Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Apostolic Letter on Community Life "Community life is an essential element of religious life..." FULL TEXT

Unofficial Translation from Vatican.va - will be replaced with Official 




 Community life is an essential element of religious life and "religious must live in their own religious house observing common life and cannot be absent without permission from their superior" (can. 665 §1 CIC). However, the experience of the last few years has shown that situations related to illegitimate absences from the religious house occur, during which religious escape the power of the legitimate Superior and sometimes cannot be traced.

The Code of Canon Law requires the Superior to seek the illegitimately absent religious to help him return and persevere in his vocation (see can. 665 §2 CIC). However, it often happens that the Superior is unable to trace the absent religious. According to the Code of Canon Law, after at least six months of illegitimate absence (see can. 696 CIC), it is possible to begin the process of dismissal from the institute, following the established procedure (see can. 697 CIC). However, when the place where the religious resides is ignored, it becomes difficult to give legal certainty to the actual situation.

Therefore, without prejudice to what is established by the law on dismissal after six months of illegitimate absence, in order to help the institutions observe the necessary discipline and be able to proceed to the dismissal of the religious illegally absent, especially in cases of unavailability, I decided to add to the can . 694 § 1 CIC among the reasons for dismissal ipso facto from the institution also the illegitimate absence prolonged by the religious house, protracted for at least twelve continuous months, with the same procedure described in can. 694 § 2 CIC. The declaration of the fact by the major Superior, to produce juridical effects, must be confirmed by the Holy See; for the institutes of diocesan right the confirmation is up to the Bishop of the principal center.

The introduction of this new number in § 1 of can. 694 also requires a change to can. 729 relating to secular institutes, for which the application of optional resignation for illegitimate absence is not envisaged.

All this considered, I now have the following:

Art. 1. The can. 694 CIC is fully replaced by the following text:

§1. The religious must be considered as resigned from the institute by the very fact that:

1) the Catholic faith was notoriously abandoned;

2) has contracted marriage or has attempted it, even if only civilly;

3) he was absent from the religious house illegitimately, in accordance with can. 665 § 2, for twelve months without interruption, the irreducibility of the religious himself is kept in mind.

§2. In such cases the major superior with his council must without delay, having gathered the evidence, issue the declaration of the fact so that the dismissal is legally established.

§3. In the case provided for in § 1 no. 3, this declaration to be legally established must be confirmed by the Holy See; for the institutes of diocesan right the confirmation is up to the Bishop of the principal center.

Art. 2. The can. 729 CIC is fully replaced by the following text:

The dismissal of a member from the institute takes place in accordance with cann. 694 § 1, 1 and 2 and 695. The constitutions also define other causes of dismissal, provided that they are proportionately serious, external, attributable and juridically proven, and the procedure established in cann. 697-700. The provisions of can. 701.

As resolved with this Apostolic Letter in the form of Motu Proprio, I order that it have firm and stable force, notwithstanding anything contrary even if it is worthy of special mention, and that it be promulgated by publication in L'Osservatore Romano, entering into force on 10 April 2019 , and then published in the official commentary of the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

Given in Rome, at St. Peter's, on March 19, 2019, Solemnity of St. Joseph, seventh in his pontificate.


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