Police raid cloistered convent of Discalced Carmelites

Police raided a cloistered convent of Discalced Carmelites after a magazine published testimony from two former nuns, who claimed they were subjected to elements of torture and that the abbess wouldn’t allow them to leave the cloister.

After the police raid in the northeastern province of Entre Rios, Argentina in late August, the two nuns confirmed their testimony, leading to the abbess, Mother Maria Isabel (Luisa Toledo is her given name) to be investigated and called to testify by a local court, on the grounds of unlawful privation of liberty.

Talking to a journalist but keeping her identity hidden, one of the former religious said that worse than the physical torture was the “psychological” abuse because, she claims, the mother superior made her believe she was responsible for the evils of the world.

The religious sisters who made the allegations claim they had to “escape” the cloister, which they had entered voluntarily, one in 1988 and the second ten years ago. They claimed they had been forced to torture themselves, using a cilice – a barbed chain typically worn around the upper thigh, which has a long tradition in the Catholic Church.

It’s been used by many saints, including Mother Teresa, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Ignatius Loyola and St. Therese of Lisieux. It’s currently used by members of some religious orders and movements such as Opus Dei.

Maria Isabel was supposed to testify late last week, but she had the flu, so her testimony was rescheduled for the upcoming days.

The 17 Carmelites who remain in the convent have denied any abuse against them. Earlier in the month, they published a video on Facebook which quickly became viral, through an account that was later deleted.

In it, they explained that they were happy “to be brides of Christ” and called the allegations of tortures “an invention.”


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