In the Roman Catholic Church a religious institute is "a society in which members...pronounce public vows...and lead a life of brothers or sisters in common". Consecrated life may be lived either individually or as a member of an institute. The Catholic Church recognises, as forms of individual consecrated life, that of a hermit and that of a consecrated virgin. It also envisages new forms of consecrated life emerging. Religious institutes are one of the two types of institutes of consecrated life. The other is that of the secular institute, defined as "an institute of consecrated life in which the Christian faithful, living in the world, strive for the perfection of charity and seek to contribute to the sanctification of the world, especially from within". Societies of apostolic life resemble religious institutes, but differ in that their members do not take religious vows. They pursue the apostolic purpose of the society to which they belong, while leading a life in common as brothers or sisters and striving for the perfection of charity through observing the society's constitutions. In some of these societies the members assume the evangelical counsels by a bond other than that of religious vows defined in their constitutions.
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