The Second Vatican Council observes a surprising silence when it comes to a theological-juridical reception of secular institutes. An historical excursus presents these institutes from their first juridical recognition in the apostolic constitution Provida Mater Ecclesiae (1947). Following the journey of the secular institutes during the work of the Second Vatican Council from the preparatory phase, a few interventions are extracted which demonstrate their originality and their contribution to the Church. Secular institutes, while forming part of the discussion regarding religious, should also be included in the discussion regarding the laity; in fact, the characteristic of being secular, of mission, and of a life of perfection reached through the evangelical counsels are the common patrimony of all Christians as a result of their baptismal consecration, and under a variety of juridical forms, according to the gifts and charisms bestowed upon the Church, the laity make possible an extension of the Incarnation.


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pp. 43-67
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