LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas, SEPT. 27, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Six women religious were excommunicated in Arkansas for their involvement in the schismatic association Army of Mary, based in Quebec.
The diocesan newspaper The Arkansas Catholic said that it is believed to be the first time anyone in the Diocese of Little Rock has been formally excommunicated.
“It is a painfully historic moment in this Church,” Monsignor Gaston Hebert, the diocesan administrator, said Wednesday at a press conference in Little Rock.
The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith issued a declaration of excommunication Sept. 12 for those associated with the Community of the Lady of All Nations. The association’s founder, Marie-Paul Giguere, says she believes that she is the reincarnation of the Virgin Mary.
The Vatican’s doctrinal congregation said in the statement that the group’s “particular teachings are false and its activities are not able to be frequented nor supported by Catholics.”
Of the 10 religious sisters of the Monastery of Our Lady of Charity and Refuge in Hot Springs, eight are members of the Army of Mary.
After receiving the Vatican’s declaration regarding the Army of Mary, Monsignor Hebert invited the women religious to reconsider their membership in the organization.
He returned to the monastery Wednesday and accepted the decision of six of them to leave full communion with the Church. The monsignor said two of the eight members are living in a nursing home and could not “knowingly and deliberately” choose to remain with the Army of Mary.
The remaining two sisters, who had never been associated with the schismatic group, will be moving to another convent, the diocesan administrator said.
He added that the women religious, who own their convent, will remain on the premises, although it will no longer be recognized by the diocese, nor should it receive the financial support of the laity.
Church officials removed the Eucharist from the monastery Tuesday night.
“They will no longer have any sacraments,” Monsignor Hebert said. Although those excommunicated cannot receive Communion, they are encouraged to attend Mass, he said.
The order of Our Lady of Charity and Refuge began in France in 1641. Its convent in Hot Springs was founded in 1908 by five French-Canadian sisters.