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Foto Boni Andrea , Reinterpretazione di una Costituzione Conciliare (Concilio Ecumenico Lateranense IV a. 1215, Costituzione 13), in Antonianum, 84/3 (2009) p. 441-495 .

Summary: The Author recapitulates here a lifetime of research. His lifelong study does not so much intend to offer a completely new interpretation of the XIIIth Constitution of Lateran IV (“Ne nimia”) as to recover that given at the time by Jacques of Vitry. In other words, with the Fourth Lateran Ecumenical Council, which welcomes and preserves the already existing Order of Friars Minor, while apparently forbidding the founding of new “religions” thenceforth, there came to be welcomed a new “institution” of religious life, a new kind of religious Rule, as well as a new religious Order. Thereby a new “institution” or “format” or “model” of religious life was being made available to any future founders of religious institutes, who would thenceforth be able to choose this new model of a centralised Order, in addition to the models available previously. In effect, the Author argues, the Council did not forbid new religious Orders, but only new kinds of models of religious Orders, directing any future founders to choose from among the models already in place, including the newest and most distinctive one, that which finds its first expression in the Order of Friars Minor and its Rule. The misunderstanding of the Council’s meaning arose from the improper treatment of “religion” and “religious Order” as if they were (for the Council) perfectly synonymous - which was not the case. While an “Order” was always just that, “religion” could indeed stand for “a religious Order,” but it could also have the wider meaning of an “institution”, i.e. a particular “form[at]” or “model” of religious life. A “religion” in the latter sense could thus be common to a number of particular Orders. Thus, the Author, on the basis of the testimony of Jacques of Vitry, concludes that the Franciscan Rule (existing in principle already by the time of Lateran IV, although yet to be confirmed in definitive text in 1223) was welcomed by the Council as much more than just the rule of yet another religious Order, but as the paradigmatic “institutional Rule”, the defining Rule of this new “institution” of religious life, the “apostolic religion”, of seminal significance therefore for all the “apostolic” religious institutes that have followed in the centuries since.

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