On faculties delegated to Superior Generals and Abbot-Presidents

Author: STATE


Public Affairs of the Church

Pontifical Rescript issued by the Secretariat of State, November 6, 1964 on faculties delegated to the superiors general of clerical religious institutes of pontifical rank and to the abbots-president of monastic congregations

Petitions have been made to the Holy See that superiors general of clerical religious institutes possess certain faculties in order to facilitate carrying out their responsibilities. At an audience granted 6 November of this year to me, the undersigned Cardinal for the Public Affairs of the Church, Pope Paul VI has acceded to these requests and has decreed the following. The intent is both to facilitate the internal government of religious institutes and at the same time to offer to these religious institutes a deserved testimony of his good will.

1. The Faculties Here Listed Are Delegated To Superiors General Of Clerical Religious Institutes Of Pontifical Rank And To Abbots-President Of Monastic Congregations:

1. To permit, for the benefit of the religious, only their own priest-subjects to celebrate Mass and distribute holy communion at any hour of the day in their own houses when there is good reason, provided all other requirements are observed and without prejudice to the rights of the local Ordinary regarding celebration of Mass for the convenience of the faithful.

With the consent of their council, superiors general can sub-delegate this faculty to other major superiors of the same religious institute.

2. To allow their own priest-subjects afflicted with poor eyesight or suffering from some other infirmity to celebrate daily the votive Mass of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, or a Mass for the dead, with the assistance, if needed, of another priest or deacon and observing the liturgical norms and prescriptions laid down in this matter by the Holy See.

3. To grant the same faculty to their own priest-subjects who are totally blind, provided, however, another priest or a deacon assist such celebrants.

4. To grant to their own priest-subjects the faculty to celebrate Mass within the religious house but outside of a place of worship (not however in a bedroom), upon an altar stone or, in the case of those of an Eastern rite, upon an <antimensium>. This faculty can be granted only for individual instances and for a good reason; in cases of regular celebration of this kind, a more serious reason is required.

With the consent of their council, superiors general are empowered to sub-delegate this faculty to other major superiors of the same religious institute.

5. To permit their own priest-subjects who are infirm or elderly to celebrate Mass seated if they are unable to stand; they are to follow the other liturgical laws.

8. With the consent of their council, to dispense their own subjects who have already received sacred orders, but only that they may celebrate Mass, from every kind of irregularity arising from either delict or defect. The dispensation is conditional on the proper carrying out of the ministry of the altar and the absence of possible scandal. Excepted from the faculty, however, are the cases mentioned in CIC can. 985, nos. 3 and 4; in cases of the crime of heresy or schism, there must first be an abjuration before the one who absolves.

12. To grant not only to their own priest-subjects but also to those priests of any rite whatever, of the diocesan clergy, or of another religious institute, as long as these are approved by their own Ordinary or their own major superior, delegated jurisdiction to hear the confessions of professed religious, novices, and others mentioned in CIC can. 514, # 1 and can. 46, # 1 of the Motu Proprio <Postquam apostolicis litteris> of 9 February 1952, namely, in the case of religious institutes not enjoying this kind of faculty by law (CIC can. 875, # 1).

With the consent of their council, superiors general can sub-delegate this faculty not only to other major superiors but also to the superiors of individual houses of the same religious institute.

11. As To The Extent, Subject, And Use Of These Faculties, The Following Declarations Are Made:

1. The aforementioned faculties apply to clerical religious institutes of pontifical rank, regardless of their rite or the Congregation of the Holy See to which they are subject.

2. The aforementioned faculties must be considered as granted also to superiors general of clerical societies of pontifical right living in common without public vows (see CIC, Bk. 2, ch. 17). The faculties listed under nos. 9 and 14 must be considered as granted also to superiors general of secular institutes of pontifical rank. Such superiors general can use the remaining faculties, however, only for those clerical subjects not incardinated in any diocese.

3. The recipient of these same faculties is the person who is superior general or abbot-president or the person who, in the absence of these, <pro tempore> and by approved constitutions succeeds them in governing.

4. If the superior general or the abbot-president is impeded in the discharge of his office, he is empowered to sub-delegate those same faculties totally or partially to the religious who functions in his place and who, as a result, can himself use the faculties and again sub-delegate them to others in individual cases and according to the limitations and provisos already stipulated.

5. The matters decreed take effect from 21 November of this year and do not need what is called a formula of execution.