The women are followers of The Voice of the Serviam, whose leader, Feliciano Miguel Rosendo da Silva and his right-hand woman, self-proclaimed 'nun' Marta Paz Alonso, were detained on December 11th on charges that included sexual abuse, money laundering and crimes against moral integrity.
The sect was previously called the Mandate and Order of Saint Michael Archangel, with Roseado da Silva changing its name when he was expelled from the Roman Catholic diocese of Tui in Galicia for “inappropriate behaviour”.
The sect had around 400 members at its peak, its choir singing for Pope Beneict XVI when he visited Madrid in 2011, but most of them left the group when Roseado Da Silva was expelled from Tui and moved to Madrid.
Roseado Da Silva’s arrest came a day after former members of the sect spoke out about the alleged sexual, physical and psychological abuse by the two leaders.
A woman who belonged to the sect said that Roseado da Silva claimed that “his semen contained the body of Christ, and this way he would purify her”, according to Spanish media reports.
But a group of women have remained faithful to the sect even after its leaders’ arrests, prompting their concerned parents to ask the Catholic Church for help. The families were due to meet with Bishop of Tui, Luis Quinteiro, on Wednesday to discuss the case and how they could possibly influence the 40 or so people still under the sect’s influence, to leave.
The 'nuns', who are self-ordained without the blessing of the Catholic Church, have been living in a group of around 20 followers in a house in San Lorenzo de El Escorial to the north of Madrid.
The parents maintain that the sect continues to receive economic help and said there were three priests from Madrid who had continued to support The Voice of the Serviam.
“The Pope knows,” said García, who trusts that Francisco I will weigh in to convince the followers to return home.
The families have received a letter from the papel nuncio, the Vatican’s ambassador in Spain, Renzo Fratini, who offered his support and put himself at their disposal.
The papal support, together with the veto by the Archbishop of Madrid against all activities by The Voice of Serviam has given the families hope of rescuing their daughters.