Why is the TOC not under the supervision of the Parish Pastoral Council?
The spiritual and pastoral care of the TOC, entrusted by the Church to the Carmelite First Order, is the duty above all of their prior general and of their prior provincial. The altius moderamen, of which canon 303 speaks, belongs to them. The purpose of the altius moderamen is to guarantee the fidelity of the TOC to the Carmelite charism, communion with the Church and union with the Carmelite family, values which represent a vital commitment for the lay Carmelites.
What do you mean by “altius moderamen”?
Altius moderamen is a Latin juridical expression found in canon 303 of the Code of Canon Law (CIC): “Associations whose members live in the world but share in the spirit of some religious institute, under the overall direction of the same institute, and who lead an apostolic life and strive for Christian perfection, are known as third orders, or are called by some other suitable title”. The juridical relationship between a religious institute and the association of faithful called a third order (or other suitable title) with which it shares a spirituality is called altius moderamen or “higher direction”. The juridical relationship of the altius moderamen existing between the First Order and the TOC, in contrast to other associations of faithful and of other religious institutes, has its own characteristics (because of what we have already said) in virtue of the apostolic privilege granted by the Church to the TOC. This privilege directly commits the First Order. In what way? Let us go from the general to the particular. Can. 305 submits all the Associations of faithful to the “supervision of the competent ecclesiastical authority, which is to ensure that integrity of faith and morals is maintained in them and that abuses in ecclesiastical discipline do not creep in. The competent authority, therefore, has the duty and the right to visit these associations...” Can. 312 § 1 defines who the competent ecclesiastical authority is: for the TOC, as an “international public association in the Church”, it is the Holy See. For the apostolic privilege, the competence, to which can. 305 refers, is exercised by the Superiors of the Carmelite Order.
What is the role of the TOC in the parish/diocese?
The secular/lay Carmelites should collaborate with the bishops and follow their directions in so far as they are the moderators of the ministry of the Word and of the Liturgy and the coordinators of the various forms of apostolate in the local Church. The communities are subject to the vigilance of the Ordinary (local bishop) in so far as they perform their activities within the local Churches.
The communities established in a parish church should seek to cooperate in the animation of the parochial community, in the liturgy and in fraternal relations. They should integrate themselves into the pastoral apostolate as a whole, with preference for those activities more congenial to the Carmelite tradition and spirituality.