14 German dioceses are reorganizing their priestly training

Courtesy of www.katholisch.de

Since last year the German bishops have been working on realigning priestly formation. Now 14 dioceses have decided to cooperate in the final training phase – and have also determined the locations for the corresponding courses.


Note: You will have to use Google Translate (English version below) unless you’re a German scholar!

English translation below:

Fulda – July 26th, 2021

14 dioceses in the north and east of Germany are reorganizing part of the training for their future pastoral staff from September. The responsible bishops had decided to cooperate in a joint pastoral course, as the German Bishops’ Conference announced on Monday . The regulation essentially relates to Germany without the federal states of Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland. It is about the last phase of training, i.e. the part within the church – and not about the question of which universities theologians study at.

On the one hand, the training of prospective priests and pastoral workers in the dioceses should be more closely interlinked , because all three professional groups should then work together in parishes. The chairman of those responsible for the formation of priests in the dioceses, the Fuldaer RegensDirk Gärtner , wants “strong personalities to be promoted” who are prepared for future work in teams. In the dioceses, all future pastors should receive training in rhetorical preaching together and learn specialist didactics in religious education.Gärtner told the Catholic News Agency (KNA) that “the cooperation between the individual services” should be strengthened.

Spectrum of ecclesiastical and social realities

On the other hand, there are also three one to several week special courses in Erfurt, Hamburg and Paderborn for all prospective priests. Gärtner sees these three locations as “striking places” that represent the spectrum of ecclesiastical and social realities. Erfurt stands for a largely secularized environment, Hamburg for urban milieus and Paderborn for regions that are still strongly Catholic. This year, twelve young men will take part in these three special modules for future priests.

Gärtner sees the concept as the first step in answering the question of what future training should look like overall. He expressed the hope that a positive response could also have an impact on the dioceses that have not yet participated in the cooperation.

Topic page: Priest training in Germany

The number of prospective priests in Germany is falling sharply. That is why the bishops are discussing a nationwide reorientation of training. This will also affect the seminaries and theological faculties. Katholisch.de accompanies the discussion.

The German Bishops’ Conference, which has been dealing with the subject for years, said it was pleased about the regulation in Bonn. The move shows that the way of cooperation in formation is “correct and possible”, said Fuldas Bishop Michael Gerber, who is coordinating the process of reorganizing priestly formation in the Bishops’ Conference. The pastoral course enables priest candidates to go on a learning path together and cooperative training with all future pastoral staff to be opened at the diocese level. It is about the vision of a church that defines itself from its common mission.

In Germany there is currently a debate going on about the locations for Catholic faculties at German universities and the future training of priests . In June last year a paper from a working group of the German Bishops’ Conference (DBK) on quality assurance in priestly education was made public. This contains suggestions for concentrating the formation of priests in a few locations and dividing it into sections. There is resistance to the plans. Several universities fear a weakening of their theological faculties and a division into first and second class universities. In addition, bishops also turned against the paper. (mal / KNA)

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