ACI Prensa Staff, Nov 27, 2023 / 18:30 pm (CNA).
The spokesman for the Spanish Bishops’ Conference (CEE), Bishop Francisco César García Magán, stated at a Nov. 24 press conference that “there is no fear” among the bishops regarding the upcoming meeting of all the bishops with Pope Francis to address the state of the seminaries.
The conference spokesman acknowledged that “it is a singular event” for all the bishops of a nation to be called as a group to a meeting in Rome outside of their “ad limina apostolorum” visits.
“It doesn’t happen every day, obviously, that the pope convenes [a meeting] with an episcopate,” he added.
In addition, García said the archbishop of Barcelona and president of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference, Cardinal Juan José Omella, “asked around” at the Vatican, and “they have confirmed that it was about the seminaries.”
He also told the media in an appearance at the end of the conference’s 123rd plenary assembly that the Spanish prelates are completely uninformed of the content of the report prepared by the apostolic visitors.
“I can’t say anything about the report either because we haven’t received it,” he confirmed.
On Jan. 13, the bishop of Maldonado-Punta del Este-Minas in Uruguay, Milton Luis Tróccoli, and the bishop of Salto in the same country, Arturo Eduardo Fajardo, began an apostolic visit ordered by the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Clergy.
The purpose of the visit was to learn about “the implementation of the formation plan for Spanish seminaries approved by the CEE in 2019 to conform with ‘The Gift of the Priestly Vocation: Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis’ [a document issued by the Congregation for the Clergy in 2016] and the promotion of seminarian formation.”
The Church in Spain has 85 diocesan seminaries, among them 15 Redemptoris Mater seminaries — which have a missionary orientation and are closely linked to the Neocatechumenal Way — one Jesuit seminary and one Opus Dei seminary.
After the close of the extraordinary plenary assembly, the CEE announced Oct. 31 at a press conference the invitation issued by the Dicastery for the Clergy, explaining that the meeting “will address the conclusions of the work carried out by the bishops who made the visit to the seminaries in Spain at the beginning of this year.”
According to the CEE, Spanish seminaries have fewer than 1,000 candidates for the priesthood for the first time since records have been kept.
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.