‘These holy women need the fierce protection and ongoing support of Catholic laity in the face of a coordinated onslaught by this papacy to undermine, secularize, and monetize this cloistered order.’ Jim Hale / LifeSiteNews
Tue Nov 23, 2021 – 12:33 pm EST
FAIRFIELD, Pennsylvania (LifeSiteNews) — A community of traditional nuns have rejected Vatican instructions aimed at undermining their contemplative way of life.
Catherine Bauer, the official spokeswoman for the traditional Carmelite nuns of Fairfield, Pennsylvania, has given an interview to Catholic World Report explaining the situation of these nuns in the wake of a recent apostolic visitation that took place at the end of September. She described the changes being demanded by Rome since the publication of the Vatican’s 2018 instruction Cor Orans and made it clear that the Carmelite nuns at Fairfield and in Valparaiso, Nebraska “have chosen to stand up and fight.”
“We believe there are those in leadership in Rome who believe that contemplative orders don’t have a place in the Church any longer,” Bauer told Catholic World Report this month.
The Vatican instruction Cor Orans directs the individual contemplative orders that hitherto have been autonomous to join federations, thereby undercutting their individuality and their own charisms. The reform is to be done, according to this document, in light of the Second Vatican Council and “changed socio-cultural conditions.”
The Fairfield Carmelites include 25 nuns and receive about 100 inquiries per year. They have a hermit priest as their chaplain, Father Maximilian Mary Dean, who offers for them the traditional Latin Mass. They live a traditional Carmelite cloistered life with much austerity and many hours of prayer.
LifeSiteNews reporter Jim Hale interviewed Father Dean in October, and the hermit explained then that the September visitation aimed at undermining the charism of the traditional Carmelite nuns, essentially urging them to join larger associations, to open up their monastery to the outside world. Father Dean called this move, organized by Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, the head of the Congregation for Religious Life, a plan to “overhaul” contemplative orders. From his own experience with other tradition-minded orders such as the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, but also with the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration in Hanceville, Alabama (founded by Mother Angelica), he knows that these apostolic visitations are intended to undermine traditional ways of life in monasteries.
In her November 20 interview with Catholic World Report, Catherine Bauer explained how, under the new reform rules inspired by Cor Orans, the Carmelite nuns would lose their autonomy, their oversight of the formation of their novices, and their financial independence. “It gives officials in the Holy See access to the financial assets of the nuns and their properties,” she said. “It gives them the ability to take control of the monastery, evict the nuns, and then have financial control over the property.”
Furthermore, Miss Bauer also described some of the details of the recent apostolic visitation, during which the nuns were visited by two Carmelite nuns and one Carmelite father at the behest of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life in Rome.
One of the defenders of this visitation and a critic of the Fairfield and Valparaiso nuns is Sister Gabriela (edit nvp: world champion internet blogger and commentator of copious uncloistered comments) of the Incarnation of the Carmelites in Flemington, New Jersey. As LifeSiteNews has reliably learned, she has been charged with rewriting the traditional 1990 Discalced Carmelite Constitutions to conform with Cor Orans. Without disclaiming her prominent role in the Bergoglian reform of the Carmelite contemplative orders, she is now posting numerous articles critical of the Farifield nuns, trying to show them to be irrational and disobedient. She posted some of these articles on the website Wherepeteris.com, which has dedicated itself to defending Pope Francis against any critic who opposes his revolutionary agenda.
As Miss Bauer stated, the official reason the visitation took place was related to the transfer of a group of Carmelite nuns from a Philadelphia convent in 2021. LifeSiteNews reported that the traditional Carmelites from the Fairfield/Valparaiso Carmelite houses saw themselves discouraged from assisting a group of aging Carmelites in Philadelphia after Archbishop Charles Chaput had left his position and his successor, Archbishop Nelson J. Perez, had taken over. The younger nuns met with obstacles and were not able to continue to live out their traditional charism with the traditional Mass in Philadelphia, and therefore they left.
Miss Bauer explained the situation as follows: