On Monday the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life released a 54-page document, “Identity and Mission of the Religious Brother in the Church,” that "addresses the identity of the religious brother in three ways: First, as a mystery of a gift received; second, as a communion of a gift shared; and, third, as a mission of a gift to be given away," according to the National Catholic Reporter.
Although not ordained as priests, brothers serve priestly roles in their ministries to the sick, the youth in schools, and the poor in body and spirit. It is important to note that these sentiments about brothers apply to religious women, too, as their consecrated lives are similar.
Crux reports that worldwide there are about 55,000 brothers in the Catholic Church today, a much smaller total than either priests (415,000) or nuns (705,000), though roughly comparable to the number of permanent deacons (42,000).
In this way of consecrated life of service, religious brothers become part of various communities of different orders, societies, or congregations, fulfilling the title of "brother" Jesus preached for himself and his apostles.
Read another report on the Vatican document from Vatican Radio here.
For further information and reflection, read VISION's current and archived articles on Brothers.