EducationSee also: Candidacy, Transitional deacon, and List of Roman Catholic seminaries
The Canon law of the Catholic Church holds that the priesthood is a sacred and perpetual vocational state, not just a profession, and regulates the formation and studies of clerics. In the Latin rite, this legislation is found in canons 232–264. As a general rule, education is extensive and lasts at least five or six years, depending on the national Programme of Priestly Formation.
- In the United States, priests must have a four-year university degree in Catholic philosophy plus an additional four to five years of graduate-level seminary formation in theology with a focus on Biblical research. A Master of Divinity is the most common degree.
- In Scotland, there is a mandatory year of preparation before entering seminary for a year dedicated to spiritual formation, followed by several years of study.
- In Europe, Australasia and North America, seminarians usually graduate with a Master of Divinity or a Master of Theology degree, which is a four-year professional degree (as opposed to a Master of Arts which is an academic degree). At least four years are to be in theological studies at the major seminary.
- In Africa, Asia and South America, programmes are more flexible, being developed according to the age and academic abilities of those preparing for ordination.
Regardless of where a person prepares for ordination, it includes not only academics but also human, social, spiritual and pastoral formation. The purpose of seminary education is ultimately to prepare men to be pastors of souls. In the end, however, each individual bishop is responsible for the official call to priesthood, and only they may ordain. Any ordinations done before the normally scheduled time (before study completion) must have the explicit approval of the bishop; any such ordinations done more than a year in advance must have the approval of the Holy See.
Read more about this topic: Catholic Priests
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