Archdiocese of Glasgow, Scotland

Perfectae Caritatis

November 5, 2012 by  
Filed under Adult Education

The 25 sections of the Vatican 2 Decree on the Up-to-date Renewal of Religious Life can be grouped:

  1. History of practice of the evangelical counsels
  2. Key points:
  • The following of Christ
  • Faithfulness to spirit of founder / foundress
  • Sharing in church’s mission
  • Need for knowledge of social conditions of present times
  • Renewal of spirit

3 – 6.  Renewal will necessitate:

  • Revision of constitutions
  • Prudent experimentation
  • Service of God
  • Importance of prayer and eucharist

7 – 11.  Different forms of religious life

12 – 14.  The Evangelical Counsels

15 – 24.  Various topics

25. Final encouragement

Following the promulgation of the decree in 1965 there followed immediately

  1. Special General  Chapters
  2. Revision of constitutions
  3. Experimentation

What seems to have been left out was an awareness of the need to prepare for the impact on Religious of the sheer amount of change to their way of life.  Many left at the very time that new services were being planned.  Others were attracted to the apostolate but did not join religious life because there were simpler ways to enter the professions of teaching, nursing etc.  Fewer Religious were left in the schools and hospitals which had attracted young people to their way of life.

On the positive side apostolic religious were no longer required to act as if cloistered.  They could return to their original call to minister in the world according to the aims of their founders and foundresses.  The principle of subsidiarity enabled regional and community leaders to undertake a more meaningful role.  New prescriptions were written into the revision of Canon Law in 1983.

Recommended reading:  for the situation before the Council – Erving Goffman’s Asylums (1961) which includes monasteries among places of confinement.  For the situation now – Joan Chittester’s 2005 The Way We Were (A Story of Conversion and Renewal).   Sr Mary Ross will speak to the current visitation of American Women Religious by the Vatican at the Glasgow Newman in March 2013.


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