Priests in El Salvador banned from secular study to avoid 'worldly temptations'

Priests in El Salvador have been prohibited from studying at secular universities in order to avoid the temptation of worldly desires, according to NDTV.

Priests attend the beatification ceremony of the late Archbishop of San Salvador Oscar Arnulfo Romero at El Salvador del Mundo square in San Salvador, May 23, 2015Reuters

The instruction was given by the country's Episcopal Conference in a letter published by a church newspaper, Gazette Orientacion.

"It is not proper or convenient for us, as we run many risks when out in the world, beyond abandoning the parish and priestly life," the letter said.

Any suggestion that a course was being taken to equip the priest for post-ministry work would not be allowed, according to the letter.

"That does not go with our vocation and mission – such temptation should be far from us," it said.

If a priest did want to study at a secular university, he would need a letter of approval from his bishop, the letter added, and the Episcopal Conference would seek to find a similar course at an ecclesiastical college.

The bishops said that this ban on secular study was inspired by Pope Francis' homily on 26 April last year, when he ordained 19 new priests.

In the homily, Francis encouraged priests to "diligently read and meditate on the Word of the Lord, that you may believe what you read, teach what you have learned in faith, and practice what you teach."

El Salvador is a majority-Christian country, with 47 per cent of the nation identifying with as Roman Catholic.