Perfectae Caritatis 10

A lay person’s life as a religious is complete to itself, no apologies necessary, the council bishops remind us. If changes are needed, the council “urges” adaptation so as to better serve the people of the present day.

The religious life, undertaken by lay people, either men or women, is a state for the profession of the evangelical counsels which is complete in itself. While holding in high esteem therefore this way of life so useful to the pastoral mission of the Church in educating youth, caring for the sick and carrying out its other ministries, the sacred synod confirms these religious in their vocation and urges them to adjust their way of life to modern needs.

If clergy are needed within a lay male community, their role is to serve that priestly role to members, and not as an expression of the order’s charism:

The sacred synod declares that there is nothing to prevent some members of religious communities of brothers being admitted to holy orders by provision of their general chapter in order to meet the need for priestly ministrations in their own houses, provided that the lay character of the community remains unchanged.

I remember when I first began making retreats, I remember someone from the community discussing the role of clergy among the Trappist brothers, and how since Vatican II there was a reassessment of the need for men in holy orders. The sense was that the community didn’t need nearly as many priests as it had.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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