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Pope Francis: Candidates for the priesthood must be well scrutinized

June 17, 2022 Catholic News Agency 4
Pope Francis meets with members of the editorship of the theological magazine La Scuola Cattolica at the Vatican’s Consistory Hall, June 17, 2022. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, Jun 17, 2022 / 09:10 am (CNA).

Pope Francis spoke on Friday about the importance of scrutinizing candidates for the priesthood to ensure that the men who reach ordination are well-formed and mature.

In a meeting with seminary formators from the Milan archdiocese on June 17, the pope said that the process of accompanying those discerning vocations to the priesthood requires sensitivity and expert skill.

“When discerning whether or not a person can embark on a vocational journey, it is necessary to scrutinize and evaluate him in an integral way: to consider his way of experiencing affections, relationships, spaces, roles, responsibilities, as well as his frailties, fears, and imbalances,” Pope Francis said.

“The whole journey must initiate processes aimed at forming mature priests and consecrated persons, who are ‘experts in humanity and closeness’ and not ‘officials of the sacred.’”

Pope Francis underlined that each man brings with him a unique family, personal, and spiritual history to the seminary.

“Sexuality, affectivity, and relationships are dimensions of the person to be considered and understood, by both the Church and science, also in relation to socio-cultural challenges and changes,” he said.

“An open attitude and good witness allow the educator to ‘encounter’ the whole personality of the ‘called one,’ engaging his intelligence, emotions, heart, dreams, and aspirations.”

To achieve this outcome, seminary formators themselves must be growing daily “toward the fullness of Christ,” the pope said, so that the charity of Christ may be more clearly manifested in them.

“Seminarians and young people in formation should be able to learn more from your life than from your words; to be able to learn docility from your obedience, industriousness from your dedication, generosity with the poor from your sobriety and availability, fatherhood from your chaste and non-possessive affections. We are consecrated to serve the People of God, to take care of all, starting with the poorest,” Pope Francis told the priests.

“Suitability for ministry is tied to availability, joy, and generosity toward others. The world needs priests who are able to communicate the goodness of the Lord to those who have experienced sin and failure, priests who are experts in humanity … men who know how to listen to the cry of those who suffer.”

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The Dispatch

Catholic seminaries requiring vaccines, with exemptions, for fall semester

August 11, 2021 Catholic News Agency 11
St. John’s Seminary, Boston / Archdiocese of Boston

Washington D.C., Aug 11, 2021 / 12:03 pm (CNA).

Catholic seminaries in the northeast are requiring COVID-19 vaccination for their seminarians before the coming semester begins. 

Mt. Saint Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland is one of the colleges requiring students and seminarians to be vaccinated before coming to campus in August 2021. 

Students were given at least a few months to apply for a religious or medical exemption to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, but the deadline was July 30, Donna Klinger, director of public relations and communications for the university, told CNA in a phone call 

Students still seeking an exemption will not be allowed to physically return to campus, Klinger told CNA, but they will have the opportunity to work with the university administration to attempt online learning. Not all university classes are offered online.

At St. John’s Seminary in Boston, vice rector Fr. Thomas Macdonald said seminarians are “expected” to be vaccinated.

The job of a priest requires being close to the people, Macdonald noted, telling CNA that a priest needs access to places that house vulnerable people such as nursing homes. St. John’s is allowing seminarians to opt out of vaccination, but in such cases the seminarian must explain his reasoning for doing so. 

Most of the seminarians are already vaccinated, according to the vice rector. 

Macdonald told CNA that requesting religious exemptions to the vaccine also raises “theological questions,” as the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has already clarified that the use of COVID-19 vaccines with connections to cell lines derived from abortions is not immoral. 

According to the same December 2020 doctrinal note of the congregation, the Vatican also stated that “vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation” and “therefore, it must be voluntary.” The note went on to recognize conscientious refusal of vaccines, explaining that those who refuse COVID-19 vaccines with connections to cell lines derived from abortions, “for reasons of conscience,” must take appropriate precautions to avoid transmitting the virus. 

Seton Hall University is requiring its students and seminarians to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as well. These students may still opt-out “while COVID-19 vaccines are authorized on an emergency-use basis.”

Although the three vaccines authorized for use in the United States have only an emergency use authorization of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the administration reportedly might issue full approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine within weeks. 

“We do recognize the legitimate concerns of individuals in the Seton Hall community around COVID-19, and there are exemptions for religious beliefs, pre-existing health conditions or personal reasons while COVID-19 vaccines are authorized on an emergency-use basis,” said the university’s director of media relations, Laurie Pine, to CNA in an email statement. 

An emergency use authorization allows the FDA to expedite its approval of a medical product during public health emergencies. 

In its July 2 statement on vaccine mandates, the National Catholic Bioethics Center cautioned against mandates, especially when the COVID vaccines have yet to be fully approved by the FDA. The center said “it would be a radical departure from past practice to impose a mandate involving an unapproved vaccine available only under an Emergency Use Authorization.”

It is unclear whether Seton Hall will no longer allow exemptions after COVID-19 vaccines are fully approved.


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No Picture
News Briefs

Pope Francis encourages Italian bishops as the conference begins ‘synodal journey’

May 24, 2021 Catholic News Agency 0
Pope Francis speaks to Italian bishops’ conference meeting in Rome on May 24, 2021. / Screenshot

Rome Newsroom, May 24, 2021 / 11:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis met with Italy’s bishops Monday as the national bishops’ conference began a general assembly to “start a synodal journey.”

The pope gave unscripted remarks as he opened the Italian bishops’ spring assembly on May 24, speaking to a conference hall full of bishops for roughly five minutes before the live video feed of his speech was abruptly cut off by Vatican Media.

Before Pope Francis began speaking, he could be heard over the microphone asking those on stage if journalists were present in the room. When the response was negative, the pope replied: “Good, so we can speak freely.”

Earlier in the day, Pope Francis visited the offices of the Vatican Dicastery of Communication and spoke live on Vatican Radio about the importance of Vatican media reaching the people.

The pope said: “There are a lot of reasons to be worried about the Radio, L’Osservatore, but one that touches my heart: How many people listen to the Radio? How many people read L’Osservatore Romano?”

“Because our work is to reach the people: that what we work on here, which is beautiful, it is great, it is laborious, reaches the people, both with translations and also with short waves.”

Pope Francis speaks to Vatican Radio on May 24, 2021. / Vatican Media
Pope Francis speaks to Vatican Radio on May 24, 2021. / Vatican Media

In the broadcast portion of Pope Francis’ unscripted remarks to the Italian bishops, the pope said that Italy’s synodal journey must “begin from the bottom up” in parish communities.

“This will require patience. It will require work. It will require us to let the people speak so that the wisdom of the people of God may emerge because a synod is not something other than making explicit what Lumen Gentium states,” the pope said.

Pope Francis also told the bishops that he was happy with the steps they had taken regarding diocesan tribunals and stressed the importance of seminary formation.

“There is a very great danger in making mistakes in formation,” he said. “We must use prudence in admitting seminarians.”

The pope returned to Vatican City after his visit to the Italian bishops’ conference meeting at the Ergife Palace Hotel and Conference Center in Rome, where he also prayed evening prayer with the assembled bishops to open their 74th General Assembly.

Italian bishops' conference spring general assembly in Rome opened May 24, 2021. / Screenshot
Italian bishops’ conference spring general assembly in Rome opened May 24, 2021. / Screenshot

The theme of the assembly taking place May 24-27 is “Announce the Gospel in a time of rebirth: To start a synodal journey”.

Cardinal Bassetti, the president of the Italian bishops’ conference, told the pope at the start of the assembly that the bishops’ national “synodal path wants to walk in harmony with that of the Synod of Bishops.”

“It is also an opportunity for our churches in Italy. In fact, in every particular church, the holy and Apostolic Church of Christ is truly present and at work.”


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