03/18/2008, 00.00
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Bishops approve merger of major seminaries

As the number of seminarians drops and costs rise, prelates ask Rome to open a new, single seminary next year. For the bishop of Kyoto the new institution will help students evolve together and help better network.

Tokyo (AsiaNews/JCN) – Japanese bishops have asked the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples for permission to merge the country’s two major seminaries so that by next year they can create a single training facility for future generations of priests.

The decision was taken at this year’s plenary meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan because of a decline in the number of vocations and the rising costs of the two existing institutions, the Tokyo Catholic Seminary and the St. Sulpice Seminary in Fukuoka.

The latter will form the two campuses of the new institution. The Fukuoka Campus will host the first three years in theological studies, whilst the Tokyo Campus will offer two years in philosophy and the diaconate course.

The issue has been discussed since 2003. With fewer seminarians and greater costs, the quality of training has suffered. Also, split between two locations, it is harder for future priests to network well, which is something useful in developing one’s own spirituality, said Mgr Yoshinao Otsuka, bishop of Kyoto.

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