Archdiocese warns believers against attending church services in monastery

Convent of Poor Clares joins schismatic bishop

Belorado - An unusual step: A convent of 16 Poor Clares has left the Catholic Church and joined a schismatic bishop who does not recognise the Pope. In the background is a dispute over a property.

Published  on 14.05.2024 at 12:01  – 

In Spain, a convent of Poor Clares has joined a schismatic bishop. The superior of the 16 Poor Clares in Belorado published a 70-page manifesto in which she explains the reasons for the break with the Catholic Church, Spanish media reported on Monday. They would leave the "Council Church" because, in their opinion, all popes after Pius XII were "heretical usurpers", according to the document. Since Monday, the Santa Clara convent in Belorado has been under the protection and jurisdiction of Bishop Pablo de Rojas Sánchez-Franco. The nuns describe Rojas as the "legitimate bishop of the Holy Catholic Church", although he was excommunicated in 2019 by the then Bishop of Bilbao, Mario Iceta. Iceta is now Archbishop of Burgos, where the Poor Clares monastery is located.

The Spaniard Rojas is a well-known sedevacantist who has been in contact with the Pius Brothers since his school days. He is of the opinion that all popes since the opening of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) have been illegitimately at the head of the Church and that the chair of St Peter is therefore vacant. Following contacts with the schismatic Palmarian Catholic Church in Spain, Rojas founded an association of priests in 2005 that is based on the statutes of Opus Dei founder José María Escrivá de Balaguer, which were in force before the rules were officially recognised by Pope John Paul II in 1982. The schismatic bishop does not recognise sacraments administered outside his community. In 2006, he received an invalid episcopal ordination in Cologne, followed a few years later by another ordination by a bishop in the lineage of the Vietnamese schismatic Ngô Dình Thuc. In 1976, the Roman Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith declared that it did not recognise the ordinations administered by Ngô. Experts characterise the association founded by Rojas as a Christian sect that glorifies the late Spanish dictator Francisco Franco.

The Poor Clares' break with the Catholic Church was preceded by years of financial and property disputes. In 2020, the convent signed a purchase agreement for a vacant convent in the neighbourhood worth 1.2 million euros. Regular instalment payments by the Poor Clares were agreed with the nuns who own the convent and the Archbishopric of Burgos. However, the convent failed to make the payments, which is why it was sued for damages. In her manifesto, the superior of the Poor Clares complained of unjust behaviour towards her convent. "Contradictions, duplicity and confusion" prevailed in the archdiocese of Burgos. The archdiocese called on the faithful not to attend church services in the Poor Clares convent or to receive the sacraments there. The Poor Clares made a name for themselves in Spain a few years ago with their production of mojito sweets. Their convent is located in central Spain on the Way of St James. (rom)