The priesthood according to Vatican II: A retrospective on the ministry and life of priests

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. The Decree on the Training of Priests, Optatam totius (OT), was adopted 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.

As the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) was being played out it became apparent among the bishops at the Council that the theme of priesthood was not receiving its due attention. Even the enlightened Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) was found to be insufficient in its treatment of the priesthood. Many demanded a plan to rectify this situation.

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