Nuns Say They've Had It With Being Treated Like Servants

'Until now, no one has had the courage to denounce these things'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 1, 2018 7:28 PM CST
Nuns Criticize Treatment by Church—in Vatican Magazine
In this Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016 photo, Christian nuns walk next to the Edicule during the renovation of the Tomb of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City.   (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

In a move that both the AP and Reuters call "remarkable," an official Vatican magazine run by women is directly criticizing the Catholic Church for its treatment of nuns in its March issue. "Until now, no one has had the courage to denounce these things," says Lucetta Scaraffia, editor of Women's Church World. "We try to give a voice to those who don't have the courage to say these words publicly." In an article written by French journalist Marie-Lucile Kubacki called "The (Nearly) Free Work of Sisters," nuns going by pseudonyms say their lives of service more often resemble indentured servitude, the New York Times reports. They describe days of cooking and cleaning—waking before, and going to bed after, the cardinals, bishops, and priests they serve—for pay that is "random and often modest," when they're paid at all.

The nuns say that beyond the money, the problem is their work isn't valued. One nun says they "are seen as volunteers to have available at one's calling," and that leads to abuse. Another says they cook for and wait on the clergy but "are rarely invited to sit at the tables they serve," and that's what hurts her the most. One nun talks about sisters with PhDs in theology and other subjects who are nonetheless assigned to domestic work. One sister says the problem is that the church still operates on the idea "that the priest is everything while sisters are nothing." The AP states that Women's Church World "is increasingly becoming the imprint of the Catholic Church's #MeToo movement." The March issue, centered on "Women and Work," also looks at the gender pay gap, lack of women in leadership roles, and more. (More nuns stories.)

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