UNDERSTANDING WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A PONTIFICALLY APPROVED RELIGIOUS SOCIETY

Fr. Tempier asked, at the beginning of 1826, for dimissorials for the ordination of Brothers Martin and Richaud. Bishop Arbaud replied, in the month of March, that these persons, native of Gap, ought to take the engagement of returning to the diocese if they left the Society or if the latter withdrew some day from Notre Dame du Laus.

I do not understand the conduct of the Bishop of Gap; I trembled when I saw the concession you are inclined to make to him. Can you really think of doing this? We cannot do it in conscience, you have not yet imbued yourself with what we are, we cannot do it.

Now that the Oblates were approved by the Pope as a religious congregation, they had a status that no bishop could touch or change.

In no instance are you allowed to lose members of the Congregation. If these members leave the Society, let them rightfully enter his diocese; but supposing that we withdraw from his diocese, which we certainly do not have the intention of doing, we would not thereby have the right to make those members leave the Society who would by chance be the diocesans of this Bishop. Limit yourself then to tell him that, in future, if he is opposed to men of his diocese entering our Society, we will not receive them; but that those who are already members of the Congregation cannot make a declaration which would be entirely null in law as being contrary to the vows approved by the Church, which assimilates them to all the other members of the religious Congregations which are in the Church and from which the Bishop certainly would not have any idea of exacting such a declaration. It would be contrary to all canon law.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 9 April 1826, EO VII n 235

 Today our Rule of Life echoes this in Rule 7d: “Faithfulness to our Oblate vocation must guide us in our missionary enterprises and in accepting pastoral assignments.” CC&RR

Our dealings with the local bishops are guided by a contract between him and the Oblates: “The acceptance of a new Mission and the approval of general contracts between a Province and a local Ordinary pertain to the Superior General in Council.” CC&RR, Rule 7e

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One Response to UNDERSTANDING WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A PONTIFICALLY APPROVED RELIGIOUS SOCIETY

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    It is hard to believe how the Bishop of Gap continues on in his battle with Eugene and the Oblates. I find myself wanting to tell him to just ‘let it go’.

    I am reminded of a decision that I, as part of my Parish Council had to deliberate and make not so very long ago. It was in regard to a possible route of action and mission that was being requested for our parish. It was good, it was noble and just and very Christian – but we had to look at it in light of our parish and if it was workable, doable for us in our circumstances, in the light of our mission statement and in the light of our being a part of the Oblate Family (we are an Oblate parish). We needed to give consideration as to what could affect it in the future. The request was coming from within our parish by a few people it was not a decision they could make on their own.

    There is a real grace to allowing ourselves to being guided by others. On our own it would seem to be more natural to go after what each of us desires or wants to do, but it must rest with one or a few. The word ‘obedience’ comes to mind as do the words wisdom and grace. It would seem that we are experiencing this in our Province right now as we together work through our process of ‘Renewing our Mission’ which is also a part of our Triennium process (one fits within the other). I am grateful for how the Constitution and Rules are there to guide and frame our lives, what we are doing and how we are doing it. It is a gift beyond measure.

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