On February 15th, 2022, Pope Francis issued the motu proprio “Competentias quasdam decernere” (full text here), which contained a number of important changes to canon law. Nearly all of these changes have a decentralizing focus, often by transferring rights or responsibilities previously held by the Holy See to bishops or major superiors. Pope Francis writes that these changes are meant to encourage a “sense of collegiality and pastoral responsibility” among bishops and major superiors.

These changes reflect more clearly the Church’s shared and pluralistic universality, which embraces differences without leveling them, guaranteeing, with respect to her unity, the ministry of the Bishop of Rome.  At the same time, they will encourage a more rapid and effective pastoral governance on the part of local authority, not least by facilitating its proximity to individuals and situations that demand it.

Specific changes effecting major superiors include a number of canons dealing with separation from an institute, whether through exclaustration, departure, or dismissal. The Resource Center for Religious Institutes has posted an initial commentary and explanation on their website of the changes related to religious institutes, while The Pillar has a more general explanation of all the revised canons.