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Book II - Part III

Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life Notes on Religious Life



(Cann. 573 - 606) English Latin

Canon 573 Consecrated Life §1 (theo) Life consecrated through profession of the evangelical counsels is a stable form of living, in which the faithful follow Christ more closely under the action of the Holy Spirit, and are totally dedicated to God, who is supremely loved. By a new and special title they are dedicated to seek the perfection of charity in the service of God's Kingdom, for the honor of God, the building up of the Church and the salvation of the world. They are a splendid sign in the Church, as they foretell the heavenly glory. §2 (legal) Christ's faithful freely assume this manner of life in institutes of consecrated life which are canonically established by the competent ecclesiastical authority. By vows or by other sacred bonds, in accordance with the laws of their own institutes, they profess the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience. Because of the charity to which these counsels lead, they are linked in a special way to the Church and its mystery.

  • Canon addresses who are these people in the church? What do we call them? Stable form of living refers to a long term commitment, and in recognized institutions. In the latin church, we have a christological approach to ecclesiastical life. Christ is an historical person, and the gospel can be captured. You can't capture the holy spirit - this is at the root of religious life. They try to make religious life Christological to capture it. Perfection of charity is questionable - all the terms are open to question. Free commitment to evangelical counsels which lead to charity. An attempt to capture the richness of religious life in a framework. Many don't profess evangelical counsels: obedience, stability, conversatio. Founder has an inspiration and people follow. Without canonical erection, no religious life. Vows from love, or to love. Maybe it's just a safe shelter. * Theological elements consecration, following of Christ under the guidance of the spirit, evangelical counsels, perfection of charity, eschatological significance * Juridical elements canonical erection of distinct forms, stability of the forms, vocation excludes other life choices, vows or other bonds, observance of proper law * Tri-partite vision of consecrated life 1) profession of the evangelical counsels by vow according to approved constitutions 2) the primary project of following Christ more closely and the perfection in love, dedicated to the building of the community, 3) foretelling the fulfillment of the Gospel.

Canon 574 Fostering the Life §1 The state of persons who profess the evangelical counsels in these institutes belongs to the life and holiness of the Church. It is therefore to be fostered and promoted by everyone in the Church. §2 Some of Christ's faithful are specially called by God to this state, so that they may benefit from a special gift in the life of the Church and contribute to its saving mission according to the purpose and spirit of each institute.

  • Belongs to the life and holiness of the church - it is a stable form of life and it is a particular state of life. Religious institutes are separated from the world - one part of the life is the life itself. Marriage and family is excluded. Life and holiness came from a discussion on what is essential. They tried to develop a theology of the church in which religious have a place, they don't have a place in hierarchy, but it is essential to the life of the church. Church wouldn't be church without religious. According to the life and spirit of the institute - spiritus and fines (goal). Goal isn't much a part of monasticism and of canons regular. Jean Beyer SI (Flemish, wrote in French) was the principal author of this part of the code - he made the scheme that wasn't accepted in 1979. If you say it's not essential, you says it's important, lively discussion. If you legislate about cathedral chapters, no dog will bark, but talk about religious life, there will be a flurry of activities, life as it is, it will be noisy and messy. Fines is a way of life expressed in deeds, and spiritus is the internal charism / spirituality. They blend, wonderfully - but more wonderful than blended. Definite tension in trying to name place of consecrated life in the church. The whole ecclesial community has a stake in the life as sign of the Gospel-fulfillment and help to bring about Gospel-fulfillment. RI has content of vows established universally while SI, SAL, hermits, virgins and new forms have more freedom in defining the content and living of the counsels.

Canon 575 Counsels The evangelical counsels, based on the teaching and example of Christ the Master, are a divine gift which the Church received from the Lord and which by His grace it preserves always. Religious life is framed 'within the church'. The whole ecclesial community has a stake in the life as sign of the Gospel-fulfillment and help to bring about Gospel-fulfillment. RI has content of vows established universally while SI, SAL, hermits, virgins and new forms have more freedom in defining the content and living of the counsels

Canon 576 Interpretation of Counsels It is the prerogative of the competent authority in the Church to interpret the evangelical counsels, to legislate for their practice and, by canonical approval, to constitute the stable forms of living which arise from them. The same authority has the responsibility to do what is in its power to ensure that institutes grow and flourish according to the spirit of their founders and to their sound traditions.

  • Source found only in Lumen Gentium - not before, but there is a practice of exerting authority. The experts in the life would be the religious themselves. The only helpful use of this canon is in disruptive forms of religious life, e.g. Extreme penances in Cistercian history; Sylites, etc. But it is also used by hierarchs who disagree with internal life of institute, claiming it's disruptive. The divine gift is given to the Church - the authorities will say how it works. Regularly new documents on religious life. For centuries, there was a poverty movement - renouncing any form of property. There were extreme forms. 1970s and 1980s people started to question what is Chastity and offered the third way which was not accepted. Stable forms of life derive from RL - this is artificial. But it is an institute, a stable form, when it is canonically erected. Many existed for a long time before they were approved. There is internal authority and external authority. External authority shapes institution, explains and interprets evangelical counsels - gives the framework - but the founder has considerable freedom to give form and shape. Founder has the gift. External intervention should not prohibit, make impossible - they might have good intentions, but sometimes don't understand the gift. Four functions attributed to hierarchy: interpretation, legislation, confirmation and promotion of the life. These powers are especially active in the erection (579) and suppression (582.584)

Canon 577 Ideal In the Church there are many institutes of consecrated life, with gifts that differ according to the graces given them more closely follow Christ praying, or Christ proclaiming the Kingdom of God, or Christ doing good to people, or Christ in dialog with the people of this world, but always Christ doing the will of the Father.

  • From Lumen Gentium. Institutes are seen as manifesting different aspects of the life of Christ. But each institute really manifests many aspects of the life of Christ. It is always about the full Christian life. Legally the institutes are different, but it is factual difference in lifestyle. That might have made a different typology.

Canon 578 Patrimony The whole patrimony of an institute must be faithfully preserved by all. This patrimony is comprised of the intentions of the founders, of all that the competent ecclesiastical authority has approved concerning the nature, purpose, spirit and character of the institute, and of its sound traditions.

  • Along with Canon 587, this is the heart of the matter. Proper law of religious institutes is the foundation of internal authority. Patrimony is something new. Patrimonium spirituale - this is what makes consecrated life and people what they are. It is shaped by the mind and the intention of the founders. First big problem is that many venerable institutes don't have a clear founder. So how do we explore the mind and purpose. St. Norbert went back to the apostles, picked up something of St. Augustine. Date of foundation is also ambiguous. He wanted to be a hermit and then became archbishop. At a certain point it wasn't there, then it was there, and there is something between. This isn't a stable thing, it is a question worthy of investigation. It is something that moves, can be explored, discussed. It is a moving target, but something is moving. There is a difference between the founders and the institute. Nature, purpose, spirit and character of the institute. Perhaps legal multiplicity to try to pin down identity. Beyer will make a distinction. Always - as approved by the competent authority. They have the task of giving things a place in the complex reality of the people of God. Sometimes gifts have to be moderated. There can be excessive elements in the beginning - even throughout the ages. Flashy habits. Translation of charismatic inspiration into relations to persons - founders may take too much authority to themselves. Sound traditions - the things develop - monasteries with active ministries - what is a sound tradition - at least it is accepted.

Canon 579 Establishing Diocesan Congregations Provided the Apostolic See has been consulted, diocesan Bishops can, by formal decree, establish institutes of consecrated life in their own territories.

  • Diocesan bishop can erect an institute, but must: consult the holy see - but actually they must approve - 1989 there was a discourse, but no formal legislation or instruction. Now, the consultation “is to be understood as necessary for the validity of the erection of a diocesan institute of consecrated life,” according to a 2016 rescript. Consult actually means you can follow or not. What about extraterritorial approval - diocese is split. What happens? Or the institute expands. The external authority is the diocesan bishop of the houses of the institute. The bishop of the diocese of the principal house has special duties. From here to 585 is the same - the essential changes in the life of an institute, and the question of hierarchy and what are internal matters will be spelled out.
  • PC 19: In a new institute, look for for original inspiration, profession of evangelical counsels, good of the church and world as well as is this institute necessary and not duplicating other institutes, does it show promise of increase, and does it have the necessary resources. In the past bishops founded institutes with out specific charism, especially at the turn of the 19th century. This still happens.
  • VC 12: “The perennial youth of the Church continues to be evident even today. In recent years, following the Second Vatican Council, new or renewed forms of the consecrated life have arisen. In many cases, these are Institutes similar to those already existing, but inspired by new spiritual and apostolic impulses. Their vitality must be judged by the authority of the Church, which has the responsibility of examining them in order to discern the authenticity of the purpose for their foundation and to prevent the proliferation of institutions similar to one another, with the consequent risk of a harmful fragmentation into excessively small groups.”
  • Book II Part I: Assns of the Xn Faithful: De facto assn c. 298-299. draw up statutes. Private Assn
  • File is sent to Rome with required documents. 1) name and CV of founder and superior. 2) historical / juridical narrative. 3) Constitution and secondary document. 4) Picture of habit. 5) Up-to-date membership statistics. 6) Finances. 7) Extraordinary experiences and miracles. 8) Testimonial letters from bishops on usefulness, stability, discipline, formation, government, temporal administration, liturgical & sacramental dimension, ecclesial sense.
  • Many studies: McDermott, Wiesenbeck, CARA. 120 new communities, 30% no response, Private assn 23%, Public Assn 29%, Religious Inst 15%.
  • CICLSAL likes about 5-10 years in each step. and about 40 people for diocesan and 100 for pontifical. Can't skip stages, private, public, diocesan, pontifical.
  • Some associates and oblates associated to older institutes. Not to be religious, but canonical and associated.
  • This is examined by two persons and forwarded to Prefect. CDF may be consulted. In granting the Nihil obstat is received, the bishop can erect as diocesan bishop. Superior professes vows before bishop. Then the rest profess vows to the superior. See I am Making Something New

Canon 580 Aggregation The aggregation of one institute of consecrated life to another is reserved to the competent authority of the aggregating institute, always safeguarding the canonical autonomy of the other institute.

  • Aggregation is a relationship between two autonomous institutes - the aggregating institute's competent authority is responsible for making the arrangements.

Canon 581 Parts It is for the competent authority of the institute to divide the institute into parts, by whatever name these may be called, to establish new parts, or to unite or otherwise modify those in existence, in accordance with the constitutions.

  • Dividing institutes is up to the internal competent authority. Constitutions are approved and define how this happens. The model of the legislator is that of religious institute devoted to apostolic work with centralized leadership and provinces. This really doesn't fit monastic life. Benedictines speak of congregations (federations), Norbertines have circuits (circaries), the abbot appoints the circary, but doesn't have authority unless the circuit is cut off from the Abbot General.

Canon 582 Restructuring Fusions and unions of institutes of consecrated life are reserved to the Apostolic See alone. To it are likewise reserved confederations or federations.

Fusion - small institute gets joined to a big one - small institute is suppressed. Two or more of same size join. Holy see ensures justice. Independent abbeys are completely responsible for everthing - are urged to federate. Federation of the canonesses of the holy seplechre. Confederation is a federation of federations. E.g. the benedictines have congregations which are federations of independent houses. All these are confederated under an Abbot Primus. Same with Canons Regular of St. Augustine, also non-reformed Cistercians. OCSO is a federation of independent houses. The separate religious families have patrimony, and they have the structures of the same name, but they have different roles and functions within their institutes. What can be done on a lower level, it is best to do it here. But what about competence, e.g. in a small diocese without a vicar for religious.

Canon 583 Changes Changes in institutes of consecrated life which affect elements previously approved by the Apostolic See, cannot be made without the permission of the same See.

Canon 584 Suppression Only the Apostolic See can suppress an institute and dispose of its temporal goods.

Suppression of an institute - this really applies to the apostolic orders. In abbeys, it isn't the institute that is important but the abbeys themselves. The institute is just a few stamps, etc.

Canon 585 Suppression of Parts The competent authority of an institute can suppress parts of the same institute.

Canon 586 Autonomy §1 A true autonomy of life, especially of governance, is recognized for each institute. This autonomy means that each institute has its own discipline in the Church and can preserve whole and entire the patrimony described in can. 578. §2 Local Ordinaries have the responsibility of preserving and safeguarding this autonomy.

True autonomy of life within the Church, for internal discipline and preservation of patrimony. The possibility to shape one's own rules is recognized: regimen and disciplina - chiefly internal elements are autonomous. A work entrusted will be done according to their own spirit / charism. But this particularly affects governance and life in community. External authority is to foster this autonomy.

Canon 587 Constitutions §1 To protect more faithfully the vocation and identity of each institute, the fundamental code or constitutions of the institute are to contain, in addition to those elements which are to be preserved in accordance with can. 578, basic norms about the governance of the institute, the discipline of the members, the admission and formation of members, and the proper object of their sacred bonds. §2 This code is approved by the competent ecclesiastical authority, and can be changed only with the consent of the same. §3 In the constitutions, the spiritual and juridical elements are to be aptly harmonized. Norms, however, are not to be multiplied without necessity. §4 Other norms which are established by the competent authority of the institute are to be properly collected in other codes, but these can be conveniently reviewed and adapted according to the needs of time and place.

CORE CANON in RELIGIOUS LAW. To protect identity = vocation. This is what you answer when someone asks who are you - and you have the time to answer. This is identity in a nutshell - but it is a start, but can never say everything. Fundamental norms are those immediately connected to Charism 1) identity; 2) governance; 3) life together (discipline); 4) incorporation, formation; 5) vows (proper object = way of observing). Legislative power is a big thing - and if there are other legislators - do they exercise jurisdiction - ubi sociatas, ibi legis. So codice here means law or just book. Sometimes there is a more clarity in the distinct forms of life. Way of governing springs from the charism - when law is written well, then you should be able to determine the spirit from that. Council of major superior is important to the way of a lifestyle - how would a carthusian council differ from an apostolic order. Elected stresses the group leadership - in abbeys, individual leadership is more connected with the identity. Spiritual and juridic elements are to be suitably joined. The two should be linked in such a way as to show the link of norms and spiritual identity. Constitutions are best short and concise. Elementary, core matters. What would make us different if we were changed. 1921, 1910 norms on how to make constitutions - too detailed. If there is no external approval - there is too ready change. Also respect the hierarchy of norms - what is essential is in constitutions; what is implementation is in 'other norms.' You only put things in the constitutions if you know why it is in that code - at that level of legislation.

Canon 588 Clerical nor Lay §1 In itself, consecrated life is neither clerical nor lay. §2 A clerical institute is one which, by reason of the end or purpose intended by the founder, or by reason of lawful tradition, is under the governance of clerics, presupposes the exercise of sacred orders, and is recognized as such by ecclesiastical authority. §3 A lay institute is one which is recognized as such by ecclesiastical authority because, by its nature, character and purpose, its proper role, defined by its founder or by lawful tradition, does not include the exercise of sacred orders.

Neither clerical nor lay - Franciscan family has both clerical and lay - it is a way of life not an apostolate. Everyone can contribute to that way of life, priest or brother. Old code was pragmatic - you are clerical if a majority of the institute are clerics. A group may go back and forth, but at least the distinction is clear. Clerical = by tradition, under the direction of clerics, assumes exercise of sacred orders, and recognized as such. It gives more rights against the bishop, even if it is inconsistent with the way of life. The very notion of cleric has evolved - in the 12th century it was associated with the ability to read and write. 588.3 definition of lay institutes is tied to identity.

Canon 589 Pontifical Right An institute of consecrated life is of pontifical right if it has been established by the Apostolic See, or formally approved by it. An institute is of diocesan right if it has been established by the diocesan Bishop and has not obtained a decree of approval from the Apostolic See.

Generally start as diocesan after consulting Rome. All institutes have the autonomy to cultivate their charism / Spiritual patrimony. Diocesan bishop has external authority only; greater or smaller; diocesan is a local reality - if it spreads, it may become pontifical. Holy See can found directly - 1980 reintegration of traditionalists: Dominicans dissenting. Also benedictine monastery in france directly dependent on Holy See.

Canon 590 Whole Church §1 Institutes of consecrated life, dedicated in a special way to the service of God and of the whole Church, are in a particular manner subject to its supreme authority. §2 The individuals are bound to obey the Supreme Pontiff as their highest Superior, by their sacred bond of obedience.

Like all Catholics. Special vocation gives rise to special attention - CICLSAL. Helpful advice - overblow vicar for religious - external authority. Doesn't have to be seen as dominating. §2 more a matter of devotion; but implies pope is internal superior. For the members of these Religious Institutes are, at all times and in all places, subject principally to the Roman Pontiff, as to their highest Superior (Canon 499, par. 1). from ADDRESS TO THE GENERAL CHAPTERS OF RELIGIOUS ORDERS AND CONGREGATIONS, POPE PAUL VI MAY 23, 1964

Canon 591 Exemption To provide for institutes and the needs of the apostolate, the Supreme Pontiff, can withdraw institutes of consecrated life from the governance of local Ordinaries and subject them to himself alone, or to some other.

Since the code, this hasn't happened. Ex-emere bought out, set free. Identity and vocation bring a rightful autonomy - Freedom in the spirit, freedom of the children of God. In practice these concepts are mixed: exemption and rightful autonomy. First exempt institute was Cluny with daughter houses. Before all religious were under diocesan bishop as all the faithful. Time of western schism, popes tried to bind people to them by privileges, e.g. exemption of religious, most exempt. But ministry, fundraising was a problem for the bishop. They tried to abolish at Trent, but didn't succeed. Old code: Canon 615* Regulares … ab Ordinarii loci iurisdictione exempti sunt…. In order to let the religious be what they are. This is not a privilege, but essential. Exemption as a privilege in the old sense doesn't exist any more, this is replaced by rightful autonomy. Franciscan exemption was an alternate circuit of pastoral care. See canon 394 - coordination of the bishop. Opus Dei causes some uneasiness in this regard. Larger autonomy for pontifical institutes. Garcia Martin in CpR 60-63 (1979-1982) on exemption.

Canon 592 Communion with Rome §1 To promote communion, each supreme Moderator is to send a brief account of the state and life of the institute to the same Apostolic See, in the manner and at the time it lays down.

The report is long - a book. Also annual report.

§2 Moderators of each institute are to promote a knowledge of the documents issued by the Holy See which affect the members entrusted to them, and are to ensure observance.

Canon 593 Pontifical Right In their internal governance and discipline, pontifical institutes are subject directly and exclusively to the authority of the Apostolic See, without prejudice to canon 586.

When there is a serious problem - solution starts at the local level, then institute, then holy see. But they can't change the nature of the institute. Power shouldn't be arbitrary - if it is, you don't have to accept.

Canon 594 Diocesan Right An institute of diocesan right remains under the special care of the diocesan Bishop, without prejudice to canon 586.

Canon 595 Diocesan Bishop §1 Bishop of the principal house approves the constitutions, confirms changes, except for matters of interest manu apposuerit to the Apostolic See. He also deals with major affairs. If the institute had spread to other dioceses, he consults other bishops.

Consulting many bishops can be cumbersome. Founding house, or center house.

§2 He also grants dispensations in particular cases.

Wherever the community exists, e.g. dispensing second year of novitiate.

Canon 596 Authority §1 Superiors and Chapters of institutes have that authority over the members which is defined in the universal law and in the constitutions.

This is a classical division: Potestas jurisdictionis: executive, administrative, legislative and jurisdiction - in clerical institutes only for the institute. Potestas dominativa - vocation, entrance, admitted when superior admits the authenticity of the vocation, she accepts the institute as the embodiment of her vocation. The authority comes from this - particular identity and vocation of institute and members - in mutuality - all serve in interdependence - the superior embodies and organizes this. Potestas domestica - organizing the house. Community will support if they understand and they shouldn't support if they don't. Use of juridical terms is only analogical - so the terms are only useful to a certain extent. Formation brings people into this reality - also sorts out motivations and the fit of religious life; vocation is a dynamic reality - leadership represents and serves the identity of the institute. Universal law gives more power of jurisdiction - the other two are more spelled out in Cx.

§2 In clerical pontifical Superiors have in addition the ecclesiastical power of governance, for both the external and the internal forum.

Legislative power pertains to general chapters, and to a limited extent to province chapters; executed by major superiors; Judicial power (theoretically). Why clerical pontifical? no practical difference, merely artificial. Ordinarii of canon 129.

§3 The provisions of canons 131, 133 and 137-144 apply to the authority mentioned in §1.

On delegation of power like ordinary. In error, church supplies power.

  • The constantly shifting sands could be detected as, in 19 71, it was the opinion of the

De sacra hierarchia study group that it was the prerogative of the “supreme authority of the Church” to determine precisely what jurisdictional power(s) could be granted to laity. By 19 79, discussion again on what would eventually become canon 596 brought to the fore the recognition that dominative power was not merely private power and that it was possible for laity to participate in the power of governance. The resulting canon 596, according to McDonough, represents a grant by the supreme authority of the Church, in the Code of Canon Law, “of potestas regiminis executiva even to superiors of lay religious institutes in those cases specified in law.” Some would even concede, according to Andrés, that with canon 596, §§ 1 and 3, “The Superiors and the Chapters of all the Religious Institutes of Consecrated Life enjoy a power without name and without adjective in the Code, which global definition consists in the universal law and in the Constitutions of every Religious Institute of Consecrated Life.”

Canon 597 Admission §1 Every catholic with a right intention and the qualities required by universal law and the institute's law, and without impediment, may be admitted. §2 No one may be admitted without suitable preparation. Thus far authority.

Canon 598 Vows and Constitutions §1 Each institute, according to its special character and purposes, to define in constitutions way of lifing the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience.

Munster commentary (legalistic): says it only applies to poverty - the external norms, but life is more than that - charism touches all vows, Carthusian / CSJ / spiritual, community, organization, evangelical.

§2 All members observe the evangelical counsels faithfully and fully, follow the institute's own law, and so strive for the perfection of their state.

598-602 belong together. In a community we share a certain view of the christian life. On entrance candidates engage the charism. Some come and have their own ideas; but there has to be an acceptance of the community's way of doing the gospel. On entrance you give up some individuality - if you enter to reform, you are a founder, not a member. The source is the institute's patrimony. Perfection is a dynamic way of doing the Gospel, in a way particular to the institute. Constitutions particularize this.

Canon 599 Chastity Chastity for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven, is a sign of the world to come, and a source of greater fruitfulness in an undivided heart. It involves the obligation of perfect continence observed in celibacy.

Here the order is chastity, poverty, obedience - following Vatican 2 which saw celibacy as the core, essential element of religious life. Poverty first is Thomistic - your things, body and will are 'sacrificed.' They might be in another order in the constitutions. Praemonstratentians put poverty first, following apostles, viewed as sharing of goods. Undivided heart: many things other than sex can divide the human heart, e.g. egoism. Celibacy - unmarried - and this is an impediment to marriage 1088 (religious - not SAL, hermit, virgin, secular institute) - in the old code only solemn vows were an impediment. Continence is harder to legislate. Canon 694, civil marriage is grounds for automatic dismissal. Defining the vows here is negative - which is more tight and juridical in form.

Canon 600 Poverty The evangelical counsel of poverty in imitation of Christ who for our sake was made poor when he was rich, entails a life which is poor in reality and in spirit, sober and industrious, and a stranger to earthly riches. It also involves dependence and limitation in the use and the disposition of goods, in accordance with each institute's own law.

This is a life in accord with human dignity, but moderate. Sober, hardworking, using goods in a proprietary manner is disallowed. Some enter young - with renunciation of what they don't have. This is different for those who enter older. Old system was dowery - kept in name of member - returned to her if she left. Dependence requires permissions.

Canon 601 Obedience Obedience, following Christ, obedient even unto death, obliges submission of one's will to lawful Superiors, acting in the place of God when they command according to the constitutions.

There may be a list of what can be required. E.g. ministries that can be required. There isn't a formula, but it should be clear and written for clarity.

Canon 602 Communion Members unite into a special family in Christ, in mutual assistance to fulfill their vocation. Communion rooted and based in charity is a sign of universal reconciliation in Christ.

We tend to think of apostolic succession in terms of the physical contact from bishop to bishop. But shouldn't we also think of it in terms of the living communion of followers of Christ going back to the beginning.

Canon 580 Aggregation The aggregation of one institute of consecrated life to another is reserved to the competent authority of the aggregating institute, always safeguarding the canonical autonomy of the other institute.

Canon 603 Hermit Can. 603 §1 Besides institutes of consecrated life, the Church recognizes the life of hermits or anchorites, in which Christ’s faithful withdraw further from the world and devote their lives to the praise of God and the salvation of the world through the silence of solitude and through constant prayer and penance. Can. 603 §2 Hermits are recognized by law as dedicated to God in consecrated life if, in the hands of the diocesan Bishop, they publicly profess, by a vow or some other sacred bond, the three evangelical counsels, and then lead their particular form of life under the guidance of the diocesan Bishop Groves, Robert. “Hermits & Consecrated Virgins.” Canon Law Society of America Proceedings 46 (1984): 141–148. Plan of life should include understanding of vows, solitude, relation to bishop, living, social dimension. See I am Making Something New

Canon 604 Virgins §1 The order of virgins also exist. Virgins are consecrated to God liturgically by the bishop, mystically espoused to Christ and dedicated to the service of the Church. §2 They can be associated for mutual assistance. Ascendit - associated like apostolic life. See I am Making Something New

Canon 605 New Forms The approval of new forms is reserved to the Apostolic See. Diocesan Bishops, however, help discern new gifts of consecrated life from the Holy Spirit gives. They assist promoters in articulating and developing the life and statutes. See I am Making Something New

Hard to imagine new forms, but there can be an opening here.

Canon 606 Gender Law applies equally for both sexes.


(Cann. 607 - 709) English Latin

Canon 607 Vows and Community §1 Religious life manifests the marvelous marriage as a sign of the world to come. Religious thus consummate a full gift of themselves as a sacrifice offered to God, so that their whole existence becomes a continuous worship of God in charity.

§2 A religious institute is a society with its own law where members profess vows and live in community. The vows are either perpetual or “temporary”. §3 The public witness involves that separation proper to the character and purpose of each institute.

Proper nature of religious life is described here. Canon 573 said it is stable; it has social, juridical, religious and sacred elements. They also have a certain autonomy. Withdrawal is from the 'worldly life' not necessarily from the world as the the arena of the action of God.


English Latin

Canon 608 Religious House Community lives in a house under a Superior with an oratory as its center.

The house is also a witness. Three for a recommended minimum = 114, they are public juridic persons. Lack of house superior is a custom against the law.

Canon 609 Establishing a House §1 A house is established, with diocesan bishop's prior written consent, by the authority competent according to the constitutions. §2 For the establishment of a monastery of cloistered nuns, the permission of the Apostolic See is also required.

Competent superior: Major superior - but for monasteries the one house for a dependent house but general chapter for an independent house.

Sample Document: ERECTION OF A HOUSE
[Authorizing team or council] of [religious institute] at [address] in accord with number ## of the Constitutions of 19##, hereby erects a house of the institute: [the house name and address] in the diocese of [diocese].
This is authorized by vote of [authorizing team or council] on [date].
Written approval of the Diocesan bishop [name] of [diocese] was given on [date].
Signed by:
[name and title of person signing for the authority in the institute] [date]
[name and title of the person signing for the diocesan bishop] [date]

Canon 610 Conditions §1 Houses established for the good of the church and the institute with a view providing for the members there to live their proper life. §2 It must be able to prudently and suitably provide for members.

If the aim is sharing life with the urban poor, there won't be a rural area. If there is an apostolate, there should be the possibility, economic means must be suitable. O.Praem. you need 8 people to start an independent monastery. This concerns the institute, but a Diocesan bishop may inquire.

Canon 611 Rights of Houses Religious house has the right: 1° live the life of the institute; 2° to engage in the works which are proper to the institute; 3° for clerics, to have a church, see canon 1215.3, and to conduct the sacred ministries.

Relations with the church may serve to keep the institute healthy. Permission is granted with permission to establish a house. There may be restrictions placed, but they should be reasonable. If superior is an ordinary, he can make other private chapels in the house.

Canon 612 Other Work Bishop's consent is needed to take on another apostolic work, but not to change internal governance and discipline.

Bishop can't require impossible, something outside charism. Will of foundations must be respected.

Canon 613 Autonomous Houses §1 A house of canons regular or of monks is autonomous, unless the constitutions decree otherwise. §2 This Moderator is by law a major Superior.

E.g. Crosiers changed to provincial structure after the French Revolution.

Canon 614 Cloistered Monasteries Nuns associated with an institute of men have autonomy of life and governance, in accordance with the constitutions - mutual rights an obligations to be defined.

In many cases an institute was founded by a movement, e.g. canons regular. Then there came to be double monasteries, under a single superior, male or female. In some cases due to problems, they wanted to separate them, abbot remained superior of nuns with real dependence. Cistercian nuns. Other times, there was more autonomy, but still affiliated to the order. Also with strict enclosure wouldn't let them attend general chapter. But this canon reorganizes and promotes the autonomy. There is a strong 'family' feeling between institute, and they organize life separate. Cistercians feel themselves one order but Rome won't allow. So they hold chapter same time same place and only 'technically' separate the voting. Polycarp Zachar describes history of cistercian nuns and organization of general chapters. Praem. nuns are considered 'incapable' of organizing their general chapter.

Canon 615 Autonomous Monasteries The house that is dependent from any other superior - the house is the institute, also under vigilance the diocesan Bishop.

They may federate. One autonomous house may stand on its own. E.g. benedictine women. There may be a an abbot general, or external superior - or there may be other practical arrangement. In a Praem. convent, a diocesan bishop placed a prioress without reference to the abbot general. These are almost of diocesan right, but there is a clear distinction over internal and external - e.g. he might preside over election, but is not to influence the election. He must respect the autonomy. After the election the chair of the chapter asks acceptance - the election is an act of the chapter. The bishop can confirm, give force to what is done by someone else. If it's okay, you have to approve.

Canon 616 Suppression of Houses §1 Supreme moderator, consulting diocesan bishop, can close house, in accordance with the constitutions. Goods disposed by proper law, with due regard for the wishes of founders or benefactors and for lawfully acquired rights.

Institute makes the decision, hearing the bishop only. Disposal for needs of institute, but also the “rights” of donors. The gift of the spirit present in the history of that house should be perpetuated however that might be possible. This is good for the people and for the institute - new life, new outpouring of the spirit and charism. “A night of forebeing.”

§2 The Holy See alone can suppress the sole house of an institute, in which case it is also reserved to the Holy See to prescribe concerning the property of the house.

This is the same as suppression of an institute - nowhere else for members to live. Goods go first to members.

§3 Unless the constitutions enact otherwise, the suppression of an autonomous house mentioned in can. 613 belongs to the general chapter.

E.g. Park Abbey Leuven. Any remaining members “freely” choose to go elsewhere, but if they vowed stability to that house.

§4 The suppression of an autonomous monastery of cloistered nuns pertains to the Apostolic See; the provisions of the constitutions are to be observed concerning the property of the monastery.

Holy see must respect the institute's law. Authority of each institute respects its constitutions as and expression of the vocation of the institute. It is a gift to the members and to the people of God.


There are two elements of leadership - there is collective leadership and individual leadership and the two should be in balance. Often personal problems are better dealt with the personally with an individual leader - collective leadership brings wisdom. Administration of spiritual and temporal goods is not best confided to just one person. The chapter puts up the big frame and the superior (and/or council) executes.


Canon 617 Superiors Superiors are to fulfill their office and exercise their power in accordance with the norms of the universal law and of their own law.

The superior is a role of organizing life for the good of the the institute and its members according to the vocation. It is a pastoral service limited by law. All members should be aware of the good and vocation of all

Canon 618 Authority The power of Superiors rom God to be exercised by them in service: 1) docile to the will of God, 2) govern respectfully, 3) promote voluntary obedience 4) listen willingly to members, 5) foster cooperation and in the end 6) decide and command.

If some are highly motivated, they can bring the rest along and the collective will govern itself. You only need superior when there is a danger or urgency.

Canon 619 Pastoral Care Superiors are to devote themselves to their office with diligence. With members, build evangelical community. They have the duty to evangelize the community - coming together around the gospel with the lens of the community; to be an example, give personal support and bring together to prayer, and care for the needs especially of the most needy.

The superior should well enough embody the charism of the institute. It is the personal pastoral care that is the most important role. From Augustinian rule - the superior loses a lot of time in this pastoral care.

Canon 620 Major Superiors Major Superiors are govern an entire institute or major part, his accedunt: Abbot Primate, monastic Superior and their vicars (as defined constitutions).

This depends a lot on the type of institute: Abbot Primate - Abbot General - Apostolic Superior General.

Canon 621 Province A province is a union of several houses which, under one superior, constitutes an immediate part of the same institute, and is canonically established by lawful authority.

It is a major part of the institute and may have other names.

Canon 622 Supreme Moderator The supreme Moderator has authority over all within law. Other Superiors have authority within the limits of their office.

Autonomous houses aren't under the power of the houses or members. So this canon is more on the model of apostolic communities. Superiors are often linked to a certain level or a certain task. They should have the power to carry out their office - personally and juridically.

Canon 623 Qualifications For valid Superior, members must be finally professed for an term determined in proper law.

Since univeral law requires the law, you have to get dispensation from Holy See (or diocesan bishop for diocesan right congregation - dispensing from constitutions).

Canon 624 Terms §1 Superiors are for a term unless constitutions establish otherwise for the supreme Moderator and for Superiors of an autonomous house.

All provincials are for term. Jesuit general and Abbots, Abbesses. Constitutions may leave it to the chapter. Roles of superiors differ, according to charism of institute. Mission of members, need for stability, type of relationship: family relationship or task oriented relationship. It can be for life, indefinite, to a definite age. Freedom is left for the institutes.

§2 Not too long in office without interruption.

Re-election possibilities specified in proper law. Holy See generally won't accept multiple postulations. This is all types of superiors. Michel Dortel-Claudot, SJ history of religious life and legislation. If this is defined in the constitutions, the approving authority dispenses.

§3 Superiors may be removed or transferred to another office as per the institute's own law.

Establishment of possibility is sufficient - according to the judgment of the superior, etc.

Canon 625 Election The supreme Moderator of the institute is to be designated by canonical election, in accordance with the constitutions.

Must be in Constitutions but detailed norms can be in other places. It can be in general chapter or special chapter of elections.

§2 The Bishop presides elections of canon 615 houses and institute of diocesan right.

He presides by delegate, he himself should be a friendly pastoral presence.

§3 Other Superiors are to be constituted in accordance with the constitutions, elected and confirmed or appointed after consultation.

Freedom, informal, consultative vote, any method is possible, but the upcoming appointment should be announced and give the chance for input. Depending of course on the life of the community. E.g. an abbot appoints the prior with whom he can collaborate; house superior is more autonomous. There should be a certain unity among the various leaders.

Canon 626 Integrity in Elections Superiors in appointing and electing to observe law and avoid abuse or lobbying. Viewing only God and the good of the institute.

No sanction. Presider could refuse confirmation. Proper law could sharpen this. First to cause trouble will be those who lobbied for a person because whoever is doing it, for self or other is really promoting private self-interest.

Canon 627 Council §1 Superiors are to have their own council, as constitutions provide, and make use of them.

Important group, proper law will provide particular decisions which require advice or consent. Wouldn't affect sale of property, but may affect validity of profession.

§2 Universal and proper law determine cases in which the validity of an act depends upon consent or advice being sought in accordance with canon 127.

Know your identity, and read the law as function of that identity.

Canon 628 Visitation §1 Visitator appointed by superior works as in proper law.

This is a useful and essential institute - allows to open up and have some contact with the whole. Some separation is needed, but some unity as well. Identity and vocation are built up to support the health of a community. Often done in connection with general chapter. This too will be according to the nature of the institute, temporalities, charism.

§2 Bishops visit 1) autonomous monasteries canon 615; 2) diocesan right houses. Derogated by CO 130

Bishop acts as superior of the institute. It is sensible to delegate a religious to carry this out.

§3 The members are to act with confidence, truth and charity towards the visitator. Members are to respond, no one to hinder.

There should be a schema for the visitation so everyone knows what is to be done, visitator and members. It is a time of freedom and sanctuary - it can be a burden, not always abuses, but also to confirm good the vocation, but also give helpful criticism.

Canon 629 Residence Superiors are to reside each in his or her own house.

Canon 630 Freedom of Conscience §1 Superiors to acknowledge the freedom due to the members concerning the penance and conscience.

In enclosure, you choose a life where you may have limited your freedom to go out. You may choose not to avail yourself of the confessor provided. “Norm” was once a week - it is devotional spiritual direction then.

§2 Superiors are to ensure availability of confessors.

§3 Nuns or large lay communities are to have ordinary confessors, approved by the local Ordinary after consultation with the community. Members have no obligation.

Members may watch each other too carefully - they too should allow one another freedom.

§4 Superiors are not to hear the confessions of their subjects unless spontaneously requested.

This can be a problem in the superior being able to act. Also leave the freedom both for the member, and for the leader to lead. Superior can divulge or use the information.

§5 Members to approach superiors with trust, openness and freedom. Superiors are forbidden to induce members to make a manifestation of conscience.

It is one sided - you are to be open and listen, but not to induce the manifestation. Someone is weeping, you can go to them, comfort, but can't say “what's wrong?” The superior should keep a respectful distance to be open, but not to force it. Intuitions can be there, but be circumspect about it.


Canon 631 General Chapter §1 General chapter has supreme authority in accordance with the constitutions. It represents the whole institute signifying unity in charity. It protects the patrimony of the institute, fosters appropriate renewal, elects the supreme Moderator, deals with matters of greater importance, and issues norms.

§2 The composition of the general chapter and the limits of its powers are to be defined in the constitutions. The institute's own law is to determine in further detail the order to be observed in the celebration of the chapter, especially regarding elections and the matters to be treated.

§3 According to the norms determined in the institute's own law, not only provinces and local communities, but also any individual member may freely submit their wishes and suggestions to the general chapter.

Canon 632 Proper Law The institute's own law is to determine in greater detail matters concerning other chapters and other similar assemblies of the institute, that is, concerning their nature, authority, composition, procedure and time of celebration.

Canon 633 Consultation

§1 Participatory and consultative bodies are faithfully to carry out the task entrusted to them, in accordance with the universal law and the institute's own law. In their own way they are to express the care and participation of all the members for the good of the whole institute or community .

§2 In establishing and utilizing these means of participation and consultation, a wise discernment is to be observed, and the way in which they operate is to be in conformity with the character and purpose of the institute.


Sackett 85 CLSA Proceedings - case studies.

Canon 634 Capacity to Own

§1 Since they are by virtue of the law juridical persons, institutes, provinces and houses have the capacity to acquire, possess, administer and alienate temporal goods, unless this capacity is excluded or limited in the constitutions.

§2 They are, however, to avoid all appearance of luxury, excessive gain and the accumulation of goods.

Canon 635 Ecclesiastical Goods

§1 Since the temporal goods of religious institutes are ecclesiastical goods, they are governed by the provisions of Book V on 'The Temporal Goods of the Church', unless there is express provision to the contrary.

§2 Each institute, however, is to establish suitable norms for the use and administration of goods, so that the poverty proper to the institute may be fostered, defended and expressed.

Canon 636 Separate Finance Officer

§1 In each institute, and in each province ruled by a major Superior, there is to be a financial administrator, distinct from the major Superior and constituted in accordance with the institute's own law. The financial administrator is to administer the goods under the direction of the respective Superior. Even in local communities a financial administrator, distinct from the local Superior, is in so far as possible to be constituted.

§2 At the time and in the manner determined in the institute's own law the financial administrator and others with financial responsibilities are to render an account of their administration to the competent authority.

Canon 637 Autonomous Monasteries Once a year, the autonomous monasteries mentioned in can. 615 are to render an account of their administration to the local Ordinary. The local Ordinary also has the right to be informed about the financial affairs of a religious house of diocesan right.

Canon 638 Extraordinary Administration

§1 It is for an institute's own law, within the limits of the universal law, to define the acts which exceed the purpose and the manner of ordinary administration, and to establish what is needed for the validity of an act of extraordinary administration.

§2 Besides Superiors, other officials designated for this task in the institute's own law may, within the limits of their office, validly make payments and perform juridical acts of ordinary administration.

§3 For the validity of alienation, and of any transaction by which the patrimonial condition of the juridical person could be adversely affected there is required the written permission of the competent Superior, given with the consent of his or her council. Moreover, the permission of the Holy See is required if the transaction involves a sum exceeding that which the Holy See has determined for each region, or if it concerns things donated to the Church as a result of a vow, or objects which are precious by reason of their artistic or historical value.

§4 For the autonomous monasteries mentioned in can. 615, and for institutes of diocesan right, the written consent of the diocesan Bishop is necessary. Derogated by CO 52, 81d, 108 See Perlasca, Alberto. “La Capacità Patrimoniale Degli Istituti Religiosi.” Quaderni Di Diritto Ecclesiale 22, no. 1 (2009): 118–129.

Canon 639 Debts

§1 If a juridical person has contracted debts and obligations, even with the permission of the Superior, it is responsible for them.

§2 If individual members have, with the permission of the Superior, entered into contracts concerning their own property, they are responsible. If, however, they have conducted business for the institute on the mandate of a Superior, the institute is responsible.

§3 If a religious has entered into a contract without any permission of Superiors, the religious is responsible, not the juridical person.

§4 However, an action can always be brought against a person who has gained from a contract entered into.

§5 Superiors are to be careful not to allow debts to be contracted unless they are certain that normal income can service the interest on the debt, and by lawful amortization repay the capital over a period which is not unduly extended.

Canon 640 Collective Testimony Taking into account the circumstances of the individual places, institutes are to make a special effort to give, as it were, a collective testimony of charity and poverty. They are to do all in their power to donate something from their own resources to help the needs of the Church and the support of the poor.



Canon 641 Right to Admit The right to admit candidates to the novitiate belongs to the major Superiors, in accordance with the norms of the institute's own law.

Canon 642 Diligence in Screening Superiors are to exercise a vigilant care to admit only those who, besides being of required age, are healthy, have a suitable disposition, and have sufficient maturity to undertake the life which is proper to the institute. If necessary, the health, disposition and maturity are to be established by experts, without prejudice to can. 220.

Canon 643 Requirements

§1 The following are invalidly admitted to the novitiate:

  • 1° One who has not yet completed the seventeenth year of age;
  • 2° a spouse, while the marriage lasts;
  • 3° one who is currently bound by a sacred bond to some institute of consecrated life, or is incorporated in some society of apostolic life, without prejudice to can. 684;
  • 4° one who enters the institute through force, fear or deceit, or whom the Superior accepts under the same influences;
  • 5° one who has concealed his or her incorporation in an institute of consecrated life or society of apostolic life.

§2 An institute's own law can constitute other impediments even for the validity of admission, or attach other conditions.

Canon 644 Secular Clerics Superiors are not to admit secular clerics to the novitiate without consulting their proper Ordinary; nor those who have debts which they are unable to meet.

Canon 645 Suitability

§1 Before candidates are admitted to the novitiate they must produce proof of baptism and confirmation, and of their free status.

§2 The admission of clerics or others who had been admitted to another institute of consecrated life, to a society of apostolic life, or to a seminary, requires in addition the testimony of, respectively, the local Ordinary, or the major Superior of the institute or society, or the rector of the seminary.

§3 An institute's own law can demand further proofs concerning the suitability of candidates and their freedom from any impediment.

§4 The Superiors can seek other information, even under secrecy, if this seems necessary to them.


Canon 646 Purpose The purpose of the novitiate, by which life in an institute begins, is to give the novices a greater understanding of their divine vocation, and of their vocation to that institute. During the novitiate the novices are to experience the manner of life of the institute and form their minds and hearts in its spirit. At the same time their resolution and suitability are to be tested.

Canon 647 Novitiate House

§1 The establishment, transfer and suppression of a novitiate house are to take place by a written decree of the supreme Moderator of the institute, given with the consent of the council.

§2 To be valid, a novitiate must take place in a house which is duly designated for this purpose. In particular cases and by way of exception and with the permission of the supreme Moderator given with the consent of the council, a candidate can make the novitiate in another house of the institute, under the direction of an approved religious who takes the place of the director of novices.

§3 A major Superior can allow a group of novices to reside, for a certain period of time, in another specified house of the institute.

Canon 648 Length of Novitiate

§1 For validity, the novitiate must comprise twelve months spent in the novitiate community, without prejudice to the provision of can. 647 §3.

§2 To complete the formation of the novices, the constitutions can prescribe, in addition to the time mentioned in §1, one or more periods of apostolic activity, to be performed outside the novitiate community.

§3 The novitiate is not to be extended beyond two years.

Canon 649 Time Away

§1 Without prejudice to the provisions of can. 647 §3, and can. 648 §2, a novitiate is invalidated by an absence from the novitiate house of more than three months, continuous or broken. Any absence of more than fifteen days must be made good.

§2 With the permission of the competent major Superior, first profession may be anticipated, though not by more than fifteen days.

Canon 650 Object of Novitiate

§1 The object of the novitiate demands that novices be formed under the supervision of the director of novices, in a manner of formation to be defined by the institute's own law.

§2 The governance of the novices is reserved to the director of novices alone, under the authority of the major Superiors.

Canon 651 Director of Novices

§1 The director of novices is to be a member of the institute who has taken perpetual vows and has been lawfully designated.

§2 If need be, directors of novices may be given assistants, who are subject to them in regard to the governance of the novitiate and the manner of formation.

§3 Those in charge of the formation of novices are to be members who have been carefully prepared, and who are not burdened with other tasks, so that they may discharge their office fruitfully and in a stable fashion.

Canon 652 Responsibilities

§1 It is the responsibility of the directors of novices and their assistants to discern and test the vocation of the novices, and gradually to form them to lead the life of perfection which is proper to the institute.

§2 Novices are to be led to develop human and Christian virtues. Through prayer and self-denial they are to be introduced to a fuller way of perfection. They are to be instructed in contemplating the mystery of salvation, and in reading and meditating on the sacred Scriptures. Their preparation is to enable them to develop their worship of God in the sacred liturgy. They are to learn how to lead a life consecrated to God and their neighbor in Christ through the evangelical counsels. They are to learn about the character and spirit of the institute, its purpose and discipline, its history and life, and be imbued with a love for the Church and its sacred Pastors.

§3 Novices, conscious of their own responsibility, are to cooperate actively with the director of novices, so that they may faithfully respond to the grace of their divine vocation.

§4 By the example of their lives and by prayer, the members of the institute are to ensure that they do their part in assisting the work of formation of the novices.

§5 The period of novitiate mentioned in can. 648 §1, is to be set aside exclusively for the work of formation. The novices are therefore not to be engaged in studies or duties which do not directly serve this formation.

Canon 653 Free to Leave

§1 A novice may freely leave the institute. The competent authority of the institute may also dismiss a novice.

§2 On the completion of the novitiate, a novice, if judged suitable, is to be admitted to temporary profession; otherwise the novice is to be dismissed. If a doubt exists concerning suitability, the time of probation may be prolonged by the major Superior, in accordance with the institute's own law, but for a period not exceeding six months.


Canon 654 Profession By religious profession members make a public vow to observe the three evangelical counsels. Through the ministry of the Church they are consecrated to God, and are incorporated into the institute, with the rights and duties defined by law.

Canon 655 Length of temporary Profession Temporary profession is to be made for the period defined by the institute's own law. This period may not be less than three years nor longer than six years.

Canon 656 Valid Temporary Profession The validity of temporary profession requires:

  • 1° that the person making it has completed at least the eighteenth year of age;
  • 2° that the novitiate has been made validly;
  • 3° that admission has been granted, freely and in accordance with the norms of law, by the competent Superior, after a vote of his or her council;
  • 4° that the profession be explicit and made without force, fear or deceit;
  • 5° that the profession be received by the lawful Superior, personally or through another.

Canon 657 Perpetual Profession

§1 When the period of time for which the profession was made has been completed, a religious who freely asks, and is judged suitable, is to be admitted to a renewal of profession or to perpetual profession; otherwise, the religious is to leave.

§2 If it seems opportune, the period of temporary profession can be extended by the competent Superior in accordance with the institute's own law. The total time during which the member is bound by temporary vows may not, however, extend beyond nine years.

§3 Perpetual profession can for a just reason be anticipated, but not by more than three months.

Canon 658 Requirements Besides the conditions mentioned in can. 656, nn. 3, 4 and 5, and others attached by the institute's own law, the validity of perpetual profession requires:

  • 1° that the person has completed at least the twenty-first year of age;
  • 2° that there has been previous temporary profession for at least three years, without prejudice to the provision of can. 657 §3.


Canon 659 Temporary Professed

§1 After first profession, the formation of all members in each institute is to be completed, so that they may lead the life proper to the institute more fully, and fulfill its mission more effectively.

§2 The institute's own law is, therefore, to define the nature and duration of this formation. In this, the needs of the Church and the conditions of people and times are to be kept in mind, insofar as this is required by the purpose and the character of the institute.

§3 The formation of members who are being prepared for sacred orders is governed by the universal law and the institute's own program of studies.

Canon 660 Systematic Formation

§1 Formation is to be systematic, adapted to the capacity of the members, spiritual and apostolic, both doctrinal and practical. Suitable ecclesiastical and civil degrees are to be obtained as opportunity offers.

§2 During the period of formation members are not to be given offices and undertakings which hinder their formation.

Canon 661 Ongoing Formation Religious are to be diligent in continuing their spiritual, doctrinal and practical formation throughout their lives. Superiors are to ensure that they have the assistance and the time to do this.


English Latin

Canon 662 Following Christ Religious are to find their supreme rule of life in the following of Christ as proposed in the Gospel and as expressed in the constitutions of their own institute. Supreme law is the following of Christ – all the rest of the canons are the means. Following Christ is lived according to the particular expression of the religious institute. Sources: 593; LG 46; PC 1-2a; PO 18; ES 11; ET 12. Connection: 573, 598ss, 607, 654.

Canon 663 Prayer

§1 The first and principal duty of all religious is to be the contemplation of things divine and constant union with God in prayer. Religious are transformed in and into contemplation; no longer a religious who prays, but a religious prayer.

§2 Each day the members are to make every effort to participate in the Eucharistic sacrifice, receive the most holy Body of Christ and adore the Lord himself present in the Sacrament. Eucharist center of life – also linked to 608 requiring an oratory in the house. To the degree it is possible – in 1917 it was the superior who regulated. Absolute respect for conscience is proposed here. Only excluded are those excommunicates / interdicted, etc. 912, 915, 1331, 1332. For clerics, EM and ICM say you can't impose concelebration or forbid individual celebration.

§3 They are to devote themselves to reading the sacred Scriptures and to mental prayer. In accordance with the provisions of their own law, they are to celebrate the liturgy of the hours worthily, without prejudice to the obligation of clerics mentioned in can. 276, §2, n.3. They are also to perform other exercises of piety. Lectio divina is one method; meditation is another. Constitutions should fix the modalities and times and communitarian practices.

§4 They are to have a special devotion to the Virgin Mother of God, the example and protectress of all consecrated life, including by way of the rosary. Devotion colored by the particular spirituality of the institute is recommended; rosary is recommended, not required. Develop in the light of canons: 246.3, 276.2.3 5, & 1186.

§5 They are faithfully to observe the period of annual retreat. This is a seal on the spiritual journey. The constitutions supply the modality, type, duration, in accord with ancient practice of 5, 6 or 8 days. Also there are the periodic days of retreat, reflection and desert.

Sources: 1. CD 33; PC 2,5,6; PO 18; RC 5; VS V; ET 42, 43, 45; MR, 16, 24; LMR II: 1 2. 125.2; 595.1.2, 2; 610.2; PC 6; PO 18; ET 47, 48; MF 771; LMR II:9 3. 125.2; 595.1.2; 610.1 3; PC 6; OT 8; DV 25; PO 18; ES II: 21; SCR Rescr., 17 aug 1967, 1; VS II; ET 42, 43, 45; MR 24; LMR II:8, 12 4. 125.2; LG 65; OT 8; Paulus PP. VI, adh Ap. Signum magnum, 13 maii 1967, II (AAS 59 [1967] 471); ET 56, Paulus PP. VI, Adh. Ap. Marialis cultus, 2 feb. 1974, 21, 49 (AAS 66 [1974] 132-133, 158-159); LMR II: 13 5. 126, 595.1.1; PO 18; ET 35 Connections: 246.3, 276.2.3 5, 608, 912, 915, 1331-1332, 1186

Canon 664 Conversion Religious are earnestly to strive for the conversion of soul to God. They are to examine their consciences daily, and to approach the sacrament of penance frequently. Sources: 125.1, 595.1.3; PO 18; Paen IIIe; SCRIS Decr. Dum canonicarum legum, 8, dec 1970, 3 (AAS 63 [1971] 318); LMR II: 10. Connections: 630 – provision of confessor and freedom of conscience. This canon is closely linked with the one before both in content and in legislative sources.

Canon 665 Religious Houses

§1 Religious are to reside in their own religious house and observe the common life; they are not to stay elsewhere except with the permission of the Superior. For a lengthy absence from the religious house, the major Superior, for a just reason and with the consent of the council, can authorize a member to live outside a house of the institute; such an absence is not to exceed one year, unless it be for reasons of health, studies or an apostolate to be exercised in the name of the institute. Prolonged absence is not defined, but clearly is less than a year. The 1917 code limited it to 6 months. The propria domo religiosa is more clearly expressed in the constitutions and practices of each institute. Flexibility is required in today's mobile society, taking into account the good of the individual, the community and the ministry. Sources: 1: 594.1, 606; CA 15; PC 15; SCR Decr. Religionum laicalium, 31 maii 1966, 4 (AAS 59 [1967] 362); ES II: 25

1) Absence is always to have a just cause (note, a grave cause is not required). 2) Permission of the superior is always required. 3) The absence should be (a) for cause of illness, apostolate or study, otherwise it must be no more than a year. Note, if a longer absence is required, see Canon 686 on exclaustration.

§2 Members who unlawfully absent themselves from a religious house with the intention of withdrawing from the authority of Superiors, are to be carefully sought out and helped to return and to persevere in their vocation. This is much softer than the provisions of the 1917 code (644, 645, 2386) which spoke of the apostate and fugitive religious. However, Canon 696 below speaks of acting canonically against a religious who is illegitimately absent for 6 months. Sources: 2: 616.1, 644, 645, 2385, 2386, 2389. Connections: 90, 127.2.1, 202, 607-608, 620, 686-693, 696, 702.2, 1341, 1371.2.

Canon 666 Social Communication In using the means of social communication, a necessary discretion is to be observed. Members are to avoid whatever is harmful to their vocation and dangerous to the chastity of a consecrated person. Vatican 2 reversed early magisterial denunciations of new media, proclaiming the means of social communication to be marvelous inventions and tools for evangelization. This has no source in the 1917 code, but here puts the responsibility on the member. Sources: SCS Notif., 10 jul 1957; SCR Lit. cir., 6 aug 1957; IM 9, 10; SCS Instr., 15 jul. 1964; PC 12; ES I: 25.2a,b; CICS Instr. Communio et progression, 21 maii 1971, 64-70 (AAS 63 [1971] 617-620); ET 46; LMR II: 14. Connections: 598.1, 607, 662-664, 822-832 (on means of communication in Book Three - Teaching Office)

Canon 667 Enclosure

§1 In accordance with the institute's own law, there is to be in all houses an enclosure appropriate to the character and mission of the institute. Some part of the house is always to be reserved to the members alone. N: Cloister establishes a zone of privacy for the community such as Canon 220 provides for the individual; restricting the right of ingress of nonmembers and the right of egress of members. It is much more flexible than the 1917 code and much is left to the constitutions. Sources: 604.1,2; SCR Rescr., 17 aug 1967, 3; ET 46

§2 A stricter discipline of enclosure is to be observed in monasteries which are devoted to the contemplative life. Sources: 597-599; PC 16; ES II: 30; VS VII: 1,2

§3 Abrogated by Cor Orans Monasteries of cloistered nuns who are wholly devoted to the contemplative life, must observe papal enclosure, that is, in accordance with the norms given by the Apostolic See (Venite Seorsum). Other monasteries of cloistered nuns are to observe an enclosure which is appropriate to their nature and is defined in the constitutions. Sources: 597.1, 600-603; CI Resp. III, 1 mar. 1921 (AAS 13 [1921] 177); SCR Instr. Nuper edito, 6 feb. 1924 (AAS 16 [1924] 96-101); SCR Instr. Inter cetera, 25 mar. 1956 (AAS 48 [1956] 512-526); SpC IV; SCR Instr. Inter praeclara, 23 nov. 1950, I-XVI (AAS 43 [1951] 37-41); PC 7, 16; ES II: 30-32; VS VII: 1-17.

§4 Derogated by CO 83g, 174, 175 The diocesan Bishop has the faculty of entering, for a just reason, the enclosure of cloistered nuns whose monasteries are situated in his diocese. For a grave reason and with the assent of the Abbess, he can permit others to be admitted to the enclosure, and permit the nuns to leave the enclosure for whatever time is truly necessary. N: Entrance requires: authorization of the bishop, consent of the Abbess and a grave and just cause - consent of the abbess is not in PM 34, but was introduced in the code; likewise, privileges for heads of state from the 1917 code are abolished. Healthcare, technical services, etc have always been permitted. Sources: cc 600.1, 4, 601; PM 34; SCRIS Decl., 2 jan. 1970. Connections: 6.1.2,3, 17, 90, 127, 220, 607.3

  • The superior gives permissions for entrances and exits for a just cause.

Canon 668 Poverty

§1 Before their first profession, members are to cede the administration of their goods to whomsoever they wish and, unless the constitutions provide otherwise, they are freely to make dispositions concerning the use and enjoyment of these goods. At least before perpetual profession, they are to make a will which is valid also in civil law. N:se practical norms are linked to Canon 600 on the vow of poverty. Sources: 569.1,3, 580.1 CI Resp 9, 16 oct 1919 (AAS 11 [1919] 478); SCR Resp., 26 mar. 1957; SCR Resp., 1 mar 1958; AIE 6

§2 To change these dispositions for a just reason, and to take any action concerning temporal goods, there is required the permission of the Superior who is competent in accordance with the institute's own law. Sources: 580.3, 583.2; CA 17; SCR Decr. Religionum laicalium, 31 maii 1966, 6 (AAS 59 [1967] 363); SCRIS Decr. Cum superiores generales, 27 nov 1969 (AAS 61 [1969] 738-739)

§3 Whatever a religious acquires by personal labor, or on behalf of the institute, belongs to the institute. Whatever comes to a religious in any way through pension, grant or insurance also passes to the institute, unless the institute's own law decrees otherwise. N: As an integral part of the institute, the member receives all necessaries from the institute: Canons 654 670. 580.1,2 582, 594.2; SCR Resp., 16 mar 1922 (AAS 14 [1922] 196-197); PC 13; ES ii: 23; ET21

§4 When the nature of an institute requires members to renounce their goods totally, this renunciation is to be made before perpetual profession and, as far as possible, in a form that is valid also in civil law; it shall come into effect from the day of profession. The same procedure is to be followed by a perpetually professed religious who, in accordance with the norms of the institute's own law and with the permission of the supreme Moderator, wishes to renounce goods, in whole or in part. 581; CA 16; ES II: 24; SCR Decr. Religionum laicalium, 31 maii 1966, 6 (AAS 59 [1967] 363)

§5 Professed religious who, because of the nature of their institute, totally renounce their goods, lose the capacity to acquire and possess goods; actions of theirs contrary to the vow of poverty are therefore invalid. Whatever they acquire after renunciation belongs to the institute, in accordance with the institute's own law. 579, 582.1. Connections: 600, 653.2, 654, 670, 1192.2. Sackett 85 CLSA Proceedings - case studies.

Canon 669 Sign of Consecration

§1 As a sign of their consecration and as a witness to poverty, religious are to wear the habit of their institute, determined in accordance with the institute's own law. N: If there is no habit of the institute, they wear simple clothing of the region. Sources 596; SCR Notif., 6 feb. 1965; PC 17; SCR Rescr., 17 aug. 1967, 2; SCRIS Normae, 8 jun. 1970; ET 22; SCRIS Notif., 25 feb. 1972; SCRIS Notif mar 1974; SCRIS Notif., 12 nov. 1976; SCGE Litt. circ. 25 jan 1977; SCRIS Ep., 4 mar. 1977

§2 Religious of a clerical institute who do not have a special habit are to wear clerical dress, in accordance with can. 284. Sources 136.1, 188.7, 2379; SCRIS Notif., 25 feb. 1972; SCRIS Notif mar 1974; SCE Litt. circ. 27 jan 1976; SCRIS Notif., 12 nov. 1976

Canon 670 Right to All Necessary for Vocation The institute must supply the members with everything that, in accordance with the constitutions, is necessary to fulfill the purpose of their vocation. N: This is the only right strictly speaking in the whole title; an it is quite general, and in a sense is a sum of all the duties of the institute for the members. It is an innovation in this code. Sources: LG 43; PC 18; ET 26; See also Trent XXV regulares c.2. Connections: 618-619, 659

Canon 671 Permission for Outside Offices Religious are not to undertake tasks and offices outside their own institute without the permission of the lawful Superior. Sources: 608; CD 35.2; ET 20, 26. Connections: 145.1, 601, 618, 654, 681-682

Canon 672 Other Canons Religious are bound by the provisions of cann. 277 (celibacy) ,285 (exercise of civil power), 286 (unauthorized commercial activities), 287 (political or labor offices - except to defend the rights of the church or common good) and 289 (military service that is not avoidable). Religious who are clerics are also bound by the provisions of can. 279 §2 (continuing education). In lay institutes of pontifical right, the permission mentioned in can. 285 §4 (administering the affairs of lay people) can be given by the major Superior. Sources: 592; SCR Resp. 15 jul. 1919 (AAS 11 [1919] 321-323); SCR Litt. circ., 10 feb. 1924; SCR Litt. 29 apr. 1946; SCR Litt. circ., 2 maii 1951; SCR Secr. Militare servitium, 30 jul. 1957 (AAS 49 [1957] 871-874); LMR I. Connections: 135.2, 277, 279.2, 285-287, 289, 599, 607, 660-661, 666-667, 669, 1392.


English Latin

Canon 673 Life is Primary Mission The apostolate of all religious consists primarily in the witness of their consecrated life, which they are bound to foster through prayer and penance.

Canon 674 Contemplative Institutes Institutes which are wholly directed to contemplation always have an outstanding part in the mystical Body of Christ. They offer to God an exceptional sacrifice of praise. They embellish the people of God with very rich fruits of holiness, move them by their example, and give them increase by a hidden apostolic fruitfulness. Because of this, no matter how urgent the needs of the active apostolate, the members of these institutes cannot be called upon to assist in the various pastoral ministries.

Canon 675 Apostolate Essential

§1 Apostolic action is of the very nature of institutes dedicated to apostolic works. The whole life of the members is, therefore, to be imbued with an apostolic spirit, and the whole of their apostolic action is to be animated by a religious spirit.

§2 Apostolic action is always to proceed from intimate union with God, and is to confirm and foster this union.

§3 Apostolic action exercised in the name of the Church and by its command is to be performed in communion with the Church.

Canon 676 Participation in Pastoral Mission Lay institutes of men and women participate in the pastoral mission of the Church through the spiritual and corporal works of mercy, performing very many different services for people. They are therefore to remain faithful to the grace of their vocation.

Canon 677 Proper Works

§1 Superiors and members are faithfully to hold fast to the mission and works which are proper to their institute. According to the needs of time and place, however, they are prudently to adapt them, making use of new and appropriate means. §2 Institutes which have associations of Christ's faithful joined to them are to have a special care that these associations are imbued with the genuine spirit of their family.

Canon 678 Relations of Bishop to Apostolate §1 In matters concerning the care of souls, the public exercise of divine worship and other works of the apostolate, religious are subject to the authority of the Bishops, whom they are bound to treat with sincere obedience and reverence. §2 In the exercise of an apostolate towards persons outside the institute, religious are also subject to their own Superiors and must remain faithful to the discipline of the institute. If the need arises, Bishops themselves are not to fail to insist on this obligation. §3 In directing the apostolic works of religious, diocesan Bishops and religious Superiors must proceed by way of mutual consultation.

Canon 679 Bishop Forbids Residence For a very grave reason a diocesan Bishop can forbid a member of a religious institute to remain in his diocese, provided the person's major Superior has been informed and has failed to act; the matter must immediately be reported to the Holy See.

Canon 680 Apostolic Cooperation Organized cooperation is to be fostered among different institutes, and between them and the secular clergy. Under the direction of the Bishop, there is to be a coordination of all apostolic works and actions, with due respect for the character and purpose of each institute and the laws of its foundation.

Canon 681 Works Entrusted

§1 Works which the diocesan Bishop entrusts to religious are under the authority and direction of the Bishop, without prejudice to the rights of religious Superiors in accordance with can. 678 §§2 and 3. §2 In these cases a written agreement is to be made between the diocesan Bishop and the competent Superior of the institute. This agreement must expressly and accurately define, among other things, the work to be done, the members to be assigned to it and the financial arrangements.

Canon 682 Ecclesiastical Office

§1 If an ecclesiastical office in a diocese is to be conferred on a member of a religious institute, the religious is appointed by the diocesan Bishop on presentation by, or at least with the consent of, the competent Superior.

§2 The religious can be removed from the office at the discretion of the authority who made the appointment, with prior notice being given to the religious Superior; or by the religious Superior, with prior notice being given to the appointing authority. Neither requires the other's consent.

Canon 683 Episcopal Visitation

§1 Either personally or through a delegate, the diocesan Bishop can visit churches or oratories to which Christ's faithful have habitual access, schools other than those open only to the institute's own members, and other works of religion and charity entrusted to religious, whether these works be spiritual or temporal. He can do this at the time of pastoral visitation, or in a case of necessity.

§2 If the diocesan Bishop becomes aware of abuses, and a warning to the religious Superior having been in vain, he can by his own authority deal with the matter.



Canon 684 Transfer

§1 Perpetually professed members cannot transfer from their own religious institute to another, except by permission of the supreme Moderators of both institutes, given with the consent of their respective councils.

§2 On completion of a probationary period of at least three years, the member can be admitted to perpetual profession in the new institute. A member who refuses to make this profession, or is not admitted to do so by the competent Superiors, is to return to the original institute, unless an indult of secularization has been obtained.

§3 For a religious to transfer from one autonomous monastery to another monastery of the same institute, federation or confederation, the consent of the major Superior of both monasteries and of the chapter of the receiving monastery is required and is sufficient, unless the institute's own law has established further conditions. A new profession is not required.

§4 The institute's own law is to determine the time and manner of the probation which must precede the member's profession in the new institute.

§5 To transfer to a secular institute or to a society of apostolic life, or to transfer from these to a religious institute, the permission of the Holy See is required and its instructions are to be followed. Authentic Interpretation Religious means also those in temporary vows.

Canon 685 Rights of Transfers

§1 Until profession is made in the new institute, the rights and obligations of the member in the previous institute are suspended, but the vows remain. From the beginning of probation, the member is bound to observe the laws of the new institute.

§2 By profession in the new institute the member is incorporated into it, and the earlier vows, rights and obligations cease.


Canon 686 Exclaustration

§1 With the consent of the council, the supreme Moderator can for a grave reason grant an indult of exclaustration to a finally professed member for up to three years. In the case of a cleric, this requires the prior consent of the Ordinary of the place where the cleric resides. To extend this indult, or to grant one for more than three years, is reserved to the Holy See or, in an institute of diocesan right, to the diocesan Bishop. Member with expired exclaustration is that of illicit absence, see, can 665. There should be some contact and pastoral care; this should be discussed with the member, since expectations in this regard may differ. Extensions may be granted by the Holy See once, but rarely a second time. It is understood that the institute can grant 1 one year periods, it is only when the whole time is more than 3 years that one must go to Rome for the permission. Exclaustration time requires a lot of adjustment - it requires discipline for a member to find the necessary time to discern, with all the distractions of transition, living and working. Civil law issues include implied agency relationship, or negligent entrustment of roles and assets, negligent supervision. Take care if an exclaustrated member may have access / opportunity for malfeasance, for their sake, the good of the public, and the potential liability of the institute.

§2 Only the Apostolic See can grant an indult of exclaustration for cloistered nuns. Derogated by CO 130, 177, 178

§3 At the request of the supreme Moderator acting with the consent of the council, exclaustration can be imposed by the Holy See on a member of an institute of pontifical right, or by a diocesan Bishop on a member of an institute of diocesan right. In either case a grave reason is required, and equity and charity are to be observed. [Can end only with the permission of the imposing authority. Granted rarely. Since it implicates rights, process for dismissal must be used: warnings, right of defense, etc.]

Leave of Absence is simple permission to be absent. It was used under the 1917 code to avoid going to Rome for exclaustration. Current practice in this regard is often a hold over from that period.

Canon 687 Effects of Exclaustration

Exclaustrated members are dispensed from obligations incompatible with their new condition. They remain dependent on and under the care of their Superiors and, particularly in the case of a cleric, of the local Ordinary. They may wear the religious habit, unless the indult specifies otherwise, but they lack active and passive voice. Live poverty: simply, turning over excess income, non-ownership. However, if members are planning to depart, the accountability is relaxed. Member should be self-supporting, but Can 670 requires equity and charity. Duty of celibate chastity remains. Habit may raise expectations and implied agency in civil law.

Canon 688 Temporary Professed

§1 A person who, on completion of the time of temporary profession, wishes to leave the institute, is free to do so.

§2 A person who, during the time of temporary profession, for a grave reason asks to leave the institute, can obtain an indult to leave. In an institute of pontifical right, this indult can be given by the supreme Moderator with the consent of his or her council. In institutes of diocesan right and in the monasteries mentioned in can. 615, the indult must, for validity, be confirmed by the Bishop in whose diocese is located the house to which the person is assigned.

Canon 689 Exclusion From Further Profession

§1 The competent major Superior, after consulting his or council, can for just reasons exclude a member from making further profession on the completion of temporary profession.

§2 Even though contracted after profession, a physical or psychological infirmity which, in the judgment of experts, renders the member mentioned in §1 unsuited to lead a life in the institute, constitutes a reason for not admitting the member to renewal of profession or to perpetual profession, unless the infirmity was contracted through the negligence of the institute or because of work performed in the institute.

§3 A religious who becomes insane during the period of temporary vows cannot be dismissed from the institute, even though unable to make a new profession.

Canon 690 Re-admission

§1 A person who lawfully leaves the institute after completing the novitiate or after profession, can be re-admitted by the supreme Moderator, with the consent of his or her council, without the obligation of repeating the novitiate. The same Moderator is to determine an appropriate probation prior to temporary profession, and the length of time in vows before making perpetual profession, in accordance with the norms of can. 655 and 657.

§2 The Superior of an autonomous monastery, acting with the consent of his or her council, has the same faculty.

Canon 691 Grounds for Departure

§1 A perpetually professed religious is not to seek an indult to leave the institute, except for very grave reasons, weighed before the Lord. The petition is to be presented to the supreme Moderator of the institute, who will forward it to the competent authority with his or her own opinion and that of the council.

§2 In institutes of pontifical right this indult is reserved to the Apostolic See. In institutes of diocesan right the indult can be granted by the Bishop in whose diocese is located the house to which the religious is assigned.

Canon 692 Effect of Indult An indult to leave the institute, which is lawfully granted and notified to the member, by virtue of the law itself carries with it, unless it has been rejected by the member in the act of notification, a dispensation from the vows and from all obligations arising from profession.

Canon 693 Incardination after Departure If the member is a cleric, the indult is not granted until he has found a Bishop who will incardinate him in his diocese or at least receive him there on probation. If he is received on probation, he is by virtue of the law itself incardinated in the diocese after five years, unless the Bishop has rejected him.


Canon 694 Automatic Dismissal

§1 A member is to be considered automatically dismissed if he or she:

  • 1° has notoriously defected from the catholic faith;
  • 2° has contracted marriage or attempted to do so, even civilly.

§2 In these cases the major Superior with his or her council must, after collecting the evidence, without delay make a declaration of the fact, so that the dismissal is juridically established.

Canon 695 Obligatory Dismissal

§1 A member must be dismissed for the offenses mentioned in cann. 1397, 1398 and 1395, unless, for the offenses mentioned in can. 1395 §2, the Superior judges that dismissal is not absolutely necessary; and that sufficient provision can be made in some other way for the amendment of the member, the restoration of justice and the reparation of scandal.

§2 In these cases the major Superior is to collect the evidence concerning the facts and the imputability of the offense The accusation and the evidence are then to be presented to the member, who shall be given the opportunity for defense All the acts, signed by the major Superior and the notary, are to be forwarded, together with the written and signed replies of the member, to the supreme Moderator.

Canon 696 Cause for Dismissal

§1 A member can be dismissed for other causes, provided they are grave, external, imputable and juridically proven. Among such causes are: habitual neglect of the obligations of consecrated life; repeated violations of the sacred bonds; obstinate disobedience to the lawful orders of Superiors in grave matters; grave scandal arising from the culpable behavior of the member; obstinate attachment to, or diffusion of, teachings condemned by the magisterium of the Church; public adherence to materialistic or atheistic ideologies; the unlawful absence mentioned in can. 665 §2, if it extends for a period of six months; other reasons of similar gravity which are perhaps defined in the institute's own law.

§2 A member in temporary vows can be dismissed even for less grave reasons determined in the institute's own law.

Canon 697 Development of Record

§1 In the cases mentioned in can. 696, if the major Superior, after consulting his or her council, judges that the process of dismissal should be commenced:

  • 1° the major Superior is to collect or complete the evidence;
  • 2° the major Superior is to warn the member in writing, or before two witnesses, with an explicit caution that dismissal will follow unless the member reforms. The reasons for dismissal are to be clearly expressed and the member is to be given every opportunity for defense If the warning has no effect, another warning is to be given after an interval of at least fifteen days;
  • 3° if this latter warning is also ineffectual, and the major Superior with his or her council judges that there is sufficient proof of incorrigibility, and that the defense by the member is insufficient, after fifteen days from the last warning have passed in vain all the acts, signed by the major Superior and the notary, are to be forwarded, together with the signed replies of the member, to the supreme Moderator.

Canon 698 Communication with Supreme Moderator In all the cases mentioned in cann. 695 and 696, the member always retains the right to communicate with, and send replies directly to, the supreme Moderator.

Canon 699 Dismissal Decision

§1 The supreme Moderator and his or her council are to proceed in collegial fashion in accurately weighing the evidence, the arguments, and the defense For validity, the council must comprise at least four members. If by a secret vote it is decided to dismiss the religious, a decree of dismissal is to be drawn up, which for validity must express at least in summary form the reasons in law and in fact.

§2 In the autonomous monasteries mentioned in can. 615, the judgment about dismissal belongs to the diocesan Bishop. The Superior is to submit the acts to him after they have been reviewed by the council.

Canon 700 Decree of Dismissal The decree of dismissal has no effect unless it is confirmed by the Holy See, to whom the decree and all the acts are to be forwarded. If the matter concerns an institute of diocesan right, the confirmation belongs to the Bishop in whose diocese is located the house to which the religious belongs. For validity the decree must indicate the right of the person dismissed to have recourse to the competent authority within ten days of receiving notification of the decree. The recourse has a suspensive effect.

Canon 701 Effect of Dismissal By lawful dismissal, both the vows and the rights and duties deriving from profession automatically cease. If the member is a cleric, he may not exercise sacred orders until he finds a Bishop who will, after a suitable probation, receive him into his diocese in accordance with can. 693, or who will at least allow him to exercise his sacred orders.

Canon 702 Who Misses

§1 Whoever lawfully leaves a religious institute or is lawfully dismissed from one, cannot claim anything from the institute for any work done in it.

§2 The institute, however, is to show equity and evangelical charity towards the member who is separated from it.

Canon 703 Expulsion §1 In a case of grave external scandal, or of extremely grave and imminent harm to the institute, a member can be expelled forthwith from the house by the major Superior. If there is danger in delay, this can be done by the local Superior with the consent of his or her council. The major Superior, if need be, is to introduce a process of dismissal in accordance with the norms of law, or refer the matter to the Apostolic See.

Canon 704 Report Separated Members In the report to be sent to the Apostolic See in accordance with can. 592, §1, mention is to be made of members who have been separated in any way from the institute.


English Latin

Canon 705 Released from Religious obligations A religious who is raised to the episcopate remains a member of his institute, but is subject only to the Roman Pontiff by his vow of obedience. He is not bound by obligations which he prudently judges are not compatible with his condition.

[|Authentic Interpretation] Religious Bishops loose active and passive vote.

Canon 706 Administration of Goods In the case of the religious mentioned above:

  • 1° if he has lost the ownership of his goods through his profession he now has the use and enjoyment and the administration of the goods which he acquires. In the case of a diocesan Bishop and of those mentioned in can. 381 §2, the particular Church acquires their ownership; in the case of others, they belong to the institute or the Holy See, depending on whether the institute is or is not capable of possessing goods;
  • 2° if he has not lost the ownership of his goods through his profession, he recovers the use and enjoyment and the administration of the goods he possessed; what he obtains later, he acquires fully;
  • 3° in both cases any goods he receives which are not personal gifts must be disposed of according to the intention of the donors.

Canon 707 Emeritus

§1 A religious Bishop 'emeritus' may choose to reside outside the house of his institute, unless the Apostolic See disposes otherwise.

§2 If he has served a diocese, can. 402 §2 is to be observed concerning his suitable and worthy maintenance, unless his own institute wishes to provide such maintenance. Otherwise, the Apostolic See is to make other provision.


English Latin

Canon 708 Establishment Major Superiors can usefully meet together in conferences and councils, so that by combined effort they may work to achieve more fully the purpose of each institute, while respecting the autonomy, nature and spirit of each. They can also deal with affairs which are common to all, and work to establish suitable coordination and cooperation with Episcopal Conferences and with individual Bishops.

Canon 709 Statutes Conferences of major Superiors are to have their own statutes, which must be approved by the Holy See. Only the Holy See can establish them or give them juridical personality. They remain under the ultimate direction of the Holy See.


(Cann. 710 - 730) English Latin

Canon 710 Definition A secular institute is an institute of consecrated life in which Christ's faithful, living in the world, strive for the perfection of charity and endeavor to contribute to the sanctification of the world, especially from within.

Canon 711 Canonical Status Without prejudice to the provisions of the law concerning institutes of consecrated life, consecration as a member of a secular institute does not change the member's canonical status among the people of God, be it lay or clerical.

Canon 712 Sacred Bonds Without prejudice to the provisions of can. 598–601, the constitutions are to establish the sacred bonds by which the evangelical counsels are undertaken in the institute. They are to define the obligations which these bonds entail, while always preserving in the manner of life the secular character proper to the institute.

Canon 713 Apostolic Activity

§1 Members of these institutes express and exercise their special consecration in apostolic activity. Like a leaven, they endeavor to permeate everything with an evangelical spirit for the strengthening and growth of the Body of Christ.

§2 Lay members participate in the evangelizing mission of the Church in the world and from within the world. They do this by their witness of Christian life and of fidelity to their consecration, and by the assistance they give in directing temporal affairs to God and in animating the world by the power of the Gospel. They also offer their cooperation to serve the ecclesial community in accordance with the secular manner of life proper to them.

§3 Clerical members, by the witness of their consecrated life, especially in the presbyterium, support their colleagues by a distinctive apostolic charity, and in the people of God they further the sanctification of the world by their sacred ministry.

Canon 714 Life in the World Members are to live their lives in the ordinary conditions of the world, either alone, in their families or in fraternal groups, in accordance with the constitutions.

Canon 715 Clerical members

§1 Clerical members incardinated in a diocese are subject to the diocesan Bishop, except for whatever concerns the consecrated life of their own institutes.

§2 Those who, in accordance with the norms of can. 266 §3, are incardinated in the institute, and who are appointed to works proper to the institute or to the governance of the institute, are subject to the Bishop in the same way as religious.

Canon 716 Active members

§1 All members are to take an active part in the life of the institute, in accordance with the institute's own law.

§2 Members of the same institute are to preserve a rapport with one another, carefully fostering a unity of spirit and a genuine fraternity.

Canon 717 Governance

§1 The constitutions are to determine the institute's own form of governance. They are to define the period of time for which Moderators exercise their office and the manner in which they are to be designated.

§2 No one is to be designated supreme Moderator unless definitively incorporated into the institute.

§3 Those entrusted with the governance of the institute are to ensure that its unity of spirit is maintained, and that the active participation of the members is developed.

Canon 718 Temporal Goods The administration of the goods of the institute must express and foster evangelical poverty. It is governed by the norms of Book V on 'The Temporal Goods of the Church', and by the institute's own law. This same law of the institute is also to define the obligations, especially the financial obligations, of the institute towards the members engaged in its work.

Canon 719 Obligations of Members

§1 Members are to respond faithfully to their vocation, and their apostolic action is to proceed from their union with Christ. They are therefore to devote themselves assiduously to prayer and engage in a suitable way in the reading of the sacred Scriptures. They are to make an annual retreat and perform other spiritual exercises in accordance with their own law.

§2 The celebration of the Eucharist, daily where possible, is to be the source and strength of their whole consecrated life.

§3 They are to go freely to the sacrament of penance and receive it frequently.

§4 They are to be free to obtain the necessary spiritual direction. Should they so desire, they may seek such counsel even from their Moderators.

Canon 720 Who Admits The right of admitting a person to the institute, or to probation, or to the taking of sacred bonds, both temporary and perpetual or definitive, belongs to the major Moderators with their council, in accordance with the constitutions.

Canon 721 Admission

§1 The following are invalidly admitted to initial probation:

  • 1° one who has not yet attained majority;
  • 2° one who is currently bound by a sacred bond in another institute of consecrated life, or incorporated in a society of apostolic life;
  • 3° a spouse, while the marriage lasts.

§2 The constitutions can establish other impediments to admission, even for validity, or attach conditions to it.

§3 For a person to be received into the institute, that degree of maturity is required which is necessary to live the life of the institute properly.

Canon 722 Initial Probation

§1 The initial probation is to be so arranged that the candidates can better recognize their divine vocation and their vocation to that institute, and be trained in the spirit and manner of life of the institute.

§2 Candidates are to be properly formed to live a life according to the evangelical counsels. They are to be taught how to translate this life completely into their apostolate, applying those forms of evangelistic which best correspond to the purpose, spirit and character of the institute.

§3 The constitutions are to define the manner and time of the probation to be made before the first sacred bonds are undertaken in the institute; this time is to be not less than two years.

Canon 723 First Incorporation

§1 When the time of the initial probation has been completed, a candidate who is judged suitable is either to undertake the three evangelical counsels, sealed with a sacred bond, or to leave the institute.

§2 This first incorporation is to be temporary, in accordance with the constitutions, but is to be for not less than five years.

§3 When this period of incorporation has been completed, a member who is judged suitable is to be admitted to perpetual, or definitive incorporation, that is, by temporary bonds always to be renewed.

§4 Definitive incorporation is equivalent to perpetual incorporation in respect of defined juridical effects, which are to be established in the constitutions.

Canon 724 Sacred Bonds

§1 After the first acceptance of the sacred bonds, formation is to continue without interruption in accordance with the constitutions.

§2 Members are to be formed simultaneously in matters human and divine. The Moderators of the institute are to have a serious concern for the continued spiritual formation of the members.

Canon 725 Associate Members The institute can associate with itself, by some form of bond determined in the constitutions, other members of Christ's faithful who seek evangelical perfection according to the spirit of the institute and who share in its mission.

Canon 726 Temporary Incorporation

§1 When the time of temporary incorporation is completed, the member can freely leave the institute, or can for a just cause be excluded from renewing the sacred bonds by the major Moderator, after consultation with his or her council.

§2 A temporarily incorporated member who freely requests it, can for a grave reason be granted an indult to leave the institute by the supreme Moderator, with the consent of the council.

Canon 727 Departure

§1 A perpetually incorporated member who wishes to leave the institute must, after seriously weighing the matter before the Lord, petition the Apostolic See through the supreme Moderator, if the institute is of pontifical right; otherwise, the indult can also be obtained from the diocesan Bishop, as determined in the constitutions.

§2 For a cleric who is incardinated in the institute, the provision of can. 693 is to be observed.

Canon 728 Departure When an indult to leave the institute has been lawfully granted, all bonds, rights and obligations deriving from incorporation cease.

Canon 729 Dismissal A member is dismissed from the institute in accordance with the norms of cann. 694 and 695. The constitutions are also to determine other reasons for dismissal, provided they are proportionately grave, external, imputable and juridically proven. The procedure established in cann. 697-700 is to be observed, and the provisions of can. 701 apply to the person who is dismissed.

Canon 730 Transfer For a member to transfer from one secular institute to another, the provisions of can. 684 §§1, 2, 4 and 685, are to be observed. A transfer to or from another kind of institute of consecrated life requires the permission of the Apostolic See, whose instructions must be followed.


(Cann. 731 - 746) English Latin

Canon 731 Definition

§1 Societies of apostolic life resemble institutes of consecrated life. Their members, without taking religious vows, pursue the apostolic purpose proper to each society. Living a fraternal life in common in their own special manner, they strive for the perfection of charity through the observance of the constitutions.

§2 Among these societies are some in which the members, through a bond defined in the constitutions, undertake to live the evangelical counsels.

Canon 732 Other Canons Cann. 578-597 and 606 apply to societies of apostolic life, with due regard, however, for the nature of each society. For the societies mentioned in can. 731 §2, cann. 598-602 also apply.

Canon 733 Establishing Houses

§1 A house is established and a local community is constituted by the competent authority of the society, with the prior written consent of the diocesan Bishop. The Bishop must also be consulted when there is question of its suppression. §2 Consent to establish a house carries with it the right to have at least an oratory in which the blessed Eucharist is celebrated and reserved.

Canon 734 Constitutions The governance of the society is determined by the constitutions, without prejudice, in accordance with the nature of each society, to cann. 617–633.

Canon 735 Admission

§1 The admission, probation, incorporation and formation of members are determined by each society's own law.

§2 For admission into the society, the conditions prescribed in cann. 642-645 are to be observed.

§3 The society's own law must determine a program of doctrinal, spiritual and apostolic probation and formation that is adapted to the purpose and character of the society. In this way members can recognize their divine vocation and be suitably prepared for the mission and way of life of the society.

Canon 736 Incardination

§1 In clerical societies, the clerics are incardinated into the society, unless the constitutions determine otherwise.

§2 The norms concerning the secular clergy apply to the program of studies and reception of orders, without prejudice to §1.

Canon 737 Incorporation For the members, incorporation carries with it the rights and obligations defined in the constitutions. On the part of the society, it implies a responsibility to lead the members towards the purpose of their vocation, in accordance with the constitutions.

Canon 738 Authority

§1 All members are subject to their own Moderators in matters concerning the internal life and discipline of the society, in accordance with the constitutions.

§2 They are also subject to the diocesan Bishop in matters concerning public worship, the care of souls and other works of the apostolate, with due regard to cann. 679-683.

§3 The relationship between a member who is incardinated in a diocese and his proper Bishop is to be defined in the constitutions or in particular agreements.

Canon 739 Clerical Obligations Apart from the obligations which derive from their constitutions, members are bound by the common obligations of clerics, unless the nature of things or the context indicates otherwise.

Canon 740 Live in Houses Members must live in a lawfully constituted house or community and observe a common life, in accordance with their own law. This same law also governs their absence from the house or community.

Canon 741 Juridic Personality

§1 Societies and, unless the constitutions provide otherwise, their constituent parts and their houses, are juridical persons. As such, they are capable of acquiring, possessing, administering and alienating temporal goods in accordance with the provisions of Book V on 'The Temporal Goods of the Church', of cann. 636, 638 and 639, and of their own law.

§2 Members are also capable, in accordance with their own law, of acquiring, possessing, administering and disposing of temporal goods, but whatever comes to them in view of the society is acquired for the society.

Canon 742 Departure The departure and dismissal of a member who is not definitively incorporated are governed by the constitutions of each society.

Canon 743 Dispensation A member who is definitively incorporated can obtain an indult to leave the society from the supreme Moderator with the consent of the council, unless the constitutions reserve this to the Apostolic See. This indult means that the rights and obligations deriving from definitive incorporation cease, without prejudice to can. 693.

Canon 744 Transfer

§1 Permission for a member who is definitively incorporated to transfer to another society of apostolic life is likewise reserved to the supreme Moderator with the consent of his or her council. The rights and obligations of the member's own society are suspended for the time being, but the member has the right to return to it before definitive incorporation into the new society.

§2 To transfer to an institute of consecrated life or from such an institute to a society of apostolic life, the permission of the Holy See is required, and its instructions are to be followed.

Canon 745 Live Outside The supreme Moderator, with the consent of his or her council, can grant a definitively incorporated member an indult to live outside the society for a period not exceeding three years. Rights and obligations which are not compatible with this new condition are suspended, but the member remains under the care of the Moderators. If the member is a cleric, the consent of the Ordinary of the place where he must reside is also required, and the member remains under the care of the Ordinary and dependent upon him.

Canon 746 Dismissal For the dismissal of a member who is definitively incorporated, the provisions of cann. 694-704 are to be observed, making the appropriate adjustments.

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