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Code of Canon Law

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  • BOOK II : THE PEOPLE OF GOD
    • PART I : CHRIST'S FAITHFUL (Cann. 204 - 207)
        • TITLE III: SACRED MINISTERS OR CLERICS (Cann. 232 - 293)
          • CHAPTER I : THE FORMATION OF CLERICS
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TITLE III: SACRED MINISTERS OR CLERICS (Cann. 232 - 293)

CHAPTER I : THE FORMATION OF CLERICS
Sacred Ministers

Can. 232 It is the duty and the proper and exclusive right of the Church to train those who are deputed to sacred ministries.

Can. 233 §1 It is the duty of the whole christian community to foster vocations so that the needs of the sacred ministry are sufficiently met in the entire Church. In particular, this duty binds christian families, educa tors and, in a special way, priests, especially parish priests. DiocesanBishops, who must show the greatest concern to promote vocations, are to instruct the people entrusted to them on the importance of the sacred ministry and the need for ministers in the Church. They are to encourage and support initiatives to promote vocations, especially movements established for this purpose.

§2 Moreover, priests and especially diocesan Bishops are to be solicitous that men of more mature years who believe they are called to the sacred ministries are prudently assisted by word and deed and are duly prepared.

Can. 234 §1 Minor seminaries and other institutions of a similar nature promote vocations by providing a special religious formation, allied to human and scientific education - where they exist, they are to be retained and fostered. Indeed, where the diocesan Bishop considers it expedient, he is to provide for the establishment of a minor seminary or similar institution.

§2 Unless the circumstances of certain situations suggest otherwise, young men who aspire to the priesthood are to receive that same human and scientific formation which prepares their peers in their region for higher studies.

Can. 235 §1 Young men who intend to become priests are to receive the appropriate religious formation and instruction in the duties proper to the priesthood in a major seminary, for the whole of the time of formation or, if in the judgement of the diocesan Bishop circumstances require it, for at least four years.

§2 Those who lawfully reside outside the seminary are to be entrusted by the diocesan Bishop to a devout and suitable priest, who will ensure that they are carefully formed in the spiritual life and in discipline.

Can. 236 Those who aspire to the permanent diaconate are to be formed in the spiritual life and appropriately instructed in the fulfilment of the duties proper to that order, in accordance with the provisions made by the Episcopal Conference:

young men are to reside for at least three years in a special houseunless the diocesan Bishop for grave reasons decides otherwise,

men of more mature years, whether celibate or married, are toprepare for three years in a manner determined by the same Episcopal Conference.

Can. 237 §1 Where it is possible and advisable, each diocese is to have a major seminary; otherwise, students preparing for the sacred ministries are to be sent to the seminary of another diocese, or an inter-diocesan seminary is to be established.

§2 An inter-diocesan seminary may not be established unless the prior approval of the Apostolic See has been obtained, both for the establishment of the seminary and for its statutes. Approval is also required from the Episcopal Conference if the seminary is for the whole of its territory; otherwise, from the Bishops concerned.

Can. 238 §1 Seminaries which are lawfully established have juridical personality in the Church by virtue of the law itself.

§2 In the conduct of all its affairs, the rector acts in the person of the seminary, unless for certain matters the competent authority has prescribed otherwise.

Can. 239 §1 In all seminaries there is to be a rector who presides over it, a vice-rector, if circumstances warrant this, and a financial administrator. Moreover, if the students follow their studies in the seminary, there are to be professors who teach the various subjects in a manner suitably coordinated between them.

§2 In every seminary there is to be at least one spiritual director, though the students are also free to approach other priests who have been deputed to this work by the Bishop.

§3 The seminary statutes are to determine the manner in which the other moderators, the professors and indeed the students themselves, are to participate in the rector's responsibility, especially in regard to the maintenance of discipline.

Can. 240 §1 Besides ordinary confessors, other confessors are to come regularly to the seminary; while maintaining seminary discipline, the students are always to be free to approach any confessor, whether inside or outside the seminary.

§2 In deciding about the admission of students to orders, or their dismissal from the seminary, the vote of the spiritual director and the confessors may never be sought.

Can. 241 §1 The diocesan Bishop is to admit to the major seminary only those whose human, moral, spiritual and intellectual gifts, as well as physical and psychological health and right intention, show that they are capable of dedicating themselves permanently to the sacred ministries.

§2 Before they are accepted, they must submit documentation of their baptism and confirmation, and whatever else is required by the provisions of the Charter of Priestly Formation.

§3 If there is question of admitting those who have been dismissed from another seminary or religious institute, there is also required the testimony of the respective superior, especially concerning the reason for their dismissal or departure.

Can. 242 §1 In each country there is to be a Charter of Priestly Formation. It is to be drawn up by the Episcopal Conference, taking account of the norms issued by the supreme ecclesiastical authority, and it is to be approved by the Holy See; moreover, it is to be adapted to new circumstances, likewise with the approval of the Holy See. This Charter is to define the overall principles governing formation in the seminary and the general norms which take account of the pastoral needs of each region or province.

§2 The norms of the Charter mentioned in §1 are to be observed in all seminaries, whether diocesan or inter-diocesan.

Can. 243 In addition, each seminary is to have its own rule, approved by the diocesan Bishop or, in the case of an inter-diocesan seminary, by the Bishops concerned. In this, the norms of the Charter of Priestly Formation are to be adapted to the particular circumstances and developed in greater detail, especially on points of discipline affecting the daily life of the students and the good order of the entire seminary.

Can. 244 The spiritual formation and the doctrinal instruction of the students in a seminary are to be harmoniously blended. They are to be so planned that the students, each according to his talents, simultaneously develop the requisite human maturity and acquire the spirit of the Gospel and a close relationship with Christ.

Can. 245 §1 Through their spiritual formation students are to be fitted for the fruitful exercise of the pastoral ministry, and are to be inculcated with a sense of mission. They are to learn that a ministry which is always exercised with lively faith and charity contributes effectively to their personal sanctification. They are to learn to cultivate those virtues which are highly valued in human relationships, in such a way that they can arrive at an appropriate harmony between human and supernatural values.

§2 Students are to be so trained that, filled with love for Christ's Church, they are linked to the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter, in humble and filial charity, to their own Bishop as his faithful co-workers and to their brethren in friendly cooperation. Through the common life in the seminary, and by developing relationships of friendship and of association with others, they are to be prepared for the fraternal unity of the diocesan presbyterium, in whose service of the Church they will share.

Can. 246 §1 The celebration of the Eucharist is to be the centre of the whole life of the seminary, so that the students, participating in the very charity of Christ, may daily draw strength of soul for their apostolic labour and for their spiritual life particularly from this richest of sources.

§2 They are to be formed in the celebration of the liturgy of the hours, by which the ministers of God, in the name of the Church, intercede with Him for all the people entrusted to them, and indeed for the whole world.

§3 Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, including the rosary, mental prayer and other exercises of piety are to be fostered, so that the students may acquire the spirit of prayer and be strengthened in their vocation.

§4 The students are to become accustomed to approach the sacrament of penance frequently. It is recommended that each should have a director of his spiritual life, freely chosen, to whom he can trustfully reveal his conscience.

§5 Each year the students are to make a spiritual retreat.

Can. 247 §1 By appropriate instruction they are to be prepared to observe celibacy and to learn to hold it in honour as a special gift of God.

§2 The students are to be given all the requisite knowledge concerning the duties and burdens which are proper to the sacred ministers of the Church, concealing none of the difficulties of the priestly life.

Can. 248 The doctrinal formation given is to be so directed that the students may acquire a wide and solid teaching in the sacred sciences, together with a general culture which is appropriate to the needs of place and time. As a result, with their own faith founded on and nourished by this teaching, they ought to be able properly to proclaim the Gospel to the people of their own time, in a fashion suited to the manner of the people's thinking.

Can. 249 The Charter of Priestly Formation is to provide that the students are not only taught their native language accurately, but are also well versed in latin, and have a suitable knowledge of other languages which would appear to be necessary or useful for their formation or for the exercise of their pastoral ministry.

Can. 250 The philosophical and theological studies which are organised in the seminary itself may be conducted either in succession or conjointly, in accordance with the Charter of Priestly Formation. These studies are to take at least six full years, in such a way that the time given to philosophical studies amounts to two full years and that allotted to theological studies to four full years.

Can. 251 Philosophical formation must be based on the philosophical heritage that is perennially valid, and it is also to take account of philosophical investigations over the course of time. It is to be so given that it furthers the human formation of the students, sharpens their mental edge and makes them more fitted to engage in theological studies.

Can. 252 §1 Theological formation, given in the light of faith and under the guidance of the magisterium, is to be imparted in such a way that the students learn the whole of catholic teaching, based on divine Revelation, that they make it a nourishment of their own spiritual lives, and that in the exercise of the ministry they may be able properly to proclaim and defend it.

§2 Students are to be instructed with special care in sacred Scripture, so that they may acquire an insight into the whole of sacred Scripture.

§3 Lectures are to be given in dogmatic theology, based always on the written word of God and on sacred Tradition; through them the students are to learn to penetrate more deeply into the mysteries of salvation, with St. Thomas in particular as their teacher. Lectures are also to be given in moral and pastoral theology, canon law, liturgy, ecclesiastical history, and other auxiliary and special disciplines, in accordance with the provisions of the Charter on Priestly Formation.

Can. 253 §1 The Bishop or the Bishops concerned are to appoint as teachers in philosophical, theological and juridical subjects only those who are of outstanding virtue and have a doctorate or a licentiate from a university or faculty recognised by the Holy See.

§2 Care is to be taken that different professors are appointed for sacred Scripture, dogmatic theology, moral theology, liturgy, philosophy, canon law and church history, and for other disciplines which are to be taught by their own distinctive methods.

§3 A professor who seriously fails in his or her duty is to be removed by the authority mentioned in §1.

Can. 254 §1 In their lectures, the professors are to be continuously attentive to the intimate unity and harmony of the entire doctrine of faith, so that the students are aware that they are learning one science. To ensure this, there is to be someone in the seminary who is in charge of the overall organisation of studies.

§2 The students are to be taught in such a way that they themselves are enabled to research various questions in the scientific way appropriate to each question. There are, therefore, to be assignments in which, under the guidance of the professors, the students learn to work out certain subjects by their own efforts.

Can. 255 Although the whole formation of students in the seminary has a pastoral purpose, a specifically pastoral formation is also to be provided there; in this the students are to learn the principles and the techniques which, according to the needs of place and time, are relevant to the ministry of teaching, sanctifying and ruling the people of God.

Can. 256 §1 Students are to be carefully instructed in whatever especially pertains to the sacred ministry, particularly in catechetics and homiletics, in divine worship and in a special way in the celebration of the sacraments, in dealing with people, including non-catholics and unbelievers, in parish administration and in the fulfilment of other tasks.

§2 The students are to be instructed about the needs of the universal Church, so that they may have a solicitude for encouraging vocations, for missionary and ecumenical questions, and for other pressing matters, including social problems.

Can. 257 §1 The formation of students is to ensure that they are concerned not only for the particular Church in which they are incardinated, but also for the universal Church, and that they are ready to devote themselves to particular Churches which are beset by grave need.

§2 The diocesan Bishop is to ensure that clerics who intend to move from their own particular Church to a particular Church in another region, are suitably prepared to exercise the sacred ministry there, that is, that they learn the language of the region, and have an understanding of its institutions, social conditions, usages and customs.

Can. 258 In order that the students may also by practice learn the art of exercising the apostolate, they are in the course of their studies, and especially during holiday time, to be initiated into pastoral practice by suitable assignments, always under the supervision of an experienced priest. These assignments, appropriate to the age of the student and the conditions of the place, are to be determined by the Ordinary.

Can. 259 §1 It belongs to the diocesan Bishop or, in the case of an inter-diocesan seminary, to the Bishops concerned to determine those matters which concern the overall control and administration of the seminary.

§2 The diocesan Bishop or, in the case of an inter-diocesan seminary, the Bishops concerned, are frequently to visit the seminary in person. They are to oversee the formation of their students, and the philosophical and theological instruction given in the seminary. They are to inform themselves about the vocation, character, piety and progress of the students, in view particularly to the conferring of sacred orders.

Can. 260 In the fulfilment of their duties, all must obey the rector, who is responsible for the day to day direction of the seminary, in accordance with the norms of the Charter of Priestly Formation and the rule of the seminary.

Can. 261 §1 The rector of the seminary is to ensure that the students faithfully observe the norms of the Charter of Priestly Formation and the rule of the seminary; under his authority, and according to their different positions, the moderators and professors have the same responsibility.

Can. 262 The seminary is to be exempt from parochial governance. For all those in the seminary, the function of the parish priest is to be discharged by the rector of the seminary or his delegate, with the exception of matters concerning marriage and without prejudice to the provisions of can. 985.

Can. 263 The diocesan Bishop must ensure that the building and maintenance of the seminary, the support of the students, the remuneration of the teachers and the other needs of the seminary are provided for. In an inter-diocesan seminary this responsibility devolves upon the Bishops concerned, each to the extent allotted by their common agreement.

Can. 264 §1 To provide for the needs of the seminary, the Bishop can, apart from the collection mentioned in can. 1266, impose a levy in the diocese.

§2 Every ecclesiastical juridical person is subject to the levy for the seminary, including even private juridical persons, which have a centre in the diocese. Exception is made for those whose sole support comes from alms, or in which there is actually present a college of students or of teachers for furthering the common good of the Church. This levy should be general, proportionate to the revenue of those who are subject to it and calculated according to the needs of the seminary.




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