The new programme for the formation of presbyters (2)

Ronald D. Witherup PSS

This second of three articles provides an overview of a new document on priestly formation approved by Pope Francis. Ronald D. Witherup PSS is Superior General of the Society of the Priests of Saint Sulpice.

A previous article explained in broad terms the main content of an important new Roman document on priestly (presbyteral) formation entitled, ‘The Gift of the Priestly Vocation’, promulgated on 8 December 20161. As the Ratio fundamentalis institutionis sacerdotalis (hereafter, Ratio), it will govern priestly formation in the Roman Catholic Church for many years to come. This article explains some of its nuances and the challenges they pose2.

What’s new in priestly formation?
It has been more than thirty years since the appearance of the last Ratio or universal programme of priestly formation3. Those unfamiliar with priestly formation might, at first reading, think that there is nothing really new in this revised Ratio. On one level this is true. All the essential aspects of priestly formation to which we have become accustomed since the twentieth century are included. Thus, there are the usual instructions on the different levels of formation, such as propaedeutic, philosophy, theology, and the pastoral year(s).

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