Religious order (Catholic)
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Subcategories of religious orders are
Original Catholic religious orders of the
In the past, what distinguished religious orders from other institutes was the classification of the
Solemn vows were originally considered indissoluble. As noted below, dispensations began to be granted in later times, but originally not even the Pope could dispense from them. If for a just cause a religious order was expelled, the vow of chastity remained unchanged and so rendered invalid any attempt at marriage, the vow of obedience obliged in relation, generally, to the bishop rather than to the religious superior, and the vow of poverty was modified to meet the new situation but the expelled religious "could not, for example, will any goods to another; and goods which came to him reverted at his death to his institute or to the Holy See".
However, it abolished the distinction according to which solemn vows, unlike simple vows, were indissoluble. It recognized no totally indispensable religious vows and thereby abrogated for the
In practice, even before 1917 dispensations from solemn religious vows were being obtained by grant of the Pope himself, while departments of the Holy See and superiors specially delegated by it could dispense from simple religious vows.
The 1917 Code maintained a juridical distinction by declaring invalid any marriage attempted by solemnly professed religious or by those with simple vows to which the Holy See had attached the effect of invalidating marriage, while stating that no simple vow rendered a marriage invalid, except in the cases in which the
Another difference was that a professed religious of solemn vows lost the right to own property and the capacity to acquire temporal goods for himself or herself, but a professed religious of simple vows, while being prohibited by the vow of poverty from using and administering property, kept ownership and the right to acquire more, unless the constitutions of the religious institute explicitly stated the contrary.
After publication of the 1917 Code, many institutes with simple vows appealed to the Holy See for permission to make solemn vows. The Apostolic Constitution Sponsa Christi of 21 November 1950 made access to that permission easier for nuns (in the strict sense), though not for religious institutes dedicated to apostolic activity. Many of these latter institutes of women then petitioned for the solemn vow of poverty alone. Towards the end of the
While solemn vows once meant those taken in what was called a religious order, "today, in order to know when a vow is solemn it will be necessary to refer to the proper law of the
"Religious order" and "religious institute" tend indeed to be used now as synonyms, and canon lawyer Nicholas Cafardi, commenting on the fact that the