Beyond the “lap-dancing nun”

The real significance of the closing of a Cistercian monastery in Rome

John Allen’s latest column gives some much-needed context and perspective on the Vatican’s recent closing of Rome’s Holy Cross in Jerusalem abbey – a story you may have seen earlier in the week under the headline “Pope shuts down lap-dancer monastery,” or something similar.

The story deserves a more serious look than it’s been given by many news outlets, Allen argues – he believes it indicates something important about the papacy of Benedict XVI:

For those with eyes to see, the suppression of the Cistercian abbey at the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem, one of the traditional seven major pilgrimage sites in Rome, rates far more than placement in a “news of the weird” column. Instead, it’s the latest chapter in what might be called a “Quiet Revolution” under Pope Benedict XVI, referring to a reform in clerical culture beginning in Rome and radiating beyond. …

Once upon a time, the working assumption in officialdom often was that if someone is doing great good for the church, then allegations of sexual or financial impropriety against them were likely bogus, and taking them too seriously risked encouraging the enemies of the faith.

Without great fanfare, Benedict XVI has made it clear that today a new rule applies. No matter how accomplished a person or institution may be, if they’re also involved in what the pontiff once memorably called the “filth” in the church, they’re not beyond reach.

Allen also offers some background on the abbey and its significance, and on the activities of its disgraced former abbot. Read the whole thing.


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About Catherine Harmon 572 Articles
Catherine Harmon is managing editor of Catholic World Report.