Religious institute

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Ordensinstitut is the canonical designation of religious orders in the Roman Catholic Church .

Church law delimitation

In the canon law of the Latin Church , the Codex Iuris Canonici (CIC) of 1983, religious institutes are listed in cann. 607-709 CIC regulated. Together with the secular institutes ( cann. 710–730 CIC ) they form the institutes of consecrated life ( cann. 573–606 CIC ). The societies of apostolic life ( cann. 731–755 CIC ) do not formally belong to the religious institutes , for which the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life is also responsible.

Differentiation between orders and congregations

The religious communities of the Roman Catholic Church traditionally distinguish between orders and congregations. The orders include communities that have existed for more than 700 years. Which includes

Congregations are younger associations that mostly did not emerge before the 17th century. In the CIC of 1983, the distinction between orders and congregations is no longer to be found, but it still exists in the respective proper law of the papally approved communities. Congregations differ from the old orders practically only in that their members take so-called simple vows , while the members of the old orders take solemn vows. In contrast to orders and congregations under papal law, a congregation under episcopal law is not directly subordinate to the Pope , but is set up and supervised by the responsible diocesan bishop .

Name of the members

Members of religious institutes (religious) are generally called religious men (also friars ) or women religious (or nuns ). Religious sisters are sometimes used specifically to denote religious women who do not live in a papal enclosure ; as friars, the members of orders of brothers and generally predominantly non-clerics. Members of monastic orders are called monks or nuns . According to canon law, nuns include all female members of old orders who take solemn vows, regardless of their tradition. When one speaks of Canons Regular Canons , with female members of Kanonikerorden ( canonesses ) also canonesses or choir women.

Proper law

The individual law of the individual associations contains, in addition to the foundations of the spirituality of the respective community, various specific canonical regulations; it includes the rules of the order and internal guidelines and statutes , which are usually called constitutions, as well as the associated implementing provisions (often called the Directory) such as election regulations, descriptions of offices, responsibilities, etc. can. 598 §2 CIC stipulates: "All members must not only follow the evangelical counsels faithfully and completely, but also shape their lives according to the institute's own law and thus strive for the perfection of their status."


  • Bruno Primetshofer : Ordensrecht: On the basis of the Codex Iuris Canonici 1983 and the CCEO taking into account the national law of the Federal Republic of Germany, Austria and Switzerland (= Rombach Science ). 4th edition. Rombach, Freiburg i. Br. 2003, ISBN 3-7930-9354-9 .