Friday, May 27, 2011

Vatican Closes 500-Year-Old Monastery in Rome Over Worldly Lifestyles


Basilica di Santa Croce in Gerusalemme (the Basilica of the
Holy Cross in Jerusalem) in Rome has an attached Cistercian monks'
monastery which the Vatican has recently suppressed

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Former night-club striptease dancer-turned-nun Sister Anna Nobili in a jolly mood
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Sister Anna Nobili in a liturgical dance sequence
during offering of the Holy Mass in the monastery

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Pope Benedict XVI suppressed the Cistercian monastery, attached to the Basilica di Santa Croce in Gerusalemme of Rome, because of liturgical, financial and moral irregularities, reports the BBC. The suppression took place in last March after a Vatican inquiry, called “the apostolic visitation,” but was not made public, reports two Italian newspapers La Stampa and Il Messagero.

The Cistercian monks of this monastery are being transferred to other monasteries in Italy.

Vatican spokesman Father Ciro Benedettini said, “An inquiry found evidence of liturgical and financial irregularities as well as lifestyles that were probably not in keeping with that of a monk.” He also mentioned, “The church (basilica) remains open but the monks are awaiting transfer.”

Sister Anna Nobili, a former night-club striptease dancer, became a centre of controversy after she performed “holy dances” with wooden cross during the offering of the Holy Mass.

Several years ago, after visiting the shrine of St. Francis of Assissi in Umbria, she left her night-club dancing life and became a nun. In an interview to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Sister Nobili said of her former life, “I was wasting my life dancing for men in clubs. The nights were filled with sex and alcohol. It was an empty life but I liked it because I was the centre of attention. But my life has been transformed. I still dance but now I dance for God and I’m happy.” This Sister also calls herself a “ballerina for God.”

The monastery was generating controversy for some years. In 2009, Father Simone Fioraso, the showy abbot of the monastery, was removed by the Vatican to another monastery in Italy. The abbot was a former fashion designer who was able to attract rich and fashionable devotees of Rome for worshipping in the basilica. Show business worshippers also flocked there. Among them was the controversial American singer Madonna, who visited the monastery in 2008.

The Guardian of London reports, the Vatican’s recent removal of the monks to other monasteries, ending their 500-year presence at the basilica, follows Pope Benedict’s hard line with other wayward orders, including the Legionnaires of Christ, run by the Mexican priest Marcial Maciel Degollado, who fathered numerous children, was disciplined over sexual abuse allegations and was banished to a life of penitence.

The Italian newspapers speculate that the Vatican inspection suspected homosexual relations between monks at this monastery.

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