Almost all nuns in a small French religious congregation have asked the Vatican to release them from their vows because they refuse to accept a commissioner Rome appointed to oversee reforms it deems necessary in their order, writes Tom Heneghan.
At the Little Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, based in northwestern France, 34 of the 39 sisters have refused to accept the commissioner (an interim superior general) who considers them too traditionalist.
The sisters, who wear classic habits and reject any change in their ways, say a Vatican visitation did not listen to them and produced a report that ignored their congregation’s charism.
Sr Geneviève Medevielle, designated to take over the congregation, told the daily La Croix she only wants to introduce a “healthy governance in phase with the main texts on post-conciliar religious life”.
Marcel Mignot, head of a lay group supporting the nuns, said Rome “accuses the Little Sisters of praying too much and wants to change their religious habits. They want to modernise them and make them change by distancing them from their roots.”
After two visitations, Vatican authorities say the congregation has “a problem of governance” and accuses its leadership of “deviant authoritarianism”. In the letter announcing their renunciation, the majority of nuns said they had elected their mother superior three times, the maximum allowed. Rome demanded they show obedience and accept its appointed commissioner or face expulsion from the congregation, the letter said, since it looked like another conservative would be chosen to succeed her.
“We are not making this sacrifice lightly,” the signatories to the letter said. “We wish to remain in full communion with the Church, but we can not demonstrate more clearly, nor more painfully, our impossibility in conscience to obey what is imposed on us.”
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