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» Secular institutes
A secular institute is an institute of consecrated life in which Christ’s faithful, living in the world, strive for the perfection of charity and endeavour to contribute to the sanctification of the world, especially from within.
Without prejudice to the provisions of the law concerning institutes of consecrated life, consecration as a member of a secular institute does not change the member’s canonical status among the people of God, be it lay or clerical.
Without prejudice to the provisions of can. 598--601,
the constitutions are to establish the sacred bonds by which the evangelical counsels are undertaken in the institute. They are to define the obligations which these bonds entail, while always preserving in the manner of life the secular character proper to the institute.
§1 Members of these institutes express and exercise their special consecration in apostolic activity. Like a leaven, they endeavour to permeate everything with an evangelical spirit for the strengthening and growth of the Body of
§2 Lay members participate in the evangelising mission of the Church in the world and from within the world. They do this by their witness of christian life and of fidelity to their consecration, and by the assistance they give in directing temporal affairs to God and in animating the world by the power of the Gospel. They also offer their cooperation to serve the ecclesial community in accordance with the secular manner of life proper to them.
§3 Clerical members, by the witness of their consecrated life, especially in the presbyterium, support their colleagues by a distinctive apostolic charity, and in the people of God they further the sanctification of the world by their sacred ministry.
Members are to live their lives in the ordinary conditions of the world, either alone, in their families or in fraternal groups, in accordance with the constitutions.
§1 Clerical members incardinated in a diocese are subject to the diocesan
Bishop, except for whatever concerns the consecrated life of their own institutes.
§2 Those who, in accordance with the norms of can. 266
§3, are incardinated in the institute, and who are appointed to works proper to the institute or to the governance of the institute, are subject to the Bishop in the same way as religious.
§1 All members are to take an active part in the life of the institute, in accordance with the institute’s own law.
§2 Members of the same institute are to preserve a rapport with one another, carefully fostering a unity of spirit and a genuine fraternity.
§1 The constitutions are to determine the institute’s own form of governance. They are to define the period of time for which Moderators exercise their office and the manner in which they are to be designated.
§2 No one is to be designated supreme Moderator unless definitively incorporated into the institute.
§3 Those entrusted with the governance of the institute are to ensure that its unity of spirit is maintained, and that the active participation of the members is developed.
The administration of the goods of the institute must express and foster evangelical poverty. It is governed by the norms of Book V on ‘The Temporal Goods of the Church’, and by the institute’s own law. This same law of the institute is also to define the obligations, especially the financial obligations, of the institute towards the members engaged in its work.
§1 Members are to respond faithfully to their vocation, and their apostolic action is to proceed from their union with Christ. They are therefore to devote themselves assiduously to prayer and engage in a suitable way in the reading of the sacred Scriptures. They are to make an annual retreat and perform other spiritual exercises in accordance with their own law.
§2 The celebration of the Eucharist, daily where possible, is to be the source and strength of their whole consecrated life.
§3 They are to go freely to the sacrament of penance and receive it frequently.
§4 They are to be free to obtain the necessary spiritual direction. Should they so desire, they may seek such counsel even from their Moderators.
The right of admitting a person to the institute, or to probation, or to the taking of sacred bonds, both temporary and perpetual or definitive, belongs to the major Moderators with their council, in accordance with the constitutions.
§1 The following are invalidly admitted to initial probation:
1° one who has not yet attained majority;
2° one who is currently bound by a sacred bond in another institute of consecrated life, or incorporated in a society of apostolic life;
3° a spouse, while the marriage lasts.
§2 The constitutions can establish other impediments to admission, even for validity, or attach conditions to it.
§3 For a person to be received into the institute, that degree of maturity is required which is necessary to live the life of the institute properly.
§1 The initial probation is to be so arranged that the candidates can better recognise their divine vocation and their vocation to that institute, and be trained in the spirit and manner of life of the institute.
§2 Candidates are to be properly formed to live a life according to the evangelical counsels. They are to be taught how to translate this life completely into their apostolate, applying those forms of evangelisation which best correspond to the purpose, spirit and character of the institute.
§3 The constitutions are to define the manner and time of the probation to be made before the first sacred bonds are undertaken in the institute; this time is to be not less than two years.
§1 When the time of the initial probation has been completed, a candidate who is judged suitable is either to undertake the three evangelical counsels, sealed with a sacred bond, or to leave the institute.
§2 This first incorporation is to be temporary, in accordance with the constitutions, but is to be for not less than five years.
§3 When this period of incorporation has been completed, a member who is judged suitable is to be admitted to perpetual, or definitive incorporation, that is, by temporary bonds always to be renewed.
§4 Definitive incorporation is equivalent to perpetual incorporation in respect of defined juridical effects, which are to be established in the constitutions.
§1 After the first acceptance of the sacred bonds, formation is to continue without interruption in accordance with the constitutions.
§2 Members are to be formed simultaneously in matters human and divine. The
Moderators of the institute are to have a serious concern for the continued spiritual formation of the members.
The institute can associate with itself, by some form of bond determined in the constitutions, other members of Christ’s faithful who seek evangelical perfection according to the spirit of the institute and who share in its mission.
§1 When the time of temporary incorporation is completed, the member can freely leave the institute, or can for a just cause be excluded from renewing the sacred bonds by the major Moderator, after consultation with his or her council.
§2 A temporarily incorporated member who freely requests it, can for a grave reason be granted an indult to leave the institute by the supreme Moderator, with the consent of the council.
§1 A perpetually incorporated member who wishes to leave the institute must, after seriously weighing the matter before the Lord, petition the Apostolic See through the supreme Moderator, if the institute is of pontifical right; otherwise, the indult can also be obtained from the diocesan Bishop, as determined in the constitutions.
§2 For a cleric who is incardinated in the institute, the provision of can. 693
is to be observed.
When an indult to leave the institute has been lawfully granted, all bonds, rights and obligations deriving from incorporation cease.
Dismissal of a member of the institute proceeds pursuant to cann. 694 §1, 1 and 2
; and 695. The constitutions may also define other causes for dismissal, provided that they be commensurately serious, external, attributable and juridically proven, and that the procedure in can. 697-700
also be observed. The provisions of can. 701
are applicable to the dismissed member.
[revised wording according to m.p. Communis vita, 19.III.2019]
For a member to transfer from one secular institute to another, the provisions of cann. 684 §§1, 2, 4 and 685
, are to be observed. A transfer to or from another kind of institute of consecrated life requires the permission of the Apostolic
See, whose instructions must be followed.
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