Jesus answered: ‘Will you lay down your life for me?’ - John 13:38

Support the Holy Father and pray with him!

"Young people in particular, I appeal to you: bear witness to your faith through the digital world!"

-Pope Benedict XVI

Pray for Pope Benedict's prayer intentions for this month. Find out more here.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The difference between religious priests and diocesan priests

In the Catholic Church there are two kinds of priests: religious and diocesan. The primary canonical difference between the two is based on who serves as an immediate ecclesial superior. For RP's the immediate ecclesial superior is the local prior, abbot, or major superior; that is, a member of that priest's order/monastery who exercises canonical authority in virtue of holding an office within the order/monastery. My immediate ecclesial superior is the prior of this convent. For DP's, the immediate ecclesial superior is always the bishop of the priest's diocese.

Practically, this means that a friar's/monk's/nun's ministry and life in the community is directed by a fellow friar/monk/nun who is elected to authority by the community. For DP's, their ministry and life in the diocese is subject to the bishop. Now, all religious orders within a diocese are subject to the bishop in so far as that bishop must approve any religious ministry in his diocese. Bishops have no authority over the internal workings of a community. So, if a priory or monastery elects as prior/abbot someone the bishop doesn't like, he is not empowered to dispose of that election. He can revoke the faculties of the priests in the house, or fire any offending religious who works for the diocese. But he cannot step into the internal affairs of religious.

There are other prominent differences between RP's and DP's. One big difference is the taking of religious vows. RP's are made religious priests by making solemn vows regarding poverty, chastity, and obedience. DP's do not make religious vows. At ordination, all priests promise chastity and obedience to an "ordinary" superior. For religious priests at ordination, we make these promises to both our immediate superior and the bishop. DP's do not take a vow of poverty b/c they are considered "self-employed" by the IRS. RP's usually have access to community cars, funds, medical care, room and board, and other essentials for daily living. DP's provide most of these for themselves as "employees" of the diocese. In practical terms, the vow of poverty is about not owning anything in one's own name. RP's cannot own a car. DP can. Same goes for houses, boats, etc.

Do read the rest of this article by Dominican Fr Philip Neri Powell here

No comments: