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THE SOCIAL STUDIES IN THE SEMINARY THEIR CONTENT ACCORDING TO RECENT DOCUMENTS OF THE HOLY SEE The present article* is an effort to find out what the mind of the Holy See is regarding the content of the social-studies course in the seminary. The actual content of such a course, at least in the American seminaries, has presented striking variations. Is such a wide variety permitted by the Church ? Or has she prescribed specific social subjects that must be taught to seminarians? The following pages will offer a definite class of evidence which may throw some light on this point. The material of this article was purposely styled a "definite class of evidence." It does not pretend to be all the available evidence. No; if it has any claim to merit at all it is this fact that it is perhaps the largest set of official evidence in most recent years. This evidence will be set down in a factual, objective manner. And if at times the words of the writer seem to indicate that is prescribing for seminarians, he disclaims any such intention absolutely. His only attitude is: "Give the facts; let them speak for themselves." I. INTRODUCTION This introduction will be devoted to an explanation of the concepts contained in the title of our article. The Church, in her Code of Canon Law, claims that it is her "proper and exlusive right to train those men who desire to devote themselves to the ecclesiastical ministry."1 Consequently, the Church has established special schools whose one and only aim is to prepare future priests physically, mentally, and spiritually for the work of the sacred ministry. Such schools are known as seminaries. Seminaries are divided into two kinds : major and minor. The major seminary forms the immediate preparation of clerics for the priesthood. * This article originally was a dissertation submitted, in 1945, to the Faculty of the School of Social Science of the Catholic University of America in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts. 1 Canon 1352. 78 Social Studies in the Seminary79 Its course of studies includes at least two years of rational philosophy and its allied disciplines, and at least four years of theology, comprising dogmatic and moral theology, Sacred Scripture, Church history, canon law, liturgy, sacred eloquence, and ecclesiastical chant. Provision must likewise be made for instruction in pastoral theology, in the hearing of confessions, in visiting the sick and in assisting the dying.2 The minor seminary as a rule includes the four years of a classical highschool course and junior college. The distinctive character of such a school is its strictly ecclesiastical purpose, namely to prepare young men to enter the major seminary, and, eventually, the priesthood. Therefore, the Church demands an accurate knowledge of Latin and the vernacular, and such instruction in other disciplines as agrees with the common culture and with the state of clerics in the regions where these young men will exercise the sacred ministry.3 The present article will deal only with major seminaries. There has been not a little disagreement within the last three or four decades about the meaning of the term "social studies." Before 1916 its use was rather occasional and embraced economics, sociology, civics, and history. In 1916, however, the widespread use of the term began with its official sanction in the report of the Committee on Social Studies of the Commission on the Reorganization of Secondary Education of the National Education Association.4According to this Committee the social studies included geography, history, civics, and "problems of democracy-social, economic, and political."5 In 1921 the teachers of the social studies organized "The National Council for the Social Studies." The adoption of this name tended to standardize the use of the term. In the Constitution of the Council the meaning of the name is delimited as follows: "The term 'social studies' is used to include history, economics, sociology, civics, geography, and all modifications or combinations of subjects whose content as well as aim is predominantly social."6 This definition of the social studies apparently did not appeal to all, for the scope of these studies is still in dispute...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1945-9718
Print ISSN
0080-5459
Pages
pp. 78-129
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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