Nearly Half the Seminaries in France About to Close?

November 10, 2017
Les séminaristes bretons et normands au séminaire Saint-Yves de Rennes, le 11 septembre 2017.

According to Bishop Jérôme Beau, auxiliary bishop of Paris and president of the Episcopal Commission for Ordained Ministry and Ecclesial Lay Ministry, the Holy See would like to set the minimum for maintaining a seminary at “17 to 20 people”.

On November 4, 2017, the bishops of France, assembled in Lourdes for the fall plenary assembly, received Archbishop Patron Wong, head of seminaries at the Congregation for the Clergy. The Mexican prelate, who came from the Vatican to present an outline of the Roman reform of seminaries, asked the bishops to consider “the necessity of a sufficient number of vocations” for the seminary to be “a true community of formation”.

But Archbishop Wong did not wish to give an exact number to the bishops, nor to the press a little later. It was only after their last work session on the subject, on Monday, November 6, that the answer was given by Bishop Beau and relayed by the newspaper La Croix: the minimum will be “17 to 20 people”.

Of the 32 seminaries and formation centers in France, only 15 have more than the minimum of 17 candidates to the priesthood, all years included. And of these fifteen, the six largest are home to over half of France’s seminarians.