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Ascension Thursday     
May 17, 2007     

Dear Sister --, CMRI,

During the last twelve years of my Superior Generalship, it has been well-known to all the members of our Congregation — CMRI priests, brothers, and sisters — that I have not micro-managed the activities or affairs of any religious. If anything be said, it is that my involvement was limited to those matters to which I was strictly obliged.

Now it is no secret to both religious and laity that there has arisen a division in the Sisters’ Congregation, due to a change in some of the Sisters' theological position (these Sisters now recognize Benedict XVI as a true pope, and accept the validity of the Novus Ordo and the legitimacy of the Second Vatican Council). Such an opinion is contrary to the position the Congregation has always held.

Rev. Mother Marie De Lourdes has sought to maintain unity among the Sisters and has found consolation in a quote from Pope Benedict XV (Nov. 1, 1914):

“As regards matters in which without harm to faith and discipline — in the absence of any authoritative intervention of the Apostolic See — there is room for divergent opinions, it is clearly the right of anyone to express and defend their own opinion.”

I believe that Rev. Mother, with all the best of intentions, has not considered fully the words “WITHOUT HARM TO FAITH AND DISCIPLINE.”

Is there “harm to faith and discipline” within the Sisters’ Congregation with this issue of the papacy and where the magisterium of the Church is today?

The CMRI priests and I as well as the majority of Religious consider there is harm, because the issue of the papacy and the magisterium is essential to the Catholic Faith. Since Vatican II the errors of false ecumenism, religious indifferentism and religious liberty (errors explicitly condemned by the Catholic Church) have permeated the Modern Church. In the Apostles’ Creed, when we recite, “I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Catholic Church,” we are reminded that the Holy Ghost abides with the Catholic Church and protects her from error. The Holy Ghost has not failed the Church; the Modern Church is simply not the Catholic Church.

Consider the following:

  1. Our Congregation’s very existence is based on the vacancy of the Apostolic See.
  2. The CMRI Sisters will be divided on which laws of the Church to follow; will they follow the 1917 Code of Canon Law (pre- Vatican II) promulgated by Pope Benedict XV or the 1983 Code of Canon Law (post Vatican II) promulgated by John Paul II?
  3. Some of the Sisters who recognize Benedict XVI and the Novus Ordo have spoken against the theological position of the Congregation to the laity.
  4. One of the CMRI Sisters (who does support the Congregation’s theological position) aptly responsed to the Sisters’ questionaire:

    “In addition, and importantly to me as a final professed member of the Congregation, I feel that my vow of obedience is compromised if the governing members of the Congregation do not hold the sedevacantist position.

    “1. Because if Benedict XVI or a future ‘pope’ were to make some mandate that a superior felt was lawful, I would be bound by vow to obey her... yet she obeys a man I don't consider to be the pope...

    “2. Even if such were not the case, I feel that those who recognize the V2 popes as valid, yet do not obey them, have a different understanding of obedience than I have. It would be difficult for me to respect and obey someone who could call a man the pope and not obey him. I would not fully trust their understanding of obedience, and for this reason again, feel my vows are compromised.”

Over the past few weeks, all the CMRI priests and the majority of CMRI Religious have petitioned me for some type of peaceful resolve to this situation.

After much prayer, with the unanimous agreement of the CMRI priests, and with the agreement of the majority of CMRI Religious, as the Superior General of CMRI and as the Bishop of the same Congregation, I settle this matter in the following manner:

  1. Any CMRI Sisters who do not agree — in writing — with the theological position of CMRI will be no longer allowed to teach in any CMRI schools, nor to teach catechism, nor to be in any position of authority in the Congregation (effective June 27, 2007).
  2. Any CMRI Sisters who will continue to speak or act against the theological position of CMRI, whether in public or private, will be required to leave the Congregation (effective June 27, 2007).
  3. Any CMRI Sisters who do not hold to the CMRI position and yet will not speak or act against it will be allowed to stay.

There is no greater contradiction today than for any member of CMRI to attempt “to serve two masters” — to recognize Benedict XVI and to remain in a Congregation separated from him. The issue of the papacy is the crux of the matter and the CMRI Sisters need to decide whether they will belong to CMRI or not.

Please be assured of my prayers for each and every one of you. You are more than welcome to call me if you have any questions. I will be in Spokane at the end of May and early June and welcome any questions or concerns you may have.

With my prayers,
Sincerely in Christ,

Most Rev. Mark A. Pivarunas, CMRI

* Statement of Agreement to CMRI’s Theological Position
   (to be signed by all CMRI Sisters who teach or hold positions of authority)

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Bishop Mark A. Pivarunas, CMRI
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