Statement on Archbishop Burke's Discipline of Sister of Charity
Notes Her Participation in Attempted Ordination of Women
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ST. LOUIS, Missouri, JUNE 27, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is the statement published Thursday by the Archdiocese of St. Louis regarding Archbishop Raymond Burke's canonical discipline of Sister Louis Lears, a Sister of Charity.
The archbishop decided the case while still serving the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Today the archbishop was named the prefect of the Apostolic Signature, the supreme court of the Church.
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After a canonical process of several months, Archbishop Raymond Burke has, today, decided the case of Sister Louise Lears, S.C., a member of the “pastoral team” at Saint Cronan Parish, who was accused of four delicts, all connected with her encouragement of, promotion of and participation in the attempted ordination of two women to the Sacred Priesthood at a local synagogue in November of last year.
Delicts, which must be published in the Church, are grave and external violations against the Catholic faith or moral teaching. A list of several delicts is found from cann. 1364 to 1399 of the Code of Canon Law.
The delicts of which Sister Louise Lears is accused are: 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).
Throughout the canonical process, Sister Louise Lears and her canonical advocate have been given ample opportunity to review all of the proofs and arguments in the case, and to respond to them. In other words, Sister Louise Lears’ right to defend herself against the accusations was carefully safeguarded.
Archbishop Burke thoroughly reviewed, with the help of two expert assessors, all of the proofs and arguments pertaining to the delicts of which Sister Louis Lears is accused. He has found Sister Louise Lears, S.C., guilty of the first three delicts. Because there is a question of the competence of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the matter of the fourth delict of which Sister Louise Lears is accused, the Archbishop has referred the matter of the fourth delict to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
As a result of his judgment of the case, Archbishop Burke has also imposed the following canonical penalties upon Sister Louise 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 Saint Louis.
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.
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.