Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Correspondence Concerning the Perpetuity of a Juridic Person, 2000. Private.

An institute of diocesan right has been reduced to five elderly and infirm religious. The diocesan bishop has assisted them in procuring residence in a health care facility and establishing a trust to provide for the aging community. The Congregations for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life responds indicating the institute as a juridic person cannot be suppressed while all the sisters are still living.

Most Rev. Piergiorgio Silvano Nesti, C.P.

Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life

Piazza Pio XII 3

000193 Rome, Italy

Your Excellency,

The ____________ are a diocesan religious institute of the____________ of____________. In recent years, they have experienced the deaths and aging of their members. At present, they are reduced to five members, all elderly and infirm.

With our permission, they have been residing in a health care facility, ____________, administrated by the ____________ Sisters. This facility is just north of our diocesan border and the bishop of that diocese is aware of the situation. This arrangement has allowed the sisters to maintain their own community life, while at the same time not being burdened with providing for their physical needs. We facilitated the establishment of a trust that has sufficient funds to provide for their care until the last member shall die. The assets will then be transferred to the ____________ Sisters as a symbol of gratitude for their care and service.

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Mother ____________ has been serving as superior of the community. She is the only member who has been capable of such leadership. I have granted the necessary dispensations recently for her to continue beyond the normal term of office. However, Mother ____________ is now 81 years old and experiencing health problems. She has asked to be relieved of her responsibilities as superior. There is no one to replace her.

I have asked the provincial superior of the ____________ Sisters to take on the financial and administrative responsibilities for these Sisters. I have also asked her to place them under the care of the local superior, while allowing Mother ____________ to maintain a position of spiritual leadership. I will continue in my role of oversight of the Community as their diocesan bishop.

Given these circumstances, I write to ask you advice. Do you wish to issue a decree of suppression of the institute or shall we simply allow it to remain in existence until all members have died? I await your guidance in this matter. Correspondence relevant to this situation is enclosed.

With every best wish, and asking God’s blessings on your ministry of service, I am

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Diocesan Bishop ____________

Letter from Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo to the Archbishop

Congregatio Pro Institutis Vitae Consecratae Et Societatibus Vitae Apostolicae

Prot. n. DD ____________

Your Excellency,

We acknowledge receipt of your letter dated ____________ concerning the religious institute of the Sisters of ____________ of diocesan right.

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We appreciate very much your dealing with the five surviving elderly and infirm Sisters and your arrangements provided for them. However, we would like to tell you that their religious institute cannot be suppressed while all the Sisters are still living, although they are presently residing in a health care facility administered by the ____________.

Thanking you for your support and that of the ____________ Sisters, we would invite you to continue helping the Sisters of ____________, so that they may keep on living joyfully their religious vocation.

With our best wishes, I remain,

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Eduardo Card. Martinez Somalo


(Editors note: While it is not clear from the text of Cardinal Somalo’s letter to the bishop, it would seem that suppression is not employed in such instances. The small diocesan right religious institute may eventually become extinct in accord with canon 120.)

RRAO (2000): 7-9.