VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis is warning bishops they must consult with the Vatican before approving new would-be religious orders or risk having their decisions overturned.
The revised law published Friday aims to ensure that new religious institutes meet all the criteria for religious orders, especially that they have a unique "charism" or founding spirit.
Previously, bishops were required to consult with the Vatican but there were no consequences if they didn't. Now, their decisions can be invalidated.
Usually, orders begin as small "institutes of consecrated life" that are approved by a local bishop to operate in his diocese. Over time, if they attract more members, they can apply to the Vatican to become a religious institute of pontifical rite, like the Jesuits or Missionaries of Charity.