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Monday, October 24, 2016
Vatican issues guidelines for use of psychology with future priests
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 Yesterday, in the Holy See Press Office, the document 'Guidelines for the Use of Psychology in the Admission and Formation of Candidates for the Priesthood' from the Congregation for Catholic Education was presented.

Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Archbishop Jean-Louis Brugues, OP, and Fr Carlo Bresciani, respectively the prefect, secretary, and consultant and psychologist of the Congregation for Catholic Education took part in the press conference.

Cardinal Grocholewski said the document highlighted "the socio-cultural context that, more or less, influences the mentality of the candidates that apply to the seminary, creating, in some cases, wounds that are still unhealed or particular difficulties that could 'condition their ability to progress along the formative path toward the priesthood'".

"These problems are seen not only at the moment of entry into the seminary but, at times, also clearly manifest themselves at the moment prior to priestly ordination".

The cardinal said: "the influence of the socio-cultural context as well as the need for a demanding human formation of the future priest, raise the question of the eventual use of the psychological sciences in the seminaries".

"This document emphasizes the fundamental role of the formators and, therefore, the need of an adequate preparation in the area of vocational pedagogy". On the other hand, he said, "in the human formation - which cannot be separated from the spiritual formation - the spiritual director has a special role". In this sense he quoted the document where it says that "spiritual direction can in no way be substituted by forms of analysis or psychological assistance, and that the spiritual life, of itself, favors growth in the human virtues if no blocks of a psychological nature exist".

He then stressed another aspect that the document focuses on: "the importance of divine grace in the formation of candidates to the priesthood". The cardinal indicated that "recourse to experts in the psychological sciences should be used only 'in some cases' to show the assessment of a diagnosis, or eventual therapy, or psychological support in the development of the human qualities demanded by the exercise of the ministry. These should be consulted," he insisted, "'si casus ferat', meaning in exceptional cases that present particular difficulties".

"Psychology, should be integrated into the candidate's global formation in such a way that it does not hinder but rather ensures, in a particular way, the safeguarding of the inalienable value of spiritual accompaniment". This is why, he said, "psychologists cannot be part of the formation team".

Cardinal Grocholewski concluded by recalling that the document "on three occasions cites canon 1052 of the CIC, according to which, for the bishop to proceed to ordination, he must have moral certainty that the candidate's suitability, 'has been positively established' and that, in the case of a substantiated doubt, cannot proceed to ordination".

Archbishop Brugues asserted that "no one, not even religious or diocesans superiors, can enter into the details of candidates' psychological profiles without having received their prior, explicit, informed, and total consent ... The psychologist cannot disclose aspects of their patients' private lives to third parties, regardless of their authority, be it religious or political, without the free consent of the interested parties".

Finally, Fr Carlo Bresciani said: "with these guidelines, the Church, far from wanting to entrust to psychologists the psychological formation of candidates to the priesthood, which is and continues to be essentially of a spiritual nature, seeks to value what the human and the psychological sciences in particular can contribute to the preparation of priests with equilibrated personalities. The Church appreciates the psychological disciplines but, at the same time, wants to discipline its use in a way that it might be truly beneficial".

Source: VIS
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Tags: 'Guidelines for the Use of Psychology in the Admission and Formation of Candidat

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