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Pope issues rules to help contemplative women be beacons for world
July 25th, 2016
By Carol Glatz/Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY -- In an effort to help contemplative women religious renew their life and mission in the church and the world, Pope Francis issued a series of new rulings dealing with formation, assets, prayer life, authority and autonomy.

 

All institutes of contemplative women religious will need to revise or update their constitutions to implement the new norms and have those changes approved by the Holy See. Titled "Vultum Dei Quaerere" (Seeking the face of God), the document focuses on the life of contemplative women religious. Dated June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, it was released by the Vatican July 22, the feast of St. Mary Magdalene.

 

The 38-page document contains 14 new articles ruling on various aspects of life within monasteries and their jurisdiction, including a regulation outlining the criteria needed for a monastery to retain juridical autonomy or else be absorbed by another entity or face closure. The Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life is now charged with creating a new instruction to replace what had been the current -- but now no longer in effect -- "Verbi Sponsa" -- the congregation's 1999 instruction on contemplative life and cloistered nuns.

 

The pope highlighted 12 aspects of contemplative and monastic life that needed particular attention and renewed norms for women: formation; prayer; the word of God; the sacraments of the Eucharist and reconciliation; fraternal life in community; autonomy; federations; the cloister; work; silence; media; and asceticism.

 

Archbishop Jose Rodriguez Carballo, secretary of the congregation, told reporters July 22 that the new apostolic constitution is meant to fill the legislative gaps that have become apparent since Pope Pius XII's apostolic constitution "Sponsa Christi," issued 66 years ago.  The document also notes today's pervasive "digital culture" and calls for "prudent discernment" in the use of new media.

 

The pope praised contemplative women and expressed the church's long-held esteem for men and women who chose to follow Christ "more closely" by dedicating their lives to him "with an undivided heart" and in a prophetic way.






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