Valle Adurni has run with an interesting posting on the history and future of English Seminaries. I can say 'English' seminaries as these are they that remain in the British Isles. One of these is scheduled to close in the next year and now the good father notes that the question of having a single national seminary is being discussed again. At what level these discussions are taking place is not clear and I suspect that such discussions having become publicly known is not an accident, but rather a 'testing of popular opinion', before any embarrassment can be suffered. It's one of those tools that PR firms use, indeed governments seems to use, to avoid any 'awkward' confrontation. If the scream is not too loud then they know they can proceed without threatening their popularity ratings.
It is sad to see historic institutions under threat however the training of clergy is very important and what is the best for the formation of faithful pastors should be the litmus test. Historically seminary education has been pretty much the norm for the last couple of centuries, that is but a fraction of the history of the Church. Other 'models' of priestly formation have existed across that history which might be better 'fit for purpose' in the current situation. In some places an 'apprenticeship' system has operated whereby the academic side of things is dealt with by sourcing from existing institutions with the pastoral side of things being dealt with in the presbytery that the seminarian lives in. Most important is a close relationship with the bishop concerned. Those models that have really flourished in recent years have been where the bishoip has taken an active role in the formation of his clergy. On an academic level that may not work where the educational standard of the bishops themselves is a problem but on the pastoral spiritual level it has some merit drawing the seminarian in the reality of pastoral situations. on a day to day basis. at the same time as giving bishops a clearer insight into where the Church's pastors of the future are heading. Mmm...I can see why they would favour the current system.