Poaching Seminarians


I heard from a seminarian from my parish (Roman Rite parish) studying for the secular priesthood that whilst in seminary, he has been approached by an Eastern Catholic eparchy about becoming an Eastern Catholic priest rather than a Latin priest (I prefer to not say what kind of Eastern Catholic group it is, but we have Melkite, Ruthenian, Maronite and others in the area). Now, I have two questions: (1) is this not an uncommon occurrence; and (2) would it not be very difficult to get the dispensation from the ordinary, if at all?

I found it to be strange to the ear. :eek: If it is not that uncommon, then I wonder if Eastern Catholic groups also approach men in formation at seminary for the permanent diaconate (in the Latin Church) to fore go that and instead go for ordination into an Eastern Rite priesthood and if the same difficulties would naturally arise. :blush:


I don’t know if it’s a common occurrence, although in my experience with the East it’s not, at least not as you characterize it–i.e. “poaching.” As for the dispensation from the ordinary, it wouldn’t be simply that. A man would have to make a ritual transfer, either by petitioning both his bishop and the eastern hierarch with jurisdiction over his area and asking both for permission to do so (in which case the permission of the Apostolic See is presumed) or by seeking permission from the Apostolic See itself. Then, and only then, could a man study for the priesthood for another sui iuris ritual Church.



Thank you for the reply. I find it interesting that he was approached, to say the very least. He told me he had no desire to be a priest in that Rite since his "home" was in the Roman Rite, but I hope you can understand my curiosity.


It is going to more of a case where the seminary would be dual Rite

I know several priests who have faculties in two distinct sui juris Churches.

I would be hesitant to claim that it is 'poaching' as the seminarian would still be ordained into the his Latin diocese. To do otherwise would require approval from the Vatican

But the priest would be able to help out as needed at an Eastern Rite parish


I wish to be clear that I used the term “poaching” in a noncritical or defamatory way. Also,I don’t know if the seminary in question may be bi-ritual. Thanks for the answer.


There aren’t “bi-ritual seminaries,” nor are there truly “bi-ritual priests.” The term is often used but is a bit of a misnomer. In reality, you may only belong to one sui iuris ritual church. A priest who is said to be “bi-ritual” is in reality a priest of one ritual church who has faculties to offer the sacraments in another. I know of no seminaries who train men to do this, although it would be interesting to see.

The process for gaining faculties in another ritual church consists of the cleric applying for permission to do so from his own bishop, and then applying to the bishop of the other sui iuris ritual church who has jurisdiction in the same territory for said faculties. As I understand it, the process has been very limited in the last several years to ensure that it’s not being done out of the personal devotion of the priest but in response to a real pastoral need in areas where there are perhaps communities of Eastern Catholics but no priests to serve them.



I’ve never heard of anything of the sort happening anywhere. The only situation where it might happen is where a candidate has been active in one or another Eastern/Oriental church, and has displayed an interest on his own. But that’s not the same thing suggested in the OP. Never could I even imagine an Eastern or Oriental priest attempting to “poach” a seminarian who had not expressed an interest in the first place. For a priest to just walk up to a seminarian and say “hey, dontcha wanna be a priest in my Church?” is something that I can’t grasp.

Perhaps there is such a place that I don’t know about, but I’m also unaware of any seminary that is formally bi-ritual. There are a number of seminaries which host one or more Eastern/Oriental candidates, but the institutions are certainly not “bi-ritual” as such.


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