Contemplative nuns receive new instructions

Contemplative nuns are the subject of new instructions that have been presented at the Vatican.

They were presented by Archbishop José Rodríguez Carballo who is the secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

“Cor Orans” (“Praying Heart”) provides instructions on how to apply Pope Francis’s 2016 Apostolic Constitution – “Vultum Dei Quaerere” (“Seek the Face of God”).

In Cor Orans, Pope Francis calls for changes to be implemented in 12 areas from prayer life to work habits.

The 34-page document also “intends to make clear the provisions of the law, developing and determining the procedures in the execution” of the apostolic constitutions in “Sponsa Christi Ecclesia” published by Pope Pius XII in 1950.

The world’s 38,000 cloistered nuns will be directly affected by the new instructions.

The most significant change is the obligation for individual monasteries, though autonomous, to belong to a federation of monasteries.

These monasteries would be connected either through a similar charism or through geographical location.

Monasteries have one year to comply. After this, the Vatican’s office for religious life will assign monasteries to federations.

Carballo says this is due to many problems which have come about in the last few decades.

These stem from “the isolation of some monasteries … and from the importance of walking, even in monastic life, towards an ecclesiology of communion.”

Another change is the requirement that individual monasteries have at least five members. Three of these must have made professed vows for the monastery to remain open. Formerly at least four professed members were needed in a monastery.

The document says the suppression of individual monasteries is a solution which is “painful as much as necessary.”

Additionally, if the number of community members with solemn professed vows drops to five, the monastery loses the right to the election of its own superior.

In these cases, the president of the monastery’s federation is obliged to inform the Holy See.

The new document aims to “clarify the provisions of the law, developing and determining the procedures for its execution” Caballo says.

It provides precise guidelines regarding all the practical, administrative, legal and spiritual aspects pertaining to the founding and running of monasteries for contemplative nuns.



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