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New instructions for the contemplative life of women

La Croix International staff - Vatican City - Fri, Sep 14th 2018

Pope provides precise guidelines regarding practical and spiritual aspects pertaining to founding and running of monasteries for contemplative nuns

(Photo by Robert Frank Gabriel

The Vatican has released a new instruction with norms for contemplative orders of nuns so as to encourage cooperation among their monasteries and safeguard those left with only a few members.

The document, Cor Orans ("Praying Heart") is a follow-up instruction on implementing Pope Francis' 2016 document Vultum Dei Quaerere ("Seeking the Face of God"). These documents safeguard the identity and mission of contemplative nuns.

The new instruction seeks to fill the legislative gaps left since Pope Pius XII's apostolic constitution Sponsa Christi from 1950, and to carry out fully the mandate in Vultum Dei Quaerere.

The new document Cor Orans dated April 1, was presented by Vatican officials only in Italian and Spanish. However, shortly afterwards the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSAL) published an English translation of the text.

Archbishop José Rodríguez Carballo, secretary of the congregation, told reporters that a significant change is requiring a monastery or contemplative community of women religious to have at least eight professed religious women to maintain their autonomy, Catholic News Service reported.

However, if that number drops to five professed religious, they lose their right to elect a superior. The Vatican congregation is then informed of the situation, and an ad hoc commission is formed to name an administrator, he said.

The outside intervention is meant to assess whether the community's difficulties are "temporary or irreversible," the archbishop was quoted as saying.

The new instruction requires that all monasteries are to be part of a federation to facilitate formation, the sharing of assets and exchanging members. A monastery can request an exception from the Vatican.

Monasteries have one year to comply with this ruling until the Vatican assigns them a federation or other form of association.

The new instruction details the rights and responsibilities federations will have as well as the role of a federation president in making sure that the community continues with mandatory formation and informing the Vatican about those who do not comply.

Archbishop Rodríguez Carballo said the instructions are built on responses received from a questionnaire sent to all contemplative women religious a few years ago.

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Arora Chai Arora Chai
on 23/10/18
Hi, Maria J. I like your sharing of COR ORANS, yes I pray the devil will not succeed to kill the good sincere contemplative nuns who are the important heart of the mystical Body of Christ. They must not be forced to turn their back to Christ but be respected to stay put to their deep contemplative life as God has given them this consecrated vocation. God never forces people but respects their "freedom" even He loves them and wants them to be with Him in heaven after their earthly life, right?
Maria J. Maria J.
on 22/10/18
The COR ORANS has very nice descriptions of the life of cloistered contemplative nuns on one side, on the other side the demands to go out the papal enclosure to form/join federations, common novitiate etc. etc. does not looks like God's command because strict cloistered nuns live deep life of close union with Jesus so to oblige them to go out is like to force them to turn their backs to Jesus. Jesus Himself did correct St. Martha, "Martha, Martha, why are you so worry and fret about so many things? Only one thing is necessary, Mary has chosen the better part, it will not be taken away from her." Jesus also said "No one can serve two masters." Cloistered contemplative nuns also represent the heart of the mystical Body of Christ, the CHURCH, to move the heart out would weaken and kill th ... » view comment
Maria J. Maria J.
on 19/2/19
We are now in February 2019, please, please help to negotiate with Pope Francis, the Head of our Church, to have compassion for the contemplative nuns who wants to stay close to Jesus in silence & solitude as they appreciate this as great loved-gift from God to them; allow them not to go out to join federations etc. etc. as the last part of COR ORANS strongly demands them to let go their long, long-lived Prayer-life which does not look like from our dear Lord, but more like from bad spirits who wish to terminate their unique life of close union with Jesus given to few chosen souls. . Pope Francis needs to protect these consecrated souls, respect their freedom to preserve their prayer-life, so please help to beg Pope Francis to guard the cloistered nuns from being forced to turn the ... » view comment
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