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The nuns who returned pregnant from missionary work reportedly belonged to two separate orders in Italy and had taken vows of chastity as is the tradition of the Catholic Church.
One of the women, who is 34 years old, learned that she was expecting when she went to the hospital with stomach pain, ANSA reported. She was transferred to a different order in Palermo and may leave monastic life to raise the child.
The other woman, who is a mother superior, left for her home country of Madagascar after she was determined to be one-month pregnant, the Italian outlet reported. Her age was not released.
“An investigation has been launched. They both breached strict rules of chastity but the welfare of their children is uppermost,” a church source told The Sun.
There is no mention as to whether the sexual interactions were consensual, and the Church has not said it is going to investigate that potential aspect, but it’s important to note that it’s a possibility that the women did not consent.
In February, Pope Francis, for the first time, acknowledged the ongoing sexual abuse of nuns by priest. He admitted that clerics have sexually abused nuns, and in one case they were kept as sex slaves. He said in that case his predecessor, Pope Benedict, was forced to shut down an entire congregation of nuns who were being abused by priests. It is thought to be the first time that Pope Francis has acknowledged the sexual abuse of nuns by the clergy. He said the Church was attempting to address the problem but said it was “still going on.”
A church source in Rome said: “There is consternation at this news. It appears that both women were back in their home nations and obviously had some form of sexual encounter. “The most likely outcome is they will leave their religious service.”
As the Independent reports, Salvatore Riotta, mayor of Militello Rosmarino, said he knew one of the nuns “well” and “regretted” the way the news had been leaked. He told reporters: "There is regret for what happened. Our community of 1,200 inhabitants is baffled by the way some have treated the news, not as secretly as it should have been.” The mayor added that the nun had taken her vows less than a year ago and was loved by everyone.