Police evict ex-nuns from Polish convent

;KAZIMIERZ DOLNY, Poland (AP) – Dressed in their black habits, the ex-nuns sat on the floor of the convent, defiantly strumming guitars and singing religious songs as police in riot gear pushed through the gate of the walled compound.

Hours later, after mild resistance and shouted insults at the officers there to evict them, the ex-nuns filed out in defeat, some with guitars hung over their shoulders, others carrying tambourines or drums.

“Servants of Satan!” yelled some of the women – many of whom appeared to be in their 20s.

Police evicted the 65 rebellious ex-nuns Wednesday from a convent in eastern Poland that they had occupied illegally for two years after defying a Vatican order to replace their mother superior, a charismatic leader who claimed to have religious visions.

A locksmith was brought in to open the gate of the building and dozens of police rushed in, arresting the mother superior, Jadwiga Ligocka, as well as a former Franciscan friar secluded with the nuns.

The women took over the convent in Poland in 2005 after refusing the Vatican order to replace Mother Jadwiga.

“They were disobedient,” said Mieczyslaw Puzewicz, a spokesman for the Lublin diocese of the Roman Catholic Church. The Vatican formally expelled the women from their Sisters of Bethany order last year, but has reveled almost nothing about the dispute.

Lublin Archbishop Jozef Zycinski called the police operation a last resort meant to help the ex-nuns, who had closed themselves off from the outside world.

“Today’s police intervention was a sort of act of desperate aid for people who for the past two years have lived in very unusual conditions, in a closed environment, in seclusion, in uncertainty, where various forms of thought take shape,” the PAP news agency quoted Zycinski as saying.

“One could clearly see that tension and aggression during today’s intervention.”