Presenter Information

Miguel Perez Flores C.M.


Robert Schwane, C.M., W. Barry Moriarty, C.M.


This article explains the new status that Societies of Apostolic Life were given under the Code of Canon Law of 1983. Historically, the law has been oriented toward the religious state, which created problems for communities like the Congregation. (These problems are discussed in the article.) The Congregation needed to be more flexible than a religious order to be able to function as missionaries, but Vincent de Paul wanted it to “[enjoy] all that is good about religious life without being religious in the canonical sense.” The canons for Societies of Apostolic Life are based on a “theology of mission,” as opposed to those for Institutes of Consecrated Life, which are founded on “the practice of evangelical counsels.” These theological differences are described in detail, as are the elements of the Societies and their “resemblance to Institutes of Consecrated Life.” The Congregation’s secular nature is protected by its Constitutions and by the legislation for the Societies. The article also explains why the Congregation is not canonically consecrated.