Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Rescript for a Priest in a Clerical Religious Institute Seeking Formal Departure from the Institute and Sacred Ministry but who Intends to Maintain Promises of Celibacy and Continence, 2000. Private.

A priest in perpetual profession in a clerical religious institute petitioned for an indult of departure, stating that he no longer wanted to perform sacred ministry. However, he promised to live celibacy and continence in accord with his promise at ordination. The priest had lived apart from the religious institute for a considerable period of time. While he did not practice sacred ministry, he was faithful to his obligations of continence and celibacy. The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life replied with the following rescript:

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The priest, ____________, a perpetually professed member in the Order of ___________, requests from Your Holiness an indult to depart the institute for the reasons set forth.

The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, having considered the reasons set forth, assents favorably to the request in this manner that the petitioner, having put aside the exterior form of the religious habit, remain separated from his Institute, from which (according to the norm of Canon 702, §1) he cannot claim anything for work done in it. Moreover, the prescript of Canon 702, §2 must be kept concerning equity and evangelical charity which are to be observed in the case, and the prescript of Canon 701, according to which the petitioner cannot exercise sacred orders until he finds a bishop who will receive him into his diocese, in accordance with canon 693, or who will at least allow him to exercise his sacred orders.

The present rescript, unless it is refused by the petitioner in the process of notification, automatically bears with it a dispensation from vows and from all obligations arising from profession.

All things to the contrary notwithstanding.

From Vatican City, _________(date)

Office of Moderator


Letter of the Major Superior to the Priest

Dear _________,

With this communication I am officially notifying you concerning the acceptance of your petition to depart from the Order in accordance with Canon 691.

Enclosed please find the rescript granting you an indult of departure in accord with canon 691. I enclose translation of the rescript for your convenience. In a letter to me dated __________, our Procurator General ________, notes that you still remain a priest. He further states that “in no way, however, can he exercise his priestly faculties, until he has the permission of a bishop.”

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According to Canon 692, “an indult of departure granted legitimately and make known to the member entails by the law itself dispensation from the vows and from all the obligations arising from profession.”

I hope this brings closure to an aspect of your life. I am happy that we were able to work things out regularizing your canonical status. Please be assured of our continued prayers for you. Keep us in your prayers. I wish you God’s peace.

Sincerely yours,

Signed by the Major Superior

RRAO (2000): 16-18.