Stop using nuns as cheap labour : Vatican Magazine

Vatican magazine has denounced widespread exploitation of nuns for cheap or free labour in the Roman Catholic church, saying the male hierarchy should stop treating them like lowly servants.

The article in the monthly Women, Church, World is remarkable for an official Vatican publication – describing the drudgery of nuns who cook, clean and wait on tables for cardinals, bishops and priests.

The article, based on the comments of several unnamed nuns, described 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”.

It said their remuneration was “random and often modest”.

In many cases the nuns, who take vows of poverty, receive no pay because they are members of female religious orders and 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. But in recent years many have come from Africa, Asia and other parts of the developing world.

The author of the article wrote that what most saddened one of the nuns she talked to was that “they are rarely invited to sit at the table they serve”, instead being made to eat in the kitchen by themselves.

One nun said she knew of fellow sisters who had PhDs in subjects such as theology and had been, with no explanation, ordered to do domestic work or other chores that had “no relationship to their intellectual formation”.

The experiences of such nuns, the article said, 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)”.

The magazine, a monthly supplement to the Vatican daily newspaper Osservatore Romano, is written by female journalists and academics.

Only a handful of women hold senior positions in the Vatican hierarchy, including Barbara Jatta, who last year became the first woman to head the Vatican museums.

Several nuns have senior roles in Vatican departments that look after religious issues.

Unlike his predecessors, Pope Francis lives in a Vatican guest house which is run like a hotel and takes his meals in the main dining room which is staffed by paid waiters.

By contrast, the late Pope John Paul, who reigned from 1978 to 2005, had a team of five Polish nuns who ran his household in the papal apartments in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.

The household of former Pope Benedict, who resigned in 2013, was looked after by about eight female members of a lay Catholic organisation known as Memores Domini.

The entire March edition of the magazine is dedicated to the theme of women and work.


source: The Guardian

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10 thoughts on “Stop using nuns as cheap labour : Vatican Magazine

  1. This doesn’t apply to all but may be few…..and skso such issues shouldn’t be publicised but taken to the concerned people

  2. Well, based on all the comments I read, it shows a new beacon of hope that a second reformation has to be taken place in the Catholic Church.

    At the Ministry of Christ in the very short span of time, women have played cardinal roles. The lame excuse to keep the women as submissive and subordinates because JESUS selected only the men as the Apostles to preach the gospel is fully out of context. Like men, how any woman can go out of their villages for long at that time? JESUS has treated the women with love and respect. The first evangelist of the world telling the good news of HIS resurrection was a woman. Only the women were close to the cross of CHRIST at the last hours of HIS agony. The Nuns who are having a call for the ministry must have freedom to work in their specific calling, not controlled by anybody in the hierarchy.

    Man-made traditions will be challenged to reform in due time, and the due time has arrived.

  3. Ordain nuns as priests and bring them on equal footing with male priests. This is the need of the modern times.

  4. Nuns have always been treated in such way by the male religious in the Catholic Church. In order to justify their activities the cardinals, bishops and priests do the followings:
    1. They never read the bible properly to see how Jesus treated the women during His time,
    2. The caridanls, bishops and priests never recognize the women, and also of course the women religious as equal human beings. They always consider themselves superior and I feel that it is like a cancer in the Catholic Church not to consider the women religious have the equal special call from God to serve the humanity through the Church,
    3. Rarely the male hierarchies give explanation of some of the events from the Bible such as: the atory of Susanna from the book of Prophet Daniel Chapter 13 and the story of Adultery woman in the Gospel of St. John 8: 1-11. As moral the hierarchies tell the audience faithful that women gave temptation to men. But I feel in the story of Mary of Magdala Jesus must have said: “to commit adultery require male and female. You are accusing only the woman but where is the man/men? If anyone of you did not commit the same sin, throw stone at her.”
    Similarly in the story of Susanna Daniel was very bold in probing that Susanna was innocent by questioning the two elders who tried to rape her.
    4. There is no or rare real priests, bishops or cardinales who teach in the Church or in the catechisms after the sacraments are given to the children that during baptism we all (men and women) become priests, Kings and prophets. But in reality womenare deprived of these God given gifts just because Church hierarcies think themselves superior to the nuns.
    5. It is beyond my understanding why the three vows taken by male and female religious gives two results. By taking three vows the men because priests and women becomes slaves like to the male hierarchies.
    6. There are many more questions in these regards but the Church hierarcies are silent about it and when raised such questions, the issue becomes ‘sensitive’ to the hierarchies.
    7. Religious Vocation is a very personal call directly to the person from God. There is no hand of human beings. But how the Catholic Church hierarchies can decide that woman cannot be priests? There are women priests in other churches I know and they are very docile, faithful and close to the faithful. Some of their homoies dilivered are much better than many male priests or bishops. But never or very rarely the women/nuns are given the chances to preach in the Church.
    8. There is no work that the women/nun cannot do as those of men/priests,bishops or cardinales. Given the opportunity to women, they can probe themselves able to do any and every mental, physical and intellectul works in this world.

    Now that this Pope Francis is trying to bring many radical changes and the true spirit of Jesus, can we hope he will break all the barriers and promote justice to the women in the Catholic Church?

    1. Good comment but never generalise things. Even God created men and women differently unless you want to challenge God out of what he created. There are many religious communities which are not under authority for priests. Millions of nuns today are doing marvelous work in the world. The question is more of how can we live harmoniously and complimentarly to accompolish what Jésus entrusted to us. Just have a look of Jésus ministry, the role that women played. I think Jésus could have chosen women to be be his disciples yet he chose men who some of them denied et betrayed him.
      Men can’t and will never be women and their opposite is also true.

  5. The religious superiors should know that Christ calls and consecrates the nuns for a purpose not to slavery but to liberty of the children of God just like the men. Therefore they ought to appoint them appropriately in the apostolic work according to the charism of their institutes for the glory of God, but not for someone’s comfort for selfish ambition.

  6. Remember the priest from Kerala accused of “nun running” about 50 years ago, supplying cheap labour to the Europeans? I was in Italy at this time last year. Almost all the convents have a high proportion of sisters from India. Most of the monasteries and convents in Europe have been converted into guest houses.They even have a separate website Monastery Stay!

    How much more time does the clericalised Catholic Church require to read the writing on the wall? Are they like Nero fiddling while Rome burnt?

    1. One girl from our neighborhood went to a western country to be trained as a Nun; but she came back in a hurry and said that certain things she can’t tolerate, but didn’t say much about the reason, why she came back in a hurry. Then I felt some suspicion that there is something hidden with that issue.

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