Pope Toughens Rules on New Religious Orders

From The Tablet:

Clears up some of the ambiguity. Glad they’re mentioning the problems, which kind of blows my mind that anyone would do that to someone else.

My new congregation:

My particular ministry promoting the cloisters and contemplative life:

Maybe I’m being cynical, but my “common sense” alert came on when I read this in the Tablet article:

Attention is also turning to groups in the United States. During the presidential election campaign a group of sisters known as “The Children of Mary” were seen at a rally held by President Donald Trump in Ohio last month wearing MAGA (“Make America Great Again”) face masks and holding up bibles.

Although they wear religious habits and were dubbed the “MAGA nuns” by the media they are technically a “Public Association of the Christian Faithful”, which means they are not a formal community of religious sisters, although becoming an association is the first step towards doing so. The group were established in 2016 under the authority of Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati. The new Church law promulgated by Francis means Archbishop Schnurr will need authorisation from the Holy See if he wishes to allow the Children of Mary group to become a religious community.

Did the Pope already not say, of Trump, he “is not Christian”? Then what does he think of these Children of Mary?

[the Pope] continued: “And then, a person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the gospel. As far as what you said about whether I would advise to vote or not to vote, I am not going to get involved in that. I say only that this man is not Christian if he said things like that. We must see if he said things in that way and in this I give the benefit of the doubt.”


This is a good thing !

I know of two religious orders that were established in a dioceses with the local Bishop’s permission alone. Later, one order was ordered to dissolve after the New Bishop of that diocese took over. The other, fell apart for reasons I’m not sure of, but they seem to be acting on their own on Carmelite teachings.

Neither had Papal Approval.

Consider if you had joined such an order, dedicated 10 years of your life in it, and a new Bishop ordered it dissolved, how would you feel ?

I never could understand what a new religious order would be established when there are already Papally approved orders already in the area ?

I asked a Discalced Carmelite Friar why people start these new orders ? He said, most of the time it had to do with “obedience.” The leaders wanted to run the order themselves, rather than submit to an approved order with others in the leadership position.

It turned out the two orders I knew first hand, such was the case and the Friar was right about those two.


Yet, President Trump was baptized in the First Presbyterian Church.


If a new congregation is founded by the bishop, it goes straight to the “public association” designation.

New congregations being founded by private individuals are known as “private association of Christ’s faithful WITH the intention of becoming an institute of religious life.” After recognition by the local bishop, they will be known as the same thing only “suri juris” will predicate the phrase.

My particular ministry started as, and still is, a Private Association of Christ’s Faithful WITHOUT the intention of becoming an institute of religious life. New congregations may arise from it, but those groups will be completely separate from it. If I had wanted non-profit status, I would have required a letter from the bishop, and a board of directors. The ministry would then be recognized as another form of a Public Association.

Since the Children of Mary are Public Association, they have shown growth.

The next stage for them will be Diocesan Right which comes after 10 years of growth. They can expand to other dioceses after that.

Pontifical Right, which is being confused with what the article states, comes after 25 years of growth.

This is what the article is discussing: the group lives their life, gets everything written down, then find what all works for them. When they present themselves to the bishop, according to this article and the new law, the diocese will then be OBLIGATED to send the group’s information to Rome for their discernment. Rome, in turn, will say whether or not the group is needed. If Rome doesn’t like the group for one reason or another, they will not give approval. Does this mean the group disbands? No. They have a right to associate, and they have a right to keep doing what they’re doing. They will have to change their way of operating, though, and put any habit sketches in the archives for the time being. They can wear some kind of uniform.

In this case, as usual, separate what the Pope or the Vatican actually say, from what the media commenters claim he said/intended/underlying message/“Here’s what’s really going on here folks”/ etc.

Context can be mixed with spin.

What is the rule on who can wear habits? Looking up various public associations of the faithful, many (most?) seem to wear habits.

Here’s the actual (very brief) letter:

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Only groups recognized by the local bishop can wear the habit, if they have discerned that they are to wear one, and the design is actually sustainable/doable.

If you Google the Queenship of Mary community in Canada, there are blog entries showing their progress through the experimentation phase; subsequent Founder’s Novitiate with a Franciscan congregation; and recognition ceremony with reception of the habit.

My own group is wearing our crucifix with royal blue and white civvies with different colors of hair triangle, and hand rosary, according to formation level. Three of them will be receiving High Garb/Seminary Uniform at the end of this month when they start their Novitiate. The other two will be promoted, as well. I haven’t a clue as to when we will present ourselves to a bishop (probably mine). COVID-19 messed up our chances of getting together as a group this past summer.

Doesn’t this phrase mean Pope Francis doubts until proven otherwise that Trump said those things (which he said but Pope says he, the Pope, was not being shown evidences that Trump said, he is asked to comment based on what media says Trump said and thus Pope Francis sends again a message of distrust about what media reports and in this I agree with the Pope that the media writes mainly this or that propaganda aka gossip and re-writes; many young journalists learn this practice to be ok and that this is how joirnalism must be done so the trend of writing inaccurate news to promote an agenda is not likely to die any time soon).

What was the point of lumping a religious group that supports Trump in with a whole bunch of orders with rampant sexual abuse?

That was some pretty bad and suggestive writing.

If there isn’t any indication that Archbishop Schnurr wouldn’t be able to get approval for the group to continue, then it should not hae been singled out.


The only way I could be sure of what the pope means, in his heart, would be if I could read his heart - which I could do only by private revelation from God. Apart from that, using only his words and deeds, I find ambiguity and imprecision, if not contradiction. In addressing this matter, I struggle to remain in holy charity.

Perhaps another reason could be the lack of communities… where I live, there are very few communities, and very few that are traditional, and contemplative.

But that isn’t a charism, which is usually the justification for a new community–a new charism.

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I see what you mean about charisms, I agree… I was thinking if there is a new charism, or starting a new community of an existing order

And It is heart-breaking to say it, and even more heart-breaking to see it, but it seems our pope is a globalist in politics and in religion. It can be argued that he has “shared” such opinions as [only] opinions and not [defined] Catholic dogma. But that he leaves his words hanging in the air, not clarified, unexplained, ambiguous is no favor at all. Many are left, from Card. Burke on down, with dubia unresolved.

Tradition can be a charism… The Canons Regular of St. John Cantius are a great example of this.

While I’m sure this happens, I have to think the bigger reason is different charisms and missions.

For example: If I was a single person, I would consider being a priest and starting a Canon Regular order at our Cathedral, dedicated to public prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours and to St. Katharine Drexel, who’s body lays in our Cathedral.

I’d call it the Canons Regular of Saints Peter, Paul and Katharine.

Anyway, my point is this: One Monsignor I know said that there are more extinct Religious Orders than existing ones. Throughout Church history, Religious orders have come into existence and have died. I think he said, the average lifespan of each order is somewhere around 100 years (if not less) because a lot of them fail to recruit members beyond the founders.

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Actually, that is not what “charism” means. It’s not a lifestyle, or a ministry. It is a direct inspiration from the Holy Spirit. There is a lot of serious research on charism–a term that is used far too loosely.


Personally, I see both positives and negatives with this.

Namely (besides the sexual sin issues):

  • If a new order wants to start and is very similar to another new order in another part of the world, perhaps they should be merged into one?

I see this as both an advantage and disadvantage of the Vatican being involved. They can link two groups together who want to do similar things (for example: multiple groups of religious sisters being founded to be closely united to the FSSP… perhaps they should be one?)

However, it’s also possible that the Vatican might think two groups are more similar than they really are. Perhaps their mission & charism truly are different? One the issues (I think) with new orders is that they often have a hard time describing their charism.

I wish I will live long enough to see if this winds up being a good thing or not. :thinking:

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