| Year 1994 Canonical Studies, PP. 22-57
(Dr. Antony Pinheiro, OCD )
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The IX Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will be held in Rome in October 1994. The theme of the Synod is “The Consecrated Life and its Role in the Church and in the World”. In the light of the working document (Lineamenta) published in 1992 by the Secretariat of the Synod, preparations at various levels are going on. The Lineamenta deals with the issue of Bishop-religious relationship in nn.39 & 40.

As a preparation for the Synod, the Union of Superiors General has organized Extraordinary Congress on Religious Life Today which will be held in Rome in November-December 1993. The main objectives of this Congress are:

-- to verify and promote the self-understanding of religious life starting from the following key readings, “identity, communion and mission”.

-- to study the problems that the religious encounter;

-- to indicate the operative lines which the religious should propose in the Synod.

For study and reflection a questionnaire was circulated to the religious through their major superiors. This questionnaire contained 3 main questions with various sub-questions. The 2nd question was: “What is the situation and how are the relations between the bishops, secular clergy, laity and the religious? Positive aspect, main problems, future perspectives were to be pointed out.

In India the CBCI has initiated a study and reflection on “consecrated life and its mission in the situation of our country” by sending a questionnaire to the Bishops. It has 3 parts. Part II, section 6 deals with the issue of Bishops Councils are also engaged in the study of “Lineamenta”. They also organize consultations at the diocese and regional levels. There arise various points connected with the issue of bishop-religious relationship.

The Bishop-Religious relationship has been always a burning issue, a vexed problem, and still it continues to be so, though in a different way and approach. There are conflicts and tensions between bishops and religious. There are defects and deviations in their mutual relationship. There exist general and particular problems and tensions in the area of bishop-religious relationship at the national, regional and local levels.

The II Vatican Council focused its attention on this issue and outlined certain fundamental principles for good relations between bishops and religious in the Church. On May 14, 1978 the Roman Congregation for Bishops and Congregation for Religious jointly published the document MUTUAE RELATIONES (MR) and proposed the fundamental practical criteria for more fruitful relations between bishops and religious in the Church. The CIC indicates the norms of action for various instances of bishop-religious relationship. On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the document MR, the Cardinal Prefects of the Roman Congregation for Bishops and Congregation for Religious jointly sent a letter to the Presidents of the Conferences of Bishops and of the Major Superiors of religious institutes, and invited them to reflect attentively on the document. Pope John Paul II in his addresses to the Bishops and to the Religious repeatedly reminds and emphasizes the need of maintaining and fostering good relations between bishops and religious in the dioceses.

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