The General Statutes
of the International Movement of the Militia of the Immaculata
The updated governing statutes of the MI were approved by the Pontifical Council for the Laity in October, 1997. But this is only a point of departure for the movement, says MI international president Fr. Eugenio Galignano, OFM CONV.
The entire movement is now called to "enter intelligently and with a creative spirit upon the pastoral perspectives which these present us with." The statutes are not only to be studied – and then filed away – but are to be put into "operative dedication" to renew the MI. They are meant to better prepare us, says Father Eugenio, to "respond to the expectations of the Church at the threshold of the new millennium."
With these beginning thoughts in mind, here are the new statutes to study and ponder in your heart.
The Militia of the Immaculata, founded in Rome by St. Maximilian Kolbe on October 16, 1917, with the Latin name Militia Immaculatae (MI), is a public association of the faithful that is universal and international. It is open to the laity and clerics and is governed by the norms of canons 312-320 of the CJC [Code of Canon Law], by the directives of the Church and by the present statutes.
According to the thought of the Founder, it can assume various names depending on different cultural and environmental exigencies, but consistently keeping the international abbreviation sign, MI.
It is therefore an association in which the members, mindful of the calling of all Christians to personal holiness and to evangelization, and of Mary’s mission of grace in the Church and in the world, the fruit of her perfect union with the Holy Spirit (cf., SK-Writings of St. Maximilian Kolbe, 634, 1224, 1229, 1310), recognize in the mystery of her Immaculate Conception the focal point of their spirituality, theology and apostolate (Disc. of Paul VI for the Beatification of Father Kolbe, 17.10.1971).
The Militia of the Immaculata was defined by Father Kolbe himself: "a global vision of Catholic life under a new form, consisting in the bond with the Immaculata, our universal Mediatrix before Jesus" (SK 1220).
In fact, the MI essentially intends to promote the extension of the Reign of Christ in the world through the action of the Immaculata, encouraging all Christians – the laity, religious and contemplatives – to place themselves at her service in the mission that she has as Mother of the Church.
The scope of the MI, universal as its mission, consists:
1. In collaborating in the conversion of all, so that "through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Queen of Apostles, all peoples might be led as soon as possible to awareness of the truth" (AG-Ad Gentes 42), to observance of the law of God and union with the Church, "so that with the help of the Mother of God they may be one" (OE–Oriental Ecclesiarum 30, MC-Marialis Cultus 33);
2. In collaborating in the sanctification of all persons and each person in particular, after the example of the Immaculata, in whom the Church "joyfully contemplates, as in a faultless image, what she, as a whole, wishes and hopes to be" (SC-Sacrosanctum Concilium 103);
3. In obtaining the greatest glory for the "Most Holy and Undivided Trinity" (LG-Lumen Gentium 69).
III. SPIRITUALITY AND FORMATION
The spirituality of the MI consists in living the baptismal consecration in the light of the Immaculata, gift of the Redeemer. On Calvary, he accomplishes the first act of entrusting, giving Mary to the disciple and the disciple to Mary (Jn 19:25-27). The life of the disciple is characterized by the presence of the Mother (RM-Redemptoris Mater 45).
Father Kolbe lived that vital relationship with Mary in a unique way, understood as a "transformation in her," a "becoming her" (SK 508), in order to reach a more perfect union with Christ.
The MI affirms in Christians the pre-eminence of the interior life, according to a principle dear to St. Maximilian: "first of all, dedicate yourself completely to yourself and, in this way, you will be able to give yourself completely to others . . . through the overflow of your fullness" (SK 971, 980).
With regard to personal prayer, MI members will attend to, in particular, the daily recitation of the prayer: "O Mary, conceived without sin . . ." together with the "intentions" suggested monthly by the International Center.
Not to be neglected is the praiseworthy custom of wearing with devotion the Miraculous Medal, an exterior sign of one’s own belonging to the MI (cf. Original mission statement of the MI).
After the example of Mary, Virgin in listening, Virgin in prayer, Virgin Mother, Virgin offering (RM 17-20), members of the Militia of the Immaculata recognize the fundamental value of listening to the Word of God, of the liturgical celebration, of prayer, of charity towards others, of offering one’s own being, in order to collaborate with Christ in the salvation of the world.
Since the giving of oneself to the Immaculata is not a transitory act, but a responsible and dynamic acceptance of the state of conformation to her, in order to grow in the spirit of faith and service, it is necessary that MI members be adequately formed according to the ideals of the Association and in the apostolic style that characterizes it.
Therefore, members strive to deepen their own spiritual, theological, mariological and pastoral formation, drawing on the richness of the Church’s magisterium as well as the various initiatives presented by the Association.
The members of the MI love the Church, Mother and Teacher, and offer themselves as a living and effective presence for contributing to the growth of the ecclesial community.
The fronts of action for the members of the Militia of the Immaculata are three: oneself, one’s surroundings, the world. Indeed, the one who chooses to belong to the MI:
1. Begins his or her mission by conversion and personal sanctification; the conquest of self for God is his or her first indispensable act;
2. Discerns, then in family, in neighbors, in the field of his or her work or free time – the providential terrain to evangelize by example, a good word and the dissemination of printed matter (SK 1127);
3. Finally, since the MI is a movement with an ecclesial dimension, the MI member opens up his or her heart to every person and to the entire world.
The members of the Militia of the Immaculata make their own the mission of the Church: "to bear the Gospel of Christ as a source of hope for all and a source of renewal for the society" (Christifideles Laici 29).
Recognizing in the Immaculata "the new creature," the MI sees in her, perfect disciple of the Lord, the model of the believer.
The specific nature of the MI consists in promoting the mystery of the Immaculate Conception, namely: "to sow this truth in the hearts of all . . . and to take care of its growth and the fruits of sanctification" (SK 486), contributing to the Christian formation of consciences and to the new evangelization. Mary, sign of victory over evil and death, "through her intimate participation in the history of salvation, while being preached and honored, calls believers to her Son, to his sacrifice and to the love of the Father" (LG 65).
Therefore, MI members strive to communicate love for the Immaculata by their witness in the various spheres of social activity, permeating every human reality with evangelical spirit.
Consequently, they are called to carry out every activity with particular dedication, to promote the protection of life, in service of the integral dignity of the person, while proposing values of fraternity, justice and solidarity.
All members of the MI, aware of always and everywhere being missionaries, are such to the extent in which they live the union with Christ Redeemer after the example of Mary.
In recognizing that the true missionary is holy, they give first place to the evangelical vehicles of prayer, sacrifice and the witness of their life (RMi-Redemptoris Missio 90).
Father Kolbe also strongly recommends spreading the Miraculous Medal, a sign of Mary’s maternal concern for sinners and a propitious opportunity for their conversion.
Persons who suffer constitute a significant presence in the Association. Their consecration to the Immaculata in offering up their own sufferings makes the entire Association a participant in the redemptive mystery of Christ and renews its missionary thrust.
Particular attention is given to the presence of the youth. Every national center is to do everything possible to organize the Youth Movement MI as an integral part of the Association. Regarding this movement, the national director will set out a specific formative and pastoral itinerary.
Members of the MI, according to the meaning of article 8, avail themselves of the means that Father Kolbe used with prophetic and Franciscan spirit, thereby becoming apostles "of the pen, the microphone, the screen or whichever other means" (SK 382). The members are active:
1. In the field of evangelization (announcing the Word, catechesis, care for the young people’s world, missions for the people, courses in spiritual formation, updating, or Marian doctrine);
2. On the level of charity (human promotion, attention to emerging needs);
3. In the areas of mass media (editorial, radio and television, and data processing activity, etc.).
V. ORGANIZATION AND GOVERNMENT
Essential to belonging to the MI is the total entrusting, that is, the consecration of oneself to the Immaculate: body and soul, human abilities and spiritual gifts.
No one can be enrolled in the Militia of the Immaculata without adequate preparation, according to the norms of the national directory.
The rite of enrollment is celebrated following the ways of the place, while highlighting two essential aspects: the act of consecration and the imposition of the Miraculous Medal.
The act is transcribed in the register of the Association at the center or a juridically erected office.
According to the directions of Father Kolbe, in the MI the consecration can be lived out in three ways.
1. MI/1: Individually and spontaneously, according to the original statute drafted by the founder himself,
2. MI/2: In an associative form, according to the norms of article 1 of the present statutes,
3. MI/3: In a total and unconditional way, in legitimately autonomous bodies, devoted in an exclusive manner to the cause of the Immaculata. This is precisely the case of the City of the Immaculata [Niepokalanow], of the National Centers, of the Marian houses, of the male and female institutes and congregations of Kolbean inspiration.
The structures of the Association are the:
· International Center
· National Centers
· Regional centers
· Filial offices and local centers.
The International Center carries out the directive and coordinative work of the Association worldwide. Its task is to see that the ideal and teaching of Father Kolbe are strengthened and developed through in-depth studies and new projects, keeping pace with the Church, and making use of the contribution of institutes of Kolbean inspiration, living witness of the multiform inheritance of the saint.
The International Center is made up of the:
· Presidential Council.
The other centers are structured in a like manner within their respective scope of influence.
The governing bodies of the Association are the:
· Supreme Moderator
· General Assembly
· International President
· Presidential Council.
The administrative control body is the Board of Auditors.
The Supreme Moderator of the MI is the Minister General of the Friars Minor Conventual. He guarantees the exact interpretation of the Kolbean charism and renews the historical bond of the Association with the Conventual Franciscan Order to which St. Maximilian belongs.
The International Assistant is the delegate of the Supreme Moderator and is appointed by him from among the religious of the same Order.
The principal tasks of the International Assistant are to:
1. Establish a continuity of relations between the Association and the Order of Friars Minor Conventual.
2. Provide clarifications of guidance regarding doctrinal principles that have to guide the various actions of the Presidential Council.
3. Give rise to an atmosphere of prayer within the Council that animates all its apostolic activity.
4. Appoint the National Assistant, designated by the competent religious authority, according to the norms of the national directory and the meaning of article 38 of the present statutes.
Given the universality of the Association, the General Assembly of members is constituted in a representative nature by the:
· International President
· International Assistant
· Presidential Council
· National Presidents
· National Assistants
· Delegates of the MI Youth
Movement, according to the norms of the directory.
In the case of elections, the Supreme Moderator or his delegate presides at the Assembly and has the faculty of confirming the eventual election of a religious to the office of International President.
It is the competence of the General Assembly to:
1. Elect, according to the norms of common law, the President-who can be a religious or a lay person-and, on the President’s suggestion, to elect the members of the Presidential Council.
2. Discuss and approve the essential features of the activity to be carried out in the various ecclesial situations.
3. Elect the Legal Representative of the Association.
4. Elect the Board of Auditors, composed of three members.
5. Discuss and approve; the report of the President and the balance sheet and budget of the International Center.
6. Examine and evaluate the proposals of the Presidential Council and members in view of the growth of the MI worldwide, also keeping in mind the administrative aspect.
7. Examine the reports of the National Centers.
The election of a religious to the office of President must be confirmed by the competent major superior.
It is the competence of the International President, in collaboration with the Assistant, to:
1. Convoke and preside over the Presidential Council twice a year.
2. Call and preside over the General Assembly every six years.
3. Erect National Centers, after hearing the opinion of the Presidential Council.
4. Coordinate the work of the National Centers and to foster communion with the local ordinaries.
5. Represent the Association before agencies of the Apostolic See.
6. Promote meetings, study conferences and the participation in activities promoted by other institutions, bringing, where it is useful and opportune, the contribution of the charism of the MI.
7. Engage those responsible on the local, regional and national level in the realization of the official program of the Association.
8. Aggregate new MI offices and, for a just cause, to suppress or transfer offices already aggregated.
9. With the advice of the Presidential Council and in agreement with the Supreme Moderator, to resolve eventual conflicts within the Association.
It is also the task of the President every year to present to the Supreme Moderator a written report on the activity of the Association and its administrative operation, according to the provisions of canon 319 of the Code of Canon Law.
The Association is non-profit. Its resources are made up from the proceeds of the specific activities of the International Center, the contributions of the National Centers, bequests, donations and various offerings, third-party benefits, and possible subsidies from public and private corporations.
The administration of goods is up to the Presidential Council, which is invested with the faculty of carrying out or authorizing all the acts and transactions permitted the Association, provided they are not reserved to the General Assembly and they fall within the institutional aims.
The International Presidential Council is composed of the:
· Two Councilors.
The mandates or offices on the International level last for six years and are renewable.
Services rendered by members in the exercise of any office undertaken within the Association come under the category of voluntary work and, consequently, are intended as gratis to all intents and purposes, except for the reimbursement of expenses upon the presentation of a receipt slip.
It is the competence of the International Presidential Council to:
1. Propose, examine and approve projects and activities according to the aims of the MI.
2. Discuss and examine the report of the International President and the budget and balance sheet presented by the Treasurer.
3. Express its opinion regarding the erection of National Centers.
4. On the instruction of the President, to prepare the list of three names for the Board of Auditors to be presented for election by the General Assembly.
5. Approve the annual balance sheet and budget of the International Center.
It is also up to the same Council, on the proposal of the President and prior consultation with the Supreme Moderator, to appoint the Director of the Miles Immaculatae, the official organ of the Association.
It is the task of the Board of Auditors to examine the balance sheet and budget to be submitted for the approval of the General Assembly.
The MI International Center is located in Rome at "Casa Kolbe," Via San Teodoro 42, of the Friars Minor Conventual, historically Sede Primaria where St. Maximilian instituted the Militia of the Immaculata. All the other offices, erected as Filial Offices, refer to their respective National Centers.
The National Centers come under the authority of the International Center with respect to the faithful interpretation and realization of the aims of the Association, and are governed by their own directory, ratified by the International Presidential Council on the basis of the present statutes.
It is the competence of the National President to present to the religious authority, according to the norms of the national directory, a list of three names proposed by the Assembly for the appointment of the National Assistant.
The same procedure is followed for the appointment of the Regional or Provincial Assistant.
With due regard for the unity of the Association, every National Center, with the prior consent of the International Presidential Council, is to work to obtain recognition as a juridical person according to the laws of the State.
A representative of the International Center shall be the first of the founding members of the new juridical entity.
The consent of the International Center is required with respect to economic transactions that exceed the limit established by the national directory.
In the event of the entity’s cessation, the International Center shall take care of the liquidation of its property with broader powers to convert assets into cash and satisfy liabilities. The net balance is to be given to the same International Center.
In the eventuality of a legislative lacuna, individual cases are to be resolved by an appropriate agreement.
In territorial areas that are geographically extensive, more than one Provincial or Regional Center can be recognized and instituted with the characteristics and functions of a National Center.
For the composition of a National Center, at least five canonically erected local offices are required, while preserving the geographical unity as foreseen by the International Directory.
It is for the National Center to coordinate and promote the Association throughout the nation, through the work of Regional and Local Centers as well as Filial Offices.
The National President, elected by the Assembly according to the norms of common law and the present statutes, is to be confirmed by the International President, who by right presides at the meeting.
It is for the President to submit initiatives of greater importance for the approval of the International Center, to which the President shall also send yearly a detailed administrative report approved by the respective Presidential Council.
To support the activity of the International Center, the National Centers are to contribute economically with an annual sum to be established by the General Assembly.
The Filial Offices are to be erected in churches or oratories by way of a formal request that the pastor/rector or the superior of a religious community directs to the local ordinary, who appoints its ecclesiastical Assistant.
In nations where a National Center is present, the pastor/rector or the superior of the religious community must act in agreement with the National President.
Having taken place, the erection is to be communicated to the International President who, together with the International Assistant, proceed to the aggregation.
The local centers do not need to be canonically erected.
Groups formed in parishes, religious communities, seminaries or other ecclesial situations are to refer to the Filial Offices and/or local centers.
Each group carries on its own activity in harmony with the principles outlined by the Regional and National Centers.
VI. VALIDITY OF THE NORMS
Eventual changes in the present statutes must be decided by the General Assembly and submitted for approval to the Supreme Moderator and the Apostolic See (cf. canon 314).
With regard to what is not expressly foreseen in these statutes, reference is to be made to the pertinent canonical dispositions in force.
International Public Association
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In conformity with the request of the Pious Union of the Militia of the Immaculate for erection as an international public Association, submitted to the Pontifical Council for the Laity by letter dated 29 August 1996 (Prot. N.79/96) from the Procurator General of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, on the petition of the Minister General of the same Order;
Bearing in mind the long and meritorious history associated with the Militia of the Immaculate, founded on 16 October 1917, and whose founder, Fr. Maximilian M. Kolbe, OFM CONV., was later declared a saint and martyr by His Holiness John Paul II (10 October 1982). Erected as a Pious Union on 2 January 1922 by the Vicariate of Rome, the Militia of the Immaculate has received the particular attention and special interest of the Supreme Pontiffs. Among the examples of this attention and interest are the Brief of Pius XI (18 December 1926), which grants indulgences and privileges, and the subsequent Brief of the same Pontiff Die XVIII mensis Decembris (23 April 1927), by which the Militia of the Immaculate is raised to a Primary Pious Union. On 8 November 1975, the Pontifical Council for the Laity approved its General Statutes and this approbation was renewed on 20 December 1980 ad experimentum usque ad accommodationem novo Codici juris canonici;
Having noted with appreciation the subsequent updating of the Statutes to bring them in line with the new canonical legislation;
Considering that the Militia of the Immaculate is present today on five continents and in 46 nations, with many canonically erected offices, 27 National Centers and various works of Christian formation and spreading the Gospel, already reaching a total membership that nears four million;
Welcoming with gratitude the definition given by the same Fr. Kolbe to the Militia of the Immaculate: "A global vision of Catholic life under a new form, consisting in the bond with the Immaculate, our universal Mediatrix before Jesus" (Kolbe’s Writings 1220);
Valuing greatly the scope of the Militia of the Immaculate, "universal like its mission", according to what is proposed in the new statutory texts:
- "~…collaborate in the conversion of all, so that "through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Queen of the Apostles, all peoples might be led as soon as possible to awareness of the truth" (AG 42), to observance of the law of God and union with the Church, "so that with the help of the Mother of God they may be one" (OK 30; MC 33)";
- "~…collaborate in the sanctification of all persons and each person in particular, after the example of the Immaculate, in Whom the Church ‘joyfully contemplates, as in a faultless image, what she, as a whole, wishes and hopes to be’ (SC 103)"; and in that way
- "~…obtain the greatest glory for the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity" (cf LG 69);
Noting that the Militia of the Immaculate is still under the "altius moderamen" of the Minister General of the Franciscan Order of the Friars Minor Conventual and that it has among its most avid supporters and enthusiastic members not a few Most Eminent Cardinals, Most Excellent Bishops and other prelates;
Having closely examined the new General Statutes elaborated by the International Administration of the Militia of the Immaculate;
after ample consultation:
THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE LAITY
the erection of the Militia of the Immaculate as an International Public Association, in accordance with can. 312, 1, 1~ et seq. of the Code of Canon Law, approving at the same time its General Statutes in conformity with the original text presented and filed in the Archives of the Dicastery.
J. Francis Stafford
16 October 1997
80th Anniversary of Foundation