|Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal|
Since Bishop Guillory is our spiritual father within this part of the Catholic world, we thought it fitting and appropriate to notify him of our new apostolate. Our letter to His Excellency was sent to him and made public, on this website and Facebook, at the very beginning of our work.
We invite everyone to investigate the Militia of the Immaculata to find out more for themselves (www.consecration.com). To see that it was founded by St. Maximilian Kolbe in 1917 and canonically established in 1922 by Pope Pius XI as a Pious Union of the Faithful. To see that the Pontifical Council for the Laity on October 16, 1997 approved the MI's updated International Governing Statutes and granted the MI the privilege of status as an "International Public Association" - a status shared by only three other Catholic organizations.
Pope John Paul II noted that "membership in the MI means complete dedication to the Kingdom of God and to the salvation of souls through Mary Immaculate."
Of course, it has always been clear to us that lay Catholics do not need explicit approval from the local diocese to associate with one another and embark upon corporal and spiritual works of mercy. In order to be even more certain of our rights, we sought the advice of the Canon Law Centre (http://www.canonlawcentre.com). The professional opinion of their Canon Lawyers has confirmed what we always knew. With permission of the Canon Law Centre, we provide below their response to our inquiry. Please feel free to continue to contact us with any questions regarding our work.
Omnes cum Petro ad Iesum per Mariam!
Response from Canon Law Centre:
"Thank you for contacting the Canon Law Centre. I am happy to be of assistance regarding your question pertaining to starting a new chapter of the Militia Immaculata in your diocese.
Firstly, allow me to commend you for being mindful of the importance of canon law when organizing your apostolic efforts. As the recent popes have constantly reiterated, the law of the Church is meant to ensure the effectiveness of the means of sanctification and for the good ordering of apostolic undertakings.
As you point out in your email, the MI enjoys the status of an international public association of the faithful. As such, it enjoys the approval of the Holy See at the international level. In reviewing the statutes of the MI, article 43 provides that, “The local centers do not need to be canonically erected.” Practically speaking, this means that by virtue of the fact that the MI already enjoys the status of public international association of the faithful, its local chapters can be, but need not be, recognized by the local bishop.
Your letter to the bishop advising him of the chapter's presence in the Diocese was entirely appropriate. While you don't need his permission to exist as an association, it is of course always a good thing to inform the bishop of the organization of particular apostolic works in the diocese.
With regard to the contention of certain clerics in the Diocese who have alleged that you do not have approval from the Chancery, the simple fact is that you don't need it. To be clear, while the MI as such exists as an international public association of the faithful, the local chapters of the MI are (unless given formal recognition by a local bishop, and some might be) de facto private associations of the faithful. The bishop does have general oversight as to the effective exercise of apostolic works within the diocese (canon 322, et. al) but as a de facto association you come under his governance as individual Catholics only, and not as a group.
In sum, continue to carry on your chapter's work without hesitation. I pray that your charity and genuine good works win over the hearts of those who are hesitant to accept your group in the diocese.
Please do not hesitate to call upon me should you have any further questions."