Mother Judith Ann Heble OSB,
Moderator of the CIB
The Symposium of the CIB
17-20th September, 2014
A Symposium is held every four years for about 100 Benedictine women. The theme of the Symposium was ‘LISTEN... with the ear of your heart’ (Prologue to the Rule).
We had three approaches to the topic:
1. Listening to God.
Listening was examined from the perspective of the Old and New Testaments. The presenter for this session was Dr. Maria Pina Scanu a Scripture professor at Sant’Anselmo.
2. Listening in the Rule of St. Benedict.
This session focused focus on St. Benedict’s challenge to develop the art of listening with the ear of our hearts. Sister Aquinata Böckmann was the presenter on this topic.
3. Listening to the signs of the times.
To what is this time and our place in the world and Church calling us? How might we respond as monastic women? Sister Mary John Mananzan was the presenter. Her vast experience in the areas of peace and justice certainly challenged the participants.
Sister Scholastika Häring of Dinklage, gave a presentation on the development of the CIB and the implications of Canon Law. This is work that she is doing on her dissertation for a Canon Law degree. It will be most valuable for years to come.
There was a wonderful spirit among the participants. Everyone seemed to be engaged and enjoying the experience.
Goals for 2014-2018
On September 9th and again on September 18, 2014, the CIB Conference drafted and unanimously approved the following goals for the next four years:
Goal I: Promotion of Solidarity
We will be in solidarity with Benedictine moniales and sorores all over the world. In solidarity with weaker communities, we will promote mutual help through greater bonding, sharing of personnel, and spiritual and material support.
Goal II: Reverence for God’s people and Creation
.1. We will recognize the sacredness and dignity of all peoples especially in war-torn countries where Benedictine communities are located, where moral crises are deeply felt, where migrants and refugees look for shelter, and where violence and all forms of abuse take place.
.2. We will promote reverence for God’s creation in the world and encourage eco-friendly practices.
.3. We will commit ourselves to promote peace wherever we are.
On September 18, 2014, the CIB Conference held elections for a Moderator, Assistant Moderator and Administrative Council. Mother Thérèse-Marie Dupagne of Belgium was again elected Assistant Moderator, and Mother Metilda George of India was re-elected to the Administrative Council. Mother Franziska Lukas of Dinklage, Germany, was also elected to the Administrative Council. I was re-elected to another four-year term as Moderator. Our Statutes state that up to two more may be appointed to the Council. Mother Araceli Escurzon of the Philippines and Mother Martha Lúcia Ribeiro Teixeira of Brazil willing accepted being appointed to the Administrative Council. We will hold our first meeting in January, 2015, in Belgium.
April 29, 2014, some communities of moniales received a letter and questionnaire from the Vatican to those “who live the wholly contemplative and cloistered life.” It was issued to coincide with Pope Francis’ declaration of a Year of Consecrated Life, which will begin on the first Sunday of Advent, November 30, 2014, and end on February 2, 2016. The year is designed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the promulgation of the Decree Perfectae Caritatis, issued in 1965. Along with prayer and reflection during this Year of Consecrated Life, there is also the revision and development of some important documents related to consecrated life, specifically the 1950 document, Sponsa Christi. The Holy Father gave the Congregatio pro Institutis Vitae Consecratae et Societatibus Vitae Apostolicae a mandate to continue the development of a new Instruction on the Contemplative Life and on the Enclosure of Nuns that will update or replace the legislation presently in force, issued by the Congregation in the Instruction Verbi Sponsa, May 13, 1999.
The work of revision of that Instruction or the development of a new document will focus on three key issues:
1. Formation of Nuns
2. The Autonomy of the Monastery
3. The Cloister.
The contemplative nuns from around the world were to submit their thoughts and suggestions to the Vatican questionnaire on these topics by the end of September.
Needless to say there were a number of concerns expressed by the Benedictine moniales and sorores and the CIB took the time to deal with what would be the most effective way in which Benedictine women could respond to the questionnaire while respecting the different expressions of enclosure.
Sister Scholastika Häring was most helpful in outlining the issues of the topic of enclosure to both the CIB Conference and all of the participants attending the Symposium. On September 13, 2014, three moniales and one soror went to the Vatican and met with Monsignor Pepe Orazio of the Sacred Congregation to express their concerns and to offer the necessary clarifications regarding Benedictine enclosure as distinct from that lived by members of other contemplative Orders. Since not all of the communities of moniales received the letter and questionnaire from the Vatican, they asked for an extension to the deadline for submitting their responses.
On September 18, 2014, the CIB Conference unanimously agreed to send a statement on behalf of the CIB to the Congregation outlining the clarifications of who we are as Benedictine women, both moniales and sorores and recommending that the Congregation consider sponsoring some type of forum so that all of the major orders could provide input on and clarification of their respective charisms before legislation is updated and put into effect for all. The Abbot Primate gave his approval to our statement.
The CIB has published a new Catalogus. The last issue was 2006. Should you wish a copy, price €50, you can find an order blank on the CIB website: www.benedictines-cib.org.
The CIB website has been updated to include much information from our recent Symposium. You may wish to check it out: www.benedictines-cib.org