Archdiocese in Spain Excommunicates and Expels Nuns who after an Investigation have Chosen to Remain in Schism with the Church

rcThe Archdiocese of Burgos in Spain has excommunicated and expelled a group of nuns who have chosen schism with the Catholic Church. The nuns made their intentions public on May 13, when the community of Poor Clare sisters of the monasteries of Belorado and Orduña announced that they were leaving the Catholic Church to follow the excommunicated "bishop" Pablo de Rojas. The nuns stated that they were leaving “the Conciliar Church (meaning post-Vatican II).” The Code of Canon Law, Canon 751 Canon 751 explains that schism is “the refusal of submission to the supreme pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.” The penalty for this violation is excommunication. A pontifical commissioner, Monsignor Mario Iceta, was involved, however, the nuns refused to negotiate. Since some of the older nuns remained faithful to the Church the Federation of Poor Clares of Our Lady of Aránzazu will now care for these sisters in the Belorado Monastery itself, and will transfer other sisters from different monasteries of the federation to live in the monastery.
Statement by the Archdiocese:
The Pontifical Commissioner remembers the 10 former Poor Clares who lack legal title to inhabit the Belorado monastery
June 24, 2024, 12:30
Mons. Mario Iceta, Pontifical Commissioner and Legal Representative of the Monasteries of Belorado, Orduña and Derio, points out that the request for a negotiating commission is meaninglessTwo days after the declaration of excommunication of the ten former nuns of the Monastery of Belorado, and their subsequent expulsion from consecrated life, the Pontifical Commissioner, together with the Managing Commission, wish to make the following statements:

On June 22, the Decrees declaring excommunication and the Declarations of expulsion from consecrated life were communicated to ten sisters of the Belorado Monastery who 
have shown their free and personal decision to leave the Catholic Church , so they are no longer part of it. of the monastic community.


  1. As stated then, there continues to be a monastic community in Belorado , made up of the five older sisters and three other sisters who, although they are not in the monastery at this time, belong to the community.


  1. As was also stated, older sisters continue to be a priority and concern, shared by their closest relatives. The Federation of Poor Clares of Our Lady of Aránzazu has planned a way to care for these sisters in the Belorado Monastery itself, displacing some sisters from other monasteries in the Federation.


  1. On the same day, June 22, Mrs. Laura García de Viedma (former abbess) was asked for all the economic information (checking accounts, hired personnel, supply contracts, etc.) necessary for the maintenance of ordinary life in the monastery and the fulfillment of labor, tax and fiscal obligations that affect monasteries. This request is made in continuity with the appearance on June 6 of the members of the Management Commission at the monastery to, among other tasks, require a copy of the keys and the delivery of the accounting books and other economic information for correct management. economical . Sister Carmen, secretary and federal treasurer and member of the Management Commission, was entrusted with the task of establishing a personal dialogue with the religious and attending to her needs for ordinary life. The response was the declaration of people "not well received" and the request for the presence of the Civil Guard.


  1. In this regard, it must be stated that the balances present in the monastery's current accounts to which we have had access are small and insufficient, so it is necessary to inject liquidity . The Federation of Poor Clares of Our Lady of Aránzazu has planned to transfer funds from other monasteries of this Federation so that there are sufficient balances to meet the ordinary payments that are charged to the accounts of the Monasteries of Belorado, Orduña and Derio.


  1. Faced with excommunication and expulsion from consecrated life, the ten ex-religious women lack the legal title to remain in the monasteries and attached offices, so they must abandon them. With even more reason, Messrs. Rojas and Ceacero, who were already informed via burofax on May 31 of the prohibition of permanence in these properties. If a voluntary departure does not occur in the near future, the legal services will have no choice but to initiate any legal actions that may arise . This is an especially sensitive issue because it conditions the Poor Clare sisters of the Federation being able to take charge of the care of the older sisters (who have the right to receive the sacraments and Catholic spiritual care), accessing the monastery so that Catholic monastic life is conveniently reestablished. and stay alive in this community.


  1. Also on June 21, the Archbishopric received a burofax sent by Mrs. Laura García de Viedma where it refers to the Management Commission, appointed by the Pontifical Commissioner and Legal Representative of the Monasteries to carry out the work entrusted by the Holy See, as an instance " constituted for mediation and rapprochement of positions in the conflict ." It is a particular assessment that does not correspond to the function of this Commission .


  1. Since May 13, we have been waiting to open a dialogue with the community. After various and varied attempts on our part, both institutionally and on the part of various people, the attitude of the community has not made any dialogue possible (it is worth remembering that they denounced the Pontifical Commissioner to the National Police, later they were ratified in the courts and expelled to two members of the Management Commission requiring the presence of the Civil Guard). After 39 days, the last two burofaxes were received on June 21 in which it is stated that " they do not recognize the authority of this Court, nor its jurisdiction over souls and even less over us ." It is an attitude that does not express a willingness to dialogue. Furthermore, spiritual and consecrated life issues , which are the most important and essential, are surprisingly left out of his considerations in these communications.


  1. From this it is inferred that the interest is reduced and focused on economic, patrimonial and real estate issues. It is necessary to remember that properties and immovables are ecclesiastical assets belonging to the monasteries as public ecclesiastical legal entities at the service of the community of Poor Clares who continue to inhabit these monasteries.


  1. Neither the Statutes of the Monasteries of Belorado and Derio, nor the Statutes of the Nuestra Señora de Aránzazu Federation to which these Monasteries belong, nor the monastic Rules, nor the general Constitutions of the Order of the Poor Sisters of Santa Clara include the possibility to alter the public ecclesiastical nature of the monasteries if it is not with the explicit consent and in the manner dictated by the competent ecclesiastical authority, in this case, the Holy See .


  1. The Agreements of the Spanish State with the Holy See establish that canonical legislation acts as statutory law in the capacity of religious entities to act , so in no case could the assets owned by the monasteries be considered as mere assets to be disposed of. freely from them.


  1. For this reason, with respect to the ownership and ownership of the real estate and assets of the monasteries, the constitution of any commission does not make sense , since the canonical and civil legislation in this regard, embodied in the Agreements between the Spanish State and the Holy Headquarters, is clear and exhaustive and there is no other route other than compliance with current legislation .


  1. The Church will continue to wait in prayer with its doors open so that these former religious women are aware of the truth of their reality and take the path back home, as the parable of the prodigal son expresses in a hopeful and consoling way, where they will be welcomed with love and mercy .
Previously, the Archdiocese released on the situation:

Appointment of the archbishop of Burgos as pontifical commissioner for the monasteries of Belorado, Orduña and Derio
May 29, 2024, 12:30
The Holy See appoints Mons. Mario Iceta Gavicagogeascoa 'Pontifical Commissioner ad nutum Sanctae Sedis' of the monasteries of Belorado, Orduña and Derio.

Today, May 29, 2024, the appointment of Sister Isabel as abbess of the Monastery of Santa Clara de Belorado expires. And this day was the day previously agreed upon with the Episcopal Delegate for Consecrated Life for the election of the new abbess.

This occurs after the declaration on May 13, 2024 of Sister Isabel (who claims to do so on behalf of the entire community) to leave the Catholic Church, signing a formal abandonment document, a so-called “Catholic manifesto” and placing herself under the jurisdiction of the Mr. Pablo de Rojas, with a request signed by the abbess herself on May 8 and accepted by Mr. Pablo de Rojas on May 10, 2024.

Faced with this situation, the Federation of Our Lady of Aránzazu, to which these Monasteries belong, requests the help of the Holy See, who in turn appoints Mr. Mario Iceta Gavicagogeascoa Pontifical Commissioner ad nutum Sanctae Sedis , granting him all the rights and duties that the universal Law of the Church and the Law of the Institute attribute to the Major Superior and his Council, including legal representation in the civil sphere.

To carry out this task of the Holy See, the Pontifical Commissioner appoints a managing Commission composed of the Commissioner himself, the President of the Federation of Our Lady of Aránzazu and his Federal Secretary (who will ensure the care of the community), the Judicial Vicar of the Archdiocese of Burgos (who will be in charge of issues at the canonical level) and the Director of Legal Affairs of the Archbishopric of Burgos (who will coordinate aspects concerning the civil sphere). They will have the collaboration of the Episcopal Delegate for consecrated life and the chaplains of the Monastery.

For this purpose, the collaboration of a professional office for the administration of the Monasteries and their assets will be requested and an audit and inventory will be carried out.

Likewise, if necessary, we will have the help of professional legal services firms, in civil, tax or criminal matters .

Late yesterday afternoon, a burofax was sent to Sister Isabel informing her of the end of her mandate and the appointment of the Pontifical Commissioner, with immediate effect.

Likewise, access and stay in the Monasteries and all their properties of Messrs. Pablo de Rojas and José Ceacero and any other person linked to the Pía Unión de San Pablo Apóstol will be expressly prohibited.

Sisters deserve the utmost respect and consideration. After a reasonable time has passed, on a personal basis, each of them will be required to express their will to continue or not belong to the Catholic Church.

The express and public renunciation of abandonment of the Catholic Church would place them, by free and personal decision, on the margins of the ecclesial communion. This entails the initiation of the corresponding canonical procedure. The consequence provided for by canon law, if he does not depose his decision, would conclude with the declaration of excommunication latae sententiae , which entails expulsion from consecrated life. We strongly trust that it will not be necessary to go to this extreme.

It is also our concern to ensure the well-being of the older sisters. We are aware of the careful care they offer them, although we are saddened that they are not receiving the spiritual care consistent with the Catholic faith that they have always loved and professed, and it will be a priority issue that will have to be addressed.

We must remember that the Monasteries, their properties and assets are ecclesiastical assets and belong to the community as a legal entity, not to its members as natural persons. It should be noted that, if the suppression of the Monasteries were decreed, due to not being able to comply with the provisions of the Instruction on the contemplative life (called Cor Orans) , all their assets would remain within the scope of the Federation of the Poor Clare Sisters. of Our Lady of Aránzazu, in accordance with its statutes.

We continue to pray, and we know that many people and communities are doing so, so that the sisters reconsider their decision and find their way back home. The Church awaits you with hearts of mercy.

These measures have been communicated to the Apostolic Nuncio, the President and Secretary General of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, the President of the Episcopal Commission of Consecrated Life and the bishops of Vitoria and Bilbao.