The Vatican ordered four of five dissident Carmelite nuns Friday to leave the monastery where they have been barricaded for five months to protest what they call liberal changes in their austere life style, church officials said.
But spokeswomen for the nuns said the five would defy the eviction order and continue their protest. One said that their case already was being considered by a higher ecclesiastical court than the one that ordered the eviction and that, therefore, the orders were not binding.
Two of the women who had taken temporary vows, which have expired during the protest, were told that they must vacate the Monastery of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Mt. Carmel, the Paterson Roman Catholic Diocese announced.
The diocese said the two were no longer considered members of the religious order.
Two others were told they should seek residence in a different convent, and the fifth, a 71-year-old nun who suffers from heart problems, would be allowed to stay in the convent, said Tim Manning, a spokesman for Bishop Frank Rodimer of Paterson.
Manning said he did not know if the five nuns would be forcibly removed if they refused to leave.
“Nothing came here with a Vatican seal on it,” said another nuns’ spokeswoman, Betty Sutton. “It’s the bishop’s final trick to get them out.”
Five of the cloister’s 13 nuns locked themselves in the infirmary of their aged white-walled priory on Oct. 4 to protest the introduction of such things as television and sweets into their retreat.
The nuns, saying they wanted the monastery returned to the Carmelites’ traditionally austere life style, drew international attention. But Bishop Rodimer called the protest “attempted anarchy.”