The schema on the formation of priests, as it reached the floor of the Second Vatican Council, was reduced from a lengthy treatise titled “On Seminaries” to 22 propositions with a brief introduction.
This, however, represented an expansion upon an earlier set of 19 propositions to which the original version had been reduced by order of the council’s coordinating commission.
The introduction to the revised schema insists that the renewal of the entire Church depends in large part on the clergy. Therefore the training of priests is of first importance.
The first proposition, in view of local diversity of peoples and conditions, merely sets forth general laws. Individual conferences of bishops are charged with drawing up programs for priestly formation — to be periodically revised and submitted to the Holy See for approval. In this way, the universal laws will be adapted to the needs and characteristics of individual peoples and countries.
The second proposition: The entire Christian community, especially parents and priests, should foster vocations to the priesthood by prayer, penance, good example and other means. Vocations should be fostered to meet not only local needs but also those of the Church everywhere.
Third: Minor seminaries should respect the norms of sound psychology. Students should not be too isolated from the world and their families. The curriculum should be planned to allow those who leave the seminary to continue their studies elsewhere without difficulty. Seminaries for late vocations are to be promoted.
Fourth: Training for the priesthood must be markedly pastoral, especially in major seminaries.
Fifth: Superiors and professors of major and minor seminaries should be chosen from among the most capable priests and should be especially prepared for their jobs.
Sixth: Ever greater care must be exercised in screening vocations.
Seventh: Interregional seminaries should be organized where a satisfactory diocesan seminary cannot be organized. Large seminaries should group their students to allow more attention to the personal formation of each individual student.
Eighth: Spiritual formation in seminaries must be solid and Christ-centered. It must be aimed at acquiring priestly virtues.
Ninth: A deep sense of the Church must create in priests a spirit of unity, service, obedience and abnegation.
Tenth: Priestly chastity should be inculcated, and students should be warned and equipped against modern dangers to chastity.
Eleventh: Priestly formation must apply all norms of Christian education, taking advantage of progress in psychology and pedagogy — the art of teaching.
Twelfth: Bishops must allow vocations to mature in young men, using all the means and time necessary or opportune.
Thirteenth: A solid scientific and humanistic preparation shall precede ecclesiastical studies.
Fourteenth: Ecclesiastical studies will begin with an introduction to the mystery of Christ, which will recapitulate the history of humankind and will serve as a center of all priestly formation.
Fifteenth: Seminarians should be given a clear and coherent grasp of the principles of traditional philosophy. They should also learn about other philosophical systems, especially modern ones, and about scientific advances, so as to understand and answer the questions of modern man.
Sixteenth: Theological education should enable the student, under the guidance of the Church’s teaching authority, to grasp Revelation. Holy Writ must be the soul of all theological studies in such a way as to become also the soul of all priestly life. Seminarians should also learn of the Christian communities separated from the Holy See and of non-Christian religions, too.
Seventeenth: Teaching methods should be revised and modernized, subjects and class hours should be kept at a minimum, and obsolete questions should be eliminated.
Eighteenth: Bishops are to send their more talented candidates for special training not only in sacred studies but also in other fields to meet the needs of the apostolate.
Nineteenth: Special attention should be paid to pastoral formation.
Twentieth: Such broad and modern pastoral formation must have a universal spirit.
Twenty-first: This pastoral formation is to be practical as well as theoretical and is to be accompanied by apostolic training.
Twenty-second: Episcopal conferences will study the most effective means of enabling priests to pursue their formation after the seminary.