Wednesday, July 05, 2006

American Taize?

Hard at work on my next Busted Halo piece (the first one for those who didn't catch it), here's something until I resurface: a group of Benedictine women out in the (People's Republic of) Madison has severed its ties to the church, seeking to become an ecumenical community a la the one and only Taize:

Sister Mary David Walgenbach, 67, prioress, says the center will now function purely as an ecumenical community under its new name, Holy Wisdom Monastery.

She said the Sisters of St. Benedict petitioned the Vatican for dispensation from their vows as a Catholic religious order and that request was granted. The order will now be called the "Benedictine Women of Madison" and will continue to follow, generally, the monastic rule of St. Benedict.

Bishop Robert Morlino, of the Madison Catholic Diocese, approved the changes but requested the monastery no longer have Roman Catholic Mass celebrated at the center and that blessed Communion wafers no longer be "reserved" in the chapel.

"Such experimental endeavors can bear great fruit for the church, such as the monastery at Taize (France)," Morlino said in a letter to diocesan priests dated June 26. "But there are very few other success stories worldwide, and thus our prayers and good wishes are all the more important."

Sister Mary David said there are a number of reasons for the change, one of which is the order started accepting Protestant members several years ago.

"We didn't want our non-Catholic sisters to have second-class status," she said. The Rev. Lynn Smith, a Presbyterian clergywoman, took her final vows to become a member of the order in 2004.

Morlino said Roman Catholic adults are free to participate in activities at the center, but added "participation in such activities would not be suitable for Catholic school religion classes, parish religious education classes for young people through the completion of high school and certainly not for catechumens and candidates in RCIA (religious study) programs."

Young people, Morlino warned, need to be indoctrinated in the basics of the Catholic faith before participating in ecumenical activities.

Quite interesting. Keep an eye....