Abbott in a religious community

In religious communities can an Abbott ordain? I understand that an Abbott can receive their vows but can he also Ordain or is a bishop the only one who can ordain?

I believe the answer is no. The relevant canon of the 1983 code is:

Can. 1012 The minister of sacred ordination is a consecrated bishop

Although major superiors of clerical institutes of pontifical right and some superiors in religious confederations can hold the office of ordinary to their own men, this is a juridical rather than sacramental position, and so they have not received ordination to the episcopate simply by taking on the role of ordinary (they might have been ordained bishop for other reasons, but this would be atypical, since a religious who is ordained bishop is usually dispensed from taking office within their own institute).

Canon 1019 is also of note:

Can. 1019 §2. The law for secular clerics governs the ordination of all other candidates of any institute or society; any other indult granted to superiors is revoked.

In the 1917 code of canon law, canon 957 did allow the right of ordination to some religious superiors who were not bishops, but this is no longer in force because both the entire 1917 code has been abrogated (as stated in canon 6 of the 1983 code) and because in the canon quoted above it states that any related dispensations have also been removed. I would assume that canons 6 and 1019 taken together would also abrogate any other related customs or practices.

Anyone who can clarify this further is welcome to contradict me, since I’m no expert. :wink:

Best wishes.

Very good answer–and you do seem like somewhat of an expert.

So, am I some what correct in stating that in the '17 code it was allowed?

Actually I believe that in the 1917 code, abbots and other religious superiors who were not bishops were only allowed to confer tonsure and ordain to Minor Orders, and then only within their own territories.

You may very well be right - like I said, not an expert. :slight_smile:

However, I wonder if the specific abrogation in the 1983 code implies that in at least some cases (perhaps by immemorial custom rather than by specific canon) admission to major orders (i.e. ordination) was also conferable by some religious superiors: I only say that because given that arrangements for minor orders don’t exist within the 1983 code (having been suppressed) there would be no need to abrogate a practice that was no longer possible. Hence the more likely need for revocation of a power that could still be exercised, i.e. ordination to major orders. Rather than custom, it could also have been a rare privilege, hence the reference to 1019 to indult rather than practice. Don’t know for sure.

I’m not a canon lawyer either, but I don’t think so. In the 1983 code, canon 1019 sub 1, (which appears to be fairly consistent with canon 957 in the 1917 Code minus the tonsure and Minor Orders), applies to Institutes of Pontifical Right only. Canon 1019 sub 2 applies to candidates of other than such Institutes, so it is perhaps the case that indults may have been granted to such superiors in the past.

There were times in Church history where the Abbott may have been ordained to the episcopacy, and those Abbotts could then ordain the priests needed for their own communities. There were also Abbotts who were granted the use of pontifical insignia (miter, gloves, crosier), but not ordained (as was common particularly among the Cistercians).

Now it is highly unlikely (read: never happens) that an Abbot would be ordained a bishop. There may be a few monasteries that retain pontifical insignia, but these would tend to be heads of congregations now.

Malphono seems to have the canonical issue addressed.

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