Danish police are looking to question the mother superior of a Roman Catholic Cistercian convent in connection with allegations concerning the death of an elderly nun in 1993.
According to Danish police, Catholic authorities have helped police in locating Mother Superior Theresa Brenninkmeijer, who heads the Sisters of the Heart of Mary Convent in Sostrup, to Callau in Peru.
Brenninkmeijer was reported late on Wednesday to be expected back in Denmark on Monday.
Police are seeking to question Brenninkmeijer in connection with the death in 1993 of an elderly nun, who was suffering from dementia, and who is reported to have been ushered into an enclosed courtyard on a cold November morning. The nun died of cold soon afterwards.
“We have tried to get into contact with her, but have not been able to do so yet. But there is the time difference to think about,” says Police Spokesman Frits Kjeldsen.
Kristeligt Dagblad has reported that Denmark’s Roman Catholic Bishop Czeslav Kozon became aware of alleged problems at Sostrup at the turn of the millennium. He is reported to have previously told the Danish Broadcasting Corporation that he had, in general terms, suggested that his superiors at the Vatican should investigate.
“I felt it was enough to say that the convent had been severely criticised,” Kozon is reported as saying.
Berlingske Tidende reports that since 2001, six people have, independently of each other, asked the bishop to act in connection with the convent, but neither Kozon nor the authorities in Rome have found reason to remove Mother Theresa Brenninkmeijer from Sostrup.
The Cistercian Order of both monks and nuns is an order of reformed Benedictines founded in 1098. The first Cistercians came to Denmark in 1144 but the order disappeared during the reformation and Cistercian sisters did not return to Denmark until 1920.
The highly contemplative Cistercian order is generally divided into three observances – with the Trappists, also known as the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, as the most severe order.
The Strict Observance refers to the literal following of the Rule of St. Benedict.