RELIGION: The convent of the Little Sisters of Mary in Saint-Aignan-sur-Roë (Mayenne) has lost most of its members because of a disagreement with their authority
The diocese of Laval announced Tuesday the departure of 29 of the 35 sisters of their congregation, the Little Sisters of Mary, a rare fact linked to “deep disagreements” between the institute and the Bishop of Laval. “The Church, unable to hold sisters against their will or to accept modes of government contrary to the spirit of the Gospel or the good of the people, has therefore granted the departure of 29 sisters out of 35”, indicates the diocese in a statement.
Several years of conflict
“Despite many efforts of mediation, no solution could be found”, justifies the diocese which evokes departures related to “deep disagreements [which] arose between the convent of the Little Sisters of Mary and Mgr Scherrer, bishop of Laval, their ecclesiastical superior, about the government exercised in the convent. ”
Disagreements that date back several years and relate as much to the management of the three Ehpad nursing homes under the responsibility of the Little Sisters of Mary as the way of life in the congregation of Saint-Aignan-sur-Roë (Mayenne). The nuns would indeed be considered too conservative . “We understood that the ecclesiastical authorities also wanted us to change the way we live our religious life, as current directions …”, deplore the sisters in a statement.
They wanted a new superior
Placed in 2017 under the authority of a Roman congregation, a sister-aid woman has been appointed “apostolic commissioner” and “temporarily exercises the government of the congregation with a view to returning to full autonomy”.
But according to the diocese, “some Little Sisters initially refused to receive the apostolic commissioner. And “the sisters decided unilaterally to stop (her) mission” and “to organize a chapter to name a new superior, a chapter that is not canonically valid,” the diocese emphasizes.
The Vatican is honouring their wishes
The sisters “asked to be relieved of their vows” and “the Holy See answered them by emphasizing the seriousness and the consequences of their request. They have maintained their demand, “reports the diocese. “We are deeply bruised and remain painfully surprised that Rome has preferred to grant this request rather than to access the solutions of appeasement that we had proposed and which were within our reach,” regret the sisters.
At the end of a withdrawal period, “the convent is now composed of six sisters” and “is not dissolved”, indicates the diocese which emphasizes that the nuns will be accompanied financially by their convent.