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Nuns! Nuns! Reverse! Reverse! Reverse! Reverse!
—Father Jack in the TV series Father Ted[1]

Nuns are women living a monastic lifestyle. Nuns are found in several different religions, notably Catholicism and Buddhism.

Coincidentally, in fondue, the cheese that hardens at the bottom of the caquelon (pot) is called la religieuse (the nun), and is usually eaten once the rest of the pot is empty. Innocent gastronomy or ritual cannibalism? You decide.

Roman Catholic nuns[edit]

Nuns in Roman Catholicism are women who have taken solemn vows to renounce the material world by giving up all personal property, abstaining not only from sex, but from marriage, children, and family as well. After 1912, Roman Catholics distinguished between "Nuns" who remained in a contemplative state, and "Sisters" who still give up property and marriage, but who work in the world. These women often do "works of mercy" such as teaching, nursing, or missionary work.[2] There is also the concept of a "lay Sister," which is a woman who takes on nun-like duties for extended periods of time, without taking the lifetime vows of poverty and celibacy. All three of these terms are largely interchangeable in the popular media and with parishioners.

Definition of "mercy"[edit]

It is worth noting that what the majority of people would consider to be "mercy" is not always what is found when looking at Sisters and their various missions.

  • Mother Teresa denied the people she was supposed to be helping any true comfort or medical care, for "suffering makes us closer to God."
  • The Irish Magdalene laundries confined young women for a lifetime of servitude and forced labor washing clothes. These laundries were supervised by nuns of the Magdalen order.[3]
  • Religious sisters running orphanages have been accused of physical and sexual abuse of children in their care. Louisville, Kentucky is one example where there is a current lawsuit. Experts agree priests are more often guilty than women.[4]

Sexual exploitation of nuns[edit]

There are complaints that Roman Catholic priests exploit nuns sexually and that the Vatican does little to protect victims. This happens especially in the developing countries where women are conditioned to be subservient to men. In Africa, nuns are seen as safer than sex workers, as they are less likely to carry HIV.

Twenty-three countries are particularly notable as centers of nun abuse: Botswana, Burundi, Brazil, Colombia, Ghana, India, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Tonga, Uganda, United States, Zambia, Zaire, Zimbabwe.

Groups of sisters from local congregations have made passionate appeals for help to members of international congregations and explain that, when they themselves try to make representations to church authorities about harassment by priests, they simply 'are not heard'.[5]

If complaints are taken seriously, the nun is forced to leave the congregation with no means of support while the priest is moved to another area and continues as a priest.[6]

Leadership Conference of Women Religious[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Leadership Conference of Women Religious

The LCWR is an organization for American Roman Catholic Nuns, focusing on social work with marginalised people. The LCWR hold unorthodox views on issues like women's ordination, birth control, homosexuality, and masturbation. The Vatican is strongly critical of the group and may withdraw support. The LCWR is popular with ordinary Catholics and received the Herbert Haag Prize in 2013 for Freedom in the Church.[7]

See also[edit]