"It is recognized to the institutes that they have a proper autonomy of life, especially of a regime, by which they may have proper discipline in the Church and preserve intact their own patrimony", namely: "The mind and aims of the founders, approved by the competent ecclesiastical authority, refers to the nature, purpose, spirit and character of the institute, as well as its sound traditions; all this constitutes the patrimony of this institute and must be faithfully preserved by all "(586 and 578).
The autonomy of life and of the regime is recognized to each and every one of the institutes, since each institute has been governed by its own rules and constitutions, seeking to safeguard one's own spirit and identity in the whole of ecclesial life and particularly of life religious
This formal and generalized recognition presupposes a great advance, because the concept of exemption collected in canon 591 has lost its classic meaning, since it only implies exempting the institutes of the regime of Ordinaries, whereas the principle of autonomy also implies in relation to the Apostolic See , since "this patrimony must be preserved by all," and "Ordinaries must preserve and defend this autonomy" (c.586,2).
This autonomy is a native right which is based on the ecclesiological principle of the condition of freedom of the faithful, and on the charismatic principle of unity and diversity that is present in the preservation of the identity of each association and institute in the Church, in order to preserve its integrity intact. heritage and its foundational charismatic diversity.
When the law says "just autonomy" wants to express that the recognized autonomy is divided by justice, so due autonomy is recognized to each and every one of the institutes, but not to the same extent: To give each his not is to give to all in an equal way but to give each one what corresponds to him, attended to the nature and the nature of each institute. The autonomy of an institute of diocesan or pontifical right, of a clerical or lay institute, of a religious or secular institute, etc.
Also due to just autonomy, one should not only understand the regime capacity and internal self-government of the institutes. These project outwardly as their charismatic identity, their own modes of operation, their peculiar spirituality. These external reflections of his internal way of being also fall under the scope of autonomy, since apostolic fruitfulness is based on fidelity to the foundational charism itself, that is, on the vocation and mission that it carries with it.
However, in the chapter referring to the apostolic activity of the institutes, the principle of communion is emphasized: "The apostolic activity carried out in the name of the Church and by her command is exercised in communion with her (c.675,3); The principle of subordination: "Religious are subject to the power of the Bishops whom they will follow with pious submission and respect in regard to the healing of souls" (c 678,1); The principle of co-ordination: "It is necessary for Bishops and religious superiors to proceed with mutual understanding in the organization of the apostolic activities of the religious (cf. 678,3).
But all this must safeguard autonomy, for "under the direction of the diocesan Bishop, the coordination of all apostolic works and activities should be fostered respecting the character, purpose and foundational laws of each institute" (c.680); and institutes dedicated to apostolic works, apostolic activity is a part of their nature, consequently the whole life of the religious must be full of apostolic spirit, and all apostolic activity informed by a religious spirit (c.675,1); and the lay institutes dedicated to works of mercy must remain faithful to their vocation (c 676).
Reflections of the just autonomy of each institute are the norms of canons 580, 581 and 585 and 587.4. In the midst of many norms reserved for the Apostolic See, the Diocesan Bishop, the Ordinary or the competent authority of the Church, these are reserved for the competent authority of the institute itself.
First, Canon 580 deals with the aggregation of one institute to another, which is the responsibility of the competent authority of the Aggregating Institute, which involves only the union of the spiritual goods and the graces received from the Church, but does not involve the legal autonomy of the aggregate institute.
Canon 581 says: "It is the competent authority of the institute, according to the constitutions, to divide the Institute into parts, whatever their names may be, to erect new parts, to join the erected ones, or to give them new limits."
The norm extends to all institutes, secular and religious. That is why it speaks of parts and not of provinces. In the old code the matter concerning the division, modification and suppression of provinces, was considered major cause and was reserved to the Apostolic See. Then the Holy See was in charge of the first division in provinces and the suppression of them. However, according to their own law, to unite the already established provinces to one another, or to determine other boundaries, to create other provinces, or to suppress those that already existed. The present canon is more comprehensive. It is within the competence of the institute's authority to divide into new parts, such as sectors, regions, vice-provinces, joint associations with laypersons to undertake certain apostolic works such as colleges, hospitals, parishes, shelters and other missions. In the same vein is canon 585, which reads: "The suppression of the parts of an institute corresponds to the competent authority of the institute itself". It is more an expression of autonomy. Thus canon 587.4 establishes that this same authority of the institute collects other norms, statutes and regiments that can be revised and accommodated when the requirements of the places and times are appropriate.
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