Nuns’ new chapel blocks gas pipeline route

Controversy over a gas pipeline’s proposed route through Pennsylvania has reached a new impasse in the form of a community of nuns and their chapel.

The Adorers of the Blood of Christ, who own a strip of the land earmarked for the pipeline, have considered it “sacred ground” for nearly a century.

Believing the pipeline poses a danger to God’s creation, the nuns have positioned their newly dedicated open air chapel just where planners want the new pipeline to go. They say it stands as a symbol of people’s resistance to the pipeline’s development.

The nuns have declined repeated offers of compensation from Transco, the project’s developer, to allow an easement for the pipeline to be built.

“This is something that we felt as a matter of conscience,” says Sister Sara Dwyer, coordinator of the congregation’s justice, peace and integrity of creation ministry.

“We had to look at it more deeply and take a stronger stand.”

Dwyer says allowing the pipeline through the property would run contrary to the congregation’s Land Ethic.

This upholds the sacredness of creation, reverences the earth as a “sanctuary where all life is protected” and treasures the earth’s beauty and sustenance that must be protected for future generations.

The nuns have also filed a civil rights lawsuit in U.S. District Court challenging the pipeline. They argue that the order authorising the pipeline’s construction and operation violates their right to practice their faith under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

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