Impediments to religious life


#1

Can anyone tell me what the impediments are to entering religious life, according to the traditional code of Canon Law prior to Vatican II? Does abortion prevent a young woman from ever entering a convent? I was told that man who is complicit in such an act could not become a priest, and so I wondered what it would mean for a woman who had changed her life and felt called to the religious life.


#2

[quote="Pauline85, post:1, topic:197516"]
Can anyone tell me what the impediments are to entering religious life, according to the traditional code of Canon Law prior to Vatican II? Does abortion prevent a young woman from ever entering a convent? I was told that man who is complicit in such an act could not become a priest, and so I wondered what it would mean for a woman who had changed her life and felt called to the religious life.

[/quote]

I, for one thing, do not have any real answers to that. However, I know that Dorothy Day was in such a situation yet apparently became a lay oblate with the Benedictines and is currently a Servant of God.


#3

For the first thing, aside from reference, it doesn’t matter what the older canons said as Catholics are bound by the current canons (the 1983 Code).

But, in this case, the 1917 Code is nearly identical to the 1983 Code. In the 1917 Code it is canon 985.4 and in the 1983 Code it is canon 1041.4, which translated is:

Canon 1041 The following are irregular for receiving orders:
[INDENT]4/ a person who has committed voluntary homicide or procured a completed abortion and all those who positively cooperated in either;[/INDENT]

Now this deals with irregularities to receiving Orders because it is the reception of a Sacrament. There is no Sacrament in entering religious life, thus this doesn’t apply. Individual orders or institutes may have certain restrictions, but that is not Church-wide.

A more apt canon is Canon 1398 which states:
Canon 1398 A person who procures a completed abortion incurs a latae sententiae excommunication.

And I would hazard a guess that an excommunicated person would not be allowed to enter religious life. So, that person would first need to have the excommunication lifted and re-enter communion with the Catholic Church.


#4

[quote="Pauline85, post:1, topic:197516"]
Can anyone tell me what the impediments are to entering religious life, according to the traditional code of Canon Law prior to Vatican II? Does abortion prevent a young woman from ever entering a convent? I was told that man who is complicit in such an act could not become a priest, and so I wondered what it would mean for a woman who had changed her life and felt called to the religious life.

[/quote]

Don't you feel forgiven? The Devil likes people to think that they have sin that can't be forgiven.

Why don't you go and stay at a convent and chat to the sisters for your comfort.

God bless


#5

Yes, I know that I am forgiven and that the excommunication was lifte. This was in my past life, which I have put behind me. My reason for asking was that I was hoping it would never come up again…that I could enter religious life without having to “re-hash” it, so to speak, in order to get permission to enter. If I’m understanding correctly, it is only an impediment for those becoming priests, but not for nuns?

Thanks, everyone, for your help.


#6

[quote="Pauline85, post:5, topic:197516"]
My reason for asking was that I was hoping it would never come up again...that I could enter religious life without having to "re-hash" it, so to speak, in order to get permission to enter. If I'm understanding correctly, it is only an impediment for those becoming priests, but not for nuns?

[/quote]

The current canon law regarding admission to a novitiate is as follows;

*Can. 642 With vigilant care, superiors are only to admit those who, besides the required age, have the health, suitable character, and sufficient qualities of maturity to embrace the proper life of the institute. This health, character, and maturity are to be verified even by using experts, if necessary, without prejudice to the prescript of ⇒ can. 220.

Can. 643 §1. The following are admitted to the novitiate invalidly:

1/ one who has not yet completed seventeen years of age;

2/ a spouse, while the marriage continues to exist;

3/ one who is currently bound by a sacred bond to some institute of consecrated life or is incorporated in some society of apostolic life, without prejudice to the prescript of ⇒ can. 684;

4/ one who enters the institute induced by force, grave fear, or malice, or the one whom a superior, induced in the same way, has received;

5/ one who has concealed his or her incorporation in some institute of consecrated life or in some society of apostolic life.

§2. Proper law can establish other impediments even for validity of admission or can attach conditions.

Can. 644 Superiors are not to admit to the novitiate secular clerics without consulting their proper ordinary nor those who, burdened by debts, cannot repay them.

Can. 645 §1. Before candidates are admitted to the novitiate, they must show proof of baptism, confirmation, and free status.

§2. If it concerns the admission of clerics or those who had been admitted in another institute of consecrated life, in a society of apostolic life, or in a seminary, there is additionally required the testimony of, respectively, the local ordinary, the major superior of the institute or society, or the rector of the seminary.

§3. Proper law can require other proof about the requisite suitability of candidates and freedom from impediments.

§4. Superiors can also seek other information, even under secrecy, if it seems necessary to them.*

Past mistakes, and expired penalties or privations (including excommunication) are not a bar to application unless the proper law of an institute (the rules specific to that institute) say otherwise.

It is perhaps worth saying that it is rarely a good idea to hide things during an admission process, however. Total honesty is difficult, but it really is preferable, so that there are no misunderstandings, and no fear of later discovery. Try to trust that God will lead you to people of compassion with whom you can share your past, and with whom you can share your future too.

Best wishes and prayers that you will be a great gift to the church when God shows you the life He has prepared for you.


#7

[quote="JMJ_coder, post:3, topic:197516"]
For the first thing, aside from reference, it doesn't matter what the older canons said as Catholics are bound by the current canons (the 1983 Code).

But, in this case, the 1917 Code is nearly identical to the 1983 Code. In the 1917 Code it is canon 985.4 and in the 1983 Code it is canon 1041.4, which translated is:

Canon 1041 The following are irregular for receiving orders:
[INDENT]4/ a person who has committed voluntary homicide or procured a completed abortion and all those who positively cooperated in either;[/INDENT]

Now this deals with irregularities to receiving Orders because it is the reception of a Sacrament. There is no Sacrament in entering religious life, thus this doesn't apply. Individual orders or institutes may have certain restrictions, but that is not Church-wide.

A more apt canon is Canon 1398 which states:
Canon 1398 A person who procures a completed abortion incurs a latae sententiae excommunication.

And I would hazard a guess that an excommunicated person would not be allowed to enter religious life. So, that person would first need to have the excommunication lifted and re-enter communion with the Catholic Church.

[/quote]

In the United States any priest can lift the excommunication incurred by an abortion. As to entering religious life or being ordained, the Franciscan Order does accept men and women who have committed murder or any kind as long as they have been reconciled with God and society.

As to ordinatioin, it's up to the friars to vote on whether or not you have a call the the priesthood. If they vote white, the major superior can approve your ordination. This has been the case since prior to the code of 1917. It goes back to the founding of the order. Therefore the canon does not apply here. There is another canon that says when a practice in a religious community is over 100 years old, that practice is not abrogated by a change in canon law. The change only applies from that time forward to those communities that have never had such a practice.

For example, communities that never admitted murderers are bound by this canon. Those that have done so for centuries are not bound by the this canon. Also there are exempt relgious orders. These are orders to whom the Holy Father has granted indults from certain canons. I don't know which orders have an indult that specifically addresses abortion.

I know that we go on the basis of murder. We have always accepted those who have committed murder and have been reconciled with God and neighbor. The most resent case is that of Friar Augustine, FI . He was involved in an abortion and he is now a Friar and great Gospel of Life minister. His witness is very famous.

Check out this remarkable man.

youtube.com/results?search_query=friar+augustine&aq=f

We have other remarkable and holy men who committed murders. Friar Alessandro, who raped and killed Maria Goretti is up for canonization. He was a Capuchin Franciscan. Friar Jim Townsend, who was my classmate in novitiate, murdered his wife and child. He is a very holy man. There are several books written about him.

It depends on the order and whether or not the canon applies to them. Not all canons apply to all orders. It's not that black and white when it comes to religious men. The canons are more black and white for religious women than for men. The reason is that many religious men belong to religious orders with solemn vows. Most religious women do not belong to religious orders and are not in solemn vows. Very few women belong to religious orders. I don't know what the rules are for congregations (male or female) in simple vows, because I belong to an order.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#8

JR-when did Alessandro Serinelli come up for beatification? I know he died in the late 1960s-early 1970s. He was a Third Order Franciscan, though not a friar. He lived in a Capuchin monastery in Italy after being released from prison and seeking her mother’s forgiveness.

And he did not ‘rape’ St. Maria Goretti, strictly speaking; he stabbed her to death, it’s true, but did not ‘complete the act’.


#9

[quote="barb_finnegan, post:8, topic:197516"]
JR-when did Alessandro Serinelli come up for beatification? I know he died in the late 1960s-early 1970s. He was a Third Order Franciscan, though not a friar. He lived in a Capuchin monastery in Italy after being released from prison and seeking her mother's forgiveness.

And he did not 'rape' St. Maria Goretti, strictly speaking; he stabbed her to death, it's true, but did not 'complete the act'.

[/quote]

The Capuchins have presented his cause. I'm not sure where it's at, because it's one of the Italian provinces. I do know that the Minister General of the Secular Franciscans gave permission for the Capuchins to proceed. That's all the information that I have read thus far. This is about 18 months or two years ago. The Minister General had to give the permission to open the files, but that did not happen until after the General Chapter of the Secular Franciscans in 2008.

As to exactly what happened on the assault on Maria, you may be right about the rape. The details have never been given. But the important thing is that he was a rapist and murderer. Though the murder may be reduced to manslaughter. I vaguely remember reading somewhere the he was under the influence of alcohol and that he did not set out to kill her.

He is full member of the Francisan Order. He went through the formation: postulancy, novitiate and profession. Canonically, he was a Franciscan and apparently a very holy one at that. That's all I know about Fra. Alesandro.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#10

[quote="JReducation, post:9, topic:197516"]
The Capuchins have presented his cause. I'm not sure where it's at, because it's one of the Italian provinces. I do know that the Minister General of the Secular Franciscans gave permission for the Capuchins to proceed. That's all the information that I have read thus far. This is about 18 months or two years ago. The Minister General had to give the permission to open the files, but that did not happen until after the General Chapter of the Secular Franciscans in 2008.

As to exactly what happened on the assault on Maria, you may be right about the rape. The details have never been given. But the important thing is that he was a rapist and murderer. Though the murder may be reduced to manslaughter. I vaguely remember reading somewhere the he was under the influence of alcohol and that he did not set out to kill her.

He is full member of the Francisan Order. He went through the formation: postulancy, novitiate and profession. Canonically, he was a Franciscan and apparently a very holy one at that. That's all I know about Fra. Alesandro.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)

[/quote]

Hmmm-I'll have to look up your info on Friar Alessandro. I recently found a site on sainthood causes-really fascinating place-called 'The Hagiography Circle'. This is the link: http:// newsaints.freeweb.com [no 'www' in front of it]. Or you can Google, 'Hagiography Circle'. It was set up by a group of young scholars.

As regards to alcohol influence in St. Maria's murder, I don't think I ever read anything of that nature. I know that he read violent and [for that time period] pornographic newspapers and magazines, and put 'immodest' pictures from them on the walls of his room in the house that he and his father Giovanni shared with the Gorettis. When her mother Assunta saw the pictures, she was going to tear them down because her eldest son Angelo might see them. But she didn't for fear there would be further turmoil in the home-Alessandro lost his mother to a mental institution when he was a child, and he started having mental health 'issues' himself. So she shut the door and warned her children not to go in. Having access to 'pornography' may have been a reason for killing Maria, but not drinking alcohol.


#11

[quote="barb_finnegan, post:10, topic:197516"]
Hmmm-I'll have to look up your info on Friar Alessandro. I recently found a site on sainthood causes-really fascinating place-called 'The Hagiography Circle'. This is the link: http:// newsaints.freeweb.com [no 'www' in front of it]. Or you can Google, 'Hagiography Circle'. It was set up by a group of young scholars.

As regards to alcohol influence in St. Maria's murder, I don't think I ever read anything of that nature. I know that he read violent and [for that time period] pornographic newspapers and magazines, and put 'immodest' pictures from them on the walls of his room in the house that he and his father Giovanni shared with the Gorettis. When her mother Assunta saw the pictures, she was going to tear them down because her eldest son Angelo might see them. But she didn't for fear there would be further turmoil in the home-Alessandro lost his mother to a mental institution when he was a child, and he started having mental health 'issues' himself. So she shut the door and warned her children not to go in. Having access to 'pornography' may have been a reason for killing Maria, but not drinking alcohol.

[/quote]

That's very interesting. I know very little about Fra. Alessandro. By the way, his title is Fra (Frater) not Friar. Friar is abreviated as Fr. The Brothers and Sisters of Penance (SFO) are brothers and sisters, they are not friars. It's not an order of friars. They are not mendicants. Their canonical title is Penance. Our canonical title is Obedience.

I never heard of this site. How reliable is it? Who are they? I'm interested, because hagiography was one of the areas that we had to study to get our degree in Mystical Theology. I have alwas found the whole process very interesting, though I would not want to be on one of these committess.

To get back to the original question, there are very few crimes that disqualify you from entering religious life or the secular priesthood. There are some in canon law, but murder is not one of them when there has been contrition. When applying to the diocese it's up to the bishop to decide whether the candidate is qualified. When applying to a religious order or a religious congregation the major superior makes that call. Canon law gives certain parameters to help.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#12

Hi Pauline,
My daughter is entering next month. I will ask her to pray for you, as will I. God's blessings. J.


#13

[quote="JReducation, post:11, topic:197516"]
That's very interesting. I know very little about Fra. Alessandro. By the way, his title is Fra (Frater) not Friar. Friar is abreviated as Fr. The Brothers and Sisters of Penance (SFO) are brothers and sisters, they are not friars. It's not an order of friars. They are not mendicants. Their canonical title is Penance. Our canonical title is Obedience.

I never heard of this site. How reliable is it? Who are they? I'm interested, because hagiography was one of the areas that we had to study to get our degree in Mystical Theology. I have alwas found the whole process very interesting, though I would not want to be on one of these committess.

To get back to the original question, there are very few crimes that disqualify you from entering religious life or the secular priesthood. There are some in canon law, but murder is not one of them when there has been contrition. When applying to the diocese it's up to the bishop to decide whether the candidate is qualified. When applying to a religious order or a religious congregation the major superior makes that call. Canon law gives certain parameters to help.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)

[/quote]

Hi again, Br. JR!

I stumbled across this 'Hagiography Circle' site quite by accident while surfing the Net. I think it's reliable; whenever there is an update on a cause (e.g. the canonizations of St. Damien of Molokai last year, and soon-to-be Saint Andre Bessette later this year), it's listed almost as soon as the news comes out of the Vatican. The people who run the site call themselves ' a group of young scholars', so they must know something about hagiography and the process of canonization. There's probably some email information if you want to contact them yourself. Some of the entries have websites, others do not. But there are always 'snail mail' addresses if you're looking for information. In fact, on the entry for Empress Zita of Austria-Hungary (the wife of Blessed Charles I), I recognized the name of the priest who was named Postulator for her cause-I met him and his pilgrimage group at a shrine an hour from my home! He's from the archdiocese of Rouen, France! Small world, isn't it! :D

Sorry about using 'Friar' instead of 'Fra' for Alessandro's religious title....not up on the terminology sometimes...:o

But check out that hagiography site when you're able to-it's really mindboggling when you see all these different candidates for sainthood!

barb


#14

[quote="Pauline85, post:1, topic:197516"]
Can anyone tell me what the impediments are to entering religious life, according to the traditional code of Canon Law prior to Vatican II? Does abortion prevent a young woman from ever entering a convent? I was told that man who is complicit in such an act could not become a priest, and so I wondered what it would mean for a woman who had changed her life and felt called to the religious life.

[/quote]

Anyone complicit in an abortion incurs an automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication. Thus, this is an impediment unless and until it is taken care of through recourse to the hierarchy and Sacraments of the Church. Once this is done it no longer is an impediment to a full Catholic life. That would include religious life although some specific congregations might refuse a woman with this piece of her history.

However, I do wonder why you are asking about the Code prior to Vatican II. The Church operates according to the 1983 Code of Canon Law and it is this Code which applies to anyone, even if the offense occured prior to 1983 or even Vatican II.


#15

[quote="SRLAUREL, post:14, topic:197516"]
Anyone complicit in an abortion incurs an automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication. Thus, this is an impediment unless and until it is taken care of through recourse to the hierarchy and Sacraments of the Church. Once this is done it no longer is an impediment to a full Catholic life. That would include religious life although some specific congregations might refuse a woman with this piece of her history.

However, I do wonder why you are asking about the Code prior to Vatican II. The Church operates according to the 1983 Code of Canon Law and it is this Code which applies to anyone, even if the offense occured prior to 1983 or even Vatican II.

[/quote]

In most dioceses in the USA the local parish priest can absolve an abortion and recommunicate you with the Church. You need not go through the bishop.

As to who can be a candidate, every order and congregation has their own criteria. I remember when I as young. I wanted to be a Carthusian, but one of their requirements is that you must be able sing.. That was an impediment that I could not overcome. So I became a Franciscan, because we don't chant the office. We recite it.

Some communities do not accept people with physical handicaps and some do. It depends on the lifestyle of the community. We have one brother-priest who has CP. He is in a wheel chair. He says mass that way and works as a counselor in a pregnancy clinic. He would not make it in an institute like the Missionaries of Charity.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#16

=Pauline85;6608517]Can anyone tell me what the impediments are to entering religious life, according to the traditional code of Canon Law prior to Vatican II? Does abortion prevent a young woman from ever entering a convent? I was told that man who is complicit in such an act could not become a priest, and so I wondered what it would mean for a woman who had changed her life and felt called to the religious life.

GOOGLE "Canon Law," it's a frre download;

thn go to this ection which is too long to cut and pste here for you:)

**SECTION I:

INSTITUTES OF CONSECRATED LIFE

TITLE I:

NORMS COMMON TO ALL INSTITUTES OF CONSECRATED LIFE (Cann. 573 - 606)**

That ought to give you the information yor seking.

God Bless yo for considering such AWESOME service to God:)

Love and prayers,
Pat


#17

[quote="JMJ_coder, post:3, topic:197516"]
For the first thing, aside from reference, it doesn't matter what the older canons said as Catholics are bound by the current canons (the 1983 Code).

But, in this case, the 1917 Code is nearly identical to the 1983 Code. In the 1917 Code it is canon 985.4 and in the 1983 Code it is canon 1041.4, which translated is:

Canon 1041 The following are irregular for receiving orders:
[INDENT]4/ a person who has committed voluntary homicide or procured a completed abortion and all those who positively cooperated in either;[/INDENT]

Now this deals with irregularities to receiving Orders because it is the reception of a Sacrament. There is no Sacrament in entering religious life, thus this doesn't apply. Individual orders or institutes may have certain restrictions, but that is not Church-wide.

A more apt canon is Canon 1398 which states:
Canon 1398 A person who procures a completed abortion incurs a latae sententiae excommunication.

And I would hazard a guess that an excommunicated person would not be allowed to enter religious life. So, that person would first need to have the excommunication lifted and re-enter communion with the Catholic Church.

[/quote]

Admission to vows in an order, congregation, secular order, secular institute, society of apostolic life, autonomous abbey or a public association of the faithful is subject to the statutes of the particular institute.

Obviously, someone who is excommunicated is disqualified from admission. As to ordination, in a religious order that is exempt, the Church Major Superior can request a dispensation from the law, if in the opinion of his council Christ has called the solemnly professed religious to Holy Orders. This privilege is rarely requested, but it is allowed. We must remember that these are laws not dogmas. Therefore, the Holy See has the authority to dispense from them according to its prudential judgment. We must also remember the Superiors General of the exempt orders carry a lot of weight in the Vatican. The truth is that there are only a handful of exempt orders and the revised code of 1983 no longer makes provisions for exempt orders. Only those that had the privilege of exemptions remain. The only "modern" religious institute that was granted the title of "exempt" is the Society of Jesus. No other religious institute founded after the Society of Jesus is an exempt order or even an order for that matter. They are all congregations. They do not enjoy the same privileges or rights.religious orders.

Again, the case of abortion or murder, are very rare when an exemption is requested. I have never seen it, though I have read in chronicles that such exemptions have been granted for very serious reasons. MY GUESS is that the reason is when the culpability is questionable. That's just my guess. Don't take it to the bank.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#18

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.