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The People of God » Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life » Institutes of Consecrated Life » Religious Institutes » Separation of members from the institute » Dismissal of members
Canon 694. §1 A religious must be held as dismissed ipso facto from an institute who:

1° has defected notoriously from the Catholic faith;

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

3° has been illegitimately absent from the religious house, pursuant to can. 665 §2, for 12 consecutive months, taking into account that the location of the religious himself or herself may be unknown.

§2 In such cases the Major Superior, with his or her council and without hesitation, having gathered the evidence, must issue the statement of the case so that the dismissal may be juridically constituted.

§3 In the case envisaged by §1 n. 3, in order to be juridically constituted, this statement must be confirmed by the Holy See; for institutes of diocesan right the confirmation rests with the Bishop of the principal See.
[revised wording according to m.p. Communis vita, 19.III.2019]
Canon 695. §1 A member must be dismissed for the offences mentioned in can. 1395,
1397, and 1398, unless, for the offences mentioned in can. 1395 §§2-3 and 1398 §1, the Superior judges that dismissal is not absolutely necessary; and that sufficient provision can be made in some other way for the amendment of the member, the restoration of justice and the reparation of scandal.
[revised wording according to m.p. Recognitum Librum VI, 26.IV.2022]

§2 In these cases the major Superior is to collect the evidence concerning the facts and the imputability of the offence. The accusation and the evidence are then to be presented to the member, who shall be given the opportunity for defence. All the acts, signed by the major Superior and the notary, are to be forwarded, together with the written and signed replies of the member, to the supreme Moderator.
Canon 696. §1 A member can be dismissed for other causes, provided they are grave, external, imputable and juridically proven. Among such causes are: habitual neglect of the obligations of consecrated life; repeated violations of the sacred bonds; obstinate disobedience to the lawful orders of Superiors in grave matters; grave scandal arising from the culpable behaviour of the member; obstinate attachment to, or diffusion of, teachings condemned by the magisterium of the Church; public adherence to materialistic or atheistic ideologies; the unlawful absence mentioned in can. 665 §2, if it extends for a period of six months; other reasons of similar gravity which are perhaps defined in the institute’s own law.

§2 A member in temporary vows can be dismissed even for less grave reasons determined in the institute’s own law.
Canon 697. §1 In the cases mentioned in can. 696, if the major Superior, after consulting his or her council, judges that the process of dismissal should be commenced:

1° the major Superior is to collect or complete the evidence;

2° the major Superior is to warn the member in writing, or before two witnesses, with an explicit caution that dismissal will follow unless the member reforms. The reasons for dismissal are to be clearly expressed and the member is to be given every opportunity for defence. If the warning has no effect, another warning is to be given after an interval of at least fifteen days;

3° if this latter warning is also ineffectual, and the major Superior with his or her council judges that there is sufficient proof of incorrigibility, and that the defence by the member is insufficient, after fifteen days from the last warning have passed in vain all the acts, signed by the major Superior and the notary, are to be forwarded, together with the signed replies of the member, to the supreme Moderator.
Canon 698. In all the cases mentioned in cann. 695 and 696, the member always retains the right to communicate with, and send replies directly to, the supreme Moderator.
Canon 699. §1 The supreme Moderator and his or her council are to proceed in collegial fashion in accurately weighing the evidence, the arguments, and the defence. For validity, the council must comprise at least four members. If by a secret vote it is decided to dismiss the religious, a decree of dismissal is to be drawn up, which for validity must express at least in summary form the reasons in law and in fact.

§2 In the autonomous monasteries mentioned in can. 615, it belongs to the major superior, with the consent of his or her council, to decide on dismissa.
[revised wording according to m.p. Competentias quasdam decernere, 11.II.2022]
Canon 700. A decree of dismissal issued in the case of a professed member takes effect from the time that it is communicated to the member concerned. To be valid, however, the decree must indicate the right which the dismissed possesses to make recourse to the competent authority within thirty days from receiving notification. The recourse has suspensive effect.
[revised wording according to m.p. Competentias quasdam decernere, 11.II.2022]
[see Authentic Interpretation of canon 700, 17.V.1986]
Canon 701. By lawful dismissal, both the vows and the rights and duties deriving from profession automatically cease. If the member is a cleric, he may not exercise sacred orders until he finds a Bishop who will, after a suitable probation, receive him into his diocese in accordance with can. 693, or who will at least allow him to exercise his sacred orders.
Canon 702. §1 Whoever lawfully leaves a religious institute or is lawfully dismissed from one, cannot claim anything from the institute for any work done in it.

§2 The institute, however, is to show equity and evangelical charity towards the member who is separated from it.
Canon 703. §1 In a case of grave external scandal, or of extremely grave and imminent harm to the institute, a member can be expelled forthwith from the house by the major Superior. If there is danger in delay, this can be done by the local Superior with the consent of his or her council. The major Superior, if need be, is to introduce a process of dismissal in accordance with the norms of law, or refer the matter to the
Apostolic See.
Canon 704. In the report to be sent to the Apostolic See in accordance with can. 592,
§1, mention is to be made of members who have been separated in any way from the institute.

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