This book examines the historical antecedents of the concept of general chapter, the supreme authority in an institute of consecrated life. This provides the basis for an examination of the contemporary understanding of the nature of its power and authority, as portrayed in the 1983 Code of Canon Law. The general chapter is analysed in terms of its juridic status, collegial nature, participative character and representative function as well as its dynamic aspects and faith dimension. The author applies the findings to one institute of consecrated life, Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary Loreto Branch. This application provides an example of the challenges inherent in working participatively and collaboratively within a hierarchical structure. Because consecrated life has an inalienable ecclesial dimension, understanding authority and power and their exercise in institutes of consecrated life has relevance for understanding authority and its exercise in other organs of authority at all levels in the church.
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2008. 380 pp.
Contents: Features of the general chapter – An organ of government – Regulating principles – Power and authority – The influence
of Vatican II – Post-conciliar developments in understanding ecclesiastical jurisdiction – The place of consecrated life in
the Church – Influence of democratic principles – Types of general chapter – Canonical structure of the general chapter –
Faith dimension – Discernment and theological reflection – Decision-making processes – The role of the supreme moderator –
Evolution of general chapter in IBVM – The North American IBVM experience in contrast to the former Irish Branch IBVM experience
– Hierarchical government – Developing an inclusive form of government – Feminizing the Constitutions of St. Ignatius of Loyola
– The role of «Proper Law».