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Catholic orders

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#1 Guest_Buy Me A Pony !_*

Posted 18 March 2012 - 01:54 PM

Can someone explain the existence of orders to me? I have thought that the Church was a universal concept to Catholics and that they don't acknowledge other denominations as being valid due to the lack of authority via history. So how are the orders explained as being distinct from other denominations? If they form their own philosophies then are they not too breakaways from The Church? Why are certain orders acknowledged and others declared to not meet vatican requirements? Are these unapproved orders then regarded as being similar to other denominations in the eyes of The Church?

Also on quite a separate topic (but similar), can anyone explain why a rational mind might agree that something is black when it appears to be white? I'm assuming that the rational mind is also the highest (and therefore the correct thinking) mind, or does this contradict reason when applied below.

Rule 13 of Ignatius' Rules for Thinking with the Church said: "That we may be altogether of the same mind and in conformity[...], if [the Church] shall have defined anything to be black which to our eyes appears to be white, we ought in like manner to pronounce it to be black."

This statement appears to be suggesting that people turn away from their own reasoning to follow external teachings. This seems to be contrary to what Jesus taught.

#2 Mitis angelam

Posted 18 March 2012 - 02:16 PM

*Disclaimer - I am not a Roman Catholic* (although I am an associate of a monastic order).

Orders are communities of people who live and work together, usually with a particular focus (or charism) to their life.  So, for example, some orders are known as teaching orders, or nursing or missionary or contemplative orders.  Some (such as the Salesians of St. John Bosco) might focus on youth work, or like the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa's order) in working amongst the poor, or whatever.  In this sense they're specialists within a denomination (mostly Roman Catholic, although I know of Anglican, Orthodox and Coptic orders as well).  

Although they might form their own philosophies - the Franciscans having a particular emphasis on poverty, or the Society of Jesus on spiritual discernment - Roman Catholic orders are still obliged to adhere to the order and governance of their denomination.  They are, however, often a little more free than say, regular priests, as their organisational structure can protect them from interference by local bishops.

I don't know anything about the process for a new community gaining official recognition by Rome.  But provided they still adhered to the teachings of Rome, even an unapproved community would still be seen as Catholic; its members would just not be recognised as consecrated monks or nuns.

Ah, the quote you have given is a famous one.  I am not expert in this part of Ignatius' teachings, but I would comment that this is not a teaching intended to tell Catholics to check their brains at the door, or to accept every whim of their local priest as if it is infallible.  It is, however, a warning that if there is something that the Church has always historically accepted as true, and which is accepted by all Christians, (let's say, for example, the idea that God speaks to us through Scripture), then it is dangerous for a Christian to set teaching of that kind of gravity aside, because it's easy for one person to be in error.

I hope that helps - please ask more if I've been unclear!

#3 Guest_Buy Me A Pony !_*

Posted 18 March 2012 - 02:26 PM

Thanks Ange. So why can't people work toward their stated goals without forming an order but still remain under the Church? I mean, surely they have the same goals as the Church if they identify with it? If they are separate from Church hierarchy then are they not also separate from the Church? This is the part that doesn't make sense to me - orders appear to have formed breakaway groups with their own heirarchy.

Edited by Buy Me A Pony !, 18 March 2012 - 02:27 PM.

#4 Mitis angelam

Posted 18 March 2012 - 03:31 PM

Ah, okay.

Think of it like an org chart.  Ultimately, everyone's under the church's authority - but orders are off in a separate part of the org chart to, say, local priests.  So a Jesuit in Melbourne will be responsible to his local superior, then the provincial, then the overall leader of the order who will be ultimately responsible through some structure to Rome (for example, I might have the detail wrong), where the priest in the next parish will be responsible to the local bishop, then the archbishop, then the pope.  

So not breakaway groups, but ones which cross diocesan boundaries and work within different structures to enable a different kind of work practice.  As you can imagine, that's particularly important for the missionary orders, otherwise every time they crossed a diocesan boundary they'd have to renegotiate what they were doing with the bishop of that diocese.  But even for more enclosed orders, it allows them to regulate their own community life rather than be micromanaged by external parties.

#5 Mamabug

Posted 18 March 2012 - 03:36 PM

I have nothing to add, but am finding this really, really interesting! Carry on, please.

#6 Guest_Buy Me A Pony !_*

Posted 18 March 2012 - 03:46 PM

lol now I get it. It's just like the public service - separate ministries with their own leadership and goals but still under the government!

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