Women, Church, World’ highlights that nuns cook and clean for clergy for little pay.
The March edition of Women, Church, World, the monthly women’s magazine of the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, highlighted that nuns cook and clean for senior Catholic clergy for next to no pay. File photograph: Getty Images
A Vatican magazine has denounced the treatment of nuns as indentured servants by cardinals and bishops.
The March edition of Women, Church, World, the monthly women’s magazine of the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, highlighted that nuns cook and clean for senior Catholic clergy for next to no pay.
The exposé on the underpaid labour and unappreciated intellect of religious sisters confirmed that the magazine is increasingly becoming an imprint of the #MeToo movement within the Catholic Church.
One lead article said of the nuns: “Some of them serve in the homes of bishops or cardinals, others work in the kitchens of church institutions or teach. Some of them, serving the men of the church, get up in the morning to make breakfast, and go to sleep after dinner is served, the house cleaned and the laundry washed and ironed.”
A nun, identified only as Sr Marie, describes how sisters serve clergy but “are rarely invited to sit at the tables they serve”.
While such servitude is common knowledge, it is remarkable that an official Vatican publication would dare put such words to paper and publicly denounce how the church systematically exploits its own nuns.
Women, Church, World began six years ago as a monthly insert in L’Osservatore Romano and is now a stand-alone magazine distributed for free online and alongside the printed newspaper in Italian, Spanish, French and English.
Its editor, Lucetta Scaraffia, told the Associated Press: “Until now, no-one has had the courage to denounce these things. We try to give a voice to those who don’t have the courage to say these words.”
While Pope Francis has told Ms Scaraffia he appreciates and reads the magazine, it is by no means beloved within the deeply patriarchal Vatican system. Recent issues have raised eyebrows, including the March 2016 edition on “women who preach”, which appeared to advocate allowing lay women to deliver homilies at Mass.
One of the authors had to publish a subsequent clarification saying he did not mean to suggest a change to existing doctrine or practice. – Associated Press
In the past many nuns were treated as second class members of religious life by clergy and bishops.
While some nuns worked in professional roles like nursing and teaching many others were treated as "he were of wood and drawers of water".
There was even a distinction in convents between first class "choir sisters" who brought a dowry with them to the convent and so called "lay sisters" from poor families who ca.e without a dowry.
These second class ones were literally the unpaid servants of other nuns, priests and bishops.
In the past most bishops would have had three nuns as servants to do the washing, cleaning, cooking, laundry etc.
Thankfully in the Church nowadays nuns are regarded as having vocations and many of them are university lecturers, counsellors and part of parish teams.
There are enough people in the world needing paid jobs to do the domestic duties for clergy.
In fact many bishops these days have a lay PA as their private secretary rather than a priest.
There are so few priests and nuns these days that it in an absolute abuse for a bishop to have a priest or nun as a servant of any kind.
Priests and nuns should be fully involved in pastoral and evangelizing roles.
We often talk on this blog about priests like Timothy Bartlett who are "parish shy" - too good to be parish priests.
They want to sit around in offices all day hoping and praying to be bishops.