The general chapter in a religious institute with particular reference to IBVM, Loreto Branch

Title: The general chapter in a religious institute with particular reference to IBVM, Loreto Branch
Authors: Cotter, Elizabeth M
Date: 2006
Abstract: The present study charts the evolution of the general chapter, an organ of government that has long historical roots in the Church, one that, as this is the case for IBVM, has proved capable of adjusting and adapting to the demands of life and mission in the modern world. The contemporary understanding of the nature and authority of the general chapter has been influenced by Vatican II's renewed vision of authority as service. In this vision, as is evident from CIC's expression of government in institutes of consecrated life, authority, even within an hierarchical model, is exercised participatively, collaboratively and where possible collegially. However, the general chapter is more than a juridic structure of governance. It is primarily a faith experience whose main task is the union in charity of the members. As a result, prayer and discernment must characterize its participative, collaborative processes. The fusion of IBVM North America with IBVM Irish Branch in 2003 brought together two Institutes whose charism derived from the same source. Despite their common origins, however, the two Institutes understood authority, its expression in proper law and its exercise in key areas such as the general chapter in apparently different ways. This difference was epitomized in 1986 when one Institute adopted the Ignatian Constitutions while the other rejected them because their hierarchical expression of authority was believed to be incompatible with the way women function in the modern world. The experience of IBVM in North America since Vatican II would seem to suggest that participative, collaborative structures (which are described as a more "feminine" approach to government), functioning within an hierarchical system can meet the need for meaningful involvement of members in government. However, this more "democratic" expression of government can open the members to individualism and majoritarianism. The changes made by the Irish Branch in the exercise of government since 1986 provide hope that an inclusive, participative model of government can be accommodated in the new IBVM Loreto Branch. Because consecrated life has an inalienable ecclesial dimension, understanding authority and power and their exercise in institutes of consecrated life has relevance for understanding authority and its exercise in other organs of authority at all levels in the Church.
CollectionTh├Ęses, 1910 - 2010 // Theses, 1910 - 2010
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