Sunday, August 17, 2014

The First Appropriate Legal Category in the Church’s Legislation For Opus Dei

From “Saxum” [J. F. Coverdale, Scepter 2014, p. 131]:
          In an audience on October 10, 1964, Pope Paul VI told Escriva that the documents being prepared by the council might contain a solution. The decree Presbyterorum ordinis did… allow for the creation of personal prelatures, a legal structure admirably suited to reflect the reality of Opus Dei. In the mid-1960s, several papal documents fleshed out the necessary framework. Del Portillo played a role in the writing of the most important of these, the motu proprio Ecclesiae Sanctae. Now, for the first time in the history of Opus Dei, an appropriate legal category existed in the Church’s legislation. But rather than    request the immediate transformation of Opus Dei into a personal prelature, Escriva preferred to continue to wait and pray for the right moment. Don Alvaro joined fervently in his prayer” (131).


[August 6. 1966]

Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests

 Moreover, to carry on special pastoral or missionary work for various regions or social groups which are in need of special assistance, prelatures composed of priests from the secular clergy equipped with special training can be usefully established by the Apostolic See. These prelatures are under the government of their own prelate and possess their own statutes.

It will be in the competence of this prelate to establish and direct a national or international seminary in which students are suitably instructed. The same prelate has the right to incardinate the same students and to promote them to sacred orders under the title of service for the prelature.

The prelate must make provision for the spiritual life of those whom he has ordained according to the above title, and for the continual perfecting of their special training and their special ministry making agreements with the local Ordinaries to whom the priests are sent. He must likewise provide for their proper support, a matter which must be provided for through the same agreements, matter from the resources which belong to the prelature itself or from other suitable resources. In like manner he must provide for those who on account of poor health or for other causes must leave the task assisted to them.

Laymen, whether single or married, may also dedicate themselves with their professional skill to the service of these works and projects after making an agreement with the prelature.

Such prelatures are not erected unless the episcopal conferences of the territory in which they will render their services have been consulted. In rendering this service, diligent care is to be taken to safeguard the rights of local Ordinaries and close contacts with the same episcopal conferences are always to be maintained.

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