Pope Francis demands that bishops have Vatican authorization for new diocesan religious institutes | Catholic National Register

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With a motu proprio of November 4, Pope Francis modified canon 579 of the Code of Canon Law, which concerns the erection of religious orders and congregations, designated in Church law as institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life.

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis changed canon law to require a bishop to have permission from the Holy See before creating a new religious institute in his diocese, further strengthening Vatican oversight over the process.

With a November 4 motu proprio, Pope Francis modified canon 579 of the Code of Canon Law, which concerns the establishment of religious orders and congregations, designated in Church law as institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life.

The Vatican clarified in 2016 that by law, the diocesan bishop was required to consult the Apostolic See before granting canonical recognition to a new institute. The new canon provides additional Vatican oversight by requiring the bishop to have prior written permission from the Apostolic See.

According to the apostolic letter of Pope Francis “authentic charismaThe change ensures that the Vatican will more closely accompany the bishops in their discernment on the erection of a new religious order or congregation, and will render the “final judgment” on the decision to the Holy See.

The new canon text will come into effect on November 10.

The modification of canon 579 makes “the preventive control of the Holy See more evident,” Fr Fernando Puig, vice-dean of canon law at the Pontifical University of Santa Croce, told AIIC.

“In my opinion, the base [of the law] has not changed, ”he said, adding that“ the autonomy of the bishops is certainly diminishing and there is a centralization of this competence in favor of Rome ”.

The motivations for the change, Fr. Puig explained, let us return to a clarification of the interpretation of the law, requested by the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Religious Life and Societies of Apostolic Life in 2016.

Pope Francis clarified in May 2016 that in order to be valid Canon 579 required bishops to consult closely with the Vatican on their decision, even though it did not require them to obtain permission per se.

Writing in L’Osservatore Romano in June 2016, Monsignor José Rodríguez Carballo, secretary of the congregation, explained that the congregation had requested clarification out of a desire to prevent the “reckless” establishment of religious institutes and societies.

According to Archbishop Rodríguez, the crises in religious institutes have included internal divisions and power struggles, abusive disciplinary measures or problems with authoritarian founders who feel themselves to be “the true fathers and masters of the charism”.

Inadequate discernment on the part of the bishops, Bishop Rodríguez said, had led the Vatican to have to intervene in problems that could have been avoided had they been detected before giving canonical recognition to the institute or to society.

In its November 4 motu proprio, Pope Francis declared that “the faithful have the right to be informed by their shepherds of the authenticity of the charisms and of the integrity of those who present themselves as founders” of a new congregation or a new order .

“The Apostolic See”, he continued, “is responsible for accompanying the shepherds in the process of discernment which leads to the ecclesial recognition of a new Institute or a new Society of diocesan right.

He quoted the post-synodal apostolic exhortation of Pope John Paul II in 1996 “Consecrated lifeWhich said that new religious institutes and societies “must be evaluated by the authority of the Church, which is responsible for the proper examination both to test the authenticity of the inspiring purpose and to avoid the excessive multiplication of ‘institutions similar to each other. ”

Pope Francis said: “New institutes of consecrated life and new societies of apostolic life must therefore be officially recognized by the Apostolic See, which alone has the last judgment.”



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