Archbishop Burke Disciplines Sister of Charity
She Participated in Attempted Ordination of Women
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ST. LOUIS, Missouri, JUNE 27, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Archbishop Raymond Burke has disciplined a Sister of Charity who has promoted and participated in an attempt to ordain two women to the priesthood.
Sister Louise Lears was accused of four delicts connected to her "encouragement of, promotion of and participation" in the attempted ordination of two women to the priesthood in November 2007.
The decree of extra-judicial adjudication regarding the sister was published Thursday, the day before the archbishop of St. Louis was named the prefect of the Apostolic Signature, the supreme court of the Church.
The Sister of Charity, is a member of the pastoral team at St. Cronan’s Catholic Church in South St. Louis, and a coordinator of religious education in the archdiocese.
A statement accompanying the decree affirms that, after a process of several months, the archbishop found the sister guilty of three of the four delicts of which she was accused.
"Delicts, which must be published in the Church," the note said, "are grave and external violations against the Catholic faith or moral teaching."
Sister Louise Lears is accused of four delicts: "1) the obstinate rejection, after written admonition, of the truth of the faith that it is impossible for a woman to receive ordination to the sacred priesthood (cann.750, §2; and 1371, 1º); 2) the public incitement of the faithful to animosity or hatred toward the Apostolic See or an ordinary because of an act of ecclesiastical power or ministry (can. 1373); 3) the grave external violation of divine or canon law, with the urgent need to prevent and repair the scandal involved (can. 1399); and 4) prohibited participation in sacred rites (can. 1365)."
The statement affirms that throughout the process, Sister Lear's "right to defend herself against the accusations was carefully safeguarded."
A text accompanying both the statement and decree reported that Archbishop Burke met privately the Sister Lears to issue a summons and canonical admonition, which is considered a warning.
Given that Sister Lears did not acknowledge that her public actions are against Church teaching, the archbishop has issued the penalty of interdict.
"This means that Sister Louise Lears cannot participate in public worship and cannot receive the Sacraments until she repents. The penalty of interdict is aimed at calling the persons away from their sin and to reconciliation with Christ and His Church," said the text.
Archbishop Burke ruled that the fourth delict is a "question of the competence of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith," so he has referred the matter that dicastery.
The archbishop imposed the following canonical penalties upon Sister Lears: "1) the penalty of interdict and 2) the prohibition of receiving any mission in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis, effective immediately.
"Interdict prohibits the reception of the sacraments. The prohibition of receiving any mission prohibits the holding of any Church position or the exercise of any apostolate of the Church in the Archdiocese of St. Louis."
The note says the "penalties are imposed for the purpose of bringing Sister Louise Lears to repentance for the delicts which she has committed and to reconciliation with the Catholic Church."
The statement continues: "Archbishop Burke expressed his sadness in imposing the canonical penalties which were necessitated by the refusal of Sister Louise Lears, even after repeated admonitions, to withdraw her statements and repudiate her conduct which have constituted grave delicts in the Church.
"The archbishop asks all of the faithful of the archdiocese to pray for the reconciliation of Sister Louise Lears with the Church."
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On the Net:
Decree of extra-judicial adjudication: www.archstl.org/images/stories/pdfs/decree_of_interdict_l._lears.pdf
Statement on the discipline: www.zenit.org/article-23045?l=english