Talk:Catholic religious order

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edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for Catholic religious order:

Here are some tasks awaiting attention:
  • Article requests: Add references to the article and update the article
  • Assess: Assess notability of religious orders listed, cleanout non-Catholic orders
  • Cleanup: Categorize orders by rule or conference.
  • Introduction rewrite. In progress Dominick (TALK) 13:53, 22 September 2011 (UTC)

Template:Tasks is a useful resource...

Let revitalize this article![edit]

What needs work now? I think the introduction is a good start. Dominick (TALK) 13:22, 22 September 2011 (UTC)

Changes made to the introduction[edit]

I would like to discuss the changes made to the introduction. I know it needed work (since I did much of it), but it included what distinguishes orders from other types of consecrated life.

  1. First, the references to the code of Canon Law were taken out.
  2. Then, several errors were introduced:
a)"Catholic religious orders are one of the two types of consecrated life in the Roman Catholic Church." There are not only two form of consecrated life but many. There are institutes of consecrated life (religious institutes and secular institutes) and there are consecrated individuals (consecrated virgins, consecrated widows, consecrated hermits). There are also the societies of apostolic life, closely related to the institutes of consecrated life, but with some differences.
b)"Religious orders, also know as Religious Institutes, are..." Religious order are technically not religious institutes, since the religious institutes include religious orders and religious congregations, that though today are the same for practical matters, they were not in the past, and they are still listed separately in the annuario pontifical and have its own Wiki article.
c)"... who live a common life following a religious rule or constitution under the leadership of a religious superior... they bind themselves to this form of living by taking public vows in accordance with the norms of church law." a) Common life distinguishes the orders from consecrated individuals; b) all orders (like all congregations) follow a rule or constitution under the leadership of a religious superior; c) public vows distinguishes orders from institutes whose members profess private vows. Why were this essential characteristics of religious orders taken out?

I'll go ahead and undo the changes, while waiting for the fruit of this discussion. Thanks.--Coquidragon (talk) 02:59, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

I was asked to start looking at this page. Right now I have very little time due to work issues, but the first issue I see is this paragraph. "They may additionally profess to obey certain guidelines for living, since each order has its peculiar charism. Religious vows are to be distinguished from Holy Orders, the sacrament which bishops, priests, and deacons receive. Hence, members of religious orders are not part of the hierarchy, unless they are also ordained priests or deacons. Members of religious orders are sometimes referred to as "priest-monks", the term "hieromonks" is more commonly used among the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches." This in my humble opinion seems to blur the line between secular/religious and lay/ordained. They are all different things. You can be secular/ordained, religious/ordained, religious/lay and secular/lay. Discussing whether religious priests are part of the hierarchy or not is also confusing since hierarchy in the general term is everyone in the church, if you mean the specific governing body of the church, USUALLY religious order members, whether priest or not are not part of the hierarchy. Especially if they are part of the exempt religious order (i.e. Franciscan.) Individual members of Orders do not answer to local Bishops, they only answer to their respective ministers, who in turn answer to their superiors etc. They operate with permission of local Bishop but answer through other channels. Where this really gets complicated is where you have Orders made up of diocesan priests and stuff like that. Marauder40 (talk) 12:51, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
Pardon me, if I am being too bold. I have replaced the current text with something that is at least sourced. More work is needed. Esoglou (talk) 14:50, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
Most of what you added doesn't really belong in the lead. It seems more a definition of what vows are and things like whether a religious can marry definitely should be left for the body. I also am not real sure about the removal of the "Four branches of Religious Orders" section. It explains what the four branches are, the next section doesn't do that.Marauder40 (talk) 15:06, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
I presume that, before discussing the matter, you don't feel a need to revert my first edit to the previous version that you already found defective. So let us discuss it. Since what made religious orders different from congregations, in the times when the distinction was important, was precisely the question of solemn vows, I think we need to explain what solemn vows are. We can't omit mention of them. Could you shorten the explanation, please?
On the Annuario Pontificio matter, you will see that, not only were the four branches categories already distinguished in the table at the end of the article, but I have added more context to the list. Esoglou (talk) 15:37, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
I never said that discussion of vows shouldn't happen in the article. I just don't think the detail that was added to the lead needs to be in the lead. It should briefly be mentioned there and the rest belongs in the body. The lead should summarize the body and none of that is currently in the body. As for the "Annuario Pontifico matter", I think the summaries of what a mendicant order vs. the other types of orders that was in the original article actually fit. Yes I know there are links to the different articles but brief summaries in this article would be cleaner. I am not real sure what a listing of all the orders in the article itself really buys the article. It probably should be left for either a List page or for the sub-pages themselves (i.e. Mendicant orders listed on the Mendicant page.)Marauder40 (talk) 15:51, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
Better now? Esoglou (talk) 16:45, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
Better but the first sentence of the article doesn't make sense. The first sentence of the article before you started may be better IMHO.Marauder40 (talk) 20:47, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
But the first sentence before I started ("Catholic religious orders are one of the two types of consecrated life in the Roman Catholic Church. Religious orders, also know as Religious Institutes, are larger than the Secular Institutes") was false on several counts, and was contradicted even by the source that was so vaguely indicated (how many canons are in it?). "Orders" were opposed to "congregations", not to "secular institutes", which hadn't even been invented as a category at the time that that distinction was important and so didn't get into the 1917 Code of Canon Law. What "secular institutes" are distinguished from are "religious institutes". Even putting both of these together, you don't have "the two types of consecrated life in the Roman Catholic Church". There are more types of consecrated life than two: see what canon 603 says about hermits, men and women who belong neither to religious nor to secular institutes, but live a consecrated life. Esoglou (talk) 21:21, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

Liking all the additions made by Esoglo, I really don't like the new introduction, I specially do not like in the first sentence the negative definitions: "a category of Catholic religious institutes that is no longer distinguished juridically from other Catholic religious institutes." Orders are not a category of religious institutes as these can only be orders or congregations. They are one of two types of religious institutes, not one of many. Also, I don't think that not being "distinguished juridically" is pertinent in the introduction, but necessary in the body of the article. The number of orders (per original definition, not per colloquial use) is limited and closed. If I want information about orders, the introduction should tell me what they are, not what they are not. I would like to go back to the original introduction, before the changes made by Dominick, but excluding the hierarchy part as per Marauder. That intro defined what an order is, even though, excluding the four branches and the solemn vows, that definition is shared by congregations, as they are also religious institutes (each of those with its own wiki article). Also, I don't think that this article about orders is the best place for the historical-juridical list. It should be either at the "consecrated life" article or the "institute of consecrated life" article.--Coquidragon (talk) 21:44, 23 September 2011 (UTC).

Here is how it read (excluding the formatting):
Catholic religious orders are one of two types of religious institutes ('Religious Institutes', cf. canons 573–746 [1]), the major form of consecrated life in the Catholic Church. They are organizations of laity and/or clergy who take solemn vows (in contrast to the simple vows taken by the members of religious congregations) and who live a common life following a religious rule or constitution under the leadership of a religious superior. According to the Annuario Pontificio, there are four branches of religious orders:

Monastic orders: orders founded by monks or nuns who live and work in a monastery and recite the divine office.Mendicant orders: orders founded by friars or nuns who live from alms, recite the divine office, and have active participation in apostolic endeavors.Canons Regular: orders founded by canons and canonesses regular who recite the divine office and generally are in charge of a parish.Clerks Regular: orders founded by priests who are also religious men with vows and have a very active apostolic life.

Their intention is to imitate Jesus more closely, mainly, but not exclusively, by observing evangelical chastity, poverty, and obedience, which are the three evangelical counsels of perfection (cf. canons 599–601 [1]). They bind themselves to this form of living by taking public vows in accordance with the norms of church law. They may additionally profess to obey certain guidelines for living, since each order has its peculiar charism. Religious orders only differ from religious congregations in the nature of their vows (solemn rather than simple). Even though the names are used interchangeably, technically, they are not the same. The last religious order founded was the Order of Bethlehem Brothers in 1653.[2]--Coquidragon (talk) 21:48, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

I have removed what is negative from the introduction and made some adjustments. I have also transferred the Annuario Pontificio information about institutes of consecrated life in general (not just about those called orders) to Institute of Consecrated Life. Better now? Esoglou (talk) 10:07, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

My friend Esoglou, I am sorry to say that I do not like the current wording. The actual introduction is like saying men are a category of the human race, that subcategories of men include Spanish, English and French, and that before the 1500's, only white male were counted as men, but afterwards, others were also considered men. There is nothing about what a man is in my purposely comic example, meant as a caricature (with all my respect for you as a great editor) of the current introduction. The current introduction says nothing about what religious order are. Also, there are no categories of religious institutes, there are orders and congregations, which are group together as religious institutes. There are no subcategories of orders, but an historical evolution that changed what existed before from monacal to canons to mendicants to clerical orders, there are types or branches of orders, each born out of necessities and changes in the society of its time. Finally, the last paragraph makes no sense. The difference between order and congregations is still there, but since there are no canonical differences, a new term (religious institute) was created to encompass both. No congregation has been changed into an order. Today, both congregations and orders, as religious institutes, are called orders colloquially, but the annuario pontificio has kept the difference in the name of their vows as a criteria for separating them in its listing. Today in canon law, a solemn vow is one that that the Holy see has described as such (that is the only mention of solemn vow in the whole canon). No solemn vows has been granted since the last order. What has occur is that simple vows has received the same obligations as solemn vows and that simple vow members in orders that had both simple and solemn vows (like the example of the nuns) were granted solemn vows, but simple vows are still simple vows. A religious person cannot make simple vows of obedience and chastity, but solemn vow of poverty. All three vows are either solemn or simple, even though today the naming difference does not matter Then again, "an order is an institute with solemn vows" just distinguishes orders from other institutes, religious or not, is not a definition in itself.

What is wrong with the above stated introduction? It defines orders, list its four surviving classes (there were others before), talks about solemn vows and distinguishes orders from congregations, both sharing what they are, but for the old canonical difference of the vows. It is also referenced directly from the Canon Law, as opposed to the current one which has no references. It does lack the evolution of the obligations of the simple vows, but that is for the body, not for the introduction, as the new canon law did not affect orders or its vows, it only changed what simple vows were and raised the obligations of individuals in congregations to those of individuals in orders.--Coquidragon (talk) 20:34, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

Are you sure of what you say? What do you think of the following: The current Code of Canon Law maintains the distinction between solemn and simple vows (Code of Canon Law, canon 1192 §2), but no longer makes any distinction between their juridical effects, including the distinction between "orders" and "congregations". It has accordingly dropped the language of the 1917 code and uses the single term "religious institute" to designate all such institutes of consecrated life alike (Robert T. Kennedy, Study related to a pre-1983 book by John J. McGrath – Jurist, 1990, pp. 351-401).
Note that the term introduced in the 1983 Code, "religious institute", appeared nowhere in the 1917 Code: see the IntraText concordance to the 1917 Code. The generic term that it used was "religio".
So is the distinction still valid? Or is it only a historical relic? Remember that the members of what before 1983 were called "congregations" got the right to be called "religious" only in December 1900, a few years before the 1917 Code. But today we would not dream of denying them the title of "religious".
From 1918 many "congregations" obtained the right for their members to take solemn vows, at least the solemn vow of poverty. Whatever about those that got to take all three solemn vows, did the "congregations" that got to take only the solemn vow of poverty become "orders" or did they remain "congregations"? Even those "congregations" in which at least some members took all three solemn vows, were they to be seen as changed to "orders" or rather were they "congregations" in which members took solemn vows, as the 1917 Code said that religious women whose institutes were solemn-vow institutes but who by permission of the Holy See were in some areas only taking simple vows were "nuns" (moniales) not "sisters" (sorores), as indicated in canon 488 7mo of the 1917 Code? I imagine that perplexities like these were a factor in the decision of the commission revising the Code of Canon Law to drop the distinction.
Take your time. I won't be back to this for many hours. Esoglou (talk) 21:28, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

Yes, I'm sure. As your own citation says, the distinction between orders with solemn vows and congregations with simple vows is maintained, as we can see it in the Annuario Pontificio with its listing orders apart from congregations. Also, as you own citation says, there in no longer any judicial distinction. All members of Religious Congregation are religious (since 1900) and their vows assign upon them the same obligations as solemn vows do on members of order. I do not argue that. What I am saying is that no member of a congregation makes solemn vows. They make simple vows, but they have today the same force as solemn vows do. There is no solemn vow of poverty in congregation. In terms of differences, the difference between a solemn vow of poverty and a simple vow was that a solemn vow meant the renunciation to both property and administration, while a simple vow only renounce administration, but not property. Since the Code of Canon law of 1918, solemn vows of poverty have not changed, and as you very well say, some congregations have indeed changed their simple vows since canon law allows for the congregation's own constitution to define its simple vow of poverty as that of renouncing both property and administration, or just renouncing administration. This means that some congregations were allow to introduce into their rule/constitution if their simple vows would also mean renouncing property, which leveled the simple vow of poverty to the obligation of the solemn vow. Those congregation were not allow to make solemn vows, but their simple vows were leveled with solemn. No congregation became an order, as no congregation made solemn vows. The technical distinction between order and congregation is still there in the name of the vows, but juridically they are now the same as simple vows can bring forth the obligations of the solemn vows. In the order where there existed both solemn and simple vow members, the simple vow members were, with the new canon law, also allow to renounce property and were also also allow to be called nuns. Some of them were allow to make solemn vows, but because they were members of an order. No religious man or woman in a congregation has made solemn vows, and no congregation has become an order. My comment as to where solemn vow can be found in canon law was meant as to the only attempt to define what it is. Since there is no distinction from solemn vows, the canon las says that a solemn vow is that which the Holy See has defined as such. Nothing else. The vows that the Holy See has defined as solemn are those of orders.--Coquidragon (talk) 01:10, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

The commentary on the present Code of Canon Law quoted in the article says that, while solemn vows once meant those taken in what was called a religious order, today, in order to know when a vow is solemn it will be necessary to refer to the proper law of the institutes of consecrated life. This does not fit with your claim that "the vows that the Holy See has defined as solemn are those of orders". What you say was true in 1917, which made the taking of solemn vows the definition of an "order", but within a few decades it was no longer true. Some of what were then called congregations obtained permission for their members to take solemn vows at least of poverty. The requests were numerous enough to induce the Holy See in 1950 to issue regulations making it easier to obtain this permission. This fact contradicts other claims that you have made: "No religious man or woman in a congregation has made solemn vows"; "no congregation made solemn vows"; "There is no solemn vow of poverty in congregation".
In any case, the 1950 situation is not that of 2011. The Annuario Pontificio still gives list of religious institutes that, in the case of most institutes for men, but not for women, has not been revised to remove the "historical" distinctions. I doubt if you can find a reliable source that says that these distinctions are kept in current Church law. In the current Code of Canon Law, the word "congregation" is never used of a category of religious institutes, but only of the congregations of the Roman Curia or else of monastic congregations (in the English translation by the Canon Law Society of America, the word "congregation" is used also in canon 767 §§2-3 of the people at Mass, where the Latin text has "populi concursus", not "congregatio") - see the IntraText concordance of the English translation. So too the current law of the Church never, even once, uses the word "order" of a category of religious institutes - again see the concordance. You know that statements in Wikipedia must be backed up with a reliable source. It is easy to find reliable sources (above all, the 1917 Code) for the statement that "orders" and "congregations" were distinguished by the Catholic Church as the two categories that between them comprised all of what are now called "religious institutes" (a term not used in the 1917 Code). But can you find a reliable source that says that "orders" and "congregations" are distinguished by the Catholic Church in that way? Esoglou (talk) 11:02, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

I like all the changes Esoglou has done. It is a great job, specially with the sourcing. Yet, I still feel the intro doesn't pay merit to the rest of the article. I have amended my previous proposal, taking out all the Order vs. Congregation language. What do you think of this?

Catholic religious orders are one of two types of religious institutes ('Religious Institutes', cf. canons 573–746 [1]), the major form of consecrated life in the Catholic Church. They are organizations of laity and/or clergy who take solemn vows and who live a common life following a religious rule or constitution under the leadership of a religious superior. According to the Annuario Pontificio, there are four branches of religious orders:
*Monastic orders: orders founded by monks or nuns who live and work in a monastery and recite the divine office.
*Mendicant orders: orders founded by friars or nuns who live from alms, recite the divine office, and have active participation in apostolic endeavors.
*Canons Regular: orders founded by canons and canonesses regular who recite the divine office and generally are in charge of a parish.
*Clerks Regular: orders founded by priests who are also religious men with vows and have a very active apostolic life.
Their intention is to imitate Jesus more closely, mainly, but not exclusively, by observing evangelical chastity, poverty, and obedience, which are the three evangelical counsels of perfection (cf. canons 599–601 [1]). They bind themselves to this form of living by taking public vows in accordance with the norms of church law. They may additionally profess to obey certain guidelines for living, since each order has its peculiar charism. The last religious order founded was the Order of Bethlehem Brothers in 1653. Today, the names religious order, religious congregation and religious institute are used interchangeably, although technically, they are not the same.

This way you are defining what an order is in itself, and not defining it from another term. The changes in canon law are not mentioned, since they are not essential to the definition of an order.--Coquidragon (talk) 15:21, 26 October 2011 (UTC)

Thank you, Coquidragon, and please excuse what may be judged to be nitpicking in my observations:
  1. I think it is uncertain that the distinction between orders and congregations is still valid, and yet you state as definitive that "Catholic religious orders are one of two …" As reported in the article, a canon lawyer has stated that "religious order" is now only a colloquialism. Perhaps we all have had personal experience of hearing that colloquialism applied not just to religious institutes of every type but even to societies of apostolic life, which are not religious institutes. I will speak later of the claim that "technically, they are not the same".
  2. You say: "They are organizations of laity and/or clergy who take solemn vows and …" The "and …" clause, requiring something more than solemn vows, may be justified if you consider (as, if I remember right, Aquinas did) that the obligations undertaken through holy orders are "solemn vows", although I think some deny that the undertaking of those obligations is a vow. But there is still the problem of the present-tense "are": the only really authoritative source for the "solemn vows" definition is the 1917 Code, which the current Code expressly says has been "abrogated" (canon 6 §1). Besides, what of those institutes of women in which, it seems, the members take only one solemn vow, that of poverty, but two simple vows, those of chastity and obedience: does the definition, which is of at best doubtful validity for the present day, make them orders or not? A definition that does not really define is not a definition.
  3. You say: "According to the Annuario Pontificio, there are four branches of religious orders". Again there is the word "are". The Annuario Pontificio doesn't actually say there "are" (still less does it state the implied "there are only") these four "branches" (I think "categories" would be a better word than "branches"): more exactly, in its "Elenco storico giuridico di precedenza" (whatever is the precise significance of "storico" in this context) the Annuario lists under the heading of "orders" and the four subheadings of "canons regular", "monks", "mendicant orders", "clerics regular" (in that precise order) a number of Latin-Rite religious institutes for men, while making no such classifications either of Eastern-Rite religious institutes for men or of religious institutes for women, eastern or western. Clearly, none of the women's institutes fall under the subheading "clerks regular", but the Annuario Pontificio does not say that all the women's institutes that can be called orders (which it does not distinguish from the institutes that cannot) must be either of canonesses, or of nuns, or mendicant orders. Making the Annuario Pontificio say that the distinctions it draws for Latin-Rite men's institutes is not just a historical distinction and that it applies to all orders today, women's as well as men's, eastern and western alike, seems to be ruled out by the Wikipedia rule about synthesis.
  4. In the paragraph beginning "Their intention is …", the first two sentences apply, exactly as they are worded, to all religious institutes indiscriminately, not just to those that you wish to distinguish as "orders". The third sentence would be just as true if you replaced the word "order" with "religious institute". The fourth seems to be true for Latin-Rite institutes for men, but it is certainly not true universally – if, that is, those women's institutes that, after the 1917 Code, obtained authorization to have solemn vows thereby became religious "orders" instead of "congregations". The last sentence contains the affirmation, "technically, they are not the same", a statement for which it is, to say the least, difficult to find a truly authoritative source that shows it to be still valid. Esoglou (talk) 17:33, 26 October 2011 (UTC)

General comments[edit]

I was planning to come and look at this page a week or so ago after we discussed it with Dominick, but only managed to get here today. I am by no means an expert on the topic, but that means that I can give you the opinion of a typical reader. So brief ideas after the first look today are as follows:

  • Order (pun intended): The page looks like it has lost the chaos it was suffering from when I looked at it a few weeks ago. Looks like it has received attention.
  • Facts: There seems to be a positive emphasis on getting the facts right. I have not checkd them, and I do not need to given that you guys know more about it.
  • Stiffness: A rather stiff page, for a topic that has to do with "spirituality" as much as anything. In fact it reads somewhat contractual with all the details of the rules and authority and all. Please take a look at Nativity_of_Jesus#Transforming_the_image_of_Jesus as to how Francis introduced a new range of emotions into Christianity. There is a lot more to these orders than the authority structure.
  • Impact: These orders were the "backbone of the Church" - although that may have been semi-forgotten now. Teresa of Ávila did not operate in a vacuum, neither did Guigo etc. And much of Christian Meditation and contemplation was invented by people in these orders. And much of "Catholic spirituality" was shaped by them. Needless to say, the best selling book after the Bible was written in the context of an all but forgotten pre-reformation order. The impact of these orders on shaping Catholic thought needs to be mentioned. We may get the name "Ordo Fratrum Beatissimae Mariae Virginis de Monte Carmelo" exactly right on the page, but the general reader needs to be reminded about the sadly forgotten topic of "Catholic spirituality".

So overall I see the page as a clean, factual and "clinical" page. Now some heart needs to get injected into it. History2007 (talk) 14:26, 28 September 2011 (UTC)

Perhaps more appropriate for Religious institute. Esoglou (talk) 10:44, 5 November 2011 (UTC)