Catholic religious and vow of poverty?

I was under the impression, apparently mistaken, that all priests, nuns, sisters, brothers, and bishops had a vow of poverty associated with their rule. Are there certain rules which are excluded from this and if so which ones? If the Roman Catholic Church changed its belief system on this, can anyone point out to me when that occurred?

All I can find online is all these people do take vows of celibacy.

Thanks in advance.

Religious orders (Franciscans, Dominicans, Benedictines, etc.) are communal in nature and all the big ones (and every small one of which I am aware) follow the basic “poverty, chastity, obedience” model for vows.

Priests, however, come in two flavors: members of religious orders (called “order” or “religious” priests) and priests attached to the diocese governed by a bishop (called “secular” or “bishop’s” priests). The seconf group does not take the vows of the order. (They do make a promise of celibacy under the current rubrics, and obedience to the bishop is certainly demanded of them, but they do not participate in the taking of the vows.)

Members of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) are members of a “society” not an “order” and they also do not take a vow of poverty.

Religious orders arose early in the medieval period, so they are actually the ones who have “changed” their manner of lifestyle. Of course, after 1600+ years, their tradition is pretty well established.

Bishops may be selected from a religious order, but that is rather rare. Since the majority of bishops are secular priests, they have never given a vow of poverty. The equivalent to a bishop within an order is the abbot, and abbots will have taken the vows.

There have always been members of the R.C. religious community who took no vow of poverty.

Certain monastic orders require/ed it ,and convent life for women also.Well,actually, the words monastery and convent are practically interchangeable and unisex in nature

On the celibacy thing----don’t confuse it with chastity!

Celibacy,in the base interpretation,is a merely a vow not to marry.

Some orders require a vow of chastity----and that’s a whole “nother” thing.

When you get in to vows of poverty,chastity,obedience,silence,humility etc. you get in to a discipline that most of us couldn’t,and wouldn’t, touch with a barge pole.

It takes a dedication beyond the ability of most of us.

Religious orders are also a part of the answer to the confusion people express when they ask “Priests can celebrate Mass, why can’t sisters?”

In religious orders, sisters (nuns) correspond to brothers. Priests are a separate category. All the rules that are laid upon sisters are laid upon brothers for any corresponding religious order. Those rules would apply to priests, as well, but the duties of the priest would differ because of the nature of the priesthood, itself, not because the priest was a man.

The priesthood is a position within the church that confers the powers to celebrate Mass, hear confessions, administer the Sacrament of Annointing, etc. The vocations of brother or sister simply mean that one has joined a religious order.

First: technically, EVERYONE who comes to Mass “celebrates” the mass (welcome to the wonderful world of Vatican II). The priest who oversees the mass is called a “presider” who “presides” over mass, much like a host presides over a meal. Though many still use the term “celebrate” for priests alone, this is no longer proper.

The priest has the distinction of being the only person who can hear confession/give absolution and consecrate hosts (preside at a mass). Deacons may administer the Sacrament of Annointing, as may a lay person (in an emergency). Deacons may also perform marriage ceremonies and funeral services (those without a full mass) and may baptize. A deacon may be single or married, but whatever he is when he becomes a deacon, he must ALWAYS stay that way.

You are absolutely right that “brother” or “sister” simply means being a member of a religious order.

I once knew a diocesan priest (non-ordered) who said, “That celibacy thing is a vow, not a promise.” I always kept my eye on that one …


priests and deacons only witness the Sacrament of Matrimony (or preside over the surrounding ceremony), since the couple administers the sacrament to each other.

(Your points were well taken, but I was avoiding some of the confusing terminology regarding which people did what, given that the OP was not really a question on that subject.)

Contary to what many believe, only Priests may perform the anointing of the sick. This issue was settled at the Council of Trent.

In its Canons on Extreme Unction the council dealt with the interpretation of James 5:14-15, which proclaims the institution of the sacrament and directs the faithful to seek it from the presbyters (the New Testament term for priests) of the Church:

Trent thus settled the question of whether non-priests could celebrate this sacrament by ruling that “a priest alone is . . . the proper minister of extreme unction”–the sacrament known today as holy anointing. This canon is cited and its teaching reinforced in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 1516, cf. 1530).

Barker is quite correct. Canon law 1003 §1 provides, “Every priest, but only a priest, can validly administer the anointing of the sick.”

The blessing of the oil used in the sacrament is usually done by a bishop; however, canon 999 provides:

Those who are equivalent to a diocesan Bishop include, for example, abbots of monestaries within their communities.

As to the other sacraments:

A validly ordained priest or bishop is the only minister who can bring into being the sacrament of the Eucharist. The ordinary minister for distribution of the sacrament is a bishop, priest or deacon, but any member of the faithful may be deputed an extraordinary minister.

The ordinary minister of baptism is a bishop, a priest or a deacon. If the ordinary minister is absent or impeded, a catechist or some other person deputed to this office by the local bishop may lawfully confer baptism. In a case of necessity, any person who has the requisite intention may do so.

The ordinary minister of confirmation is a bishop. A priest can also validly confer this sacrament if deputed by the diocesan bishop. In any event, a bishop must consecrate the oils. If there is a danger of death, the parish priest or indeed any priest may validly confer the sacrament.

Only a bishop or priest is the minister of the sacrament of penance.

The minister of sacred ordination, the process by which a man becomes a deacon, priest, or bishop, is only a consecrated bishop.

  • Rick

A couple of points: First of all, chastity is expected of all Catholics, not just the ordained or those in religious orders. Chastity means (roughly) not having sex outside of marriage, and celibacy means no marriage, which, combined with chastity, means no sex at all. Currently, all Catholic religious orders require celibacy, as well as the priesthood, but this is not an absolute rule, and exceptions are possible. I believe there was a case a few years ago of a few married Episcopalian priests converting to Catholicism, and they were allowed to retain their status as priests. The rule that only males may be priests, however, is still considered an absolute rule, and it is the official position of the Church that there can be no exceptions or changes to that rule.

As to confirmation: I was confirmed by an abbot, not a bishop, and while it’s possible that he performed the sacrament as a priest, authorized by the bishop, I had understood that it was within his power as equivalent to a bishop, even though it occured outside of the context of his monastery.

According to :

That page also says “The Society of Jesus is a Roman Catholic international religious order…”.

Now I have to go back and beat up my Jebby friend and ask him why he’s feeding me bad information.

Hmm, beating up Jesuits… Sounds like a good idea to me, Tom. Of course, it’s not like you really need an excuse, or anything… :wink:

hy, me and my jezzy friends could walk up and down over you heathen reprobates until next friday! remember, they are the pope’s navy seals.

as to vows, I have always been under the impression that prish priests do not actually take any vows. it’s more of a contract thing between themselves and the archbishop or cardinal of the diocese.

but that could be wrong (the heathen reprobates thing, however, is certainly not!)

Oh, I’m sure you could… After all, you Jezzies had plenty of practice in the Inquisition. :slight_smile:

damn straight we did!

I was gonna make a Torquemada joke, but who cares…

damn straight we did!

I was gonna make a Torquemada joke, but who cares…

sorry. the page fritzed out on me after I hit ‘submit’. I backed up and hit submit again. My my bad bad.