Superior of the Order

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A religious superior (also superior ) is the head of a monastic community or religious community ( convent ) or an association of monasteries ( congregation or religious province ). She is called superior in women's orders . The rulers have different names in the different orders and order families. As a higher superior one calls u. a. Head of a religious province ( provincial or provincial superior ) or an entire religious community (religious general or superior general ).

Competencies, rights and obligations

Through the vow of obedience , religious are obliged to follow the instructions of their rightful superiors in everything that concerns the life of the community, taking into account the law of the Church and the proper law of their religious institute . For their part, religious superiors are required to regard their office as a service to the community, the unity of which they must protect, and to encourage and inspire the members by their example and authority to lead an exemplary religious life.

“Superiors are to exercise the authority they have received from God through the service of the Church in the spirit of service. So devoted to the will of God in the performance of their office, they have to guide their subordinates like sons of God and, with respect for the human person, encourage their voluntary obedience, gladly listen to them and promote their unity for the benefit of the Institute and the Church , but without prejudice to their authority to decide and prescribe what to do. "

- Codex iuris canonici can. 618; see. cann. 617-630.

Superiors are not allowed to hear the confession of their subordinates unless they ask for it of their own accord ( can. 630 CIC ).

Appointment process and advisory boards

Religious superiors are either appointed by the major superiors or elected by the religious chapter , depending on their position and the legal constitution of their association . Mixed procedures are also common, which provide for the necessary confirmation of the election by a superior superior or the Pope or which have a list of candidates drawn up by elections from which the person to be appointed is selected. Higher superiors and, in larger branches, local superiors are supported in their management tasks by a council consisting of several elected or appointed members (usually called consilium, definitory , religious council, convent, provincial or general council ), which in certain cases has certain rights to have a say.

Male lay people as superiors

In some Roman Catholic religious orders or monasteries for men, the leadership positions are reserved for religious priests . The same applies to the monks priests of the Orthodox monasteries. On the other hand, in fraternities to which no or only a few priests belong, and with special dispensation in some Franciscan orders for men, friars can also act as superiors of clergy .

Official titles

The designation of the superiors differs in the various religious orders from one another. The heads of independent monastic monasteries with the rank of an abbey carry the title abbot . Some superiors of independent branches of certain orders of canons such as the Premonstratensian and Augustinian canons also refer to themselves as abbots, but in general the term provost, which is also used in canonical monasteries , predominates in canon orders . In many older orders, the designation prior or prioress for the house superior is common. The superiors of many Franciscan orders refer to themselves as ministers ("servants"), custos ( Latin custos "guardians" ) or guardians ("guardians"). These names go back to the founder of the order Francis of Assisi and are already mentioned in the medieval order of the Franciscans. In other orders, the official designation Magister or Magistra ("teacher" or "master") is common. In the religious orders of knights , the term master is traditionally used for the superiors .

Also for the highest governance office of the Association ( General Superior / -in; too German about "general (r) superintendent (in)"), there are, depending on the tradition of the Communities different names (eg. Abbot General , General Minister, General MA ). In many orders and congregations , however, unspecific designations such as general or superior general are common. The abbot primate is the term given to the supreme representatives of non-centralist orders, who are endowed with less extensive powers and which are composed of independent monastic associations ( congregations ). The top ladder of spiritual order of knights are wholesale or Grand Master called.

In the Orthodox churches , monastery heads comparable to superiors are usually referred to in Greek as hegumen or archimandrite, depending on their position .

See also


Individual evidence

  1. CIC (1983), chap. II Management of the Institutes, Art. 1 Superiors and Councilors. In:, accessed June 30, 2019.
  2. Premonstratensian Order. Speinshart Monastery , accessed February 10, 2017 .
  3. ^ List of the provosts and Lateran abbots of the Neustift monastery. (No longer available online.) In: Archived from the original on May 21, 2009 ; accessed on February 10, 2017 .
  4. Glossary. German Franciscan Province, accessed on February 10, 2017 .
  5. ^ Karl Suso Frank : Franciscans. I. Idea and basic structure . In: Walter Kasper (Ed.): Lexicon for Theology and Church . 3. Edition. tape 4 . Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 1995, Sp. 30th f .
  6. US-Americans become the new Abbot Primate of the Benedictines. (No longer available online.) Vatican Radio , September 10, 2016, archived from the original on November 7, 2016 ; accessed on February 10, 2017 .