Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Confirmation of provincial superior denied, 2003, Private.

The constitutions of a clerical religious institute make no distinction between the ordained and lay members of the institute. The chapter elected a brother as provincial superior for a term of three years. In the event the confirmation of the election would not be granted, the capitulars recommended the appointment of a specific priest as provincial superior to the general council. The general procurator of the religious institute requested CICLSAL to confirm the election. The following is the response.


Reverend Father,

The general procurator of the ______ of ______, having received from you a special mandate, has requested the confirmation of the election of Brother ______, a non-cleric brother, as provincial minister, an office to which he was assigned by a large majority of his confreres.

In a personal note you illustrate the qualities that make Brother truly suitable to hold the office of provincial minister. You also indicate other circumstantial reasons in support of your request to the Holy See.

This Congregation is well aware of how keenly the problem of access by lay brothers to positions of governance is felt within the order, such a possibility being considered both a requirement and an expression of brotherhood, which is commonly held to be a characteristic feature of your communities.

You, however, are aware that the problem – a lively one in other institutes also – has been the subject of a careful study by a commission set up by the Holy Father, to whom it has already reported its conclusions, arrived at with great difficulty. The commission's brief was soley to examine and resolve the problems connected with this subject.

We are now waiting to learn what the authoritative decisions will be: this time of waiting involves us all. The Congregation, therefore, does not consider itself able to intervene, even in individual cases.

Should it be difficult to hold a fresh election, this Congregation authorizes you, Father, acting with the consent of your council, to choose the most suitable way of designating a priest for the office of provincial superior of the Province of ______. You will also not fail to ensure that the brothers understand correctly the decision of this congregation.

I take this opportunity of sending you my heartfelt greetings.


The members of the province, although disappointed by this response from CICL, were grateful for the general council's appointment of the priest they had overwhelmingly recommended. The general council also appointed Brother ______ (the brother elected provincial superior) to the vacancy left on the provincial council with the appointment of the priest as provincial superior.

Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Confirmation of provincial superior denied, 2003, Private, CLSA, Roman Replies and Advisory Opinions, 2003, 10-11.