THE LAW ON THE OFFICE AND MINISTRY OF VOCATION ANIMATORS AND RIGHTS OF CANDIDATES IN FORMATION
THE LAW ON THE OFFICE AND MINISTRY OF VOCATIONS PROMOTOR AND THE BILL OF RIGHTS OF CANDIDATES IN FORMATION Seminar to Kenya Association of Vocation Animators (KAVA) 22 October 2013-10-21 Dimesse Siters By Rev. DR. Owor John Martin (CUEA) The Constant Concern of the Church on Vocation to religious and priestly life During the first international Congress on Vocations to states of perfection held in Rome between 10-16th 1961, it was registered that “vocation problem has its origin in the love which the Mother Church has for the states of perfection.” Indeed, Vocational call, response to it and nurturing it to maturity has been a constant concern of the Church throughout her history of existence. However, it was only from the 18th and 19th centuries that the magnitude of the need for vocation ministry was felt due to the changing times ushered especially by the waves of the French revolution of 1789, the increasingly modern and industrial Europe and the rest of the world, which posed various challenges to the life of the Church. Miguel Canino a Don Bosco priest and vocations promoter describes this period in these words: The 19th century appeared full of contradictions that have directly affected the life of the Church. It was the century of restoration but at the same time of bourgeois revolution, the century of liberalism, Gallicanism versus ultramontanism, the rise of the social question. It saw a deep erosion of relation between Church and state, church and modern world that in many cases led to tragic events (eg. Confiscations, suppression of religious orders, end of temporal power of the Church,...). It seemed that a great deal of thought and policy was increasingly moving away from Christian life, taking hostile positions to the point of fighting the Church on everything regarding its impact on society. The challenge was not threatening only religious orders but also the clergy in general. To this Canino adds: The overall situation of the clergy was not the most favourable. Along with numerical fluctuation, the generalized negative atmosphere questioned the value of priestly and religious life. In this sense few families of bourgeoisie and nobility any longer considered it useful to dedicate their children to the priesthood and religious life. The situation described above did not only pose a lot of challenges to religious and priestly vocation in general but provoked a new trend of thinking in regard to vocational ministry. Before these challenges surfaced, recruitment of candidates to religious and priestly life was done with ease and spontaneously. This manner of doing things had to be reviewed with the new circumstances. From the 19th and 20th centuries recruitment to religious life required development of strategies to counteract the move to render religious and priestly life as of little significance. Different religious institutions had to introduce systematic fashions of communicating to potential candidates about their Congregations and way of life. This was necessary to guarantee the existence of the Congregation and to ensure that their structures like hospitals, schools or social works did not perish due to shortage in vocation. Promotion, Recruitment and formation of vocations in the spirit of Vatican II Vatican council II concerned with vocations to religious and priestly life has encouraged and made recommendations in regard to fostering of vocations, the need to plan methodically the promotion exercise, and about the figure and role of the recruiter. The decree on priestly training sustained as a general principle that fostering vocation is a duty to be discharged first and foremost by families which are to be considered as a kind of first seminary. The parish and then teachers have in their respect a big responsibility to contribute to this cause. Finally, it is the duty of priests to draw the hearts of young men to priesthood leading exemplary lives at all times. The decree called upon bishops not to spare energy and sacrifice in their effort in coordinating and helping those who in their judgement are called to God’s service. This work, the document recommends, should be done generously across boundaries of individual dioceses, countries, religious congregations and rites. Pope John Paul II in his Catechesis of the 19 October 1994 reminded the Church that vocation to consecrated life has as much importance today as in the past. For that matter, vocations promotion is a responsibility which should be undertaken by both individuals and collective action in order to ensure more response to the divine call. The Pontiff in this case alludes to the collective responsibility of all consecrated persons in vocation promotion by way of giving testimony of joy and fidelity in living consecrated life in their respective communities and apostolate. Likewise, he alludes to individual religious specifically entrusted with the role of vocation promotion. They should be persons with good example and integrity of life, who can lead young people to the Lord by helping them discover and mature in their vocation to religious consecrated life. Vocation promotion and promoter: A Canonical Description Vocation Promoters are commonly described as those individuals who are “entrusted directly with pastoral work on behalf of vocations,” either in dioceses, institutes of consecrated life or Societies of apostolic life. The present Canonical legislation does not offer any precise description of Vocation promoters. However, it touches the issue of vocation promotion in a general fashion (cf. Cann. 233 and 574, § 1) without giving any details. These canons simply indicate that vocation promotion refers to the Christian and religious training young people receive from their childhood as they grow into Christian and human maturity to be able to make personal choices with regard to their relationship with God in a particular vocation. The canons reiterate that this kind of formation is the responsibility of the entire ecclesial community i.e. pastors, parents, learning institutions and the family. How the young people are formed and brought up with regard to their faith determines their ability to choose their vocation. The parish , schools and family where young people grow are to be places which introduce them to love of God and religion in general and specific vocation in particular. The Legislator did not formulate norms to govern the figure and office of the vocation promoter in a strict sense; however, this does not imply that there is no juridical value connected with the same. It would be completely misleading and foreign to juridical tradition to dismiss the juridical basis of the figure and responsibilities of vocations promoters in dioceses and institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life as it is being suggested nowadays, especially by some individuals entrusted with this ministry by their superiors. In the event that certain specific issues are not governed by the norms of the Code, canonical doctrine holds that else where there may be pieces of legislation dedicated by the Church to treat the matter either directly or at least in an implied way. The prime place is the particular law where offices and responsibilities are usually well defined. Besides, canonists and all those people interested in giving answers to certain questions which are not systematically treated by the Code usually read through the various canons of the Code, scrutinise Conciliar documents, documents issued by the Roman Pontiffs, documents of the Roman Curia, Synodal deliberations, acts of the Conferences of bishops and any other sources which may be relevant to the voice “vocation promoters.” The office and extent of the ministry of vocations promoter ad Intra The Sacred Congregation for Religious and for Secular Institutes, states clearly in the special norms issued with the Instruction Renovationis Causam of 6 January 1969 that religious formation comprises two essential phases: the novitiate and the probationary period which follows the novitiate. The document immediately also indicates that there is, however, a period that precedes admission to the novitiate, commonly referred to as postulancy. This period, according to the document, can be constituted inside or outside the institute. Preference is given to a place outside the institute. It is also stated that candidates in preliminary probation should be entrusted by the superiors to a “qualified religious.” The following elements which emerge from the special norms cited in the above paragraph need to be reflected upon: “preliminary probation,” “outside the institute,” “qualified religious.” In regard to the “preliminary probation,” it appears that the legislator makes reference to that time before admission to novitiate dedicated to prepare and verify the vocation of candidates. This would allude to individuals who have already been in touch with the vocations promoter and are now assembled in one place for a closer verification of their specific vocational call. The incision “outside the institute” may indicate a place probably hired by the institute but outside the house of the institute. It could also simply mean an arrangement where candidates meet occasionally according to the schedules of the institute to be educated about their vocational call. A “qualified religious” is required to lead the candidates in their vocational verification. Much is left to be interpreted about this figure. The person is appointed by the competent superior but his or her title is not clearly stated. The qualified religious would actually be the vocations promoter. But he or she could be any other qualified religious who is not necessarily vocations promoter by way of ministerial designation. All factors considered, there is no any other individual religious better suited to take care of preliminary probation of candidates than the vocations promoter. The religious in question having had the initial contact with the candidate in his or her ministry, stands a better chance of understanding and guiding candidates in their vocational aspirations. Taking this view into perspective, the ministry of vocations promoter does not actually end with the initial contact with individuals to create awareness of the different vocational orientation and especially that to priesthood and consecrated life; he or she has a lot more to do with the candidates whom he or she is leading to the Lord. Take into account the process of admission; the law sanctions that “the right to admit candidates belongs to the major superior according to the norm of proper law” (can. 641). The legislator attributes to the major superior this right in a pure sense without it being conditioned in any way. The superior is, however, required to verify attentively certain canonical requirements in regard to the candidate before the admission. As much as the norm of can. 641 leaves to the discretion of the superior the right to admit or not, the “vigilant care” that is to be taken in verifying the suitability of the candidates necessarily calls upon the collaboration of other persons. Canonical requisites outlined under can. 642: required age, good health, suitable character and sufficient qualities of maturity are issues that cannot be resolved by an individual-the major superior-alone. In fact, the last part of the canon in question states that these qualities are “to be verified even by using experts, if necessary,” of course, while respecting the norm of can. 220 according to which care should be taken not to harm the reputation of candidates nor injure the right to protect personal privacy. In practice the admitting superiors rely on the recommendations and information given to them by those who accompany the candidates in their discernment, usually the promoters. In most institutes, promoters have the responsibility of seeking relevant information about the candidates and taking them to experts for mental and physical health tests. The burden of securing all the necessary information about the candidate through direct contact and other legitimate and reliable means puts the vocations promoter as the most suitable collaborator in the admission process. It should, however, be noted that the intervention of the promoter or any other expert in this process does not in any way diminish the right of the superior to admit candidates as stipulated by can. 641. The legislator retains, under the tenor of this canon, that major superiors have all the necessary and sufficient qualities to realize the canonical act of admission of candidates to Novitiate. The special norms of Renovationis causam on the other hand, instruct that, “there should be sufficient collaboration” between the qualified religious entrusted with preliminary probation and the Novice Master “with a view of assuring the continuity of formation.” Such collaboration is sustained by can. 651, § 2 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law. The canon talks about assigning some assistants to the Novice Director in case this is deemed necessary so that better supervision and appropriate programme of formation is observed. Under normal circumstances, it would not be a good idea to designate vocations promoters to the office of assistants to the Novice master on a stable basis, but it is fundamental that they make part of the formation team of novices by way of acting as consultants. This is the most appropriate way of guaranteeing continuity of formation so well desired by the Legislator as underscored by the instruction Renovationis causam n. 12 (4). The wise counsel of the vocations promoters, who first got in touch with the candidates, probably having better knowledge of the family background, the environs in which the candidates grow, practically constitutes that aspect which should be retained dear and indispensable in formation of the novices towards integral growth and maturity in their vocational call. Vocations promoter in collaborative Ministry ad Extra Can. 680 talks about co-operation carried out among the different institutes and also between them and the secular clergy in an orderly manner. The canon does not indicate the subjects who should directly realize the co-operation; neither does it mention the areas or instruments for its fulfilment. The legislator alludes to multiple subjects and various modes which could be possibly adapted by the interested parties within the particular church. The legislator establishes in the same canon that any action adapted for the cooperation should be properly coordinated so that the spirit of unity is maintained ultimately under the presidency and responsibility of the diocesan bishop. Among the many initiatives which have been undertaken in the contemporary time is the pastoral ministry of vocational promotion to consecrated life and to priesthood. This ministry first and foremost belongs to the entire Christian community: Christian families, educators, priests and religious (can. 233). The ministry, however, is usually entrusted for practical purposes to designated individuals-the Vocations promoters or directors-who act on behalf of their respective institutes or dioceses according to the arrangements established. They do carry out the ministry either individually or collectively as it so happens today in several dioceses. Pope John Paul II stated this fact during his catechesis of 19 October 1994 in these words: “Vocations promotion can be done by individual initiatives, like the case of Andrew-who led his brother Simon Peter to the Lord-(cf. John 1, 42), or by a collective action, as it happens in many dioceses, in which pastoral (ministry) for vocations has been developed.” The Question of Rights and obligations of formatees (Candidates) There is a lot of concern among formatees and even some members of religious institutes regarding whether the law recognizes to candidates in preliminary probation and novices any rights and obligations in religious institutes or in seminarians in dioceses before they receive Holy orders. The answer could be yes, when this is viewed broadly. It is reasonable to think that those individuals welcomed in the institute/diocese or who in any way are under the care of the Institute/Diocese for the purpose of vocational experience enjoy certain rights and also have obligations before the institute/diocese which is offering them accommodation and enlightenment. The said rights and obligations are based on the general principle of fraternal life founded on charity which is a special characteristic of all religious (c. 602), and similarly, all Christians sharing the same dignity by their being reborn in Christ are all called to cooperate in the building of the Kingdom, each one in his own condition and function (cf. c. 208). These indications suggest that all Christians, independent of their status or wherever they may be found in the Church actually do share certain rights and obligations, thus, a sense of responsibility toward each other not only as Christians, but above all, as human beings who are brothers and sisters. It is on this background that it could be said that anyone who has been welcomed for religious experience by a religious institute and he or she actually resides under their roof or is under their care though outside the institute already enjoys some rights and obligations. This could range from the right to be listened to, the right to be helped in understanding the will of God and the right to be treated humanely. On the other hand, the candidate has the obligation to respect the authority of the institute; to be honest at all times, to comply with the general requirements prescribed by the institute for those who seek to be future members. It is now better to trace whether the Code gives norms that address this issue of rights and obligations of formatees expressly at the different levels of formation. The Code begins to treat issues related to admission of candidates and formation of members from c. 641. Throughout the subsequent canons it appears that the words “candidate” and “member” are employed with specific intention to establish to whom in the process of formation is recognized rights and obligations expressly by law. In fact the word candidate understood in the context of c. 641 which reads “the right to admit candidates to the novitiate/seminary belongs to major superiors/Diocesan bishop according to the norm of proper law” envisages that these are actually postulants or aspirants/seminarians. From etymology the latin word “candido-as-are; candidus” means “white”. Consequently, the application of the word candidate precisely means that the aspirant or postulant/seminarian is someone who presents himself or herself to the superior of a religious institute in “white, blank or empty” without rights before the institute/diocese but only with requirements and recommendations. Likewise, a novice admitted to the novitiate is still a candidate if the above meaning of the word is retained but with slight extension. The novitiate is described by c. 646 as the starting point of life in an institute. The phrase in this canon reading: “the novitiate, through which life is begun” should be understood as an initial phase of religious life by the novice, which is not to be confused with the beginning of religious life in a strict sense as treated in c. 654 which reads: By religious profession, members assume the observance of the three evangelical counsels by public vows, are consecrated to God through the ministry of the Church, and are incorporated into the institute with the rights and duties defined by law. The implication to the novice is the parting with the previous life style by assuming a new form of experience which will lead him or her to be born to a new life marked by the nature and particular charism of the institute. The beginning of life in the institute is the phase of intense experience and discernment of personal vocation through the vocation proper to the institute. At this point then, the novice is preparing to embrace after completing the novitiate the rights and obligations proper to members of the institute which he or she is not yet subject as long as the person has not yet been admitted to temporal vows. With religious profession a novice now becomes a member of a religious institute. The novice gives oneself entirely and immediately to the institute and the institute accepts the novice incorporating him or her as a member. There is a contract which is established between the professed and the institute, not bilateral in nature but institutional, because its terms are imposed on both of them by the public power of the Church. This contract determines the rights and obligations which are defined by the law of the Church (cc. 662-672). Proper law then provides in details how the rights and obligations are exercised by the professed. LAWS OF KENYA VERSES CANON LAW ON THE BILL OF RIGHTS Before discussing anything in merit of this topic it is vital to establish who are the subjects to the laws of Kenya and on the other hand, who are bound by merely ecclesiastical laws. As for the Laws of Kenya It is entrenched in the constitution Art. 2. (1) that: “This Constitution is the supreme law of the Republic and binds all persons and all State organs at both levels of government.” For that matter the same fundamental law of Kenya – the constitution - reiterates in Art. 3. (1) that: “Every person has an obligation to respect, uphold and defend this Constitution.” Besides, if any other law or custom is to exist in Kenya, then it should either support the laws of Kenya or it may create new obligations to the community to which it is given in a way that it is tolerated by law. Those which are Contra legem are not allowed to exist. Art. (4) reads: “Any law, including customary law that is inconsistent with this Constitution is void to the extent of the inconsistency, and any act or omission in contravention of this Constitution is invalid.” Additional laws ratified by Kenya are Treaties and Concordats or convention and they form part of the law of Kenya. Art. 2 (6): “Any treaty or convention ratified by Kenya shall form part of the law of Kenya under this Constitution.” What about Canon law? The Passive Subjects to merely ecclesiastical laws are those who belong to the Catholic Latin Church by the bond of faith, sacraments, ecclesiastical governance, and also enjoy sufficient use of reason and have completed seven years of age. Consequently, those who belong to religious institutes/Dioceses or even attached by way of formation are fully bound by the ecclesiastical laws, each one according to his status in the institute/Diocese and in the Church. How, therefore, could the laws of Kenya be relevant to Religious Institutes/Diocese and especially in regard to the rights of persons in formation? Strictly speaking, the law of the State and Church in principle operate at different fora. However, the relationship is established when we consider that the Church as a society operates within a larger society. And for that matter, some of its operations (not all as a matter of clarity) are governed by the laws of National Governments. Above all, there are laws to which we are all subjects: The laws protecting human rights. General Provisions relating to the Bill of Rights The bill of rights is described as a document that enshrines the rights of all people in our country and affirms the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom [Art. 19 (1)]. Art. 19 (2): The purpose of recognising and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms is to preserve the dignity of individuals and communities and to promote social justice and the realisation of the potential of all human beings. Human rights are rights possessed by people, simply because they are human beings. Rights are not the same thing as standards of behaviour punishable or required by rules, which can be fundamentally unfair to individuals, or used to oppress minority interests It is to be noted that the idea of human rights is not entirely unversal-it gained prominence back in the 17th and the 18th centuries as a European thought. The idea of ‘Rights’ itself does not necessarily exist in every society or advanced civilization. They have now received the support of world nations. Respect for human rights is becoming a universal principle of good government. Characteristics of the Bill of Rights As articulated in Art. 19 (3) of the constitution, the rights and fundamental freedoms in the Bill of Rights— (a) belong to each individual and are not granted by the State; (b) do not exclude other rights and fundamental freedoms not in the Bill of Rights, but recognised or conferred by law, except to the extent that they are inconsistent with this Chapter; and (c) are subject only to the limitations contemplated in this Constitution. Art. 20(2) states further that: “Every person shall enjoy the rights and fundamental freedoms in the Bill of Rights to the greatest extent consistent with the nature of the right or fundamental freedom.” In the application and entrenchment of the Bill of Rights in our systems it is a constitutional norm adopted and practised globally that in interpreting and applying the Bill of Rights, the authority shall promote the values that underlie an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality, equity and freedom. [Art. 20, 4 (a)]. Frequent claims of fundamental Rights violated 1. Right to Fair trial (Const. Art. 25 (c) and Canon law (c. 221, § 2-3) The very first fundamental Right that has fallen culprit to this is the Right to a fair trial. More often than not, whenever a dispute arises between the formatee and administration, the laws of natural justice presumes the accused innocent until proven guilty, are normally disregarded and the formatee always has the task of facing the disciplinary committee from a disadvantaged position since in such an instance the disciplinary committed has already passed judgement on him and this process is just but a formality so as it appears the formatee in question was accorded a ‘fair hearing’. Canon law (can. 221, § 1-3) Reads: § 2. If they (the Christian faithful) are summoned to a trial by a competent authority, the Christian faithful also have the right to be judged according to the prescripts of the law applied with equity. § 3. The Christian faithful have the right not to be punished with canonical penalties except according to the norm of law. 2. Right to be informed Right to information is among the rights institutions overlook. It is clearly stated under Art. 35 (b) of the constitution that every citizen has the right to be informed as long as the information is required for the exercise or protection of any right or fundamental freedom. 35. (1) Every citizen has the right of access to— (b) information held by another person and required for the exercise or protection of any right or fundamental freedom. (2) Every person has the right to the correction or deletion of untrue or misleading information that affects the person. Canonical legislation though not explicit on this fundamental right, it provides for the same generically in can. 227 which states the following: The lay Christian faithful have the right to have recognized that freedom which all citizens have in the affairs of the earthly city. But the canon at the same time carries within it a prudential statement that reads: When using that same freedom, however, they are to take care that their actions are imbued with the spirit of the Gospel and are to heed the doctrine set forth by the magisterium of the Church. In matters of opinion, moreover, they are to avoid setting forth their own opinion as the doctrine of the Church. It is a common complaint among formatees especially those whose process of formation have been terminated that they hardly knew the reasons for their dismissal because no one told them anything in that regard. Canon law asks that the rules of the Church be applied with equity. The formatees, though may not have this right fully expressed in law, they however, enjoy this right to be informed about relevant matters concerning them as individuals in vocational experience at last least in respect to the fundamental rights as established in the above canon. What if the formatee claims that his fundamental rights have been violated in the institute, is there any possibility to lodge a petition against the institute or Diocese? About this the Constitution of Kenya states the following: 22. (1) Every person has the right to institute court proceedings claiming that a right or fundamental freedom in the Bill of Rights has been denied, violated or infringed, or is threatened. Canonical Legislation One of the functions of Canon law as well understood in the canonical doctrine is to protect personal rights. Canon Law does this by providing avenues for recourse, redress of grievances, and means for resolution of conflicts. Proper law of religious institutes usually establish a good frame work within which such matters are resolved. In some circumstances, there are indeed cases that may engage both canonical and civil fora in matters to do with violation of human rights. Preference of canonical legislation over civil law in solving disputes Canonical procedure is preferable indeed in resolving conflicts which may arise in the process of formation. It is not strange that such conflicts between formatees and religious institutes which have unfortunately been lodged within civil forums have been referred by civil authorities back to canonical fora recognizing their competence in matters related to the Church. It also to known that cases related to violation of human rights are quite often very complicated, difficult to establish and to defend. Courts in civil forum have been quite reluctant to declare infringement of fundamental rights in the course of judicial proceedings. There is, however, a positive trend towards greater enforcement of fundamental rights in the East African countries. As the courts recognize more the supremacy of the constitution, any assertion of fundamental rights will serve to challenge purported exercise of statutory power by public officers.