A dozen residents of Belorado (Burgos) were unable to attend daily mass on Monday afternoon in the church of the Monasterio de las Clarisas. The religious community, which also includes the Poor Clares of Orduña (Vizcaya), announced hours before the surprising decision to leave the Catholic Church.

The letter, signed by the mother abbess Sister Isabel de la Trinidad on behalf of the nuns of the community, states that both convents will become under the tutelage and jurisdiction of Pablo de Rojas Sánchez-Franco and his so-called Pía Unión Sancti Pauli Apostoli, that are not in communion with Rome and whose founder was excommunicated in 2019. Excommunication decreed by the then bishop of Bilbao, Mario Iceta, who now, in his current capacity as archbishop of Burgos, has informed the Holy See of the intention to this community of religious women to leave the Church.

In addition, he has ordered the chaplain not to celebrate the Eucharist in the monastery for the moment, and he has asked the faithful to refrain from participating in any liturgical act carried out in the Monastery of Santa Clara de Belorado or in the Monastery of Santa Clara de Orduña.

Despite this, some out of ignorance and others to see what was happening, a group of around twelve residents of Belorado came, as usual, to attend the mass that is usually celebrated at 6:00 p.m., by the chaplain, with the church open to parishioners.

Witnesses explained that, however, they found the access gate to the grounds of the Monastery of the Clarisas, flanked by a sign indicating that it is private property, closed but without a lock, so the neighbors accessed the interior to the door of the church, which they found, this one, closed “tight and tight.”

Civil Guard agents also arrived there, as explained by the witnesses, alerted by the religious community itself, after they had accessed the premises, whose door service trucks have also crossed because, they have insisted, it was not locked.

The announcement of the religious community of Clarisas by 15 nuns to leave the Catholic Church has come unexpectedly to Belorado, but has also caused surprise in the Archbishopric of Burgos and the Bishopric of Vitoria, which have signed a joint statement, in which who have rejected the accusations of the Poor Clares.

They have also explained that, following the notice from the president of the Federation of Our Lady of Aránzazu (Province of Cantabria – Hermanas Clarisas), to which the community of Belorado belongs, on April 13 of suspicion of a possible commission of a crime of schism, according to the Code of Canon Law, an investigation was opened.

And they have reminded the nuns that, if they confirm their decision to abandon the discipline of the Church, they could be accused of a crime of schism that could be punished with excommunication, the same as if the Eucharists are officiated by an alleged unaccredited priest, as could have happened this afternoon, behind closed doors, although it is not confirmed.

The origin of the Poor Clares’ decision would be the “persecution” that, according to their complaint, they suffer from superiors, pastors, sisters and priests, as exemplified, according to their statement, by Rome’s decision to “block” their request to be able to sell a convent that they own and that is empty in Derio, in Vizcaya, in order to be able to face the purchase of the monastery of Orduña, belonging to the Diocese of Vitoria and with which they had a purchase and sale agreement.

By not obtaining permission to sell the monastery of Derio, they proposed as an alternative that a buyer outside the order pay the million euros that is pending for the purchase of the monastery of Orduña, so that, when they could return that money, the benefactor transferred the convent to the Poor Clares. However, the operation was not closed due to doubts from the Diocese regarding the identity of the proposed buyer, which led to the termination of the purchase and sale agreement by the Diocese of Vitoria.

The Belorado community then requested compensation of 1.6 million euros for alleged works carried out, a claim that is currently in court.