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Pope calls for updated rules on ties between bishops, religious orders

CWN - January 03, 2014

During a November 29 session with leaders of religious orders, Pope Francis called upon men and women religious to “wake up the world,” and said that existing Church rules governing the relations between bishops and religious orders are outdated.

Immediately following the Pope’s November meeting with the Union of Superiors General, the Vatican revealed that the Pope had announced the year 2015 would be dedicated to consecrated life. But the remainder of the Pope’s message at the closed-door session had not been made public. Now the authoritative Jesuit journal Civilta Cattolica has published the full text of the Pope’s remarks.

The Pope said that Mutuae Relationes, the 1978 Vatican document on the relations between religious orders and diocesan bishops, “was useful at the time but is now outdated.” He said that he looks forward to an updated version of the document, so that the ties between religious orders and diocesan authority can be “rescued.”

“We bishops need to understand that consecrated persons are not functionaries but gifts that enrich the diocese,” the Pope told the religious superiors. “The charisms of the various institutes need to be respected and fostered because they are needed in dioceses.”

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  • Posted by: ElizabethD - Jan. 03, 2014 4:58 PM ET USA

    The ties between local bishops and religious orders indeed need to be rescued. I suspect Pope Francis wants local bishops rather than Rome to deal with more doctrinal problems even for religious congregations "exempt" from the authority of the local bishop. The reaction of the prioress of a large "exempt" LCWR congregation when I exposed and challenged her congregation on doctrinal problems was to point to their "exemption" from the local bishop, even though I hadn't mentioned the local bishop.

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