The March edition of an official Vatican magazine is taking aim at the longtime mistreatment of nuns in the Catholic Church, painting mundane portraits of the lives of sisters who are doomed to forever spending their lives in the servitude of male members of the church. The article appeared in Women Church World, a monthly magazine written and edited primarily by women that accompanies the Vatican’s official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.
The article, titled “The (nearly) free work of sisters,” tells the stories of nuns who are required to work long hours for cardinals and bishops inside the church, and for all of their diligent labor are then treated like second-class citizens. Their names are changed for the sake of protecting their identities.
“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 passage of the article reads, according to The Associated Press.
One nun, Sister Marie, lamented that the sisters, though they carry out their duties loyally, “are rarely invited to sit at the tables they serve.” The treatment nuns receive, the article suggests, is tantamount to indentured servitude, not to mention is fueled by what appears to be institutionalized sexism.
“Behind all this is the unfortunate idea that women are worth less than men, and above all that priests are everything in the church while sisters are nothing,” another nun, Sister Paul, is quoted as having said in the article.
“Until now, no one has had the courage to denounce these things,” the magazine’s editor, Lucetta Scaraffia, told The Associated Press. “We try to give a voice to those who don’t have the courage to say these words” openly, she added.
“Inside the church, women are exploited,” Scaraffia said.