Questions regarding Bishops who belong to an Order

I am curious. Our Bishop is a Jesuit. What is his relationship to his Superior? Is he still under his Superior or does he now answer directly to the Pope? For instance, if the Superior decided he would like the Bishop to serve the Order in some capacity, can he require that the Bishop give up the position in the Diocese and return to the Order’s work, or does the Pope have the final say? I know once he is a Bishop he is always a Bishop, but can a Bishop give up “Bishop duties” and return to living as a regular member of their Order, either voluntarily or under the direction of his Superior?

(Our Bishop is NOTdoing this, I am just curious). I also know that the Jesuits serve the Pope, but what about other Orders?

Allow me a brief moment of pedantry here (!) : the Jesuits are not a religious order, but an institute of clerks regular (or canons regular - the meaning is the same). Although many of us refer to all religious as belonging to an ‘order’ this is not technically correct: the generic term that should be used is ‘religious institute’, which includes orders, congregations and other forms of religious life.

The reason I make the point - other than because I am a shameless pedant - is because you are, of course, asking a question of canon law, and canon law does distingush between different types of religious institutes in terms of their rights and obligations.

The relevant canons to your question are nn. 705-707, which I’ll quote in full.

*Can. 705 A religious raised to the episcopate remains a member of his institute but is subject only to the Roman Pontiff by virtue of the vow of obedience and is not bound by obligations which he himself prudently judges cannot be reconciled with his condition.

Can. 706 The religious mentioned above:

1/ if he has lost the right of ownership of goods through profession, has the use, revenue, and administration of goods which accrue to him; a diocesan bishop and the others mentioned in can. 381, §2, however, acquire property on behalf of the particular church; others, on behalf of the institute or the Holy See insofar as the institute is capable or not of possession;

2/ if he has not lost the right of ownership of goods through profession, recovers the use, revenue, and administration of the goods which he had; those things which accrue to him afterwards he fully acquires for himself;

3/ in either case, however, must dispose of goods according to the intention of the donors when they do not accrue to him personally.

Can. 707 §1. A retired religious bishop can choose a place of residence even outside the houses of his institute, unless the Apostolic See has provided otherwise.

§2. If he has served some diocese, can. 402, §2 is to be observed with respect to his appropriate and worthy support, unless his own institute wishes to provide such support; otherwise the Apostolic See is to provide in another manner.
*
Fundamentally, the upshot of these provisions is that the bishop’s religious vows can only continue to be applied where this does not interfere with his episcopal state, and in terms of obedience this means that the authority of his superior is suspended, and poverty mitigated as appropriate to his episcopal duties. Upon retirement, the bishop can choose to continue to live a diocesan rather than religious existence.

This is sometimes described as the religious having their vows ‘suspended’ upon being raised to the episcopacy, but that is not really correct. Although his vow of obedience to superiors is not enforced, he is nevertheless obliged to consider other aspects of his vows and the religious charism that he follows, and apply them wherever they do not interfere with his new responsibilities. Whilst that makes the application of the vows into largely a matter of his own judgment, it does not give him complete freedom from them.

One other proviso: a definitive judgment of the Holy See in 1986 declared that a religious bishop could neither vote nor stand for office in his own religious institute.

Hope this helps.

I thought clerks regular, e.g. Society of Jesus (Jesuits) were distinct from canons regular, e.g. the Order of Canons Regular of Prémontré (Premonstratensians or Norbertines). It is my understanding that canons regular always follow the rule of St Augustine; whereas, e.g. the Jesuits follow the Ignatian Rule.

You’re quite right (at least to the best of my knowledge, that is!). The point I was trying to make was that both kinds of institute consist of priests living under a rule. Obviously I should have been clearer, and thank you for pointing out that important distinction.

Thank you for clarifying that. I wasn’t criticising I just wanted to check, I’m a bit of a shameless pedant myself. I know it’s a lax way of thinking but I tend to see canons regular as more like monks to an extent with clerks regular being a bit more like secular priests.

Thank you, Mike, for the concise answer, and for clarifying religious institutes for me.:slight_smile:

What should happen when a bishop retires? There is a diocese in my country where the bishop was a benedictine monk. He’s now retired and is the bishop emeritus but his address (given on the diocesan website) is neither his former monastery nor any monastery. I would have thought, particularly with the monastic orders, the retired bishop would return to his former abbey because of the vow of stability monks take (or is the stability included within one of the vows).

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