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Optatam Totius

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Optatam Totius, the Decree on Priestly Training, was a document produced by the Second Vatican Council. Approved by a vote of 2,318 to 3 of the bishops assembled at the council, the decree was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on October 28, 1965. (The full text in English is available from the Holy See's website.)


The numbers given correspond to the section numbers within the text.

  1. The Program of Priestly Training to be Undertaken by Each Country (1)
  2. The Urgent Fostering of Priestly Vocations (2-3)
  3. The Setting Up of Major Seminaries (4-7)
  4. The Careful Development of the Spiritual Training (8-12)
  5. The Revision of Ecclesiastical Studies (13-18)
  6. The Promotion of Strictly Pastoral Training (19-20)
  7. Training to be Achieved After the Course of Studies (21)
  8. Conclusion


The period that followed the promulgation Optatam Totius was marked by a severe drop in the number of priestly vocations in the Western World. Church leaders had argued that age-old secularization was to blame and that it was not directly related to the documents of the Council. Historians have also pointed to the damage caused by the sexual revolution in 1968 and the strong backlash over Humanae Vitae. Yet other authors have asserted that the drop in vocations was at least partly deliberate and was part of an attempt to de-clericalize the Church and allow for a more pluralistic clergy.[1]


  1. COZZENS, Donald B., The Changing Face of the Priesthood, 2000

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