virtue, and do not be
afraid to take them away from other tasks which may be apparently
more important but which cannot match this work of capital importance,
which can be replaced by no other. Look for them also in other fields,
wherever you find men capable and fit for this most noble task."29
Only if this advice is heeded will this Instruction produce any
real fruit; if this counsel is not heeded, then the entire Instruction
will be to no purpose.
The Qualities And Appointment Of Those In Charge Of Formation
Let all superiors,
each one within his own jurisdiction, exactly carry out all the
pertinent prescriptions of the Apostolic Constitution, Sedes Sapientiae,
articles 24 and 25. Two points call for special emphasis in this
for formation should not be entrusted to younger religious. It should
be observed, first of all, that it is extremely dangerous to turn
over to younger priests the very difficult work of religious and
priestly formation and especially the task of training minds, since
these younger religious have not yet fully completed their own personal
formation nor achieved the maturity of age required by canon 559,
§ 1, nor acquired any measure of experience in the ministry.30
2. Nor should
they be assigned without preparation. Secondly, superiors should
beware of directors who are chosen haphazardly or who are unprepared.
A natural disposition is not enough but, presupposing all the natural
and supernatural gifts needed for this difficult task, they usually
have a real need to study ecclesiastical pedagogy because, in this
sacred discipline, those in charge of formation learn the principles,
criteria, and the practical norms of clerical and religious training
according to the words and the mind of the Church. On the other
hand, ignorance of these principles gives rise to many lamentable
Avoiding False Humanism
Constitution, Sedes Sapientiae, with the accompanying Statuta Generalia,
deals with religious, clerical, and apostolic formation. Nothing
needs to be added to this Constitution lest we fall into unnecessary
repetitions, but some points having a particular bearing on our
purpose need to be mentioned.
In the first
place, those charged with the training of youth should never lose
sight of the warning of Pius XII, formulated in the Apostolic Constitution,
Sedes Sapientiae, n. 23 (Canon Law Digest, 4, p. 176), where he
states: "Nevertheless, though all should make much of the human
and natural training of the religious cleric, the supernatural sanctification
of the soul undoubtedly has the first place in the entire course
of his development."
religious life must be defended against any appearance of false
humanism or naturalism, and its supernatural character and sanctity
must be safeguarded by all available means. "This is necessary
particularly today, if at any time, when so-called naturalism has
worked its way into the minds and souls of men."31
Natural Considerations Are Not To Be Made Light Of But Supernatural
Ones Are To Be Preferred
supernatural reasons for embracing religious vows and the priestly
life should be stressed and they should be preferred to the natural
virtues in the training of young religious. For rightly, in this
matter, does Leo XIII warn: "It is truly difficult to understand
how those imbued with Christian wisdom can prefer natural to supernatural
virtues and attribute to the former greater efficacy and fecundity.
Will nature, with the help of grace, be weaker than if left to its
own powers? Did those most holy men whom the Church admires and
openly honors show themselves weak and incompetent in the order
of nature because they were outstanding for Christian virtue?"32
And Pius XII
in the Apostolic Constitution, Sedes Sapientiae, teaches as follows:
"With regard to the resources and methods of education, those
which nature itself supplies and those which are offered by the
human ingenuity of the present age, if they are good, are clearly
not to be neglected, but to be highly esteemed and wisely employed.
However, there is no more fatal mistake than to rely exclusively
or excessively on these natural means and to relegate supernatural
aids and resources to a secondary place or in any way to neglect
them. Because in order to attain religious and clerical perfection
and apostolic results, the supernatural means, the sacraments, prayer,
mortification, and the like, are not merely necessary but altogether
primary and essential."33
Training In Obedience And Self-Sacrifice
On more than
one occasion in these modern times the Roman Pontiffs have spoken
on religious obedience and abnegation of the will, and they have
enlightened us on their supernatural nature, the diligence and perfection
with which religious should practice them, on dangerous doctrines
on these subjects and, in particular, on the false concept of personality
and a certain popular or democratic spirit which is making its way
into men's minds and which makes obedience as taught and practiced
by Christ our Lord altogether void of meaning.
be called to the pernicious effects on the religious life of that
practical "system" which, ignoring more or less the obligations
of the religious life, gives in to all the inclinations and pleasures
of nature, which are not only not regarded as unlawful but are even
looked upon as a postulate of our times and as a perfecting of human
nature and, as a result, as something owed to nature or at least
altogether permitted. Whence, upon the pretext of progress, bodily
comforts and pleasures of all kinds are sought out as well as freedom
for the internal and external senses, the satisfaction of one's
faculties, and the indiscriminate indulgence of curiosity in regard
to books, newspapers, radio, movies, television,34
profane worldly spectacles, and, lastly, a life without subjection,
with ample free play for one's will and activity. All these endanger
even the essential obligations of the religious life since they
preclude any spirit of humility, self-sacrifice, and mortification
which, on the contrary, according to the words of Christ, "If
any one wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take
up his cross and follow me," (Matt. 16:24), must be taken as
the foundation of the entire Christian life35
and which can be achieved only through crucifixion to the world
is half-hearted or slothful," the Sovereign Pontiff exhorts,
"who wishes to loll around in the comforts of this life, who
burns with excessive thirst for human things and human knowledge,
and who wants to experience all that earth can give, can neither
be nor be called a true soldier of the kingdom of God. Beloved sons,
take careful note of this, namely, that the secret and fruitful
power of your future apostolate lies particularly in the necessary
right detachment of soul from the things of earth." "The
man who, shying away from the austerity of religious discipline,
would want to live in a religious community just as if he were a
man of the world, who seeks out according to his own will whatever
seems to be to his own advantage, whatever pleases and satisfies
him would that man be worthy of Christ his Head?"36
superiors have a grave obligation to implant the following rule
of the life of perfection in the souls of their young subjects:
religious may use these comforts and pleasures of life only in so
far as they contribute to the pursuit of evangelical perfection
and the proper exercise of the apostolate according to one's own
constitutions. This norm differs not a little from the one used
as a standard for the common state of the Christian life.
does not prevent the acceptance of today's fine, useful discoveries
when they are regarded as aids to a fuller formation, or as helps
in multiplying apostolic activities and advancing perfection, carefully
shunning all the extras which please and satisfy nature but which
are not at all necessary for the achieving of the scope of the religious
life and the apostolate.
intended for seminaries should be built and furnished according
to the norms of religious simplicity and poverty, which demand that
these houses be so organized that the minds of the students will
be imbued with that spirit of austerity and self-sacrifice which,
by its very nature, is required both by the state of the evangelical
counsels and likewise by their future apostolic life.
Students Should Be Trained For The Apostolate, But Especially For
A Spiritual And Deeply Religious And Priestly Life
Lastly, it is
an all too clear fact that many young men at the present time are
more interested in the external activity of the apostolate, which
falls in well with their particular bent of mind, than in the religious
perfection of their own souls, of which they have only vague ideas
and little esteem. Because of this, after some years in the active
life, they are bored by religious practices whose real value they
do not understand, or which they regard as hindrances to the apostolate.
Then they want to be free of these observances and wish to enter
the secular clergy. In order to forestall this danger, superiors,
in training their students, should take very special care that the
life of evangelical perfection is kept before them and explained
in its various phases that they may be attracted to the religious
life and be strengthened in perseverance therein, not merely out
of the desire of engaging in the apostolate, but particularly from
a sincere determination to pursue evangelical perfection unwaveringly
through the observance of the evangelical counsels and their own
constitutions (can. 593) out of an intense love of God in imitation
of Jesus Christ and a supernatural desire of sanctifying their souls,
because, as Pius XII notes, "the priest is by his very office
an instrument for the sanctification of others, so much so that
the salvation of souls and the growth of the Kingdom of God depend
in a considerable degree upon his holiness."37
Declarations And Investigations Required Before Profession Or Incorporation,
And Before Orders
Attestation Of One's Own Vocation To Sacred Orders In The Religious
Since in the
acceptance of religious or clerical obligations it is most important
to safeguard and foster the liberty and spontaneous freedom of the
candidates and to avoid completely the weakness which may be called
the "follow-the-crowd" attitude, and since it is altogether
proper that in serious decisions in matters affecting their own
life they form the habit of thinking for themselves, the following
directives shall henceforth be observed by all superiors of clerical
Religious Communities, Societies and Secular Institutes.
profession, which absolutely must precede promotion to tonsure and
Minor Orders, novices are to present to their superiors a written
declaration in which they attest explicitly to their vocation to
the state of perfection and the clerical state, and at the same
time declare their firm intention to bind themselves forever to
the ranks of the clergy in the state of perfection.38
This declaration can again be demanded of temporarily professed
candidates before perpetual profession. These petitions and attestations
are to be preserved in the archives. Lest the students sign approved
printed formulas mechanically, they should write out these declarations
in their own hand and, before they sign their name, should carefully
consider, in consultation with their spiritual director, each and
every one of the points contained therein.
Above All, The Fitness Of The Candidate Is To Be Established Clearly
not allow any one to be advanced to Orders, even only Minor Orders,
without clear evidence, secured through careful examination, regarding
his conduct, piety, modesty, chastity, inclinations for the clerical
state, progress in ecclesiastical studies, and religious discipline.39
To obtain this with greater certainty, superiors should get the
opinion of the spiritual prefect, if he is directly responsible
for the training of the students, and that of others who, because
of their special association with the students, may be in a position
to have a thorough knowledge of their life and conduct.40
These opinions should not be accepted lightly but should be carefully
weighed, with all due consideration of the prudence, sincerity,
and maturity of judgment of those who have given them.
report of these investigations and of the outcome of these inquiries
should be drawn up and kept in the archives.
superiors, either personally or through some other experienced and
prudent priest likely to win the confidence of the students, should
question them carefully in order to acquire still greater certainty
that they are aspiring to Orders in the religious state freely,
deliberately, and for supernatural motives.
The Best Time For Conferring Sacred Orders; Major Orders Should
Not Be Conferred Before Perpetual Or Definitive Profession
As regards ordination
itself, this Sacred Congregation adopts the timely directives formulated
by the Sacred Congregation of the Sacraments in no. 14 of its Circular
Letter, namely: For the more careful and immediate preparation of
candidates for Orders, especially Sacred Orders, provision should
be made that sacred ordinations be had at the time more fit for
them, at a date well known ahead of time and never unexpectedly.
As a result, it seems very appropriate to exclude the time immediately
preceding or following the end of the scholastic year. At this time,
as a rule, the students, tired by work and preoccupied in mind because
of the examinations recently taken in sacred studies or because
of those soon to be taken, lack the necessary peace of mind for
being properly able to ponder the very serious business of their
As for the reception
of Major Orders, superiors of the states of perfection should bear
in mind that they may not promote their students to these orders
before perpetual profession or incorporation (can. 964, 3°,
4°). In those states of perfection which do not have perpetual
obligations or vows, superiors are likewise forbidden to promote
their candidates to Sacred Orders before these vows or obligations
have become definitive.41
New Inquiry Before Subdeaconate
are admitted to the subdeaconate, superiors must make a new inquiry
on the above-mentioned points (n. 39). To this end, the records
of the investigation already made and preserved in the archives
are to be examined anew and further testimony on the conduct and
spiritual qualities of the student is to be compared with previous
reports in order to see clearly what progress these young men have
made since their first profession both in religious discipline and
in clerical studies. After all this, if the candidates are found
worthy and fit, and if there is no canonical reason for withholding
them from the reception of Orders, the superiors may issue dimissorial
or testimonial letters for their ordination, with due observance
of the prescriptions of canon law and their own constitutions.42
Oath To Be Signed Before The Subdeaconate
In all the states
of perfection, before presenting candidates for the subdeaconate,
superiors must, in view of the sacred ordination which is to follow
in proper time and in addition to the inquiry prescribed above,
demand an attestation written personally by the candidates and confirmed
under oath before the superior in the following terms:
undersigned, . . . a member of the (Order, Congregation, Society,
Institute of . . . ), in presenting this petition to Superiors for
the reception of the Order of the Subdeaconate, after having carefully
considered the matter before God, do hereby testify under oath:
1) that in the reception of the said Sacred Order I am moved by
no coercion, compulsion, or fear, but am seeking it of my own accord,
and do of my own full and free will desire to embrace it together
with the obligations that are attached to it. 2) I acknowledge that
I am fully informed of all the obligations that flow from the aforesaid
Sacred Order, and I freely embrace them, and resolve with the help
of God to keep them faithfully during my entire life. 3) I declare
that I clearly understand all that the vow of chastity and the law
of celibacy prescribe, and I firmly resolve with the help of God
to observe these obligations faithfully until the end of my life.
4) Finally, I sincerely promise that I will always, according to
the sacred canons, most respectfully obey in all things which are
commanded me by my Superiors according to the discipline of the
Church, and am prepared to give good example both in work and in
word, so that in the reception of this great office I may be worthy
to receive the reward which God has promised. To all this I testify
and swear upon these sacred Gospels which I touch with my hand.
This . . . .
. . day of . . . 19 . . . 43
(Signed) . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Before Deaconate Or Priesthood Superiors Should Carefully Inquire
Into The Fitness Of Candidates
the Order of deaconate and priesthood it is not necessary to gather
such detailed information and to require new testimonials, nevertheless,
superiors should be watchful and determine whether, in the interval
between the conferral of one sacred ordination and the next, any
new factors may have emerged which might raise doubts on their vocation
to the priesthood or show they have no vocation. In this case, after
a most careful investigation and after seeking the advice of prudent
men, superiors should strictly forbid the reception of any new Order
and should refer the case to this Sacred Congregation, which, according
to the requirements of individual cases, will decide what seems
most opportune in the Lord.44
In General, Dispensations Are Not To Be Requested
bear in mind the prescription of the Statuta Generalia, art. 34,
§ 3, 2°, 3°, namely: "Only in individual cases
and for causes which are proportionately really serious should superiors
venture to ask for dispensations concerning: . . . 2° age and
the other requirements for Orders, especially Sacred Orders; 3°
the organized course of studies, either as regards the individual
disciplines, attendance at class, or passing examinations."
Superiors of religious orders who have the faculty of anticipating
sacred ordinations beyond the limits laid down by common law should,
in the use of this privilege, as long as it remains in force, follow
the same restrictive criterion as that formulated in art. 34. In
addition, as is proper in the use of other privileges, they should
comply with the practice and rules customarily observed by the S.
Congregation for Religious in granting similar indults to those
subject to common law.
When there is
question of age, superiors should lean more toward postponing rather
than anticipating ordination.
Superiors' Obligation In Conscience In Issuing Dimissorial Or Testimonial
As regards the
ordination of religious, in virtue of canon law major superiors
either issue dimissorial letters to the ordaining Bishops (can.
964, 2°, 3°; 966, § 1) or at least they present their
candidates for ordination with testimonial letters (can. 993, 5°).
By these testimonial letters the religious superior not only testifies
that the candidates belong to his community but also certifies that
they have completed the prescribed studies, have taken the oath,
and have complied with the other requirements of law (can. 995,
§ 1). Hence it is clear that the very serious obligation, which
binds Bishops to train, test, and choose their secular candidates
who wish to receive Sacred Orders, likewise extends to religious
superiors to whom it pertains to permit their subjects to advance
to Sacred Orders. And although, as canon law provides (can. 997,
§ 2), Bishops are free to disregard the declarations of superiors
and to examine religious ordinands personally, nevertheless, they
are not bound to do so but, before God and the Church, they may
accept the testimony of superiors and throw back on them the full
responsibility in conscience for the training and the worthiness
of their candidates (can. 970; 995, § 2).
The Care Of Newly Ordained Priests
Precautions To Be Taken In The First Years Of The Priesthood; The
Dangers Of Inexperience
After they have
completed their course of studies and the pastoral year and have
received Sacred Orders, young priests should start their ministry
with all due precautions, aware of the very special dangers confronting
them in the first years of their priesthood, during which, not infrequently,
as Pius XII observed in his exhortation to the clergy, the great
hopes entertained for young priests have apparently faded away.45
At the outset
of their ministry, both because of the passions besetting their
youth and because of their more frequent contacts with the world,
many serious difficulties usually arise along with new kinds of
temptations. And since new priests experience a certain sense of
independence and feel that they must do their work in their own
way in the ministry entrusted to them, they easily tend to shake
off all restraint and, because of their inexperience, can fall into
numerous errors and failings which may rightly be feared to lead
to deplorable defections. This is why young priests sometimes think
they must act on their own and introduce many reforms, disregarding
the methods and systems of older priests. Lastly, they frequently
are either left without any fruitful occupation or else are overloaded
with self-assigned work or work which has been given to them by
their superiors, not without danger to their spiritual life.
The Danger Of The "Heresy Of Action"
On this spiritual
danger Pope Pius XII, of venerable memory, has warned us in the
following most serious words: "We cannot refrain from expressing
Our concern and Our anxiety for those who, because of special circumstances
of our day and age, have too frequently so engulfed themselves in
a whirl of external activity as to neglect the first duty of priests,
that is to say, procuring their own personal sanctification. We
have already publicly stated (cf. A.A.S., 36  239,
Letter Cum proxime exeat) that 'those men must be recalled to the
right path who rashly hold that man can be saved by what is rightly
and deservedly called the "heresy of action," that kind
of action, We say, which is not based on the assistance of Divine
Grace and does not make constant use of the necessary means for
the pursuit of sanctity provided by Jesus Christ.' "46
The Danger Of Imitating Worldly Conduct
It happens that
the sacred ministry, which should be an instrument for personal
sanctification, at times becomes for some people, through their
own fault, an occasion for relaxation of discipline and harm to
their religious spirit. Not rarely in the exercise of this ministry
religious priests adopt the habits of people in the world in speech,
conduct, and comportment; they violate poverty through uncontrolled
use of material things; they lose esteem for regular discipline
and the exercises of piety through prolonged absence from their
religious house. Such priests quickly go seeking outside their religious
house activities, which provide stable and permanent work in order
to have a pretext for withdrawing from religious discipline.
Young Priests Should Be Introduced Into The Ministry Gradually Under
The Direction Of An Experienced Guide
forestall these difficulties if, in the first place, they effectively
put into practice the excellent advice, based on experience, of
the Statuta Generalia, art. 51, namely: that "the young priest
should not be regarded as definitively formed and put to the test
in his religious and apostolic life until, after the completion
of about his thirtieth year and through personal contact with the
ministry," he has rounded out his formation. In the meantime,
according to the directives contained in the aforementioned exhortation
of Pope Pius XII,47
young priests should be introduced gradually into the apostolic
ministry, safeguarded with wise and watchful care, and paternally
directed in their activities. For this reason, contact with the
world should not be either abrupt, frequent, or awkward; rather
it should be moderate, humble, and gracious while the young priests
devote themselves to study and prayer under the direction of a skilled
spiritual director and, as far as possible, the guidance of some
other experienced priest assigned to assist them. For "just
as long periods of time are necessary for oak trees to put down
solid roots, in the same way long-standing patience is always required
for the formation of a man of God. Consequently, restraints should
be placed on the generous self-assurance of youth whereby they would
be plunged into activity before their time, since undue haste in
activity scatters rather than builds, and is both for him who indulges
in it and for the apostolic ministry itself a source of harm."47
Young Priests Should Not Be Assigned To Small Houses; Interest In
Those Who Are Absent
As a general
rule, young priests should not be assigned to small houses but should
rather be assigned where religious discipline is easily reconciled
with moderate exercise of the apostolate and where the prescriptions
of the preceding article can be conveniently complied with.
superiors should see to it that the aforesaid priests do not spend
unduly long periods away from their religious house and, in every
case, that they return to the community for the monthly day of recollection
and for their retreat.
shall exercise special vigilance over those who are absent from
the religious house in what concerns their life, conduct, comportment,
and the use and administration of temporal goods.49
Vacations With Relatives, At Spas And Other Worldly Centers
not allow religious priests to spend long periods with relatives
or friends for vacation or rest since this practice causes surprise
to people of the world and becomes a source of criticism among their
fellow-religious. Nor for purposes of health should they be permitted
to make frequent visits to the homes of relatives nor given easy
access to spas and other public places, which are indeed places
for convalescence but are likewise centers of unrestrained and worldly
satisfactions, contrary to religious decorum and spirit. If there
be question of sojourns at beaches or if religious must spend time
outside their house at warm springs, "they should carefully
conform to the prescriptions laid down by local Ordinaries."50
For the rest, the directives enumerated by this Sacred Congregation
for Religious for superiors general51
on the frequentation of spas are confirmed and once again it is
recommended that religious houses be located in healthful climates
where those in need of rest and treatment may occupy themselves
and at the same time live their religious life.
Reading Of This Instruction
52. It is of
the greatest importance for the Church that the criteria and directives
here set down should, first of all, be known and that they should
be kept in mind and constantly put into practice. It is no less
important that there should be a uniform policy in all the states
of perfection and, especially, that within the same institute there
should be concerted action on the part of all those dedicated to
the training of youth.
superiors see to it that at the beginning of each school year, in
place of the Instruction Quantum Religiones, this Instruction be
read or at least summarized before the superiors, masters, spiritual
prefects and their assistants, confessors, and professors, as well
as in monastic, general, and provincial councils.
At the same
time there should be read or made known to the young candidates
the prescriptions which touch them directly, such as those referring
to freedom and the conditions to be complied with in embracing the
religious and clerical life, the sworn declaration mentioned in
n. 42, and other similar provisions.
By the faithful
observance of all these directives, the task of investigating the
canonical fitness of candidates for the state of perfection and
Sacred Orders will meet with success; those who are not fit will
be barred in time and at the very outset, and only those worthy
and fit will be admitted to Sacred Orders. These, in turn, properly
instructed and trained, will effectively promote the glory of God
and the salvation of souls to the honor of the Church and the state
of evangelical perfection.
In the audience
graciously granted on 23 January, 1961, to the undersigned Cardinal
Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Religious, our Holy Father,
Pope John XXIII, deigned to approve this Instruction and ordered
that it be communicated to superiors of institutes of evangelical
Rome, the 2nd
day of February, feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin
Mary, in the year 1961.
S.C. Rel., 2
Feb., 1961; translated from the original Latin text; references
to English versions were, of course, entered by us.
this Instruction was not published in AAS or any other public form
but was privately circulated, it is, nevertheless, referred to by
the S. C. Rel. itself as "a matter of public law" (cf.
below: S. C. Rel., 28 April, 1961).
(1932) -74 -81; Enchiridion de Statibus Prefectionis, Rome, 1949,
n. 363, pp. 471-479. Cf. also the Instruction Illud saepius, De
Qualitatibus recipiendorum, 15 August, 1915, in Enchiridion de Stat.
Perf., n. 286, pp. 340-344. English version of Quantum Religiones
in Canon Law Digest, 1, pp. 473-482.
(1936)-5-533; Ench. de Stat. Perf., n. 367, 481-521.
(1939)-245-251; Ench. de Stat. Perf., n 373, pp. 530-537; Canon
Law Digest, 2, pp. 427-433.
(1958) 153-161; Canon Law Digest, 5, pp. 365-374.
doctrinal section in AAS 48 (1956) 354-365. The Statuta Generalia
appended to this same Apostolic Constitution were printed and promulgated
separately from the AAS. The references in the Instruction are to
the second edition published under the direction of the Sacred Congregation
for Religious. English version of doctrinal section in Canon Law
Digest, 4, pp. 169-182; English version of the Statuta is available
from the Catholic University of America Press.
documents of Pope John XXIII can be consulted in AAS 52 (1960)-179-309,
and in the Prima Romana Synodus, A.D. 1960, Vatican Press.
version in Canon Law Digest, 4, pp. 303-315.
Canon Law Digest, 4, p. 308.
de Stat. Perf., n. 286, p. 341.
of Pius XI to the General Chapter of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate,
14 September, 1932. Allocution of Pius XII to the superiors General,
11 February, 1958, in AAS 50 (1958)-160; Canon Law Digest, 5, p.
allocution of 28 January, 1960, to the clerical students of the
Diocese of Rome or residing in Rome, in AAS 52 (1960)-263; English
version in The Pope Speaks, 6 (1960)-364. Prima Romana Synodus,
p. 436. Cf. Pius XI, encyclical Ad Catholici Sacerdotii, AAS 28
(1936)-44; Ench. de Stat. Perf., n. 367, p. 513.
Const. Sedes Sapientiae, nn. 12-13; Canon Law Digest, 4, P. 173.
Gen., art. 34, § 2, 1°.
Encyclical Ad Catholici Sacerdotii, AAS 28 (1936) Ench. de Stat.
Perf., n. 367, p. 513.
ibid., AAS 28 (1936)-41; Ench. de Stat. Perf., n. 367; p. 511. Cf.
also the Encyclical Sacra Virginitas, AAS 46 (1954)-180-181.
Romana Synodus, 484, § 3.
Romana Synodus, 477.
Gen., art. 28, § 3, 1°.
XI, Encyc. Ad Catholici Sacerdotii, AAS 28 (1936)-39; Ench. de Stat.
Perf., n. 367, pp. 509-510.
971; 542, 1°; 572, § 1, 4°; 2352.
X, Apostolic letter, Cum primum, 4 Aug., 1913, in AAS, 5 (1913)-388;
Ench. de Stat. Perf., n. 279, p. 331.
XI, Encyc. Ad Catholici Sacerdotii, AAS 28 (1936)-39; Ench. de Stat.
Perf., n. 367, p. 510.
Letter of the Sacred Congregation of the Sacraments, n. 5; Canon
Law Digest, 4, p. 311.
n. 6; Canon Law Digest, loc. Cit.
Gen., art. 32, §3. Cf. Prima Romana Synodus, 467, §2.
Circular Letter of the Sacred Congregation of the Sacraments, n.
7; Canon Law Digest, 4, p. 311.
Gen., art. 39, §1, 1°.
Exhort. Menti Nostrae, AAS 42 (1950)-690-691; cf. Encyc. Sacra virginitas,
AAS 46 (1954)-164, 170, 174, 179, 182.
Encyc. Ad Catholici Sacerdotii, AAS 28 (1936)-37; Ench. de Stat.
Perf., n. 367, p. 508.
Gen., art. 5l.
Exhort. Menti Nostrae, AAS 42 (1950)-673.
Letter Testem benevolentiae, 12 Jan., 1899, in Acta Leonis XIII,
vol. XIX, pp. 15-16.
Apost. Const. Sedes Sapientiae, n. 21; cf. also Pius XII, Alloc.
Haud Mediocri, 11 Feb., 1958, to superiors general resident in Rome,
AAS 50 (1958)-153 ff. Cf. respectively Canon Law Digest, 4, pp.
175-176; 5, pp. 365 ff.
Congregation for Religious, Letter to the Superiors General of the
Institutes of Perfection on the use of radio and television, 6 August,
1957; Canon Law Digest, 4, pp. 206-209.
of Pius XII, Haud Mediocri, as quoted above in note 33; Alloc. to
the Superiors General, 11 Feb., 1958, in AAS 50 (1958)-156; Canon
Law Digest, 5, p. 368.
from John XXIII and Pius XII respectively: John XXIII, Alloc. to
the ecclesiastical students in Rome, AAS 52 (1960)-264; The Pope
Speaks, 6 (1960)-364; Prima Romana Synodus, p. 437; Pius XII, Alloc.
to the Society of Jesus assembled in General Congregation, 10 Sept.,
1957, in AAS 49 (1957)-808; The Pope Speaks, 4 (1957-58)-449.
Apost. Const. Sedes Sapientiae, n. 23; Canon Law Digest, 4, p. 176;
also his Allocution to Superiors General, 11 Feb., 1958, in AAS
50 (1958)-157; Canon Law Digest, 5, p. 370. Cf. Stat. Gen., art.
37; 40, §2, 1°, 2°; 3.
973, § 1; Sacred Congregation for Religious, Instruction Quantum
Religiones, 1 Dec., 1931, in AAS 24 (1932)-79; Ench. de Stat. Perf;
n. 363, p. 477; Canon Law Digest, 1, pp. 479-80.
973, § 1 and can. 1357, § 2.
Gen., art 28, § 2, 3°, 9°, 10°, and the Instruction
Quantum Religiones, n. 14, as quoted above in note 38.
Gen., art. 8, § 1, 2°; Sacred Congregation for Religious,
Instruction Quantum Religiones, n. 15, in AAS 24 (1932)-80; Ench.
de Stat. Perf., n. 363, p. 478; Canon Law Digest, 1, p. 480.
Congregation for Religious, Instruction Quantum Religiones, n. 16;
Canon Law Digest, 1, pp. 480-481.
n. 17; Canon Law Digest, 1, p. 481.
n. 20; Canon Law Digest, 1, p. 482.
Exhort. Menti Nostrae, AAS 42 (1950)-692. Cf. also the Instruction
Quantum Religiones, n. 10; Canon Law Digest, 1, p. 478.
Exhort. Menti Nostrae, AAS 42 (1950)-677.
Alloc. Quamvis Inquieti, 17 Sept., 1946, in AAS 38 (1946) -383;
Ench. de Stat. Perf., n. 385, p. 574.
Instruction of the Sacred Congregation for Religious on religious
military chaplains, in AAS 47 (1955)-93-97, and the decree on religious
in military service, especially articles IV and V, 30 July, 1957,
in AAS 49 (1957)-871-874. For these documents respectively, see
Canon Law Digest, 4, pp. 152-157; 90-93.
Romana Synodus, 87.
Congregation for Religious, Circular Letter of 15 July, 1926; Canon
Law Digest, 3, p. 216.
| top of page