Six Catholic nuns have been excommunicated for heresy after refusing to give up membership in a Canadian sect whose founder claims to be possessed by the Virgin Mary, the Diocese of Little Rock announced Wednesday.
The Rev. J. Gaston Hebert, the diocese administrator, said he notified the nuns of the decision Tuesday night after they refused to recant the teachings of the Community of the Lady of All Nations, also known as the Army of Mary.
The Vatican has declared all members of the Army of Mary excommunicated. Hebert said the excommunication was the first in the diocese's 165-year history.
At a news conference, Hebert said the nuns "became entranced and deluded with a doctrine that is heretical." He said church officials removed the Eucharist - which Catholics revere as the body of Christ - from the monastery on Tuesday night.
Hebert said the sect's members believe that its 86-year-old founder, Marie Paule Giguere, is the reincarnation of the Virgin Mary and that God speaks directly through her. Excommunication bars the nuns from participating in the church liturgy and receiving communion or other sacraments.