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The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (Latin : Congregatio pro Institutis Vitae Consecratae et Societatibus Vitae Apostolicae) is the congregation of the Roman Curia with competency over everything which concerns Institutes of Consecrated Life (orders and religious congregations, both of men and of women, as well as secular institutes) and Societies of Apostolic Life, regarding their government, discipline, studies, goods, rights, and privileges.
In the Roman Curia, a congregation is a type of department of the Curia. They are second highest-ranking departments, ranking below the two Secretariats, and above the pontifical councils, pontifical commissions, tribunals and offices.
The Roman Curia comprises the administrative institutions of the Holy See and the central body through which the affairs of the Catholic Church are conducted. It acts in the Pope’s name and with his authority for the good and for the service of the particular Churches and provides the central organization for the Church to advance its objectives.
In the Roman Catholic Church, a secular institute is an organization of individuals who are consecrated persons and live in the world, unlike members of a religious institute, who live in community. It is one of the forms of consecrated life recognized in Church law.
A secular institute is an institute of consecrated life in which the Christian faithful living in the world strive for the perfection of charity and work for the sanctification of the world especially from within.
On May 27, 1586, Pope Sixtus V founded the Sacred Congregation for Consultations about Regulars. In 1908 Pope Pius X changed its name to the Congregation for Religious. In 1967 Pope Paul VI changed its name to the Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes. Pope John Paul II gave the Congregation its current name.
Pope Sixtus V or Xystus V, born Felice Piergentile, was Pope of the Catholic Church from 24 April 1585 to his death in 1590. As a youth, he joined the Franciscan order, where he displayed talents as a scholar and preacher, and enjoyed the patronage of Pius V, who made him a cardinal.
Pope Paul VI was head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State from 21 June 1963 to his death in 1978. Succeeding John XXIII, he continued the Second Vatican Council which he closed in 1965, implementing its numerous reforms, and fostered improved ecumenical relations with Eastern Orthodox and Protestant churches, which resulted in many historic meetings and agreements. Montini served in the Holy See's Secretariat of State from 1922 to 1954. While in the Secretariat of State, Montini and Domenico Tardini were considered as the closest and most influential advisors of Pius XII, who in 1954 named him Archbishop of Milan, the largest Italian diocese. Montini later became the Secretary of the Italian Bishops' Conference. John XXIII elevated him to the College of Cardinals in 1958, and after the death of John XXIII, Montini was considered one of his most likely successors.
The Congregation is responsible for everything which concerns religious orders and congregations, and societies of apostolic life regarding their government, discipline, studies, etc. It is competent also for matters regarding hermits, consecrated virgins, and new forms of consecrated life. It has no territorial limits, although certain questions may be remanded to other Vatican Congregations. The Congregation also handles matters concerning associations of the faithful formed with the intention of becoming institutes of consecrated life or societies of apostolic life, and for Third Orders Seculars.
In 1994, the Congregation noted,
"In some places it seems that religious community has lost its relevance in the eyes of women and men religious and is perhaps no longer an ideal to be pursued. ...In many countries, increased state programs in areas in which religious have traditionally been active—such as social service, education and health—together with the decrease in vocations, have resulted in a diminished presence of religious in works which used to be typically those of apostolic institutes. ...it is necessary to have religious communities with a clear charismatic identity, assimilated and lived, capable of transmitting them to others and disposed to share them, religious communities with an intense spirituality and missionary enthusiasm for communicating the same spirit and the same evangelizing thrust; religious communities who know how to animate and encourage lay people to share the charism of their institute, according to their secular character and according to their different style of life, inviting them to discover new ways of making the same charism and mission operative."
Pope Francis addressed the Congregation in January 2017 on the theme of "Fidelity and perseverance" saying, "it is clear that one must first let oneself be evangelised in order to engage in evangelisation."
Pope Francis is the head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State. Francis is the first Jesuit pope, the first from the Americas, the first from the Southern Hemisphere, the first to visit the Arabian Peninsula, and the first pope from outside Europe since the Syrian Gregory III, who reigned in the 8th century.
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Institutes of consecrated life are canonically erected institutes in the Roman Catholic Church whose members profess the evangelical counsels by vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience.There are two types:
The three evangelical counsels or counsels of perfection in Christianity are chastity, poverty, and obedience. As Jesus of Nazareth stated in the Canonical gospels, they are counsels for those who desire to become "perfect". The Catholic Church interprets this to mean that they are not binding upon all and hence not necessary conditions to attain eternal life (heaven). Rather they are "acts of supererogation" that exceed the minimum stipulated in the Commandments in the Bible. Catholics that have made a public profession to order their life by the evangelical counsels, and confirmed this by a public religious vow before their competent church authority, are recognised as members of the consecrated life.
Religious institutes are characterized by the public profession of vows, communal life, and a degree of separation from the world.
Some Institutes are called Orders. These are Institutes in which, for historical reasons or because of their character or nature, solemn vows are made by at least some of the members. All members of these orders are called regulars (because they are governed by a Rule (i.e. regula)), and if they are women they are called nuns ("moniales"). The orders are older than the congregations.
Other religious institutes are called congregations. Their members make simple vows; women are called sisters.
Secular Institutes is an organization of consecrated individuals who, unlike members of a religious institute who live in community, live in the world, and work for the sanctification of the world from within.
Institutes may also be classified as a "clerical" or "lay institute" depending on whether the members exercise Holy Orders.(can. 588.2, and (can. 588.3).
A society of apostolic life is a group of men or women within the Catholic Church who have come together for a specific purpose and live fraternally.
Both Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life need the written approval of a bishop to operate within his diocese, although a diocesan bishop can establish an institute of consecrated life or society in his own territory, after consulting the Apostolic See.
The current Prefect is Cardinal João Braz de Aviz. The current Secretary is Archbishop José Rodríguez Carballo, O.F.M. The two Undersecretaries of the Congregation have been Father Pier Luigi Nava, S.S.M. since 27 November 2018and Sister Carmen Ros Nortes, a member of the Sisters of Our Lady of Consolation, since 23 February 2018.
On 8 July 2019, in naming 21 new members to the Congregation, Pope Francis included women for the first time; all seven of them were superiors of their orders: Kathleen Appler, Yvonne Reungoat, Françoise Massy, Luigia Coccia, Simona Brambilla, Rita Calvo Sanz and Olga Krizova.
A nun is a member of a religious community of women, typically living under vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience in the enclosure of a monastery. Communities of nuns exist in numerous religious traditions, including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Jainism, and Taoism.
In the Catholic Church, a religious order is a type of religious community characterised by its members professing solemn vows. According to the 1983 Code of Canon Law, they are classed as a type of religious institute.
In Catholic canon law, a solemn vow is a vow that the Church has recognized as such.
Religious vows are the public vows made by the members of religious communities pertaining to their conduct, practices, and views.
In the Roman Catholic Church, the term "congregation" is used not only in the senses that it has in other contexts, but also to mean specifically either a type of department of the Roman Curia, or a type of religious institute, or certain organized groups of Augustinian, Benedictine, and Cistercian houses.
The term "Third Order" signifies, in general, lay members of religious orders, who do not necessarily live in community and yet can claim to wear the habit and participate in the good works of some great order. Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism, and Lutheranism all recognize Third Orders. They were a twelfth century adaptation of the medieval monastic confraternities.
In the Catholic Church, a consecrated virgin has been consecrated by the church to a life of perpetual virginity as an exclusive spouse of Christ. Consecrated virgins are consecrated by the diocesan bishop according to the approved liturgical rite. The consecrated virgins are to spend their time in works of penance and mercy, in apostolic activity and in prayer, according to their state of life and spiritual gifts.
A religious is, in the terminology of many Western Christian denominations, such as the Catholic Church, Lutheran Churches, and Anglican Communion, what in common language one would call a "monk" or "nun", as opposed to an ordained "priest". A religious may also be a priest if he has undergone ordination, but in general he is not.
Consecrated life is a state of life in the Catholic Church lived by believers who wish to follow Jesus Christ in a more exacting way. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it "is characterized by the public profession of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience, in a stable state of life recognized by the Church". The Code of Canon Law defines it as "a stable form of living by which the faithful, following Christ more closely under the action of the Holy Spirit, are totally dedicated to God who is loved most of all, so that, having been dedicated by a new and special title to his honour, to the building up of the Church, and to the salvation of the world, they strive for the perfection of charity in the service of the kingdom of God and, having been made an outstanding sign in the Church, foretell the heavenly glory."
A society of apostolic life is a group of men or women within the Catholic Church who have come together for a specific purpose and live fraternally. There are a number of apostolic societies, such as the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul, who make vows or other bonds defined in their constitutions to undertake to live the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience. However, unlike members of an institute of consecrated life, members of apostolic societies do not make religious vows—that is, "public vows."
An institute of consecrated life is an association of faithful in the Catholic Church erected by canon law whose members profess the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, and obedience by vows or other sacred bonds. They are defined in the Code of Canon Law under canons 573–730.
A religious congregation is a type of religious institute in the Catholic Church. They are legally distinguished from religious orders — the other major type of religious institute — in that members take simple vows, whereas members of religious orders take solemn vows.
The Community of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal is a religious institute in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church. It follows the Capuchin Franciscan tradition. Originally formed as a mendicant congregation in the Archdiocese of New York, it has been recognized as a religious institute of pontifical right under the governance of the Holy See since 2016.
Vocational discernment is the process in which men or women in the Catholic Church discern, or recognize, their vocation in the church. The vocations are the life as layman in the world, either married or single, the ordained life and the consecrated life.
This is a glossary of terms used within the Catholic Church.
A religious institute is a type of institute of consecrated life in the Catholic Church where its members take religious vows and lead a life in community with fellow members. Religious institutes are one of the two types of institutes of consecrated life; the other is that of the secular institute, where its members are "living in the world".
João Braz de Aviz is a prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He has served as the prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life since his appointment by Pope Benedict XVI on 4 January 2011.
Di diritto pontificio is the Italian term for “of pontifical right”. It is given to the ecclesiastical institutions either created by the Holy See or approved by it with the formal decree, known by its Latin name, Decretum laudis [“decree of praise”].
A religious sister in the Catholic Church is a woman who has taken public vows in a religious institute dedicated to apostolic works, as distinguished from a nun who lives a cloistered monastic life dedicated to prayer. Both nuns and sisters use the term "sister" as a form of address.