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January 5, 2012

Canonical Protection for Consecrated Virgins -- PART I

When  I reflect on  issues faced by consecrated virgins which need canonical protection, I feel that canon law has not yet clearly indicated which canons  can be applied to safeguard the rights and duties of consecrated virgins. 

When canon 604 was formulated, it was open-ended, to allow the ancient vocation to develop in today’s Church and world, to allow the Holy Spirit and the lives of consecrated virgins to indicate what identity and mission it will take in the near future.  I think it is time that canon-lawyers  and  consecrated virgins should get together to discuss these issues. 

e.g.[ Q .1]. 

a. Does  the OrdoVirginum or Order of Consecrated Virgins consist of all women who have received the consecration to a life of virginity, whether they live in a monastery with  the spirituality of its founder[s]  or  remain in the world ?

b. Or is the OrdoVirginum strictly of women consecrated as per canon 604 and linked to the diocese, with or without an association, with a clearly defined vocational identity and mission [I don't mean same works]  at the diocesan level or perhaps universal level ?

c. Or is the OrdoVirginum  in general  inclusive of all women who have received the particular consecration through the same liturgical ceremony -whether they belong to / are legally linked to the Diocese or a Secular institute or Lay association or Third Order of religious institutes, or leading a Single life or a Solitary life like a hermit  or a Quasi-religious or New community discerning its identity or those who ask for transfer from religious vows to individual status ? 

Are the vocations according to canon 604 and the liturgical Rite in the Roman Pontifical, identified with each other? Is canon 604  speaking about a definite vocation with a strict diocesan identity and mission,  with the possibility of further canons being introduced,  whereas the  liturgical Rite is a ceremony or formula that is being mis-used for women who wish to lead a different vocation  as Secular Institute, Single Life, Solitary Life, Quasi-religious  or New communities, Third orders or Transfer from communitarian religious vows to individual status,  etc. without belonging to the OrdoVirginum ?


[Q .2]
 I’m wondering whether the Ordo Virginum  is a public juridical person, both at the universal level and at the diocesan level. 

Canon 113 #1  The catholic Church and the Apostolic See have the status of a moral person by divine disposition.
2# In the Church , besides physical persons, there are also juridical persons, that is, in canon law subjects of obligations and rights which accord with their nature.   see other canons

In the Early Church, it was a definite socio-liturgical category in the Christian community. If it is a public juridical person, then does this indicate a strong sense of belonging  every consecrated virgin can have in the OrdoVirginum [which I’m sure consecrated virgins desperately need ]? This would link consecrated virgins to each other in a special way .

Every consecrated virgin is identified with the local and universal church which by Divine Institution is a group/community.  Hence the OrdoVirginum should  have the status of  a  juridical person and seeing Jesus’ purpose for the Church, the OrdoVirginum should  have the status of a community even if consecrated virgins may not  live together .  see more

Christ among doctors of the law

For Part II of topic read here in detail

1 comment:

  1. My very brief canonical opinion on the questions:

    Q.1 a) Any female virgin (whether nun, sister, member of secular institute, virgin in the world, hermit, etc.) who has received the consecration from the competent ecclesiastical authority to a life of virginity belongs to the Ordo Virginum.

    b) No. See above. Plus, virgins living in the world have a clearly defined mission and identity (see Rite itself, particularly the Praenotanda, homily, and most importantly, the consecration prayer itself).

    c) Yes if by "same ceremony" you mean both forms of the Rite in the Pontifical (one for religious and the other for women in the world).

    The Liturgical Rite, is divided into two forms. One for vowed religious and the others for those living in the world. Canon 604 refers to those who have received the form for those living in the world - or who have received it as a religious but have left their community through the dispensation of vows. The Rite can be misused in the sense that it is used only as a "stepping stone" to a communal form of life. The Vatican has already said that the consecration may be conferred on members of secular institutes, etc.

    Q. 2. No. The Ordo Virginum is not a public juridical person, no more than the Order of Priests or the Order of Deacons are public juridical persons. I would hope that the married Deacons, who belong to the Order of Deacons do not all of a sudden find themselves in a community even if they might not live together!


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