New Decree from Rome cuts the legs from under bishops and strangles new religious groups in the crib.

Correct me if I am wrong, but wasn’t it once a project of Francis to decentralize some of the power from the Roman Curia out to the local Churches?   I have this nagging memory that local bishops were to have more power.

On the other hand, in the last few years it seems to be going the other way.

Today, another thing struck local bishops, removing even more of their influence in their own dioceses under the guise of “accompaniment” as we all “walk together”.

The aim of this new Decree from Rome is to strangle nascent religious groups in the crib.  Strangle new traditional groups in the crib.  This makes sure that any bishop even slightly friendly to tradition will have his hands tied.

This is from Italian Vatican News:

Public associations of faithful in itinere [Latin, literally “on the way, road”]:

The green light from the Holy See is necessary

From now on, the diocesan bishop must have the authorization of the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life before establishing associations of the faithful who are waiting to become an Institute of Consecrated Life or Society of Apostolic Life

“Before the diocesan bishop erects – by decree – a public association of the faithful with a view to becoming an institute of consecrated life or a society of apostolic life of diocesan right, he must obtain the written permission of the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of apostolic life “.

This is what Pope Francis ordered in a Rescript regarding public associations of faithful in itinere, following the audience granted on 7 February last to Cardinal João Braz de Aviz and Archbishop José Rodríguez Carballo, respectively prefect and secretary of the Dicastery for Institutes of consecrated life and Societies of apostolic life.

The Rescript, which enters into force today 15 June with the publication in L’Osservatore Romano, is part of the synodality promoted by Francis, intending to develop closer collaboration between the offices of the Holy See and the diocesan bishops in a “mutual listening ”, as the Pope underlined in his speech to the Plenary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, on 11 December last year. Listening and collaboration that are expressed in a process of discernment and accompaniment with particular attention to recent foundations and new forms of consecrated life, as stated in the Code of Canon Law (can. 605).

It’s part of “synodality” (walking together)!

“Recent foundations” will have “particular attention”.

Because – recently – there are lots of new groups forming that aspire to throwing off the last shackles of “restorationism”, right?  These rapidly multiplying new groups have only blue skies in their wide-open eyes as they lift their faces like fresh daisies toward the sunshine of Vatican II and take root in the rich soil of post-Conciliar liturgy.  Yeah, that’s the sort of groups that are trying to form in dioceses.

No, no.  The new groups forming aren’t interested at all in things like recognizable religious habits, clear charisms, spirituality anchored in the writings of saintly founders, traditional liturgy and devotions.  Nope.


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  1. Ave Maria says:

    The (aging) ones in charge of (not) giving permissions are the same ones who in 2013 did the original smack down of the Franciscans of the Immaculate. They are decimated but still hanging on, by the way. Once a fast growing Institute, they have essentially been denied vocations and left to age and wither. But time is on their side.

  2. Lurker 59 says:

    The ascetical and monastic communities are historically wildflowers that grow up outside of the gardens of the institutional diocesan structures. The only thing that these documents serve is to insure that diocesan structures have no say or control over the organic growth of groups within the diocese.

    It is mind-numbingly counter-productive to centralize and gate-keep if your goal is to maintain brand control — it really only diminishes the brand. I say “brand” because that is how Catholicism is being treated.

    Bishops YOU are successors to the Apostles. Stop acting like buck-passing middle management and having your “job” be defined as impotent middle managers. Go read Vatican II and live up to your ordination.

  3. FrNigel says:

    It is not just about elevating VaticanII to a doctrinal council, rather than the purely pastoral Council that Pope St John XXIII convened, but also a selective reading of the documents. Gregory DiPippo has pointed out the following passage from Lumen Gentium (n. 27): “The pastoral office, or the habitual and daily care of their sheep, is entrusted to [the local bishops] completely, nor are they to be regarded as vicars of the Roman Pontiffs, for they exercise an authority that is proper to them. … In virtue of this power, bishops have the sacred right and the duty before the Lord to make laws for their subjects, to pass judgment on them and to moderate everything pertaining to the ordering of worship and the apostolate.” (H/T Rorate Caeli)

  4. Rob83 says:

    Give Rome exactly what it says it wants. Flood them with applications, including for things that sound innocuous to the mind of those in charge. If the bishop is sympathetic he can even write a note of apology to Rome that he could not take care of something so small.

    Get approval, and then ask for modifications. The more occupied they are with paperwork, the less time for thinking up new ideas.

  5. Benedict Joseph says:

    Heartbreaking and gut wrenching. Who didn’t see this coming? We are all aware of the communities which have the axe hurling toward them.
    This pontificate brings the critique it deserves upon itself.

  6. BeatifyStickler says:

    I fear this is more sinister than it appears. My next guess will be that Francis is going to go after Societies and Orders already in place. Force a nowhere to turn or schism. He’s a bully and a mean old man. I’m scared of my own particular judgement just from being a Dad, I can’t imagine being the cruel Pope in front of Christ.

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  8. Ceile De says:

    Apart from all the other reasons already discussed why this is bad, it now exposes Rome to legal liability in lawsuits against dioceses since bishops clearly are now only local area managers implementing head office policy. Plaintiffs’ lawyers will be delighted with this gift.

  9. B says:

    After the Lateran Council tons of religious orders and associations were suppressed. The Pope even suppressed the Servites and it wasn’t restored until around 30 yrs later and three Popes on.

    These are the things of today. There will be other Popes and surely there will once again come a Catholic renaissance.

  10. Chaswjd says:

    Synodality for thee but not for me.

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  12. rdb says:

    Pope Francis speaks about people who reject Vatican II but then publishes a rescript that is clearly against Lumen Gentium and Christus Dominus, the understanding of a bishop’s authority, and the connection between ordination and governance.

  13. Appeal to “synodality” (“walking together”) and you can do anything to anyone.

  14. hilltop says:

    Francis and his crew are desperate to wall-in what is legitimate in their view. Those pesky Bishops might well permit and foster undesirable developments. If you can’t beat them, exclude them.

  15. khouri says:

    How long, O Lord?

    Will His Holiness now begin to force the dying religious communities still made up of dissenting and anti Church women to consolidate or die???

    Some of these groups are already “reconfigured” based on their aged members and finances. At least their are fewer of them a d they are more recognizable.

    He has tried to force various faithful cloistered communities to join “federations” to better interfere with the unique charismas of each house.

    As one nun said, “He is to be our loving papa, not our draconian overlord.” You tell it Mother!

  16. matt from az says:

    I find it bitterly ironic that the same men who praise Vatican II for bringing lay holiness to the fore and destroying clericalism would use clericalism to destroy lay holy groups.

    It’s almost as if they’ve been lying to us for 60 years.

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