Priestly formation according to Vatican II: A retrospective on priestly training, Optatam totius

Ronald D. Witherup PSS

Vatican Council II is more reputed for its teaching on ecclesiology, bishops, and the role of the laity, but it also addressed the question of priestly formation. In the Council?s final session, the Decree on the Training of Priests, Optatam totius (OT), was adopted and promulgated on 28 October 1965. This article takes a closer look at this document and its impact. Ronald D. Witherup PSS is a former seminary professor and formator, and is Superior General of the Society of St Sulpice.

Historical prologue
Before considering OT, it is helpful to recall that in Church history priestly formation did not begin formally until after the Council of Trent (1545-1563). Only then did the Church acknowledge in any systematic way that priests should be trained in ministry.

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