Thursday, October 11, 2007

Riot police storm rebellious Polish convent


By Matthew Day in Warsaw
A rebellion that pitted an order of Polish nuns against the might of the Vatican has ended after police forced their way into their convent, evicting 64 people and arresting two.
With a battery of television cameras rolling, about 150 officers, many in full riot gear, moved against the Sisters of Bethany after they refused to comply with a court order requiring them to leave their convent in the small town of Kazimierz Dolny, south-east of Warsaw.

The eviction ended a revolt that dated back to 2005 when the Vatican sacked the then mother superior, Jadwiga Ligocka, after she claimed that she had had "private inspiration by the Holy Spirit". Attempts to replace her triggered the confrontation. Loyal to their spiritual leader, the Bethany sisters locked the doors of the convent, cut themselves off from the world and failed to follow the Church's orders. The rebels refused to comply with the Vatican's demands even when 10 of them were defrocked and the diocese banned the administration of the sacrament in the convent.
Faced with ex-communication, they adopted a siege mentality, hired security guards, changed the locks on the gates and shunned all contact with the outside world.
Cut off from the Church and without electricity, the women had to rely on food parcels brought by well-wishers and family members.
Officers used a ladder to scale the convent walls after the women had refused to unlock the gates.

While some of the black-habited rebels sang religious songs and played guitars, other hurled abuse and swore, according to a police spokesman.
The former mother superior and a renegade monk, Roman Komarczyko, whom police described as "very aggressive", were arrested.
Speaking on behalf of the Polish Church, Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek, admitted that the affair had damaged the Church but added that it had been left with no choice but eviction.
"It was the last resort that nobody wanted," he said, "but we had to do it."

No comments: