FROM A ROME CORRESPONDENT
HE Vatican has cancelled several antiquated barriers in the 1918 Canon Law Code against freedom of movement and self-regulation at convents and monas teries.
The eight-point decree. by the Congregation for the Religious, which looks after more than a million nuns, brothers and other male Religious around the world catches up officially with what has long been common practice nuns travelling alone instead of only in pairs.
The minimum age for superiors general to he 35 instead of 40, while the re quired minimum age for novice masters and others of less authority is reduced from 35 to 30. Ten years of fully professed religious life are no longer required in order to hecome a superior.
CHECK DROPPED It will no longer he necessary to check the past life of each novice with the bishop of every diocese where the novice ever lived, and each order may decide how many days novices must spend in meditation and spiritual retreat before their first vows.
The writing of wills by novices will be postponed from the time of entering to the time of final vows. This will eliminate a difficult legal point, since many novices are under 21 when they enter and are regarded as minors.
A spokesman for the Congregation said dispensations had always been granted for most of the points. and that the new provisions simply made such situations the rule rather than the exception.
The new regulations were signed by Pope Paul on June 1 and have been in effect since then, although the document has riot been made public.
An important new rule is that much greater freedom will be given to religious superiors to change. erect or eliminate province boundaries. In the past the Vatican had to be consulted before such de
cisions could he made.
The same held true for starting or closing a religious house. This has also been abolished except in certain cases.
While permitting nuns to go out of their convents without being accompanied, the Congregation insisted that superiors had an obligation to remain vigilant in order to "avoid incidents."