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Nuns in Burgos and Vizcaya break with the Pope and the Catholic Church: "They will call us heretics and madwomen"
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Nuns in Burgos and Vizcaya break with the Pope and the Catholic Church: "They will call us heretics and madwomen"

These 16 nuns show their loyalty to Pablo de Rojas Sánchez-Franco, excommunicated by the former bishop of Bilbao

Julio César Rico

Burgos

Friday, 17 May 2024, 13:02

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The nuns from the Poor Clares convent of Belorado and Orduña (Vizcaya province) are on the verge of completing a schism similar to the rift provoked by the infamous case of the sect set up by Clemente de Palmar de Troya in 2021, who took over a church in Utrera (Seville) and declared himself Pope. The abbess of the Belorado convent, Sister Isabel de la Trinidad, has disassociated her community in Burgos and that of Orduña from the Catholic Church to continue following Pablo de Rojas, a former priest who was excommunicated in Bilbao by the now Archbishop of Burgos, Mario Iceta.

Events came to a head last Monday evening at 6pm, when the scheduled mass was celebrated by an unknown person, a certain José, who was sent to the Belorado community by Pablo de Rojas. With the schism (official separation from the church) being consummated, the nuns of Belorado risk excommunication, like the aforementioned Pablo de Rojas.

The split involves a number of different, questionable matters that are ongoing. In the middle it all is an unsuccessful purchase of the order's convent in Orduña for 1.2 million euros in October 2020, which was to be paid for in half-yearly instalments of 75,000 euros. Those payments were never made as the Vatican had blocked the sale of another abandoned property that would have funded the purchase.

Furthermore, the Belorado nuns, in a five-page open letter signed by Sister Isabel de la Trinidad, renounced the Catholic Church in Rome. Then they consecrated themselves to the religious jurisdiction of Pablo de Rojas Sánchez-Franco, who in turn claims to have been ordained as a priest by the former Jesuit Derrek Schell, a consecrated bishop involved in the Palmar de Troya case.

The plot thickens as these two sets of circumstances seem to have a lot of crossover between them. Add to that the fact that Sister Isabel de la Trinidad is canonically ineligible to stand for re-election as abbess by mandate of the order's rules and begs the question as to her personal motives for the schism.

The archbishop of Burgos, Mario Iceta, said at a recent press conference that the abbess had not contacted him at all, and that he was forced to turn to the parish priest of Belorado, Ángel Santamaría, for an explanation. The only thing he managed to find out prior to the event was that "a certain Don José" would officiate at the mass where the schism was announced last Monday.

In view of this situation, Iceta has urged the faithful "to abstain from participating in any liturgical act" that takes place in the monastery of Santa Clara de Belorado and in the monastery of Orduña.

Who is Pablo de Rojas?

Behind all this intrigue there is some truth, albeit a strange, somewhat complicated truth. When Mario Iceta was bishop of Bilbao, he was instructed by the Holy See (the Vatican) to excommunicate Pablo de Rojas.

From Bilbao, this man was known for being both outlandish and withdrawn while in training at the seminary. He was ordained a bishop and joined the Pious Union of St. Paul the Apostle as "the only true church of Christ". He refers to the Church of Rome as "the sect of the cabal".

It is more the open letter, composed like a manifesto and supposedly written by Isabel de la Trinidad, that sets out in detail the whole sectarian doctrine of Pablo de Rojas.

Could the root of the Belorado problem be Rojas' revenge against Iceta? This is something that is not known with any certainty. What it certainly is at present is another scene in this unfolding drama that has the nuns of Belorado made to be supporting actors.

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