Are seminarians allowed to own books?


Are seminarians allowed to own their books, say, a few shelves of collection ranging from Latin and Greek literature through Denzinger to History and Philosophy classics (not always relevant to Catholicism)?

Silly question, just curious… :shrug:


Seminarians can own stuff if they like. Priests generally don’t have restrictions on personal property unless they’re a Religious priest who has taken a vow of poverty.


Not a silly question - these things are worth knowing. :slight_smile:

Diocesan men do not undertake to live a life of poverty, and therefore are permitted to accumulate goods (including books!) to the extent that this is necessary or desirable (and, one might argue, to the extent that scandal is not given e.g. a parish priest who has 2 Lamborghinis, a Ferrari and a Mercedes might be seen as a poor role model when preaching on aid to the Church in need).

Particular seminaries may have guidelines on how this is lived out when studying for the priesthood. For instance at my seminary, students are not permitted to bring a car for their use at the college, but there are no restrictions on books, or indeed on CDs, DVDs or iPhones. That may vary somewhat at other seminaries, but there is no universal principle forbidding personal possessions.

However, this likely will be different at seminaries run exclusively for religious as opposed to secular seminarians, where the seminary will reflect the proper law of the religious institute or institutes in question. Equally, the religious students at mixed seminaries - my own takes students from both dioceses and religious institutes, which is a very common arrangement in the contemporary Church - will also be under obedience to their religious superiors and the rule under which they live, which may place significant limits on what goods or possessions they are allowed to hold personally or in common with their fellow religious.

It’s worth saying that most seminaries should have adequate library facilities to ensure that books are not in short supply, but some texts are needed for individual study and devotion, and others may be desirable. The internet means that a great deal of classical philosophy and theology is now available online, and many encyclopaedias and reference works are available in far greater volume and complexity on the net than could ever be the case in a hardcopy text.

Then again, books are kind of nice, aren’t they? I’m afraid that accumulating books borders on a near occasion of sin for me! :o).

Hope this helps.

In Christ,




Definitely! :smiley: What would we own if not books?? :smiley:
In Xto,


Here’s (most of) my books: :smiley:


I can see Lonergan’s Method in Theology and Ratzinger’s Introduction to Christianity (if I’ve not misread) :thumbsup: :wink:

I have so many Latin and Greek books, a Denzinger, an Enchiridion Patristicum, Thomson’s Europe Since Napoleon, novels by George Eliot, Dickens etc., a German dictionary, a German Grammar for reading, as well as volumes of Chinese Classics (The Analects, Mencius, Records of the Grand Historian aka Shiji, Zhuangzi, etc)…


You’ve not misread.
Here’'s the full-sized picture, as you seem to be somewhat interested:

My collection is what I would call small for the academically minded of us, but large for one who attempts to keep a rather spartan room. You’ll notice that not all books are theologically related, and more than a few are fiction works of some sort. I do not subscribe to the views expressed in all of these books, but almost every one of them I either reference when entertaining others or in papers.

Any questions, feel free to PM me.


I’m not sure what’s more curious - the Rahner collection or the C++ volumes :p!

Personally, my tastes are more eclectic (and perhaps literary rather than strictly theological) but this just serves to illustrate the diversity in seminarians’ bookshelves.


Wow! Curious to learn about your ‘eclectic’ collection…:stuck_out_tongue:


I was a computer programmer before I entered the seminary. :takethat:


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