Pope's new rules on establishing religious orders getting mixed reviews

Bishops grapple with Francis' decree that they must first get Vatican approval before recognizing new religious communities of diocesan right


Pope Francis among consecrated persons at the audience of the participants in the Year of Consecrated Life on February 1, 2016, in Rome. (Photo M. MIGLIORATO/CPP/CIRIC)

Before Pope Francis issued his motu proprio Authenticum charismatis last November, a diocesan chancellor wondered, "If he had lived today, could St. Francis of Assisi still found the Franciscans?"

Because with this new legislative document, bishops will not be able to recognize an institute of consecrated life of diocesan right until they have "the prior written authorization of the Apostolic See".

In other words, they will no longer be able to act without the explicit approval of Rome.

The above-mentioned diocesan chancellor pointed out that this means "spontaneity is less possible".

Francis had already moved in this direction back in 2106 when he decreed that the Holy See must be "consulted" before institutes of diocesan right are erected.