Argentina: Vatican Appoints Apostolic Assistant for Carmelite Nuns of Salta

Religious women file suit against Archbishop Cargnello for gender violence.

Newsroom (02/05/2022 09:00, Gaudium Press) The Congregation for Religious Life and Societies of Apostolic Life has appointed by decree an Apostolic Assistant for the Discalced Carmelites of Salta of the monastery of San Bernardo,  in their conflict with Archbishop Mario Antonio Cargnello.

In a statement published on 27 April by the Archbishopric, it is stated that the Dicastery has determined that the Carmelites “must in no way be involved in activities linked to the well-known “work of ‘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 work is related to alleged apparitions of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ since 1990 to a parishioner of Salta, María Livia Galliano de Obeid, which continue until today.

“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 cloister,” the text continues.

It is stated that, “allowing the lay faithful to reside permanently on the monastery grounds, to participate regularly in the life of the monastic community and to allow pilgrims access to the monastery grounds, constitutes a clear implication” of the Carmelite community in the affairs of the alleged apparition, the study of which corresponds to the Archbishopric and the Holy See.

“The monastery, by allowing the ‘seer’, Doña Maria Livia Galiano de Obeid, to reside on its own premises and by allocating some spaces for pilgrims, is clearly involved in this work against the wishes of the local church,” the Vatican stressed.

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The statement also indicated that although the monastery of St. Bernard “enjoys due autonomy”, the “bishop has the right to visit the monastery and the prioress has the duty to present an annual report on the administration of goods and the economy of the monastery”.

The Carmelites have lodged a complaint against the Archbishop

On 12 April, before the Office of Family and Gender Violence (OVFG) of the Judiciary of Salta, a formal complaint was filed by three Discalced Carmelites from Salta against Archbishop Cargnello for allegedly committing gender violence and harassment against the prioress and the nuns.

The Archbishop will testify before the judge on 3 May.

“What the complaint seeks (to rectify) is that the danger and acts of physical and/or psychological violence against the prioress and also against the other Carmelite sisters who are inside the monastery cease. What they are suffering is because of their condition as women. The inequality in the relationship of power is also aggravated by the hierarchical superiority that the Archbishop has at the ecclesiastical level,” Claudia Zerda Lamas, the nun’s lawyer, told Infobae.

In statements reported by La Nación, the lawyer for the Carmelites stressed that “the (issue of) harassment is not new; it is a state of suffering maintained over time, since 1999.” As a result of the nuns’ denunciation, Archbishop Cargnello and two other clerics have a perimeter restriction order and cannot approach within 300 metres of the monastery where 18 cloistered religious women live.

In statements to Aciprensa, Eduardo Jesús Romani, lawyer for the archdiocese, responded that the complaint filed with the Family and Gender Violence Court No. 3 “is generic and none of the facts equate to gender violence.”

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“[Msgr. Cargnello] is accused of moral and economic violence. It is clear that this situation does not exist nor is it documented in the records, because the relationship has always been based on the obligations that the bishop has to the Convent. We understand that the accusation has as its background the relationship with the so-called ‘Virgen del Cerro’,” the lawyer explained.

Compiled by Sandra Chisholm

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