Secularization of persons belonging to religious orders in the Roman Catholic Church, is a term which denotes the severing of the vows which bind to poverty and monastic obedience. Permission to this end can proceed only from the papal chair, and is but rarely granted. The persons affected thereby are clergymen in the higher orders of the ministry, who are thus transferred to the secular clergy, and permitted to live outside of their monasteries (clerici seculares); and nuns, and the lay brothers and sisters of suppressed convents, who have taken the vows of their orders upon them, and are by this act restored to the world, though salvo voto castitatis. Secularization differs from laicizing, or entire dissolution of the rule imposed by the order, in that the latter absolves from the vow of chastity and makes marriage valid.

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