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21 June, 2024
 
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Sixteen nuns depart church, criticize Pope Francis

Spanish sisters opt for new leadership

Sixteen Spanish nuns have announced they are breaking from the Catholic Church and instead placing themselves under the authority of Pablo de Rojas Sánchez-Franco, a self-styled bishop who was excommunicated in 2019.

The 16 Poor Clare sisters, part of the Franciscan Order of Saint Clare, were based in the dioceses of Burgos and Vitoria in northern Spain.

The schism comes against the backdrop of conservative anger over the leadership of Pope Francis. In February, 90 Catholic clergymen and scholars wrote a letter to "all Cardinals and Bishops of the Catholic Church," urging them to oppose a document approved by the pontiff that allowed priests to bless same-sex couples. Earlier this month, Francis angered many American conservatives by describing efforts to prevent migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexican border as "madness."

The 16 nuns, led by Sister Isabel of the Trinity, announced their break from Catholic authorities in a five-page open letter published on their convent's website.

In the letter, Sister Isabel said Catholics have had to endure "the silence of our pastors," who "left their sheep alone and helpless to face the wolves."

Referring to the papacy, she added: "From the Throne of Peter we have been receiving contradiction, confusion and doublespeak, ambiguity, lack of clear doctrine, which is all the more necessary in stormy times, to hold the rudder more firmly.

"During this time the sisters, each in her own style, way and rhythm, have been contemplating a question, a doubt about the one who steers the Barque of Peter, and his closest collaborators. A doubt which, in time, became SCANDAL."

Sister Isabel also said the Vatican prevented the community from selling an empty monastery in Derio, the proceeds of which were intended to pay for a new monastery in Orduña. She said the decision was a bid to control "traditionally minded communities and keep their real estate to sell."

The sister said the group would instead put itself under the authority of Sánchez-Franco, whom she styled a "legitimate bishop of the Holy Catholic Church" despite his excommunication by the Vatican.

She added: "They are going to call us heretics and schismatics, crazy, and many more very disagreeable and calumnious things, but don't believe them; at least this once, don't let them fool you."

In an attached 70-page document titled "Catholic Manifesto," the group said it recognized "H.H. Pius XII as the last valid Supreme Pontiff," adding that "the see of St. Peter is vacant and usurped."

In a broadcast on Spanish radio station COPE, Archbishop Mario Iceta of Burgos, under whose jurisdiction the 16 nuns fell, said when he first heard they were leaving, he "thought it was fake news," the Catholic News Agency reported.

He said the schism "seems absolutely wrong," adding that the church must see "if it is possible to heal it, cure it, reverse it" through dialogue with the nuns.

According to the Catholic News Agency, the archbishop added: "I don't know if they realize the profound consequences that this step has and that is why my option or my opinion is that this should not be done precipitously, let this media tidal wave pass, let's see if it's possible to establish a relationship with them and dialogue and look at these issues and give them time to reconsider this situation that seems so surprising and strange to me."

[Source: Newsweek]

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