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Barricaded Nuns Still Awaiting Word From Rome

May 30, 1989

MORRIS TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) _ Four nuns who locked themselves in a monastery infirmary eight months ago to resist liberalizations in their austere lifestyle are frustrated at the Vatican’s inaction in resolving the dispute, supporters say.

″It’s been a long time, too long,″ Betty Sutton, a spokeswoman for the nuns, said Monday. ″It’s tiring, but they’re still hanging in there and holding their own. They’re not going to give in.″

The four nuns and another sister barricaded themselves in the infirmary at the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel on Oct. 4. They said they feared eviction because of their protests against a loosening of the cloister regime.

Sister John of the Cross, one of the nuns, left the infirmary earlier this year because of poor health.

The nuns are tired of waiting for the Apostolica Signatura, the Vatican’s highest court, to rule on the dispute, said Mrs. Sutton, a private benefactor who has taken up the nuns’ cause.

″They’ve kicked this thing around for almost a year now,″ she said. ″We’re going to start making some phone calls and try to light a fire under them.″

The Vatican has declined to comment on the case.

Tim Manning, a spokesman for the Paterson diocese, where the monastery is located, said church officials would allow the nuns to remain barricaded until they hear from Rome. He said he was surprised at the length of the dispute, but added that disagreements within the church are studied carefully before any resolution is reached.

″My understanding is that their operating procedure is very deliberate,″ Manning said. ″When they have an answer, they’ll send it, but they don’t issue progress reports.″

The nuns are protesting the decison of their prioress, Mother Teresa Hewitt, to introduce candy and television into the monastery.

The former Sister John is one of two nuns whose vows have expired during the protest. She is now known as Nicole Prescott. The other nun, the former Sister Bernadette, is known as Lynn Williams.

The other nuns are Sister Philomena, Sister Teresita Romano and Sister Maria Ercalano.

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