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Pastoral Letter

(157 words)

Author(s): Haering, Stephan
[German Version] A pastoral letter is a modern medium used by (Catholic) bishops to proclaim the faith, in the tradition of biblical and early Christian letters to churches. They may be published periodically (e.g. Lenten pastoral letters) or to address a current issue. They may be addressed to the faithful of the bishop’s own church, as a means of instruction and encouragement, or they may present to a general audience the church’s position on ethical, social, or political questions. In recent ti…

Religious Priests

(156 words)

Author(s): Haering, Stephan
[German Version] is a (non-official) collective designation for Catholic priests who belong to a religious institute or one of the societies of apostolic life, and as such are not subject to a bishop but to the superior of their own order. If, however, priests of a religious order undertake an external apostolic activity (e.g. pastoral care) they also come under the bishop (cf. CIC/1983 cc. 678–683, 738; CCEO cc. 415, 554). Priests of a religious order who perform a task in the bishopric have, like diocesan priests, electoral rights with regard to the priests’ council ( CIC/1983 c. 498 §1 2°; C…

Voluntary Associations

(5,190 words)

Author(s): Häusler, Michael | Schäfer, Alfred | Kuhlemann, Frank-Michael | Kaiser, Jochen-Christoph | Haering, Stephan | Et al.
[German Version] I. History 1. Terminology. The use of the term “association” to denote the formal union of persons and bodies has been common since the 19th century, especially through its application in the legal area. Associations were and are also called societies, unions, corporations, cooperatives, federations, groups, initiatives, movements etc. Modern unions are defined as the voluntary union of originally separate forces to achieve a common aim. By their structural features of free choice and a common aim, they are essentially different…


(378 words)

Author(s): Haering, Stephan
[German Version] is a public promise, according to Catholic church law, usually received by the church during a worship service: to live a life consecrated to God according to the counsels of perfection of poverty, chastity, and obedience. The profession that is made in a religious order inducts the professing individual at the same time into the community. There is also a profession for individual forms of consecrated life (hermits [Monasticism: III], virgins, widows), which may refer only to par…


(533 words)

Author(s): Haering, Stephan | Schneider, Ariane
[German Version] I. In the West The novitiate is a period of instruction and testing in monastic life before taking (temporary) vows (Profession); during this time the novice is supervised by a novice master. The novitiate, whose roots go back to early monasticism, was integrated explicitly into the 6th-century Benedictine Rule (chs. 58f.; Benedict, Rule of Saint), which dominated Western monasticism. The Decretum Gratiani (Gratian) provided for a monastic probationary period of up to three years (C. 17, q. 2, c. 3). The Council of Trent stipulated a durati…

Order, Supreme Ordinator of a Religious

(176 words)

Author(s): Haering, Stephan
[German Version] An unofficial title for the supreme leader ( Supremus Moderator) of centrally structured orders (e.g. Franciscans, Dominicans, Jesuits), secular institutes or societies of apostolic life. The ordinator is elected by the general chapter, in most orders for a limited term. Normally a minimum age and a minimum period of membership of the order are required. The ordinator has full power over the entire institute and its members, and represents it externally. In the performance of official duti…


(2,508 words)

Author(s): Schimmelpfennig, Bernhard | Haering, Stephan | Miletto, Gianfranco
[German Version] I. History In ancient times, the ager vaticanus extended on the right side of the Tiber, below the Vatican Hill from which it acquired it name. Crossed by the Via Cornelia, it was connected with Rome by a bridge that was probably built under Nero. From the emperors Caligula and Nero onward, a circus was built for races, with an Egyptian obelisk as its meta (since the 16th cent. the center of St. Peter’s Square). Soon afterwards, a naumachia was erected further upstream on the Tiber.The Via Cornelia was lined by tombs, especially from the 2nd century onward.…

Order, Rules of a Religious

(393 words)

Author(s): Haering, Stephan
[German Version] These are the written rules for life in religious orders, recognized by the church. The names of such rules vary: Regula, Constitutiones, Consuetudines, Statuta, Formula vitae etc. The authors of the basic rules are usually the founders of an order or a monastery. Early rules were written by monastic fathers, for example Pachomius, Basil the Great, Benedict of Nursia, Columba; see also monasticism (III). When a monastery’s way of life was based on them, they were locally or regionally adapted over time and made more precise by supplementary ¶ normative texts. Benedict…

Lay Communities/Lay Orders

(273 words)

Author(s): Haering, Stephan
[German Version] Lay associations within the Catholic Church trace their traditions far back in the church's system of orders, confraternities, and communities. Vatican II emphasized the importance of lay communities for implementation of a Christian vocation and participation in the apostolate (PC 10, AA 18–21). The faithful are urged quite generally to hold such associations in high esteem ( CIC/1983 cc. 327, 574 §1; CCEO c. 411). Canon law distinguishes lay communities recognized as religious orders (lay religious and secular institutes, societies of the …

Habit (Religious Attire)

(178 words)

Author(s): Haering, Stephan
[German Version] is the uniform and obligatory clothing (Clothing and Vestments) of the members of the various orders as determined by tradition and law ( CIC 1983, c. 669; CCEO, cc. 476, 540). As a rule, it is conferred in a worship service at the beginning of a person's life in the order (investiture). The habit should be simple (cf. PC 17); it is a symbol of membership in a specific community and of religious status. In some countries (e.g. Germany, Austria), civil law guarantees it a particular degree of protection. Som…


(196 words)

Author(s): Haering, Stephan
[German Version] (from Lat. scapulae, “shoulders”), a religious garment consisting of a piece of cloth worn over the shoulders and hanging down in front and behind. A ¶ scapular, usually reaching to the knees or lower, is part of the habit of many orders (e.g. the Benedictines). Since the Middle Ages, however, a scapular has also been a token of membership in lay communities, some affiliated with orders (Tertiaries), expressing participation in spiritual goods. Finally such scapulars were reduced to two rectangles connecte…

Chapter of Faults

(129 words)

Author(s): Haering, Stephan
[German Version] The expression chapter of faults refers to the monastic practice, in place since early times, of disclosure before the community assembled in the chapter-house of offenses against the outward order of the community, either by confession of the offender or by statement of a third party (possibly after futile attempts at correctio fraterna) and atonement for ¶ them through a penance imposed by the superior. Such chapters were held after some fashion in almost every monastery. After Vatican II, the practice was largely …