We use our own and third party cookies to improve your user experience; by continuing to browse, we understand that you accept their use. You can get more information on our cookies policy.

Rome Reports

You are using an outdated browser

In order to deliver the greatest experience to our visitors we use cutting edge web development techniques that require a modern browser. To view this page please use Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer 11 or greater

Spiritual guidance: What does it entail?

Themost recent Synod of Bishops called for spiritual directors to be respectful of the freedom of the people they lead. It reiterated that they should neither impose their vision nor force decisions onto others. Their function should be to accompany, support, and widen perspectives. 

Secretary for seminaries, Congregation for Clergy

“We are instruments, bridges, and servants of the Lord for the service of the People of God.”

Regarding the direction of souls, two things were underlined at the Synod. First, it is not only the job of the director but of the whole Christian community to guide young people. Then, in the case of seminarians or priests, this formation should be integral, not only ascetic or theological.

Ultimately, the terminology is being modified to emphasize one fact: that the spiritual director is not a drill sergeant shouting orders that must be followed.

Pontifical University of the Holy Cross (Rome)
“This change in terminology introduced by Pope Francis is interesting. Today we speak of spiritual accompaniment but only a few years ago this expression did not exist. There was always talk of spiritual direction.”

During the Synod on Youth, it was also noted that spiritual accompaniment does not have to be led by a priest. In fact, it is a task that can also be carried out by women, from the religious to catechists and especially mothers. 

Secretary of Seminarians, Congregation for Clergy
“There is the confessor, which is a priest and a sacrament, the sacrament of reconciliation and then there is the spiritual guide.”

Pontifical University of the Holy Cross (Rome)
“Obviously it must be a person who has experience and in history there were women who performed this service. FLASH. I think of the spiritual accompaniment of so many mothers who undoubtedly had a great spiritual influence on their children and other friends.”

Spiritual guidance is a concept that has always been present in the Church. The Synod served to clarify how this accompaniment should be carried out responsibly.