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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides one Indiana case today

In KEVIN B. MCCARTHY, et al. and LANGSENKAMP FAMILY APOSTOLATE, et al. v. PATRICIA ANN FULLER, et al. (SD Ind., Lawrence), an 18-page opinion, Judge Posner begins:

These three interlocutory appeals arise from a complicated and acrimonious litigation, charging RICO, trademark, and copyright violations along with Indiana torts, that has been percolating in the district court for almost five years. The origins of the litigation go back to 1956, when Sister Mary Ephrem (born Mildred Neuzil), a Catholic Sister of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus (often referred to just as the Congregation of the Sisters of the Precious Blood), had experienced a series of apparitions of the Virgin Mary, in the course of which Mary had told Sister Ephrem (according to the latter’s report): “I am Our Lady of America.” The Archbishop of Cincinnati (the chapel in which Sister Ephrem experienced the apparitions is, though located in Indiana, under his authority) was convinced of the truth of her report of the apparitions, and with his support an elaborate program of devotions to Our Lady of America was launched. Our Lady has been credited with healing sick people who appealed to her for a cure, although whether either the apparitions or the cures are authentic has not been ruled on by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the body within the Roman Catholic hierarchy that is responsible for making such determinations.

Perhaps inspired by her visions, Sister Ephrem joined with other sisters within the Congregation of the Sisters of the Precious Blood in seeking to form a “contemplative cloister”—a “strictly cloistered house for members of the [Congregation] who were principally dedicated to a contemplative life.” In 1965 Pope Paul VI approved the creation of the cloister, in New Riegel, Ohio, designating it a “papal enclosure.” (We discuss the possible relevance of the designation later.) The New Riegel cloister lasted until at least 1977, when its three surviving members, including Sister Ephrem and Sister Mary Joseph Therese, left the Congregation of the Sisters of the Precious Blood and formed a new congregation that they called the Contemplative Sisters of the Indwelling Trinity, dedicated to promoting devotions to Our Lady of America.

The opinion concludes:
So, to conclude, the district court’s denial of McCarthy’s motion that the court take judicial notice of the Holy See’s rulings on Fuller’s status in the Church—the denial appealed from in appeal No. 12-2257—is reversed, with a reminder to the district court that federal courts are not empowered to decide (or to allow juries to decide) religious questions. The other two appeals are dismissed.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 10, 2013 01:11 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions