26 June 2008

Archdiocesan Materials on the Lears Interdict

The Archdiocesan website has posted some materials in addition to the decree that popped up there late this afternoon.

First, a statement about the Decree itself; this is not signed by the Archbishop himself, an omission that is perhaps significant:




After a canonical process of several months, Archbishop Raymond Burke has, today, decided the 

case of Sister Louise Lears, S.C., a member of the “pastoral team” at Saint Cronan Parish, who was 

accused of four delicts, all connected with her encouragement of, promotion of and participation in 

the attempted ordination of two women to the Sacred Priesthood at a local synagogue in November 

of last year.  Delicts, which must be published in the Church, are grave and external violations 

against the Catholic faith or moral teaching.  A list of several delicts is found from cann. 1364 to 

1399 of the Code of Canon Law.  


The delicts of which Sister Louise Lears is accused are: 1) the obstinate rejection, after written 

admonition, of the truth of the faith that it is impossible for a woman to receive ordination to the 

Sacred Priesthood (cann.750, §2; and 1371, 1º); 2) the public incitement of the faithful to animosity 

or hatred toward the Apostolic See or an Ordinary because of an act of ecclesiastical power or 

ministry (can. 1373); 3) the grave external violation of Divine or Canon Law, with the urgent need to 

prevent and repair the scandal involved (can. 1399); and 4) prohibited participation in sacred rites 

(can. 1365). 

Throughout the canonical process, Sister Louise Lears and her canonical advocate have been given 

ample opportunity to review all of the proofs and arguments in the case, and to respond to them.  In 

other words, Sister Louise Lears’ right to defend herself against the accusations was carefully 



Archbishop Burke thoroughly reviewed, with the help of two expert assessors, all of the proofs and 

arguments pertaining to the delicts of which Sister Louis Lears is accused.  He has found Sister 

Louise Lears, S.C., guilty of the first three delicts.  Because there is a question of the competence of 

the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the matter of the fourth delict of which Sister 

Louise Lears is accused, the Archbishop has referred the matter of the fourth delict to the 

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. 


As a result of his judgment of the case, Archbishop Burke has also imposed the following canonical 

penalties upon Sister Louise Lears: 1) the penalty of interdict and 2) the prohibition of receiving any 

mission in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis, effective immediately.  Interdict prohibits the reception 

of the Sacraments.  The prohibition of receiving any mission prohibits the holding of any Church 

position or the exercise of any apostolate of the Church in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis. 


The penalties are imposed for the purpose of bringing Sister Louise Lears to repentance for the 

delicts which she has committed and to reconciliation with the Catholic Church. 


Archbishop Burke expressed his sadness in imposing the canonical penalties which were 

necessitated by the refusal of Sister Louise Lears, even after repeated admonitions, to withdraw her 

statements and repudiate her conduct which have constituted grave delicts in the Church.  The 

Archbishop asks all of the faithful of the Archdiocese to pray for the reconciliation of Sister Louise 

Lears with the Church. 

Next, a Q & A concerning the matter.  In addition to the facts of the matter, there is this question:


The penalty of interdict seems harsh and divisive.  


An interdict is really an urgent call to reform one's conduct in the future. It’s classified as 

a "medicinal penalty" by the Church precisely because its main purpose is to bring about 

reform in the individual. Having certain actions punished by interdict demonstrates that 

certain actions are gravely wrong in themselves and cause deep harm both to their 

perpetrators and to others.  The hope of this interdict, and all interdicts, is that the parties 

will be awakened to their offenses and seek to return to full Communion in the Church


This is a public relations-type question and answer.  I wonder how many people who actually believe that the Church is the true Church founded by Christ and protected by the Holy Ghost would really ask such a question.  The Archdiocese should not be worried about the consequences for standing up for the truth.  His Grace has raised the standard, and we should not be afraid to follow it.  

And finally, the link again to the Decree, which was of up and down on the website at various times today.

1 comment:

StGuyFawkes said...

I'm most interested in "3.) the public incitement of the faithful to animosity or hatred toward the Apostolic See or an Ordinary because of an act of ecclesiastical power or
ministry (can. 1373)"

I presume that means the Advent Vespers Service in the rain last December. Am I right? Or have their been other published or public "incitements"?