11. Correction and Discipline (C11, C12)

  1. Jesus tells us that we are to forgive a repentant brother or sister until seven times seventy. He also tells us that when there is an offense within the community, we are to go first to the brother or sister by ourselves, then with a witness, and finally, with the leaders of the community. After that, if the brother or sister does not repent, they are to be treated like a tax collector or a publican. Likewise, Paul commands us that while we are not to judge those who live outside of the community, we have the obligation to judge those within the community both for the sake of the community at large, and the soul of the individual themselves.

  2. When there is a behavior or disciplinary problem within the community, we first go and speak to the brother or sister with whom we have a fault, or whom we believe has a fault with us, and talk with them privately about the matter. Next, we go with one or two witnesses, but even this must be kept very private and confidential. If the individual still does not respond, then the matter should be brought to community leadership, who are duly established by norms approved by the church.

  3. The Vicars show fatherly and motherly compassion to brothers and sisters who sin, or who are in danger of sinning, in order to give them appropriate and effective help in the Lord Jesus. Vicars do not impose formal penalties unless this is absolutely necessary. Likewise, they are prudent and charitable in imposing corrective punishment when needed.

  4. Communal correction is only undertaken for the genuine spiritual welfare of both the individual and the community. Great care is taken to protect the basic human rights of the individuals in question, while also preserving the discipline and welfare of the community. If the good of individuals or of the community forces Vicars to admonish, correct, or punish, they offer this service kindly and lovingly in accordance with the norms of the Scripture Rule, these Constitutions, and Particular Directories. This is a sign of the Vicar’s selflessness. However, the Vicar may use strong tones and measure if they discern that this is needed.

  5. Withdrawal and Dismissal:
    All cases concerning withdrawal or dismissal are conducted according to general and particular directories. Care is taken to protect the integrity and rights of the church, the community, and each individual.

  6. Candidates may withdraw freely from the novitiate according to their consciences. However, they are encouraged to be patient and seek direction from their formation director and superior as well as from a spiritual director or confessor over a substantial period of time of approximately three months before taking action.

  7. A candidate may be dismissed for flagrant violations against our way of life, or if discerned that this way of life is simply not God's will for them. A grave reason is not needed. However, the formation director and Av must seriously discern this in order to be valid.

  8. A novitiate is considered temporary professed and may withdraw only after full dialogue with their Vicar and a spiritual director or confessor. It must be discerned that a major incompatibility exists between the individual and the community. Only the Vicar of a particular expression may dispense an individual from temporary profession, and must be confirmed by the Av and Executive Council.

  9. A member in temporary profession may be dismissed at the end of their profession for a grave reason. They may be dismissed during the period of profession for a habitual grave reason. This includes violations against our Rule, Constitution, and Directories, or the church, with special ecclesial considerations given to ecumenical members. The Vicar of the particular expression must agree to give a decree of dismissal to the individual in order for it to be valid. The Av and Executive Council must confirm the decree of dismissal for it to be valid.

  10. A member in permanent profession may withdraw only after serious dialogue with their Vicar, spiritual director, and confessor, for a minimal period of one year.

  11. After this if it is still discerned that a serious incompatibility exists, the Vicar of their particular expression may dispense them of their profession. This must be done in writing and must be confirmed by the Av and Executive Council and the Bishop in the case of monastic members.

  12. To dismiss a member in permanent profession, habitual, grave cause is needed. This includes failure to live according to our Rule, Constitutions, and Directories, and the norms of the church. This grave cause must be documented before witnesses.

  13. A letter of dismissal is then sent by the Vicar of a particular expression to the Av. The Av then presents the dismissal to the Executive Council. The Av and Executive Council must confirm this letter with their signatures, along with the Bishop Visitor in the case of permanent professed monastic members.

  14. In the case of grave scandal or grave and imminent harm to the community or an individual, the member can be expelled forthwith by the Av, Regional Minister, or even the Vicar, with the consent of the Av.

  15. A member has the right of recourse to higher authority to defend coself. The right to recourse must be exercised in writing within ten days of reception of the decree of dismissal. The decree of dismissal has no juridical effect while the recourse is pending. This does not apply to members expelled under 11.14.

  16. Those who withdraw or are dismissed may not claim any indemnity for services rendered during their time of membership within the community.

  17. Any member who has canonically withdrawn or been dismissed is by that fact dispensed from their commitment of promise or profession to the community. All rights and obligations proper to the community, likewise cease.

  18. In any case pertaining to withdrawal or dismissal, the brother or sister concerned shall be treated with pastoral care regarding basic human respect and Christian charity.

  19. The Vicar of the particular expression shall normally determine the extent of the spiritual, social, and temporal assistance needed to help the ex-member make the transition to normal life outside of the community.

  20. In certain circumstances, and according to the nature of the ex-member's offense, the Av and the Executive Council may ask the community to discontinue normal social intercourse with the ex-member, both for the good of the ex-member and for the good of the community. This does not apply to emergency or extraordinary circumstances where charity demands. Furthermore, the Av or a strong and mature delegate continues to exercise charity in pastoral care towards those who withdraw or are dismissed.