Institute of Consecrated Life
Institutes of consecrated life are communities in the Roman Catholic Church whose members, through public vows, promise a life according to the evangelical counsels .
Church law delimitation
Institutes of consecrated life are legally distinguished from societies of apostolic life ( cann. 731-755 CIC ), whose members do not take vows. The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life in the Holy See are responsible for both legal forms .
The common ground of the Institutes of Consecrated Life are on the current Canon Law CIC of 1983 in cann. 573–606 CIC , supplemented by the apostolic letter Vita consecrate of John Paul II. It applies
“The life consecrated by profession of the evangelical counsels consists in a permanent way of life in which believers, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit in particularly close following of Christ, give themselves completely to God, the most beloved, and for his glorification as well as for the building up of the Church and to enter into a new and special bond for the salvation of the world, to reach perfect love in the service of the kingdom of God and, having become a shining sign in the church, to announce the heavenly glory. "
In religious institutes ( cann. 607-709 CIC ) the members usually live together in a monastery and form a religious community . They are each
"An association in which the members take public, perpetual or temporary vows according to their proper law, but which must be renewed after the expiry of time, and lead a fraternal life in community."
The distinction between old orders ( monastic orders, mendicant orders , chivalric orders , regular canons and regular clerics ) and newer congregations was abolished with the revision of canon law in 1983.
The historical forerunners of the secular institutes ( cann. 710-730 CIC ) go back to the end of the 16th century , their legal recognition and incorporation into the orders of consecrated life recognized by the Church took place on February 2, 1947 with the Apostolic Constitution Provida mater ecclesia of Pope Pius XII. (1939-1958). Canon law stipulates:
“The believers who consecrate themselves to God in the secular institutes live the discipleship of Christ by accepting the three evangelical counsels, to which they commit themselves by a sacred bond, in the middle of the world. They dedicate their lives to Christ and to the Church and work for the sanctification of the world above all from within. "
The persons belonging to this consecrated life maintain the position they have in the world. They live and work in the midst of God's people without leaving their social environment ( cann. 711 and 713 CIC ). They keep their own lifestyle. A secular institute is open to clerics, lay people, men and women , depending on its statutes . The members lead an independent life, either alone or in their families ( can. 714 CIC ). Each community is represented by an elected leader. The transfer from a secular institute to a religious institute or a society of apostolic life or to another secular institute requires the consent of the Holy See ( can. 730 CIC ).
Institutes of consecrated life may, subject to the approval of the Apostolic See, join together and form confederations and federations ( can. 582 CIC ).
Institutes of diocesan and papal law
The diocesan bishops are allowed to set up institutes of consecrated life in their dioceses , for example a congregation under episcopal law . This requires consultation with the Apostolic See and is concluded in an episcopal decree ( can. 579 CIC ). According to these provisions, it is considered an “institute of diocesan law” and remains under the care of the diocesan bishop ( can. 594 CIC ).
Institutes of consecrated life established and recognized by the Apostolic See are called “institutes of papal law” ( cann. 579 + 589 CIC ). They are “directly and exclusively under the power of the Apostolic See” ( can. 593 CIC ), have their own ordinaries in their major superiors and are largely exempted from the episcopal jurisdiction .
Clerical and lay institutes
Institutes of consecrated life are in and of themselves neither clerical nor lay in character and can be occupied by both clergy and lay people ( can. 588 §1 CIC ). In a clerical institute, clerics exercise the leadership and ordination as priest is usually provided for its members ( can. 588 §2 CIC ). An institute led by laypeople is referred to as a lay institute whose character and purpose do not include the exercise of consecration ( can. 588 §3 CIC ).
Vows and promises
The members of the Institutes of Consecrated Life take vows , solemn vows in the ancient orders, but simple vows in the congregations and secular institutes. Members of societies of apostolic life do not make vows but make promises. These do not differ with regard to the evangelical counsels. The main difference lies in the fact that the different forms do not result in the same binding under canon law. This is relevant, for example, with the procedure for a member's resignation.
- Vita Consecrata (John Paul II) , post-synodal apostolic exhortation on the consecrated life