Catholic Church of Montreal > News > Topics > Year of Consecrated Life > The Place of Consecrated Life in the Church
The Year of Consecrated Life (November 30, 2014 – February 2, 2016) coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium , whose sixth chapter deals with religious life. It also coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Decree Perfectae Caritatis on the Adaptation and Renewal of Religious Life. Finally, the Year of Consecrated Life also coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Synod of Bishops on consecrated life (Nov. 1994), which was followed by the Apostolic Exhortation on the Consecrated Life and its Mission in the Church and in the World.

These three pontifical documents address the question of what place consecrated life occupies in the Church.

First, I will discuss the two conciliar documents. It is not by chance that there is a chapter on religious life in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. There was intention, a purpose, behind this. The Council was making the statement that religious life is an integral part of the life of the Church, that it is impossible to imagine the life of the Church without it. There is more: This chapter on religious life immediately follows the chapter on the universal call to holiness in the Church. By this, the Council was saying that the mission of consecrated life is to point out the path that leads to holiness, by following Jesus Christ, by living a life of poverty, chastity, and obedience, as he had done.

The Decree Perfectae Caritatis on the Adaptation and Renewal of Religious Life outlines the general principles of this renewal. The first principle (cf. P.C., n.2), in addition to the constant return to the sources of Christian life and following Christ according to the teachings of the Gospel, consists in being faithful to the spirit of the founders and their specific aims as well as their sound traditions, all of which constitute the heritage of each Institute. It is through this fidelity that each Institute finds its place in the Church.

+ Jacques Berthelet, C.S.V.
Évêque émérite de Saint-Jean-Longueuil

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