Canon Law and The Evangelical Practice of Government. UISG Bulletin 166, 2018

In this issue of the Bulletin, we propose some reflections on the Practice of Government presented at the Seminar on Canon Law organized by the UISG in November 2017. Although many sisters participate at our seminars, they are always few compared to the number of Superiors General, Provincial Superiors, and Religious Communities in the world who receive the UISG Bulletin. Since the Practice of Government is a topic of great interest for those who are called to the service of authority and given that the themes of Canon Law are always very well received, we are publishing the papers as they were given at the Seminar.

Sr. Tiziana Merletti, SFP
Government Praxis: The Challenge of Change
I will begin from the new document of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSAL), New Wine in New Wineskins, (the result of the Plenary Session of 27-30 November 2014, published in June 2017), in order to underline some challenging aspects of the change that affect institutes of consecrated life. I do not presume to treat them exhaustively, but I will at least refer to them so that together we can become more aware that this transitional phase in which we are living spans several levels of existence. It is not surprising if the path seems arduous or if we feel weighed down by the imperative to find a new direction immediately – indeed a trap which can easily ensnare the “naïve” leader. It is not by working on details, through micro-managing, and solving problems as we encounter them that we can identify the paths for the future, but rather through a more systematic and global reflection, aimed at developing a more realistic and shared vision of our presence in the Church and in the world.

Sr. Simona Paolini, FMGB
Co-responsibility and Subsidiarity Between Levels of Government and New Re-Understandings Based on Synodality
We propose a reflection on government in an Institute of consecrated life, simply by explaining the terms co-responsibility and subsidiarity, without going beyond this combination.
However, we want to explain this dialectic within our ecclesial context, which is defined by synodality as we see in the Magisterium of Pope Francis. This is part of the lived experience of those in consecrated life with further insights drawn from the mystique of encounter.
The consecrated life, a form of Christian life configured in this ecclesial time by co-responsibility and subsidiarity, can be understand better in the light of these two principles. Consecrated life can illuminate the value of these principles by welcoming them both as the means by which she is continually revitalized and as a mission of which she is increasingly an authentic witness.

Sr. Elisabetta Flick, SA
New Wine in New Wineskins. Some attitudes for a Gospel Praxis of Government
To accompany the theme of canon law on co-responsibility and subsidiarity, I have gathered some reflections inspired by the Guidelines New Wine in New Wineskins, the instruction proposed by CICLSAL, approved by Pope Francis on 3 January 2017, and published in June 2017. This is an invitation to the religious congregations to engage in an exercise of evangelical discernment in order to listen to the call that God addresses to them and try to respond to it with courage and trust, recognizing the new wine already present as well as the solidity of the old wineskins that may prevent this new wine’s maturation.Although the Gospels provide no structural model of government, they are nevertheless very explicit about Jesus’ choices and attitudes in the exercise of authority. In a certain sense, we could summarize them with two verbs: love and serve. We could also summarize with the same two verbs the founding basis of our consecrated life, both personal and in community. Yet, once this has been said, there is still some way to go to discern how to love and serve according to the Gospel, in imitation of Jesus and his way of acting, when one is called to a mission of governance To try to answer this question, I propose that we look at some episodes of Jesus’ life in the synoptic Gospels and focus on a few attitudes that can help us in our reflection today.

Sr. Mary Wright, IBVM
Canonical elements of the General Chapter
The general chapter of every institute is always a significant ecclesial event in the life of the Church. It is a holy time of discernment, which can potentially enrich the institute’s charism, mission and membership in a variety of ways. It is also a formal process governed by laws, regulations and customs which protect the rights and obligations of the members and of the whole institute. The constitutions contain the more important regulations even if they are also found in the canons, while the ‘proper law’ of the institute, which could include the directory, a chapter handbook or province statutes, contain the details of processes for the preparation and conduct of the chapter itself and the election of delegates and the general leadership.


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