CODE OF CANON LAW
BOOK II. THE PEOPLE OF GOD
- PART III. INSTITUTES OF CONSECRATED LIFE AND SOCIETIES OF APOSTOLIC LIFE
- SECTION I: INSTITUTES OF CONSECRATED LIFE
RELIGIOUS INSTITUTES (Cann. 607 - 709)
Can. 607 §1. As a consecration of the whole person, religious life manifests in the Church a wonderful marriage brought about by God, a sign of the future age. Thus the religious brings to perfection a total self-giving as a sacrifice offered to God, through which his or her whole existence becomes a continuous worship of God in charity.
§2. A religious institute is a society in which members, according to proper law, pronounce public vows, either perpetual or temporary which are to be renewed, however, when the period of time has elapsed, and lead a life of brothers or sisters in common.
§3. The public witness to be rendered by religious to Christ and the Church entails a separation from the world proper to the character and purpose of each institute.
RELIGIOUS HOUSES AND THEIR ERECTION AND SUPPRESSION
Can. 608 A religious community must live in a legitimately established house under the authority of a superior designated according to the norm of law. Each house is to have at least an oratory in which the Eucharist is to be celebrated and reserved so that it is truly the center of the community.
Can. 609 §1. Houses of a religious institute are erected by the authority competent according to the constitutions, with the previous written consent of the diocesan bishop.
§2. In addition, the permission of the Apostolic See is required to erect a monastery of nuns.
Can. 610 §1. The erection of houses takes place with consideration for their advantage to the Church and the institute and with suitable safeguards for those things which are required to carry out properly the religious life of the members according to the proper purposes and spirit of the institute.
§2. No house is to be erected unless it can be judged prudently that the needs of the members will be provided for suitably.
Can. 611 The consent of the diocesan bishop to erect a religious house of any institute entails the right:
1/ to lead a life according to the character and proper purposes of the institute;
2/ to exercise the works proper to the institute according to the norm of law and without prejudice to the conditions attached to the consent;
3/ for clerical institutes to have a church, without prejudice to the prescript of can. 1215, §3 and to perform sacred ministries, after the requirements of the law have been observed.
Can. 612 For a religious house to be converted to apostolic works different from those for which it was established, the consent of the diocesan bishop is required, but not if it concerns a change which refers only to internal governance and discipline, without prejudice to the laws of the foundation.
Can. 613 §1. A religious house of canons regular or of monks under the governance and care of its own moderator is autonomous unless the constitutions state otherwise.
§2. The moderator of an autonomous house is a major superior by law.
Can. 614 Monasteries of nuns associated to an institute of men maintain their own way of life and governance according to the constitutions. Mutual rights and obligations are to be defined in such a way that spiritual good can come from the association.
Can. 615 An autonomous monastery which does not have another major superior besides its own moderator and is not associated to another institute of religious in such a way that the superior of the latter possesses true power over such a monastery as determined by the constitutions is entrusted to the special vigilance of the diocesan bishop according to the norm of law.
Can. 616 §1. The supreme moderator can suppress a legitimately erected religious house according to the norm of the constitutions, after the diocesan bishop has been consulted. The proper law of the institute is to make provision for the goods of the suppressed house, without prejudice to the intentions of the founders or donors or to legitimately acquired rights.
§2. The suppression of the only house of an institute belongs to the Holy See, to which the decision regarding the goods in that case is also reserved.
§3. To suppress the autonomous house mentioned in can. 613 belongs to the general chapter, unless the constitutions state otherwise.
§4. To suppress an autonomous monastery of nuns belongs to the Apostolic See, with due regard to the prescripts of the constitutions concerning its goods.
THE GOVERNANCE OF INSTITUTES
SUPERIORS AND COUNCILS
Can. 617 Superiors are to fulfill their function and exercise their power according to the norm of universal and proper law.
Can. 618 Superiors are to exercise their power, received from God through the ministry of the Church, in a spirit of service. Therefore, docile to the will of God in fulfilling their function, they are to govern their subjects as sons or daughters of God and, promoting the voluntary obedience of their subjects with reverence for the human person, they are to listen to them willingly and foster their common endeavor for the good of the institute and the Church, but without prejudice to the authority of superiors to decide and prescribe what must be done.
Can. 619 Superiors are to devote themselves diligently to their office and together with the members entrusted to them are to strive to build a community of brothers or sisters in Christ, in which God is sought and loved before all things. Therefore, they are to nourish the members regularly with the food of the word of God and are to draw them to the celebration of the sacred liturgy. They are to be an example to them in cultivating virtues and in the observance of the laws and traditions of their own institute; they are to meet the personal needs of the members appropriately, solicitously to care for and visit the sick, to correct the restless, to console the faint of heart, and to be patient toward all.
Can. 620 Those who govern an entire institute, a province of an institute or part equivalent to a province, or an autonomous house, as well as their vicars, are major superiors. Comparable to these are an abbot primate and a superior of a monastic congregation, who nonetheless do not have all the power which universal law grants to major superiors.
Can. 621 A grouping of several houses which constitutes an immediate part of the same institute under the same superior and has been canonically erected by legitimate authority is called a province.
Can. 622 The supreme moderator holds power over all the provinces, houses, and members of an institute; this power is to be exercised according to proper law. Other superiors possess power within the limits of their function.
Can. 623 In order for members to be appointed or elected validly to the function of superior, a suitable time is required after perpetual or definitive profession, to be determined by proper law, or if it concerns major superiors, by the constitutions.
Can. 624 §1. Superiors are to be constituted for a certain and appropriate period of time according to the nature and need of the institute, unless the constitutions determine otherwise for the supreme moderator and for superiors of an autonomous house.
§2. Proper law is to provide suitable norms so that superiors, constituted for a definite time, do not remain too long in offices of governance without interruption.
§3. Nevertheless, they can be removed from office during their function or be transferred to another for reasons established in proper law.
Can. 625 §1. The supreme moderator of an institute is to be designated by canonical election according to the norm of the constitutions.
§2. The bishop of the principal seat presides at the elections of a superior of the autonomous monastery mentioned in can. 615 and of the supreme moderator of an institute of diocesan right.
§3. Other superiors are to be constituted according to the norm of the constitutions, but in such a way that, if they are elected, they need the confirmation of a competent major superior; if they are appointed by a superior, however, a suitable consultation is to precede.
Can. 626 Superiors in the conferral of offices and members in elections are to observe the norms of universal and proper law, are to abstain from any abuse or partiality, and are to appoint or elect those whom they know in the Lord to be truly worthy and suitable, having nothing before their eyes but God and the good of the institute. Moreover, in elections they are to avoid any procurement of votes, either directly or indirectly, whether for themselves or for others.
Can. 627 §1. According to the norm of the constitutions, superiors are to have their own council, whose assistance they must use in carrying out their function.
§2. In addition to the cases prescribed in universal law, proper law is to determine the cases which require consent or counsel to act validly; such consent or counsel must be obtained according to the norm of can. 127.
Can. 628 §1. The superiors whom the proper law of the institute designates for this function are to visit the houses and members entrusted to them at stated times according to the norms of this same proper law.
§2. It is the right and duty of a diocesan bishop to visit even with respect to religious discipline:
1/ the autonomous monasteries mentioned in can. 615;
2/ individual houses of an institute of diocesan right located in his own territory.
§3. Members are to act with trust toward a visitator, to whose legitimate questioning they are bound to respond according to the truth in charity. Moreover, it is not permitted for anyone in any way to divert members from this obligation or otherwise to impede the scope of the visitation.
Can. 629 Superiors are to reside in their respective houses, and are not to absent themselves from their house except according to the norm of proper law.
Can. 630 §1. Superiors are to recognize the due freedom of their members regarding the sacrament of penance and direction of conscience, without prejudice, however, to the discipline of the institute.
§2. According to the norm of proper law, superiors are to be concerned that suitable confessors are available to the members, to whom the members can confess frequently.
§3. In monasteries of nuns, in houses of formation, and in more numerous lay communities, there are to be ordinary confessors approved by the local ordinary after consultation with the community; nevertheless, there is no obligation to approach them.
§4. Superiors are not to hear the confessions of subjects unless the members request it on their own initiative.
§5. Members are to approach superiors with trust, to whom they can freely and on their own initiative open their minds. Superiors, however, are forbidden to induce the members in any way to make a manifestation of conscience to them.
Can. 631 §1. The general chapter, which holds supreme authority in the institute according to the norm of the constitutions, is to be composed in such a way that, representing the entire institute, it becomes a true sign of its unity in charity. It is for the general chapter principally: to protect the patrimony of the institute mentioned in can. 578, promote suitable renewal according to that patrimony, elect the supreme moderator, treat affairs of greater importance, and issue norms which all are bound to obey.
§2. The constitutions are to define the composition and extent of the power of a chapter; proper law is to determine further the order to be observed in the celebration of the chapter, especially in what pertains to elections and the manner of handling affairs.
§3. According to the norms determined in proper law, not only provinces and local communities, but also any member can freely send wishes and suggestions to a general chapter.
Can. 632 Proper law is to determine accurately what is to pertain to other chapters of the institute and to other similar assemblies, namely, what pertains to their nature, authority, composition, way of proceeding and time of celebration.
Can. 633 §1. Organs of participation or consultation are to fulfill faithfully the function entrusted to them according to the norm of universal and proper law and to express in their own way the concern and participation of all the members for the good of the entire institute or community.
§2. In establishing and using these means of participation and consultation, wise discretion is to be observed and their procedures are to conform to the character and purpose of the institute.
TEMPORAL GOODS AND THEIR ADMINISTRATION
Can. 634 §1. As juridic persons by the law itself, institutes, provinces, and houses are capable of acquiring, possessing, administering, and alienating temporal goods unless this capacity is excluded or restricted in the constitutions.
§2. Nevertheless, they are to avoid any appearance of excess, immoderate wealth, and accumulation of goods.
Can. 635 §1. Since the temporal goods of religious institutes are ecclesiastical, they are governed by the prescripts of Book V, The Temporal Goods of the Church, unless other provision is expressly made.
§2. Nevertheless, each institute is to establish suitable norms concerning the use and administration of goods, by which the poverty proper to it is to be fostered, protected, and expressed.
Can. 636 §1. In each institute and likewise in each province which is governed by a major superior, there is to be a Finance officer, distinct from the major superior and constituted according to the norm of proper law, who is to manage the administration of goods under the direction of the respective superior. Insofar as possible, a Finance officer distinct from the local superior is to be designated even in local communities.
§2. At the time and in the manner established by proper law, Finance officers and other administrators are to render an account of their administration to the competent authority.
Can. 637 The autonomous monasteries mentioned in can. 615 must render an account of their administration to the local ordinary once a year. Moreover, the local ordinary has the right to be informed about the Financial reports of a religious house of diocesan right.
Can. 638 §1. Within the scope of universal law, it belongs to proper law to determine acts which exceed the limit and manner of ordinary administration and to establish what is necessary to place an act of extraordinary administration validly.
§2. In addition to superiors, the officials who are designated for this in proper law also validly incur expenses and perform juridic acts of ordinary administration within the limits of their function.
§3. For the validity of alienation and of any other affair in which the patrimonial condition of a juridic person can worsen, the written permission of the competent superior with the consent of the council is required.
Nevertheless, if it concerns an affair which exceeds the amount defined by the Holy See for each region, or things given to the Church by vow, or things precious for artistic or historical reasons, the permission of the Holy See itself is also required.
§4. For the autonomous monasteries mentioned in can. 615 and for institutes of diocesan right, it is also necessary to have the written consent of the local ordinary.
Can. 639 §1. If a juridic person has contracted debts and obligations even with the permission of the superiors, it is bound to answer for them.
§2. If a member has entered into a contract concerning his or her own goods with the permission of the superior, the member must answer for it, but if the business of the institute was conducted by mandate of the superior, the institute must answer.
§3. If a religious has entered into a contract without any permission of superiors, he or she must answer, but not the juridic person.
§4. It is a fixed rule, however, that an action can always be brought against one who has profited from the contract entered into.
§5. Religious superiors are to take care that they do not permit debts to be contracted unless it is certain that the interest on the debt can be paid off from ordinary income and that the capital sum can be paid off through legitimate amortization within a period that is not too long.
Can. 640 Taking into account local conditions, institutes are to strive to give, as it were, a collective witness of charity and poverty and are to contribute according to their ability something from their own goods to provide for the needs of the Church and the support of the poor.
THE ADMISSION OF CANDIDATES AND THE FORMATION OF MEMBERS
ADMISSION TO THE NOVITIATE
Can. 641 The right to admit candidates to the novitiate belongs to major superiors according to the norm of proper law.
Can. 642 With vigilant care, superiors are only to admit those who, besides the required age, have the health, suitable character, and sufficient qualities of maturity to embrace the proper life of the institute. This health, character, and maturity are to be verified even by using experts, if necessary, without prejudice to the prescript of can. 220.
Can. 643 §1. The following are admitted to the novitiate invalidly:
1/ one who has not yet completed seventeen years of age;
2/ a spouse, while the marriage continues to exist;
3/ one who is currently bound by a sacred bond to some institute of consecrated life or is incorporated in some society of apostolic life, without prejudice to the prescript of can. 684;
4/ one who enters the institute induced by force, grave fear, or malice, or the one whom a superior, induced in the same way, has received;
5/ one who has concealed his or her incorporation in some institute of consecrated life or in some society of apostolic life.
§2. Proper law can establish other impediments even for validity of admission or can attach conditions.
Can. 644 Superiors are not to admit to the novitiate secular clerics without consulting their proper ordinary nor those who, burdened by debts, cannot repay them.
Can. 645 §1. Before candidates are admitted to the novitiate, they must show proof of baptism, confirmation, and free status.
§2. If it concerns the admission of clerics or those who had been admitted in another institute of consecrated life, in a society of apostolic life, or in a seminary, there is additionally required the testimony of, respectively, the local ordinary, the major superior of the institute or society, or the rector of the seminary.
§3. Proper law can require other proof about the requisite suitability of candidates and freedom from impediments.
§4. Superiors can also seek other information, even under secrecy, if it seems necessary to them.
THE NOVITIATE AND FORMATION OF NOVICES
Can. 646 The novitiate, through which life in an institute is begun, is arranged so that the novices better understand their divine vocation, and indeed one which is proper to the institute, experience the manner of living of the institute, and form their mind and heart in its spirit, and so that their intention and suitability are tested.
Can. 647 §1. The erection, transfer, and suppression of a novitiate house are to be done through written decree of the supreme moderator of the institute with the consent of the council.
§2. To be valid, a novitiate must be made in a house properly designated for this purpose. In particular cases and as an exception, by grant of the supreme moderator with the consent of the council, a candidate can make the novitiate in another house of the institute under the direction of some approved religious who acts in the place of the director of novices.
§3. A major superior can permit a group of novices to reside for a certain period of time in another house of the institute designated by the superior.
Can. 648 §1. To be valid, a novitiate must include twelve months spent in the community itself of the novitiate, without prejudice to the prescript of can. 647, §3.
§2. To complete the formation of novices, in addition to the period mentioned in §1, the constitutions can establish one or more periods of apostolic exercises to be spent outside the community of the novitiate.
§3. The novitiate is not to last longer than two years.
Can. 649 §1. Without prejudice to the prescripts of can. 647, §3 and can. 648, §2, an absence from the novitiate house which lasts more than three months, either continuous or interrupted, renders the novitiate invalid. An absence which lasts more than fifteen days must be made up.
§2. With the permission of the competent major superior, first profession can be anticipated, but not by more than fifteen days.
Can. 650 §1. The scope of the novitiate demands that novices be formed under the guidance of a director according to the program of formation defined in proper law.
§2. Governance of the novices is reserved to one director under the authority of the major superiors.
Can. 651 §1. The director of novices is to be a member of the institute who has professed perpetual vows and has been legitimately designated.
§2. If necessary, the director can be given assistants who are subject to the director in regard to the supervision of the novices and the program of formation.
§3. Members who are carefully prepared and who, not impeded by other duties, can carry out this function fruitfully and in a stable manner are to be placed in charge of the formation of novices.
Can. 652 §1. It is for the director and assistants to discern and test the vocation of the novices and to form them gradually to lead correctly the life of perfection proper to the institute.
§2. Novices are to be led to cultivate human and Christian virtues; through prayer and self-denial they are to be introduced to a fuller way of perfection; they are to be taught to contemplate the mystery of salvation and to read and meditate on the sacred scriptures; they are to be prepared to cultivate the worship of God in the sacred liturgy; they are to learn a manner of leading a life consecrated to God and humanity in Christ through the evangelical counsels; they are to be instructed regarding the character and spirit, the purpose and discipline, the history and life of the institute; and they are to be imbued with love for the Church and its sacred pastors.
§3. Conscious of their own responsibility, the novices are to collaborate actively with their director in such a way that they faithfully respond to the grace of a divine vocation.
§4. Members of the institute are to take care that they cooperate for their part in the work of formation of the novices through example of life and prayer.
§5. The time of the novitiate mentioned in can. 648, §1 is to be devoted solely to the task of formation and consequently novices are not to be occupied with studies and functions which do not directly serve this formation.
Can. 653 §1. A novice can freely leave an institute; moreover, the competent authority of the institute can dismiss a novice.
§2. At the end of the novitiate, if judged suitable, a novice is to be admitted to temporary profession; otherwise the novice is to be dismissed. If there is doubt about the suitability of a novice, the major superior can extend the time of probation according to the norm of proper law, but not beyond six months.
Can. 654 By religious profession, members assume the observance of the three evangelical counsels by public vow, are consecrated to God through the ministry of the Church, and are incorporated into the institute with the rights and duties defined by law.
Can. 655 Temporary profession is to be made for a period defined in proper law; it is not to be less than three years nor longer than six.
Can. 656 For the validity of temporary profession it is required that:
1/ the person who is to make it has completed at least eighteen years of age;
2/ the novitiate has been validly completed;
3/ admission has been given freely by the competent superior with the vote of the council according to the norm of law;
4/ the profession is expressed and made without force, grave fear, or malice;
5/ the profession is received by a legitimate superior personally or through another.
Can. 657 §1. When the period for which profession was made has elapsed, a religious who freely petitions and is judged suitable is to be admitted to renewal of profession or to perpetual profession; otherwise, the religious is to depart.
§2. If it seems opportune, however, the competent superior can extend the period of temporary profession according to proper law, but in such a way that the total period in which the member is bound by temporary vows does not exceed nine years.
§3. Perpetual profession can be anticipated for a just cause, but not by more than three months.
Can. 658 In addition to the conditions mentioned in can. 656, nn. 3, 4, and 5 and others imposed by proper law, the following are required for the validity of perpetual profession:
1/ the completion of at least twenty-one years of age;
2/ previous temporary profession of at least three years, without prejudice to the prescript of can. 657, §3.
THE FORMATION OF RELIGIOUS
Can. 659 §1. In individual institutes the formation of all the members is to be continued after first profession so that they lead the proper life of the institute more fully and carry out its mission more suitably.
§2. Therefore, proper law must define the program of this formation and its duration, attentive to the needs of the Church and the conditions of people and times, insofar as the purpose and character of the institute require it.
§3. Universal law and the program of studies proper to the institute govern the formation of members who are preparing to receive holy orders.
Can. 660 §1. Formation is to be systematic, adapted to the capacity of the members, spiritual and apostolic, doctrinal and at the same time practical. Suitable degrees, both ecclesiastical and civil, are also to be obtained when appropriate.
§2. During the time of this formation, offices and tasks which may impede it are not to be entrusted to the members.
Can. 661 Through their entire life, religious are to continue diligently their spiritual, doctrinal, and practical formation. Superiors, moreover, are to provide them with the resources and time for this.
THE OBLIGATIONS AND RIGHTS OF INSTITUTES AND THEIR MEMBERS
Can. 662 Religious are to have as the supreme rule of life the following of Christ proposed in the gospel and expressed in the constitutions of their own institute.
Can. 663 §1. The first and foremost duty of all religious is to be the contemplation of divine things and assiduous union with God in prayer.
§2. Members are to make every effort to participate in the eucharistic sacrifice daily, to receive the most sacred Body of Christ, and to adore the Lord himself present in the sacrament.
§3. They are to devote themselves to the reading of sacred scripture and mental prayer, to celebrate worthily the liturgy of the hours according to the prescripts of proper law, without prejudice to the obligation for clerics mentioned in can. 276, §2, n. 3, and to perform other exercises of piety.
§4. With special veneration, they are to honor the Virgin Mother of God, the example and protector of all consecrated life, also through the marian rosary.
§5. They are to observe faithfully an annual period of sacred retreat.
Can. 664 Religious are to strive after conversion of the soul toward God, to examine their conscience, even daily, and to approach the sacrament of penance frequently.
Can. 665 §1. Observing common life, religious are to live in their own religious house and are not to be absent from it except with the permission of their superior. If it concerns a lengthy absence from the house, however, the major superior, with the consent of the council and for a just cause, can permit a member to live outside a house of the institute, but not for more than a year, except for the purpose of caring for ill health, of studies, or of exercising an apostolate in the name of the institute.
§2. A member who is absent from a religious house illegitimately with the intention of withdrawing from the power of the superiors is to be sought out solicitously by them and is to be helped to return to and persevere in his or her vocation.
Can. 666 In the use of means of social communication, necessary discretion is to be observed and those things are to be avoided which are harmful to one’s vocation and dangerous to the chastity of a consecrated person.
Can. 667 §1. In all houses, cloister adapted to the character and mission of the institute is to be observed according to the determinations of proper law, with some part of a religious house always reserved to the members alone.
§2. A stricter discipline of cloister must be observed in monasteries ordered to contemplative life.
§3. Monasteries of nuns which are ordered entirely to contemplative life must observe papal cloister, that is, cloister according to the norms given by the Apostolic See. Other monasteries of nuns are to observe a cloister adapted to their proper character and defined in the constitutions.
§4. For a just cause, a diocesan bishop has the faculty of entering the cloister of monasteries of nuns which are in his diocese and, for a grave cause and with the consent of the superior, of permitting others to be admitted to the cloister and the nuns to leave it for a truly necessary period of time.
Can. 668 §1. Before first profession, members are to cede the administration of their goods to whomever they prefer and, unless the constitutions state otherwise, are to make disposition freely for their use and revenue. Moreover, at least before perpetual profession, they are to make a will which is to be valid also in civil law.
§2. To change these dispositions for a just cause and to place any act regarding temporal goods, they need the permission of the superior competent according to the norm of proper law.
§3. Whatever a religious acquires through personal effort or by reason of the institute, the religious acquires for the institute. Whatever accrues to a religious in any way by reason of pension, subsidy, or insurance is acquired for the institute unless proper law states otherwise.
§4. 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.
§5. 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.
Can. 669 §1. Religious are to wear the habit of the institute, made according to the norm of proper law, as a sign of their consecration and as a witness of poverty.
§2. Clerical religious of an institute which does not have a proper habit are to wear clerical dress according to the norm of can. 284.
Can. 670 An institute must supply the members with all those things which are necessary to achieve the purpose of their vocation, according to the norm of the constitutions.
Can. 671 A religious is not to accept functions and offices outside the institute without the permission of a legitimate superior.
Can. 672 Religious are bound by the prescripts of cann. 277, 285, 286, 287, and 289, and religious clerics additionally by the prescripts of can. 279, §2; in lay institutes of pontifical right, the proper major superior can grant the permission mentioned in can. 255, §4.
THE APOSTOLATE OF INSTITUTES
Can. 673 The apostolate of all religious consists first of all in the witness of their consecrated life, which they are bound to foster by prayer and penance.
Can. 674 Institutes which are entirely ordered to contemplation always hold a distinguished place in the mystical Body of Christ: for they offer an extraordinary sacrifice of praise to God, illumine the people of God with the richest fruits of holiness, move it by their example, and extend it with hidden apostolic fruitfulness. For this reason, members of these institutes cannot be summoned to furnish assistance in the various pastoral ministries however much the need of the active apostolate urges it.
Can. 675 §1. Apostolic action belongs to the very nature of institutes dedicated to works of the apostolate.
Accordingly, the whole life of the members is to be imbued with an apostolic spirit; indeed the whole apostolic action is to be informed by a religious spirit.
§2. Apostolic action is to proceed always from an intimate union with God and is to confirm and foster this union.
§3. Apostolic action, to be exercised in the name and by the mandate of the Church, is to be carried out in the communion of the Church.
Can. 676 Lay institutes, whether of men or of women, participate in the pastoral function of the Church through spiritual and corporal works of mercy and offer the most diverse services to people. Therefore, they are to persevere faithfully in the grace of their vocation.
Can. 677 §1. Superiors and members are to retain faithfully the mission and works proper to the institute.
Nevertheless, attentive to the necessities of times and places, they are to accommodate them prudently, even employing new and opportune means.
§2. Moreover, if they have associations of the Christian faithful joined to them, institutes are to assist them with special care so that they are imbued with the genuine spirit of their family.
Can. 678 §1. Religious are subject to the power of bishops whom they are bound to follow with devoted submission and reverence in those matters which regard the care of souls, the public exercise of divine worship, and other works of the apostolate.
§2. In exercising an external apostolate, religious are also subject to their proper superiors and must remain faithful to the discipline of the institute. The bishops themselves are not to fail to urge this obligation if the case warrants it.
§3. In organizing the works of the apostolate of religious, diocesan bishops and religious superiors must proceed through mutual consultation.
Can. 679 When a most grave cause demands it, a diocesan bishop can prohibit a member of a religious institute from residing in the diocese if his or her major superior, after having been informed, has neglected to make provision; moreover, the matter is to be referred immediately to the Holy See.
Can. 680 Among the various institutes and also between them and the secular clergy, there is to be fostered an ordered cooperation and a coordination under the direction of the diocesan bishop of all the works and apostolic activities, without prejudice to the character and purpose of individual institutes and the laws of the foundation.
Can. 681 §1. Works which a diocesan bishop entrusts to religious are subject to the authority and direction of the same bishop, without prejudice to the right of religious superiors according to the norm of can. 678, §§2 and 3.
§2. In these cases, the diocesan bishop and the competent superior of the institute are to draw up a written agreement which, among other things, is to define expressly and accurately those things which pertain to the work to be accomplished, the members to be devoted to it, and economic matters.
Can. 682 §1. If it concerns conferring an ecclesiastical office in a diocese upon some religious, the diocesan bishop appoints the religious, with the competent superior making the presentation, or at least assenting to the appointment.
§2. A religious can be removed from the of-Fie entrusted to him or her at the discretion either of the entrusting authority after having informed the religious superior or of the superior after having informed the one entrusting; neither requires the consent of the other.
Can. 683 §1. At the time of pastoral visitation and also in the case of necessity, the diocesan bishop, either personally or through another, can visit churches and oratories which the Christian faithful habitually attend, schools, and other works of religion or charity, whether spiritual or temporal, entrusted to religious, but not schools which are open exclusively to the institute’s own students.
§2. If by chance he has discovered abuses and the religious superior has been warned in vain, he himself can make provision on his own authority.
SEPARATION OF MEMBERS FROM THE INSTITUTE
TRANSFER TO ANOTHER INSTITUTE
Can. 684 §1. A member in perpetual vows cannot transfer from one religious institute to another except by a grant of the supreme moderator of each institute and with the consent of their respective councils.
§2. After completing a probation which is to last at least three years, the member can be admitted to perpetual profession in the new institute. If the member refuses to make this profession or is not admitted to make it by competent superiors, however, the member is to return to the original institute unless an indult of secularization has been obtained.
§3. For a religious to transfer from an autonomous monastery to another of the same institute or federation or confederation, the consent of the major superior of each monastery and of the chapter of the receiving monastery is required and is sufficient, without prejudice to other requirements established by proper law; a new profession is not required.
§4. Proper law is to determine the time and manner of the probation which must precede the profession of a member in the new institute.
§5. For a transfer to be made to a secular institute or a society of apostolic life or from them to a religious institute, permission of the Holy See is required, whose mandates must be observed.
Can. 685 §1. Until a person makes profession in the new institute, the rights and obligations which the member had in the former institute are suspended although the vows remain. Nevertheless, from the beginning of probation, the member is bound to the observance of the proper law of the new institute.
§2. Through profession in the new institute, the member is incorporated into it while the preceding vows, rights, and obligations cease.
DEPARTURE FROM AN INSTITUTE
Can. 686 §1. With the consent of the council, the supreme moderator for a grave cause can grant an indult of exclaustration to a member professed by perpetual vows, but not for more than three years, and if it concerns a cleric, with the prior consent of the ordinary of the place in which he must reside. To extend an indult or to grant it for more than three years is reserved to the Holy See, or to the diocesan bishop if it concerns institutes of diocesan right.
§2. It is only for the Apostolic See to grant an indult of exclaustration for nuns.
§3. At the petition of the supreme moderator with the consent of the council, exclaustration can be imposed by the Holy See on a member of an institute of pontifical right, or by a diocesan bishop on a member of an institute of diocesan right, for grave causes, with equity and charity observed.
Can. 687 An exclaustrated member is considered freed from the obligations which cannot be reconciled with the new condition of his or her life, yet remains dependent upon and under the care of superiors and also of the local ordinary, especially if the member is a cleric. The member can wear the habit of the institute unless the indult determines otherwise. Nevertheless, the member lacks active and passive voice.
Can. 688 §1. A person who wishes to leave an institute can depart from it when the time of profession has been completed.
§2. During the time of temporary profession, a person who asks to leave the institute for a grave cause can obtain an indult of departure from the supreme moderator with the consent of the council in an institute of pontifical right. In institutes of diocesan right and in the monasteries mentioned in can. 615, however, the bishop of the house of assignment must confirm the indult for it to be valid.
Can. 689 §1. If there are just causes, the competent major superior, after having heard the council, can exclude a member from making a subsequent profession when the period of temporary profession has been completed.
§2. Physical or psychic illness, even contracted after profession, which in the judgment of experts renders the member mentioned in §1 unsuited to lead the life of the institute constitutes a cause for not admitting the member to renew profession or to make perpetual profession, unless the illness had been contracted through the negligence of the institute or through work performed in the institute.
§3. If, however, a religious becomes insane during the period of temporary vows, even though unable to make a new profession, the religious cannot be dismissed from the institute.
Can. 690 §1. The supreme moderator with the consent of the council can readmit without the burden of repeating the novitiate one who had legitimately left the institute after completing the novitiate or after profession. Moreover, it will be for the same moderator to determine an appropriate probation prior to temporary profession and the time of vows to precede perpetual profession, according to the norm of cann. 655 and 657.
§2. The superior of an autonomous monastery with the consent of the council possesses the same faculty.
Can. 691 §1. A perpetually professed religious is not to request an indult of departure from an institute except for the gravest of causes considered before the Lord. The religious is to present a petition to the supreme moderator of the institute who is to transmit it along with a personal opinion and the opinion of the council to the competent authority.
§2. In institutes of pontifical right, an indult of this type is reserved to the Apostolic See. In institutes of diocesan right, however, the bishop of the diocese in which the house of assignment is situated can also grant it.
Can. 692 Unless it has been rejected by the member in the act of notification, an indult of departure granted legitimately and made known to the member entails by the law itself dispensation from the vows and from all the obligations arising from profession.
Can. 693 If a member is a cleric, an indult is not granted before he finds a bishop who incardinates him in the diocese or at least receives him experimentally. If he is received experimentally, he is incardinated into the diocese by the law itself after five years have passed, unless the bishop has refused him.
DISMISSAL OF MEMBERS
Can. 694 §1. A member must be held as ipso facto dismissed from an institute who:
1/ has defected notoriously from the Catholic faith;
2/ has contracted marriage or attempted it, even only civilly.
§2. In these cases, after the proofs have been collected, the major superior with the council is to issue without any delay a declaration of fact so that the dismissal is established juridically.
Can. 695 §1. A member must be dismissed for the delicts mentioned in cann. 1397, 1398, and 1395, unless in the delicts mentioned in can. 1395, §2, the superior decides that dismissal is not completely necessary and that correction of the member, restitution of justice, and reparation of scandal can be resolved sufficiently in another way. [Apostolic Letter issued “Motu proprio” Recognitum Librum VI, 26 April 2022]
§2. In these cases, after the proofs regarding the facts and imputability have been collected, the major superior is to make known the accusation and proofs to the member to be dismissed, giving the member the opportunity for self-defense. All the acts, signed by the major superior and a notary, together with the responses of the member, put in writing and signed by that member, are to be transmitted to the supreme moderator.
Can. 696 §1. A member can also be dismissed for other causes provided that they are grave, external, imputable, and juridically proven such as: habitual neglect of the obligations of consecrated life; repeated violations of the sacred bonds; stubborn disobedience to the legitimate prescripts of superiors in a grave matter; grave scandal arising from the culpable behavior of the member; stubborn upholding or diffusion of doctrines condemned by the magisterium of the Church; public adherence to ideologies infected by materialism or atheism; the illegitimate absence mentioned in can. 665, §2, lasting six months; other causes of similar gravity which the proper law of the institute may determine.
§2. For the dismissal of a member in temporary vows, even causes of lesser gravity established in proper law are sufficient.
Can. 697 In the cases mentioned in can. 696, if the major superior, after having heard the council, has decided that a process of dismissal must be begun:
1/ the major superior is to collect or complete the proofs;
2/ the major superior is to warn the member in writing or before two witnesses with an explicit threat of subsequent dismissal unless the member reforms, with the cause for dismissal clearly indicated and full opportunity for self-defense given to the member; if the warning occurs in vain, however, the superior is to proceed to another warning after an intervening space of at least fifteen days;
3/ if this warning also occurs in vain and the major superior with the council decides that incorrigibility is sufficiently evident and that the defenses of the member are insufficient, after fifteen days have elapsed from the last warning without effect, the major superior is to transmit to the supreme moderator all the acts, signed personally and by a notary, along with the signed responses of the member.
Can. 698 In all the cases mentioned in cann. 695 and 696, the right of the member to communicate with and to offer defenses directly to the supreme moderator always remains intact.
Can. 699 §1. The supreme moderator with the council, which must consist of at least four members for validity, is to proceed collegially to the accurate consideration of the proofs, arguments, and defenses; if it has been decided through secret ballot, the supreme moderator is to issue a decree of dismissal with the reasons in law and in fact expressed at least summarily for validity.
§2. In the autonomous monasteries mentioned in can. 615, it belongs to the diocesan bishop, to whom the superior is to submit the acts examined by the council, to decide on dismissal.
Can. 700 A decree of dismissal does not have effect unless it has been confirmed by the Holy See, to which the decree and all the acts must be transmitted; if it concerns an institute of diocesan right, confirmation belongs to the bishop of the diocese where the house to which the religious has been attached is situated. To be valid, however, the decree must indicate the right which the dismissed possesses to make recourse to the competent authority within ten days from receiving notification. The recourse has suspensive effect.
Can. 701 By legitimate dismissal, vows as well as the rights and obligations deriving from profession cease ipso facto.
Nevertheless, if the member is a cleric, he cannot exercise sacred orders until he finds a bishop who receives him into the diocese after an appropriate probation according to the norm of can. 693 or at least permits him to exercise sacred orders.
Can. 702 §1. Those who depart from a religious institute legitimately or have been dismissed from it legitimately can request nothing from the institute for any work done in it.
§2. Nevertheless, the institute is to observe equity and the charity of the gospel toward a member who is separated from it.
Can. 703 In the case of grave external scandal or of most grave imminent harm to the institute, a member can be expelled immediately from a religious house by the major superior or, if there is danger in delay, by the local superior with the consent of the council. If it is necessary, the major superior is to take care to begin a process of dismissal according to the norm of law or is to refer the matter to the Apostolic See.
Can. 704 In the report referred to in can. 592, §1, which is to be sent to the Apostolic See, mention is to be made of members who have been separated from the institute in any way.
RELIGIOUS RAISED TO THE EPISCOPATE
Can. 705 A religious raised to the episcopate remains a member of his institute but is subject only to the Roman Pontiff by virtue of the vow of obedience and is not bound by obligations which he himself prudently judges cannot be reconciled with his condition.
Can. 706 The religious mentioned above:
1/ if he has lost the right of ownership of goods through profession, has the use, revenue, and administration of goods which accrue to him; a diocesan bishop and the others mentioned in can. 381, §2, however, acquire property on behalf of the particular church; others, on behalf of the institute or the Holy See insofar as the institute is capable or not of possession;
2/ if he has not lost the right of ownership of goods through profession, recovers the use, revenue, and administration of the goods which he had; those things which accrue to him afterwards he fully acquires for himself;
3/ in either case, however, must dispose of goods according to the intention of the donors when they do not accrue to him personally.
Can. 707 §1. A retired religious bishop can choose a place of residence even outside the houses of his institute, unless the Apostolic See has provided otherwise.
§2. If he has served some diocese, can. 402, §2 is to be observed with respect to his appropriate and worthy support, unless his own institute wishes to provide such support; otherwise the Apostolic See is to provide in another manner.
CONFERENCES OF MAJOR SUPERIORS
Can. 708 Major superiors can be associated usefully in conferences or councils so that by common efforts they work to achieve more fully the purpose of the individual institutes, always without prejudice to their autonomy, character, and proper spirit, or to transact common affairs, or to establish appropriate coordination and cooperation with the conferences of bishops and also with individual bishops.
Can. 709 Conferences of major superiors are to have their own statutes approved by the Holy See, by which alone they can be erected even as a juridic person and under whose supreme direction they remain.