DAILY CATHOLIC     WEDNESDAY     June 9, 1999     vol. 10, no. 111

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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Vatican Guidelines for Women's Cloisters

          VATICAN CITY, JUN 7 (ZENIT).- The Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life recently published a document on the life of women religious, entitled "Verbi Sponsa" [Bride of the Word]. This writing is intended to answer the questions inherent in consecrated life in the Third Millennium, particularly as regards technological advances.

          The document was prepared to help cloistered convents reflect on the conclusions of the Synod of Bishops of the world on the consecrated life, which were addressed in John Paul II's exhortation "Vita Consecrata," dated March 25, 1996.

          The first chapter of the document is dedicated to the meaning and value of the cloistered life. It is followed by an analysis of the different forms of cloister, paying special attention and giving certain norms to the cloister under the "direct" jurisdiction of the Holy See.

          In principle, the Vatican Congregation recommends that the separation from the world be a concrete experience, as opposed to merely symbolic. In addressing particular situations, the instruction analyzes the "grave causes" which justify entrance or departure from the convent.

          Special attention is given to relations with the media and new technology. The sober and prudent use of television, both in regard to the quality as well as the quantity of programs, is recommended. There is a reminder that for those who live in interior silence, a picture or news item can have far greater emotional impact and, consequently, make recollection that much more difficult.

          After careful discernment, permission is granted to use the fax, mobile phones and the Internet for the convent's activities.

          The third part of the document focuses on formation, emphasizing the importance that this be carried out in the community to which the religious belongs.

          The last pages mention associations and federations of convents, which provide support in promoting the values of contemplative life, while not affecting the autonomy of each convent.

          There are 55,709 cloistered nuns in the world, belonging to 3,601 autonomous convents. ZE99060701

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

June 9, 1999       volume 10, no. 111


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