Teach seminarians to live in the real world – Pope Francis

Pope Francis has asked his fellow Jesuits involved in priestly formation to help seminarians understand that in the real world.

“Decisions Catholics make in their everyday lives are rarely ethically clear-cut, but rather exist on a spectrum between good and evil,” the pope said.

“We need to form future priests not to general and abstract ideas, which are clear and distinct, but to [the] keen discernment of spirits so that they can help people in their concrete life,” he said.

In a private dialogue with Jesuits in Poland during his trip there, Francis asked his confreres to particularly work with seminarians to help them learn “the wisdom of discernment.”

A transcript of the dialogue was released for the first time last week by the Italian Jesuit magazine Civiltà Cattolica.

“Some priestly formation programmes run the risk of educating in the light of overly clear and distinct ideas, and therefore to act within limits and criteria that are rigidly defined … and that set aside concrete situations,” said Francis.

“The seminarians, when they become priests, find themselves in difficulty in accompanying the life of so many young people and adults,” he continued.

“We need to truly understand this: in life not all is black on white or white on black. No! The shades of grey prevail in life. We must them teach to discern in this grey area.”

In his apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis has highlighted the importance of psychological formation and affective maturity for seminarians:

“Seminarians should receive a more extensive interdisciplinary, and not merely doctrinal, formation in the areas of engagement and marriage.

“Their training does not always allow them to explore their own psychological and affective background and experiences. Some come from troubled families, with absent parents and a lack of emotional stability.”

“There is a need to ensure that the formation process can enable them to attain the maturity and psychological balance needed for their future ministry. …” (para 203)

The pope met with the Polish Jesuits in a private setting, as he often visits with members of his religious order on trips abroad.

The Vatican did not release a transcript of the meeting, but Civiltà Cattolica says it is publishing the dialogue now with Francis’ consent.

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