Perfectae Caritatis 16

The different treatment of women religious has been a sore spot for many since the Council. Arrangements and penalties were applied in the past to protect the chastity and reputation of women. Even in the 60’s, there was recognition from the council bishops that old arrangements were heading for change.

Papal cloister should be maintained in the case of nuns engaged exclusively in the contemplative life. However, it must be adjusted to conditions of time and place and obsolete practices suppressed. This should be done after due consultation with the monasteries in question. But other nuns applied by rule to apostolic work outside the convent should be exempted from papal cloister in order to enable them better to fulfill the apostolic duties entrusted to them. Nevertheless, cloister is to be maintained according to the prescriptions of their constitutions.

Any religious women care to comment further on this and give us more background?


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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4 Responses to Perfectae Caritatis 16

  1. monialesop says:

    You may wish to go to Verbi Sponsa which is the latest document on Papal Enclosure (1999). These are the norms monasteries use, PC is out of date in regard to enclosure norms.

    Enclosure is an absolute necessity for contemplative life. It provides that “garden enclosed” and the “desert” so needful for our life of contemplation. However, it is expressed and understood in slightly different ways by different Orders. Verbi Sponsa did in fact, make many changes to adjust to conditions of time and place. With VB the onus for the enclosure is now on the Prioress and council or chapter rather than the Bishop.

  2. Todd says:

    Yes! I had in the back of my mind there was some document a few years back. I had done a cursory internet search, but couldn’t find it. If anyone gets a link to the Vatican page before I find it later, go ahead and post it.

    I’d be cautious about the suggestion that PC is “out of date,” though I think I know what you mean with it. A liturgist might also say certain prescriptions of SC would be out-of-date if they spoke of chant and Latin. And if later documents, including the GIRM, leaned away from any prescription of SC, would that be a sign the VII document was “out of date?” In the minds of some, perhaps.

    It is good to know that the prioress and governing bodies of sisters now regulate the cloister.

  3. Liam says:

    Verbi Sponsa link:

    It might be better to understand that the documents of Vatican II are not legislative in nature (they have no anathemas, which are general legislative acts); they often require legislation to be implemented, in fact. So, to that limited extent ,one might understand them as “out of date” if one does not account for subsequent necessary legislation. We Americans tend to think of them as analogous to our federal constitution; they aren’t.

  4. Todd says:

    Thanks, Liam.

    This document is worth careful consideration. One very positive aspect, adapting the marriage metaphor for women religious, can lead to a problematic interpretation of why there would be particularly different legislation for male contemplatives, especially as the call to holiness is a constant without regard for gender.

    I’d say there would be more differences in the charisms of various orders and the needs of various members than a particular male-female difference in the need for legislation.

    Or perhaps some religious would shed some light on this for us further?

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