May 27, 2011

Pope dissolves notorious monastery

by Jan Harris

Pope Benedict XVI took the unusual decision to dissolve the monastery of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem after an investigation discovered that the monks were responsible for financial and liturgical irregularities.

As the Pope is also the Bishop of Rome the Cistercian monastery comes under his jurisdiction.

Although Cistercian monks commit themselves to a humble lifestyle in a place of prayer and communion the monastery hosted celebrities,
including Madonna, who performed a concert at the Church of the Holy Cross in 2008 and meditated in front of sacred relics.

There were also reports of exotic dancer Anna Nobili performing in front of cardinal and bishops at the monastery in 2009, when she used a crucifix as a prop during her performance.

Ms Nobili, who subsequently became a nun, gained notoriety when a video of her appeared on YouTube.

The monastery was also found to have abandoned orthodox liturgical practices and to be responsible for financial irregularities relating to a gift shop which sold its preserves and garden produce.

A spokesman for the Vatican, Father Ciro Benedettini, said: “Their lifestyles were not in keeping with what one would expect of monks.”

The Pope’s decision to close the monastery signals his continuing commitment to eliminate corruption in the church and follows his efforts to address the scandal of the sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests.

The recent John Jay study into the scandal in the US has been criticised for linking the abuse that occurred in the 60s and 70s with the social and political climate at that time.

The feminist movement, popular culture, an increasing acceptance of homosexuality, an increase in divorce rates, crime, drugs and pre-marital sex are all cited as contributing to the climate in which the abuse occurred, a view that has been criticised as an attempt to deflect responsibility from the church.

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