Vatican Expels Italian Nuns from Religious Life for Rebellion

The Vatican has decided to remove two Italian nuns from religious life who refused to leave the Monastery of Santa Clara in Ravello, Italy

Newsroom (10/02/2023 9:05 PM, Gaudium Press) Nicknamed “rebel nuns”, two Poor Clares, Sr. Massimiliana Panza (Italian) and Sr. Angela Maria Punnacka (Indian), were expelled from religious life after refusing to leave the convent.

The nuns were forced to leave the convent last February 3 after receiving a letter signed by Pope Francis. A third nun, Sister Maria Cristina Fiore, was allowed to stay in the convent because of her advanced age (97 years old) and her health problems.

The dissolution of the monastery

In 2021, because of the lack of vocations, the Vatican ordered, through the Dicastery for Consecrated Life, the closure of the monastery.

The nuns proposed that another religious community could be installed, which did not happen. In a last attempt, the three nuns were willing to cede the property to the Vatican in exchange for remaining in the Ravello convent.

The Vatican accepted the property, but the nuns were to go to three different monasteries in Italy, a decision they did not accept.

Evicted and expelled from the religious order

On the day of the eviction, Sr. Massimiliana addressed the townspeople who witnessed the scene: “Thank you to all who welcomed and supported us as much as possible, we were not transferred, but rather dismissed from the Order. As soon as we made the donation to the Pope, our transfer was decided. We didn’t want to take anything, we were born poor Franciscans and we want to die that way, but we had all the canonical rights to carry out this donation. Our superiors thought differently and we didn’t have the possibility to do anything against the dismissal”.

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As the religious’ lawyer, Fabrio Adernò, declared, the Vatican’s decision is “punitive” and leaves no room for appeal because it has the seal of the Pope himself. The religious are currently in the house of the relatives of Sr. Massimiliana Panza. The mayor of the city, Paolo Imperato, has also spoken out and said that he will continue to fight in order to establish “truth, justice and dignity to the virtuous ‘disobedience’ of the sisters.

The Ravello Monastery

Valued at between 50 and 60 million euros, the monastery of Ravello is located in a sumptuous area overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea. The monastery complex comprises a church, a residence for the nuns, a guest house, some ruins, and a large space overlooking the sea. In addition, thanks to donations over the years, the monastery has a hotel and three other local businesses that generate about 200,000 euros a year.

Compiled by Raunaq Luis Fernandes

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