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  • Gli istituti misti di vita consacrata: Natura, caratteristiche e potestà di governo by Maia Luisi
  • Sharon Holland I.H.M.
Gli istituti misti di vita consacrata: Natura, caratteristiche e potestà di governo, by Maia Luisi. Lex Gratiae. Il diritto nella Chiesa 1. Ariccia: Aracne Editrice, 2014. Pp. 7–297.

The result of rigorous doctoral studies, this book has immediate contemporary interest for canonists and members of certain institutes composed of both priests and brothers. These continue to struggle with the unresolved questions of how and by whom the power of governance may be exercised in institutes seeking recognition as mixed. [End Page 294]

Chapter I offers the status quaestionis of the contemporary debate regarding power in institutes of consecrated life and the possibility of its exercise by lay religious superiors. The norms of the 1917 Code of Canon Law, and its revision process, demonstrate the efforts to move away from the concept of potestas dominativa. This reopened the question of the source or origin of authority in institutes of consecrated life.

In Chapter II a review of various ecclesial documents points to a gradual extension of the role of major superior, and to increased subsidiarity which influenced the formulation of canon 596 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law. Although the role of superiors of lay institutes expanded, there was no change in the stance that brothers could not exercise the office of major superior in clerical institutes.

Chapter III takes up the nature of clerical, lay and mixed institutes in the 1983 code and the 1994 Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. That synod had reignited hope that the recognition of certain institutes as mixed, rather than clerical, would both affirm their distinctive founding charism, and open the way for the fundamental fraternity among members. This, it was hoped, would be expressed in eligibility of all for the office of major superior.

The final chapter moves directly to the issue of the power exercised in mixed institutes. The author makes clear that the code in no way prevents a future recognition of mixed institutes. It is the nature of the authority, and by whom it can be exercised, which remains at issue. The source of power has been acknowledged throughout as coming from God, through the Church, via canonical erection of institutes and approval of their constitutions. The origin of authority then is neither from sacrament nor from the members.

The Conclusion provides a synthesis of conclusions and points for further examination. The author concludes that mixed institutes, having the apostolates of both clerics and lay members, must have clerics as major superiors. This is bound, in part, to the faculty of incardinating. The author is of the opinion that the authority in mixed institutes is not “ordinary” and therefore, as a point of departure for further study, she suggests the canonical figure of “habitual faculties.”

This study is of great importance for those institutes which desire recognition as mixed, in light of their founding charism. While it does not [End Page 295] provide for non-cleric superiors in such institutes, it does open valuable avenues of thought, and provide extensive notes and references to both classical and contemporary experts in the field.

Sharon Holland I.H.M.
Leadership Council
I.H.M. Sisters
Monroe, MI


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pp. 294-296
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