New Catholic Monasteries. The Current Organization of monastic Life - This article aims to analyse the foundation of ‘new’ monastic communities that have recently emerged in Italy since the second Vatican Council. These communities differ from traditional ones. Unlike classical monastic orders they are self-sufficient, thanks to the work done by monks inside or outside the monastery; they may be mixed-sex groups of men and women, either ordained or secular, single or married, or even from different branches of Christianity. After examining the influence of the Council on the development of these organizations, I present the main findings of an empirical research on the ‘new’ monastic communities founded in Piemonte (Italy). The analysis focuses on three communities which I term ‘widespread’ because some of their members (both ordained and secular) live outside the borders of the monastery, in private houses. I analyse the differences between traditional monasteries ("total institutions", "strict", "vertical") and these newer ones ("open", "widespread", "flexible"). In the conclusion I discuss some new theoretical questions that arise in the empirical research: primarily, the problem of legitimizing the ‘new’ communities the institutional Church.
Keywords: Monastery, "widespread" monasteries, organizational change, legitimation, liability of newness.