In 1903, right at the beginning of his Pontificate, Pope St Pius X reminds the bishops that their chief responsibility is the formation of priests – this requires seminaries!
Excerpt from the Encyclical E Supremi Apostolatus of Pope St Pius X, October 4, 1903
10. As to the means to be employed in attaining this great end [Restoring of all things in Christ], it seems superfluous to name them, for they are obvious of themselves. Let your first care be to form Christ in those who are destined from the duty of their vocation to form Him in others. We speak of the priests, Venerable Brethren. For all who bear the seal of the priesthood must know that they have the same mission to the people in the midst of whom they live as that which Paul proclaimed that he received in these tender words: “My little children, of whom I am in labor again until Christ be formed in you” (Gal. iv., 19). But how will they be able to perform this duty if they be not first clothed with Christ themselves? and so clothed with Christ as to be able to say with the Apostle: “I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me” (Ibid. ii., 20). “For me to live is Christ” (Phlipp. i., 21). Hence although all are included in the exhortation “to advance towards the perfect man, in the measure of the age of the fullness of Christ” (Ephes. iv., 3), it is addressed before all others to those who exercise the sacerdotal ministry; thus these are called another Christ, not merely by the communication of power but by reason of the imitation of His works, and they should therefore bear stamped upon themselves the image of Christ.
11. This being so, Venerable Brethren, of what nature and magnitude is the care that must be taken by you in forming the clergy to holiness! All other tasks must yield to this one. Wherefore the chief part of your diligence will be directed to governing and ordering your seminaries aright so that they may flourish equally in the soundness of their teaching and in the spotlessness of their morals. Regard your seminary as the delight of your hearts, and neglect on its behalf none of those provisions which the Council of Trent has with admirable forethought prescribed.
Read also how Archbishop Lefebvre dedicated himself to the formation of the seminaries under adverse conditions in Africa in The Biography of Marcel Lefebvre by Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, p 165 onwards.
Pax et Bonum
Sister Constance TOSF