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HomeArticleVatican intervenes in conflict between Argentine archbishop, Discalced Carmelites

Vatican intervenes in conflict between Argentine archbishop, Discalced Carmelites

Vatican intervenes in conflict between Argentine archbishop, Discalced Carmelites

Archbishop Mario Antonio Cargnello of Salta / Archdiocese of Salta

By Diego Lopez Marina

Salta, Argentina, Apr 28, 2022 / 15:40 pm (CNA).

The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life will mediate in a conflict between Archbishop Mario Antonio Cargnello of Salta  and the Discalced Carmelite Nuns of Salta of the San Bernardo monastery.

A statement published on April 27 by the Archdiocese of Salta explains that the congregation delivered a series of instructions on the administrative management of the monastery, the obedience of the Carmelite congregation to the local archbishop, and what should be done regarding an alleged Marian invocation–popularly known as the “Virgen del Cerro” (Virgin of the Hill)–that the nuns are promoting without the approval of their pastor.

The statement explains that “the Roman Dicastery has decided to appoint an Apostolic Assistant for the monastery” after the Apostolic Nunciature in Buenos Aires announced April 26 the “completion of the apostolic visit carried out by the bishop emeritus of Santo Domingo, Martín De Elizalde, and the Reverend Sister Isabel Guiroy at the ‘San Bernardo’ convent.”

The appointment of the assistant will be made by “an immediate decree” in which the powers and the person appointed will be indicated.

The visit to the monastery of San Bernardo, which took place March 30, “was carried out in an appropriate, correct and competent manner, and the visitors exhaustively fulfilled the assignment granted to them,” the text states.

The dicastery determined that the community of Carmelite Sisters of Salta “should not in any way get involved in activities that are part of the well-known devotion ‘I am the Immaculate Mother of the Divine Eucharistic Heart of Jesus and I am the Most Sacred Eucharistic Heart of Jesus,’ nor support this activity.”

This devotion refers to alleged apparitions of the Virgin Mary and of Christ to Salta parishioner María Livia Galliano de Obeid, which began in 1990 and supposedly continue to this day.

The dicastery clarified that “it belongs to the local ordinary, or through him to the competent Congregation of the Apostolic See, to discern its veracity and authorize the practices of veneration in this context.”

“The community of the Sisters of Salta is obliged to strictly observe the rules of law in this regard, including the strict observance of monastic cloistered life,” the text continued.

The dicastery noted that “allowing the lay faithful to reside permanently on the monastery grounds, to participate regularly in the life of the monastic community, and allowing pilgrims to access the monastery grounds, constitutes the clear involvement” of the Carmelite community in the matter of the alleged apparition.

The nuns’ actions, the dicastery pointed out, go “against the will of the bishop and the priests of the diocese, which leads to a division of the local Church community and to conflicts to which the documentation refers.”

“The monastery, by allowing the ‘visionary,’ Mrs. María Livia Galiano de Obeid, to live on its own premises and allocating some spaces for pilgrims close to this context, is clearly fully involved in this work, against the will of the local church,” the congregation stressed.

The statement also pointed out that the community of the Discalced Carmelites of Salta “must fully live out the Carmelite charism, not a work that consequently leads to tense situations.”

“Therefore, a renewed formation is also recommended in the spirit of the Rule and according to the Carmelite tradition, observing its own tradition of monastic life. In dialogue with the local ordinary, a stable form of regular meetings should be instituted, which would serve to deal with problematic situations on an ongoing basis,” the text noted.

Another point mentioned in the dicastery’s statement is that, although the San Bernardo monastery “enjoys its due autonomy,” the “bishop has the right to visit the monastery and to receive, and the Prioress has the duty to present, an annual report on the administration of the goods and finances of the monastery.”

“The administration of the temporal goods of the monastery must be transparent and presented to the community in all its aspects, because the temporal goods are goods of the entire community and the Prioress and the bursar are only their administrators on behalf of the community,” the dicastery specified.

On April 12, a formal complaint was filed with the Office of Family and Gender Violence, which is under the Salta Judiciary, by three Discalced Carmelites from Salta against Archbishop Cargnello for allegedly having committed gender violence and harassment against the prioress and the sisters.

The case is currently in Family and Gender Violence Court No. 3, with Judge María Carolina Cáceres Moreno in charge of the case. The local press has reported that the Archbishop of Salta will testify before the judge May 3.

“What the complaint seeks is for the danger to end and the acts of physical and/or psychological violence against the Prioress and also against the other Carmelite sisters who are inside the monastery. What they are suffering is because of their status as women. It is also aggravated by the inequality in the relationship of power that hierarchical superiority entails, which the archbishop has at the ecclesiastical level,” the nuns’ lawyer, Claudia Zerda Lamas, told the Argentine news website Infobae.

ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language sister news agency, contacted the Archdiocese of Salta via email to determine its position regarding the accusation.

Eduardo Jesús Romani, a lawyer for the archdiocese, replied that the complaint filed with the Court of Family and Gender Violence No. 3 “is generic and none of the facts constitute gender violence.”

The lawyer said that the charge of “moral and financial violence” is being foisted on the archbishop. “Clearly this situation doesn’t exist nor is it documented in the file, since the relationship was always based on the obligations that the archbishop has towards the Convent. We understand that the background to the complaint is related to the so-called ‘Virgin of the Hill,’” he said.

Finally, Romani said that the archdiocese is “concerned about the situation of the nuns since we believe that they are being manipulated” by those who promote the alleged Marian apparition in Salta.

“This comes out very clearly in all the facts under study,” the lawyer said.

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