Exploiting nuns must stop, says magazine

Exploiting nuns by using them for cheap or free labour must stop. The male hierarchy should stop treating them like lowly servants, a Vatican magazine says.

Lucetta Scaraffia, who is the editor of the Vatican magazine “Women, Church, World”, says “Until now, no one has had the courage to denounce these things.”

She says nuns work as cooks, cleaners and waiters for cardinals, bishops and priests.

The article is based on comments from several nuns.

They describe how some work in the residences of “men of the Church, waking at dawn to prepare breakfast and going to sleep once dinner is served, the house is in order and the laundry cleaned and ironed”.

In many cases, the nuns, who take vows of poverty, receive no pay because they are members of female religious orders.

They are sent to the residences of male Church officials as part of their assignments.

In the past, most of the nuns working as domestic help in male-run residences or institutions such as seminaries were local nationals. These days, many come from Africa, Asia and other parts of the developing world.

The article says what most saddened one of the nuns she talked to was that “they are rarely invited to sit at the table they serve”.

Instead, they are made to eat in the kitchen by themselves.

One nun said she knew of fellow sisters who had PhDs in subjects such as theology.

They had been, with no explanation, ordered to do domestic work or other chores that had “no relationship to their intellectual formation”.

Another pointed out that many nuns did not have registered contracts with the bishops, schools, parishes or congregations they worked for, “so they are paid little or not at all.”

One nun said that “nuns are seen as volunteers to have available at one’s calling, which gives rise to abuse of power.”

The article pointed out the experiences of such nuns could be transformed “into a richness for the whole Church, if the male hierarchy sees it as an occasion for a true reflection on power [in the Church]”.

Besides the described domestic work, several nuns have senior roles in Vatican departments that look after religious issues.

Pope Francis does not have nuns as servants looking after him.

Instead, he lives in a Vatican guest house which is run like a hotel.

He eats in the main dining room which is staffed by paid waiters.


Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , , ,