Solemn vow

Last updated
Scale of justice, canon law.svg
Part of a series on the
Canon law of the
Catholic Church
046CupolaSPietro.jpg Catholicismportal

In Catholic canon law, a solemn vow is a vow ("a deliberate and free promise made to God about a possible and better good") [1] that the Church has recognized as such. [2]

Any other vow, public or private, individual or collective, concerned with an action or with abstaining from an action, is a simple vow. [3] Even a vow accepted by a legitimate superior in the name of the Church (the definition of a "public vow") [4] is a simple vow if the Church has not granted it recognition as a solemn vow. In canon law a vow is public (concerning the Church itself directly) only if a legitimate superior accepts it in the name of the Church; all other vows, no matter how much publicity is given to them, are classified as private vows [5] (concerning directly only those who make them). The vow taken at profession as a member of any religious institute is a public vow, [6] but in recent centuries can be either solemn or simple.

There is disagreement among theologians as to whether the distinction between solemn and simple vows derives simply from a decision of the Church to treat them differently or whether, in line with the opinion of Saint Thomas Aquinas, [7] a solemn vow is, antecedently to any decision by the Church, a more strict, perfect and complete consecration to God. [8]

Aquinas held that the only vows that could be considered solemn were those made by receiving the holy orders as a member of the Catholic Hierarchy, or by the religious profession of the rule as a member of a Catholic religious order. As a unique[ citation needed ] exception to this traditional dichotomy, the Benedictine abbots could be consecrated bishops by an analogue apostolic authority (like another bishop, an archbishop, or the pope). [9] This practice was contemplated by the canonical law since the Middle Age, as it is testified by the later life of Peter Cellensis. [10] Since the XVIII century, consecrators and episcopal lineage were extended to the Benedectine monks-bishops. [9] [11]

As support for his view, he cited the fact that these two vows alone were considered to make the celebration of marriage invalid. [7] A man who promised, either to a human being or to God (thus making a vow), to marry a certain woman was bound by that promise or vow, but if he broke it and married a different woman, the marriage was nonetheless considered valid. Similarly, if he made a vow to enter a particular religious institute or become a priest, but instead entered a different institute or decided to marry, the religious profession or the marriage, despite being a violation of his vow, was still considered valid. But once he had received holy orders or made religious profession, any marriage he contracted was considered null and void.

Solemn vows were originally considered indissoluble. Not even the Pope could dispense from them. [12] If for a just cause a religious was expelled, the vow of chastity remained unchanged and so rendered invalid any attempt at marriage, the vow of obedience obliged in relation, generally, to the bishop rather than to the religious superior, and the vow of poverty was modified to meet the new situation but the expelled religious "could not, for example, will any goods to another; and goods which came to him reverted at his death to his institute or to the Holy See". [13]

Solemn and simple vows in religious institutes

Originally, the vows taken by profession in any of the religious institutes approved by the Holy See were classified not only as public but also as solemn. [14] This was declared by Pope Boniface VIII (1235 – 1303). [15]

The situation changed in the 16th century. In 1521, two years after the Fifth Lateran Council had forbidden the establishment of new religious institutes, Pope Leo X appointed a rule with simple vows for those tertiaries attached to existing institutes who undertook to live in a community. In 1566 and 1568, Pope Pius V rejected this class of institute, but they continued to exist and even increased in number. After at first being merely tolerated, they afterwards obtained approval. [14] Only on almost the last day of the 19th century were they officially reckoned as religious, when Pope Leo XIII recognized as religious all men and women who took simple vows in such congregations. [16]

A special case applied to the Jesuits. In the 16th century, Ignatius of Loyola obtained authorization for the members of the Society of Jesus to be divided into the professed with solemn vows and the coadjutors with dispensable simple vows. [17] Nevertheless, before Pope Leo XIII's reforms in the 19th century, these simple vows constituted them religious in the true and proper sense of the word, with the consequent privileges and exemption of regulars, including the vows being a diriment impediment to matrimony, etc. [18] In theory, the recognition as religious for simple vows had universal validity, but in practice, the Roman Curia considered it an exclusive privilege to the Society of Jesus. [19]

Codes of Canon Law on religious institutes

On the basis of the distinction between solemn and simple vows, the 1917 Code of Canon Law made several other distinctions in relation to religious institutes, which it defined as legitimately established associations in accordance with which the members make public vows, either perpetual vows or temporary ones that are to be renewed periodically. It reserved the name "religious order" for institutes in which the vows were solemn, and used the term "religious congregation" for those with simple vows. The members of a religious order for men were called "regulars", those belonging to a religious congregation were simply "religious", a term that applied also to regulars. For women, those with simple vows were simply "sisters", with the term "nun" reserved in canon law for those who belonged to an institute of solemn vows, even if in some localities they were allowed to take simple vows instead. [20]

However, the 1917 Code abolished the distinction according to which solemn vows, unlike simple vows, were indissoluble. It recognized no totally indispensable religious vows and thereby abrogated for the Latin Church the special consecration that distinguished "orders" from "congregations", while keeping some juridical distinctions. [13]

A juridical distinction that the 1917 Code maintained was its declaring invalid any marriage attempted by solemnly professed religious or by those with simple vows to which the Holy See had attached the effect of invalidating marriage, [21] while stating that no simple vow rendered a marriage invalid, except in the cases in which the Holy See directed otherwise. [22] Thus solemnly professed religious were barred absolutely from marriage, and any marriage they attempted was invalid. Those who made simple vows were obliged not to marry, but if they did break their vow, the marriage was considered valid but illicit.

Another difference was that a professed religious of solemn vows lost the right to own property and the capacity to acquire temporal goods for himself or herself, but a professed religious of simple vows, while being prohibited by the vow of poverty from using and administering property, kept ownership and the right to acquire more, unless the constitutions of the religious institute explicitly stated the contrary. [23]

These were two of the nine juridical consequences (apart from spiritual effects) of the difference between solemn and simple vows. [8]

After publication of the 1917 Code, many institutes with simple vows appealed to the Holy See for permission to make solemn vows. The Apostolic Constitution Sponsa Christi of 21 November 1950 made access to that permission easier for nuns (in the strict sense), though not for religious institutes dedicated to apostolic activity. Many of these institutes of women then petitioned for the solemn vow of poverty alone. Towards the end of the Second Vatican Council, superiors general of clerical institutes and abbots president of monastic congregations were authorized to permit, for a just cause, their subjects of simple vows who made a reasonable request to renounce their property except for what would be required for their sustenance if they were to depart. [8]

The 1983 Code of Canon Law maintains the distinction between solemn and simple vows, [2] but no longer makes any distinction between their juridical effects. For instance, while under the 1917 Code solemn vows rendered a subsequent marriage invalid, but simple vows only made the marriage illicit, the current Code of Canon Law states that "those bound by a public perpetual vow of chastity in a religious institute invalidly attempt marriage". [24]

Renunciation of the right to own property is now a matter for the constitutions of the religious institute in question and is associated not with the solemnity of the vows but with their perpetuity. The 1983 Code states:

A person who must renounce fully his or her goods due to the nature of the institute is to make that renunciation before perpetual profession in a form valid, as far as possible, even in civil law; it is to take effect from the day of profession. A perpetually professed religious who wishes to renounce his or her goods either partially or totally according to the norm of proper law and with the permission of the supreme moderator is to do the same. A professed religious who has renounced his or her goods fully due to the nature of the institute loses the capacity of acquiring and possessing and therefore invalidly places acts contrary to the vow of poverty. Moreover, whatever accrues to the professed after renunciation belongs to the institute according to the norm of proper law. [25]

Related Research Articles

Nun Member of a religious community of women

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, Jainism, and Taoism.

Religious order (Catholic) Type of religious community in the Roman Catholic Church characterised by its members professing solemn vows

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 the Catholic Church, a religious profession is the solemn admission of men or women into consecrated life by means of the pronouncement of religious vows, typically the evangelical counsels.

Religious vows promises made by members of religious communities

Religious vows are the public vows made by the members of religious communities pertaining to their conduct, practices, and views.

The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, (CICLSAL) is the congregation of the Roman Curia with competency over everything which concerns Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, regarding their government, discipline, studies, goods, rights, and privileges.

Valid but illicit and valid but illegal are descriptions applied in Catholic Church to an unauthorized celebration of a sacrament or an improperly placed juridic act that nevertheless has effect. Validity is presumed whenever an act is placed "by a qualified person and includes those things which essentially constitute the act itself as well as the formalities and requirements imposed by law for the validity of the act".

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."

The term secular clergy refers to deacons and priests who are not monastics or members of a religious institute. A diocesan priest is a Catholic, Anglican or Eastern Orthodox priest who commits themself to a certain geographical area and is ordained into the service of the citizens of a diocese, a church administrative region. That includes serving the everyday needs of the people in parishes, but their activities are not limited to that of their parish.

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.

In the canon law of the Catholic Church, an impediment is a legal obstacle that prevents a sacrament from being performed validly and/or licitly. The term is used most frequently in relationship to the sacraments of Marriage and Holy Orders. Some canonical impediments can be dispensed by the competent authority as defined in Canon Law.

Regular clergy, or just regulars, are clerics in the Catholic Church who follow a rule of life, and are therefore also members of religious institutes. It is contrasted with secular clergy, clerics who are not bound by a rule of life.

The 1983 Code of Canon Law, also called the Johanno-Pauline Code, is the "fundamental body of ecclesiastical laws for the Latin Church". It is the second and current comprehensive codification of canonical legislation for the Latin Church sui iuris of the Catholic Church. It was promulgated on 25 January 1983 by John Paul II and took legal effect on the First Sunday of Advent 1983. It replaced the 1917 Code of Canon Law, promulgated by Benedict XV on 27 May 1917.

Glossary of the Catholic Church

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".

Various Christian Churches require people to make a personal profession of faith according to a prescribed formula, when taking up certain posts in its service or joining that Church.

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”].

In the canon law of the Catholic Church, a person is a subject of certain legal rights and obligations. Persons may be distinguished between physical and juridic persons. Juridic persons may be distinguished as collegial or non-collegial, and public or private juridic persons. The Holy See and the Catholic Church as such are not juridic persons, since juridic persons are created by ecclesiastical law. Rather, they are moral persons by divine law.

The term ratum sed non consummatum or ratum et non consummatum refers to a juridical-sacramental category of marriage in Catholic matrimonial canon law. If a matrimonial celebration takes place (ratification) but the spouses have not yet engaged in intercourse (consummation), then the marriage is said to be a marriage ratum sed non consummatum. The Tribunal of the Roman Rota has exclusive competence to dispense from marriages ratum sed non consummatum, which can only be granted for a "just reason". This process should not be confused with the process for declaring the nullity of marriage, which is treated of in a separate title of the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

Religious sister (Catholic)

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.

References

  1. Code of Canon Law, canon 1191 §1
  2. 1 2 Code of Canon Law, canon 1192 §2
  3. Code of Canon Law, canon 1992 §2
  4. Code of Canon Law, canon 1992 §1
  5. Code of Canon Law, canon 1192 §1
  6. Code of Canon Law, canon 654
  7. 1 2 Summa Theologica II-II, q. 88, art. 7
  8. 1 2 3 Yuji Sugawara (1997). Religious Poverty: From Vatican Council II to the 1994 Synod of Bishops. Gregorian Biblical BookShop. pp. 127–128. ISBN   978-88-7652-698-5.
  9. 1 2 "Benedictine Monks Consecrated Bishops and Monks Appointed Abbots Ordinary". osb.org. Archived from the original on 7 February 2012. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  10. J. Haseldine (1 July 1993). "Friendship and Rivalry: The Role of Amicitia in Twelfth-Century Monastic Relations". Journal of Ecclesiastical History. Cambridge University Press. 50 (3): 390–414. doi:10.1017/S0022046900014159. Archived from the original on 1 June 2018. Retrieved 22 July 2018.: at Reference n.12'.
  11. "Ordinations of U.S. Catholic Bishops, 1790-1989". (Proceedings of The) National Conference of Catholic Bishops, U.S. Catholic Conference (N. 323-X). Washington, D.C.: 277 1990. OCLC   22690473.
  12. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 88, a.11
  13. 1 2 Paul M. Quay, "Renewal of Religious Orders, or Destruction?", in Commentarium pro Religiosis et Missionariis, vol. 65 (1984), pp. 77-86
  14. 1 2 Arthur Vermeersch, "Religious Life" in The Catholic Encyclopedia., Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911 Archived 15 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine . Accessed 18 July 2011
  15. "Illud solum votum debere dici solemne . . . quod solemnizatum fuerit per suceptionem S. Ordinis aut per professionem expressam vel tacitam factam alicui de religionibus per Sedem Apostolicam approbatis" (C. unic. de voto, tit. 15, lib. III in 6, quoted in Celestine Anthony Freriks, Religious Congregations in Their External Relations, p. 17).
  16. Constitution "Conditae a Christo" of 8 December 1900, cited in Mary Nona McGreal, Dominicans at Home in a New Nation, chapter 11 Archived 27 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  17. Karl Rahner, Sacramentum Mundi, article "Religious Orders"
  18. Quanto fructuosius (1-2-1583) and Ascendente Domino (5-24-1584).
  19. History of Religious Life, Vol. 3, Jesús Álvarez Gómez, CMF, 1990 (Spanish)
  20. 1917 Code of Canon Law, canon 488
  21. 1917 Code of Canon Law, canon 1073
  22. 1917 Code of Canon Law, canon 1058
  23. 1917 Code of Canon Law, canons 580-582
  24. Code of Canon Law, canon 1088
  25. Code of Canon Law, canon 668 §§4-5