In this recent question we looked at the following sentence from the apostolic constitution Provida Mater Ecclesia:

§ 2. Instituta, salvis communibus iuris canonici normis quae ipsa respiciant, tamquam proprio iure, peculiari eorum naturae et conditioni arctius respondent his praescriptis reguntur :


2° Normis quas Sacra Congregatio de Religiosis, prout necessitas ferat atque experientia suffragetur, sive Constitutionem Apostolicam interpretando sive ipsam perficiendo atque applicando pro omnibus vel pro aliquibus ex bis Institutis edere censuerit;

Or, boiled down to (what I think are) the essential parts:

Instituta reguntur normis quas Congregatio, prout necessitas ferat, edere censuerit.

I do not understand the subjunctive mood. Why is censuerit in the perfect subjunctive, why are ferat and suffragetur in the present subjunctive?

  • Whenever need be... the norms be laid down. It's a big if: if there is need, they will be laid down. The English translation goes around the ifs pretty well. English doesn't like subjunctive.
    – Rafael
    May 1, 2021 at 0:17

2 Answers 2


I would take this as a conditional (a.k.a. indefinite) relative clause, with the protasis equivalent to that of a future less vivid condition. The normae aren't currently existing ones, but ones which may come into existence at some future time; if and when they do, the instituta are ruled by them. Rather than describing any specific instance of "need arising" or of "the congregation deciding", the sentence is saying that in future, according as from time to time the need may arise, the congregation will decide. Censuerit is perfect subjunctive presumably because the "deciding" precedes the "being ruled".

  • As a side note, in classical Latin, I believe indefinite clauses (generalis/futuralis in Greek) are normally in the indicative mood. But Church Latin may diverge from that.
    – Cerberus
    May 1, 2021 at 20:56
  • Fascinating, so I essentially have to read this as: quasquas normas Sacra Congregatio [⋯] edere censuerit? I still wonder about the subjunctive after prout, why is that? Attractio modi? May 2, 2021 at 18:28
  • @Cerberus Yes, the famous “quidquid id est, timeo Danaos et dona ferentis” (Aeneid II,49) comes to mind. May 2, 2021 at 18:38
  • @SebastianKoppehel Yes, I think so; conditional relative clauses can use the normal form of the relative pronoun. Prout ... ferat can also be understood as an FLV protasis (=*si ... ferat*). (The "unconditional" quidquid id est type, which takes indicative as you and Cerberus point out, is of course a different construction.)
    – TKR
    May 2, 2021 at 19:49

Well, I think it comes form the use of indirect speech (sermo obliquus). In non direct speech, verbs are expressed with subjunctive.

Example (direct speech):

  • Scisne quomodo Instituta reguntur?
  • Nescio. Quomodo ?
  • Reguntur normis quas Congregatio edere censuit

Indirect speech:

  • In acroase suo, explanabat Instituta regi normis quas Congregatio edere censuerit

Don't you think so?

  • 3
    I'm not sure what you mean by “comes from.” Obviously the main clause is direct speech. (It is also not clear whose speech or sentiment would be reproduced in this context. Plus, I really do not think this sentence is talking about past decisions by the congregation.) May 2, 2021 at 18:33
  • 1
    You mean indirect question. Indirect statements are expressed with an accusative and infinitive.
    – cmw
    May 3, 2021 at 12:55

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