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Fr. Gianfranco Ghirlanda, SJ, appointed pontifical advisor to the Legion of Christ

P. Gianfranco Ghirlanda SJ
Fr. Gianfranco Ghirlanda SJ

Rome, July 3, 2014 – Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSAL), and  Archbishop José Rodríguez Carballo, secretary of the dicastery, met today with Fr. Eduardo Robles Gil, LC, general director of the Legion of Christ, and the general council of the Legion in the Legion’s Center for Higher Studies in Rome.

During the meeting, the Cardinal informed Fr. Eduardo that Fr. Gianfranco Ghirlanda, SJ – a Canon Law maven who has been connected with the renewal of the Legion and Regnum Christi since 2010 – will serve as Pontifical Advisor to the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ.  He will serve the Legion’s government as a consultant for the next few years especially in the area of relations between the different components of Regnum Christi and in the search for a canonical configuration for the Movement as a whole.

In a letter written today to the Legionaries of Christ, Fr. Eduardo Robles Gil said: “All of us in the central government have gratefully embraced the help that the Church is offering us by means of Fr. Ghirlanda.  His experience and personal gifts, as well as his familiarity with the Legion and Regnum Christi – which he acquired as a personal councilor of the Pontifical Delegate – fill us with confidence.”

Cardinal Braz de Aviz emphasized that the role of the advisor will be strictly consultative, and that he will not be part of the government of the Legion.  He will be able to participate in the meetings of the general council in his role as advisor when he sees fit.  It is hoped that he will be able to continue supporting the Legion of Christ in overcoming the institutional crisis that has taken place in the past
Visita del Card. João Braz de Aviz y Mons. José Rodriguez Carballo
Left to Right: Fr. Juan José Arrieta, Fr. Eduardo Robles-Gil, Msgr. José Rodríguez Carballo, Card. Joao Braz de Aviz, Fr. Sylvester Heereman, Fr. Juan Sabadell.
few years.

They also addressed the issue of the Constitutions that the Legion’s General Chapter presented to Pope Francis on February 25th.  The text was analyzed by an ad hoc commission of the CICLSAL for several months.  Cardinal Braz de Aviz showed satisfaction with the constitutional text that the Chapter had approved presented the observations of this commission.

One of the points to be addressed is that the references to texts of the Second Vatican Council and to texts of the post conciliar magisterium should be made explicit.  Likewise, the commission said that the canons of the Code of Canon Law which are behind the norms should be indicated so that it will be easier to make reference to concrete canons when it is necessary to interpret the text.

The fundamental point of the observations is the necessity of better clarifying the relation of the Regnum Christi Movement with the religious institute of the Legion of Christ.  This is one of the tasks that the General Chapter entrusted to the government of the Legion.  Fr. Ghirlanda’s help will be of especial importance in confronting it.

The Legion’s central government will shortly present the text with the changes indicated by the commission to the CICLSAL in order to proceed with the approval of the constitutions.  The new constitutions will be published once they receive definitive approval.

Cardinal Braz de Aviz and Archbishop Carballo joined the Legionaries of Christ for dinner after meeting with the Legion’s central government.

Relationship between the Legion of Christ and the CICLSAL

The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life is the organ of the Holy See that “is responsible for everything which concerns institutes of consecrated life (orders and religious congregations, both of men and of women, secular institutes) and societies of apostolic life regarding their government, discipline, studies, goods, rights, and privileges.”  As expected, when the General Chapter ended in February, the Legion of Christ once again began to depend on the CICLSAL and no longer on a pontifical delegate.  The Legion of Christ has an autonomous government, as Canon Law establishes for religious congregations (Canons 586 and 593).

Biographical information regarding Fr. Gianfranco Ghirlanda, SJ

Father Gianfranco Ghirlanda was born on July 5, 1942 in Rome.  In 1966, he received a doctorate in jurisprudence from the university La Sapienza in Rome, with a thesis titled: “The impediment of the vow in thirteenth century theological and juridical doctrine.”  In 1973, he was ordained a priest.  In 1978 Fr. Ghirlanda received a doctorate in Canon Law summa cum laude from the Gregorian University.  He has been a stable professor at the Gregorian since 1986 and served as dean of the Gregorian’s department of Canon Law from 1995 through 2004.  He served as rector of the Gregorian University from 2004 through 2010.

Fr. Ghirlanda is a consultant of a number of dicasteries of the Holy See, including, among others, the CICLSAL, the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the Congregation for Clergy, the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  In 1994 he participated as an expert in the Synod of Bishops regarding Consecrated Life.  From 1993 through 1995 he served as the director of the academic journal on Canon Law: Periodica de re canonica. From 1993 through 2003 he was a judge in the Court of Appeals in the Vatican City State and since 2000 has been a referendary of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.

In 2010 Fr. Ghirlanda was named a personal councilor of the Pontifical Delegate to the Legion of Christ.  In 2012, the Pontifical Delegate entrusted him with the governance of the Consecrated Lay Men of Regnum Christi.  In November, 2013, he presided over the General Assembly of the Consecrated Lay Men of Regnum Christi.  In January and February of 2014, he participated in the Extraordinary General Chapter of the Legion of Christ as a vice-president.  On March 19, 2014, Fr. Eduardo Robles Gil named him a named him a consultant of the Central Commission for the Revision of the Statutes of Regnum Christi.

A complete curriculum vitae for Fr. Gianfranco Ghirlanda, SJ, can be found in Italian on the website of the Gregorian University:



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