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Cor Orans: criteria to assess opportunity for foundation of new monasteries

foto SIR/Marco Calvarese

“The opportunity for the foundation of a monastery of nuns must be prudently considered”. This is what we read in “Cor Orans”, the Instruction for the implementation of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Constitution “Vultum quaerere” on women’s contemplative life, issued by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, which recalls that “the foundation on the part of a single monastery must be an expression of the maturity of the community of a living and vital autonomous monastery, which generates a new community capable of being, in turn, a witness of the primacy of God, according to the spirit and the nature of the Institute to which the community belongs”. Especially “if the foundation is carried out by a single monastery”, the document issued today reads, we must make sure that “the founding community is not weakened, carefully considering the choice of the place, because this choice involves a different and particular form of preparation for the foundation and the members of the future community”. In choosing the country where the foundation is to take place, “consideration must be given if monastic life is already present, all necessary and useful information must be acquired, above all on the presence and vitality of the Catholic Church, on vocations to consecrated life, on the religious attitude of the population, and on the possibility of future vocations for the new foundation”. In choosing the place for the foundation, “the necessary conditions must be ensured to guarantee the nuns the possibility of an adequate sustenance, of regularly conducting contemplative life in the monastery, and of favoring relations among the monasteries”. “Particular attention” should also be paid to “ the needs of the sacramental and spiritual life of the new monastery, because the lack of clergy in some particular churches does not always allow the appointment of a priest who has the competence and spiritual sensitivity to accompany the community of a monastery of nuns”. In the monasteries, the Instruction points out, “the aspect of separation from the world must be especially foreseen and cared for given the public witness that the nuns are obliged to render to Christ and the Church in contemplative life, according to the nature and aims of the Institute of belonging, in the discipline of cloister, provided by law”. Then a list follows with the “requirements” for the foundation of a monastery “sui juris”: “A community that has given good testimony of fraternal life in common with the necessary vitality in living and transmitting the charism, composed of at least eight nuns of solemn vows, as long as most are not of advanced age; besides the number, special skills are required of some nuns of the community who must be able to assume: as Superior, the service of authority; as formator, the initial formation of candidates; as financial administrator, the administration of the goods of the monastery; rooms adapted to the lifestyle of the community, to ensure that the nuns can regularly lead the contemplative life according to the nature and spirit of their Institute; economic conditions that guarantee the community itself can provide for the needs of daily life”. It is the responsibility of the Holy See to “evaluate the presence of these requisites”.

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