Pope Francis amended canon law Tuesday to create a new mechanism for dismissing a religious man or woman who has deserted their community.
Under the new law, promulgated by the pope in an apostolic letter issued “motu proprio,” superiors can declare a member dismissed ipso facto if they have been illicitly absent from the community for more than a year and cannot be located.
“Community life is an essential element of religious life,” Francis stated in the letter, titled Communis vita (“Common life”) and issued March 26. He cited canon 665 of the Code of Canon Law, which provides that “religious must live in their own religious house observing common life and cannot be absent without permission of their superior.”
Under the current provisions of canon 694, which the motu proprio reforms, the ipso facto dismissal of a member of a religious community can be declared for two reasons: that he or she has “defected notoriously from the Catholic faith,” or “has contracted marriage or attempted it, even only civilly.”
With Tuesday’s change, Pope Francis added the ground of desertion of the community.
Full story at Catholic News Agency.