Schismatic Spanish nuns have last chance to avoid formal excommunication

Poor Clares Credit: Declausura Foundation

The Archdiocese of Burgos in Spain has granted an extension to the Poor Clares of Belorado, giving them a new deadline of Friday, June 21, to appear before an ecclesiastical tribunal and retract their formal declaration that they are leaving the Catholic Church, the canonical crime of schism, which entails excommunication.

According to the Spanish newspaper ABC, three of the Poor Clares — Sister Isabel de la Trinidad, the abbess of the monastery, as well as Sister Sión and Sister Paz — had to appear before the ecclesiastical tribunal of the Archdiocese of Burgos at the latest on Sunday, June 16. However, through an email they requested an extension.

Another seven Poor Clares who no longer recognize the authority of the Catholic Church and consider “H.H. Pius XII as the last valid Supreme Pontiff,” also face a canonical process with a deadline that was originally different but now is the same date, June 21.

According to ABC’s sources at the Spanish archdiocese, “depending on what each of them says individually, and once the deadline has passed, an evaluation will be made and we will proceed accordingly.”

The Poor Clares of the convents in Belorado and Orduña — under the ecclesial authority of the Spanish archdioceses of Burgos and Vitoria — announced May 13 that they were no longer recognizing the authority of the Catholic bishops and that of Pope Francis and that they were placing themselves under the authority of a false excommunicated bishop named Pablo de Rojas.

The ecclesiastical court of the Archdiocese of Burgos recently announced that the actions taken by the Spanish Poor Clares constitute “the crime of schism, defined in the Code of Canon Law in accordance with Canon 751, the penalty for which is provided for in Canon 1364 § 1, and that it carries with it the expulsion from consecrated life.”

Canon 751 of the Code of Canon Law of the Catholic Church defines the crime of schism as “the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church.”

Canon 1364 § 1 warns that the schismatic — as well as the apostate or the heretic — incurs “latae sententiae” excommunication (automatic), such that the ecclesial process opened against these Poor Clares could simply make official their state of excommunication or give them an opportunity to recant.

According to the Code of Canon Law, besides being excommunicated, the schismatic Poor Clares would be prohibited from “residing in a specific place or territory” and from “wearing the religious habit,” which means they would be forced to leave the convents where they currently reside.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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