Nuns Exploited for Cheap Labor According to Report in Vatican Magazine

An exposé in a Vatican magazine Thursday revealed the plight of many nuns exploited as cheap labor and denounced the practice by the Catholic Church.

"Some of them serve in the homes of bishops or cardinals, others work in the kitchens of church institutions or teach," the article reads, according to the Associated Press. "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."

The magazine, Women Church World, is a monthly supplement of the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano. The article relied on the accounts of anonymous nuns who described working essentially as unpaid or underpaid servants to the men of the church.

Catholic nuns are part of different religious orders and typically take vows in service of religion that often include poverty and celibacy.

GettyImages-610335780 Roman Catholic nuns from the Missionaries of Charity prepare to take part in a walk to commemorate the life of Saint Teresa of Kolkata in Kolkata on September 25, 2016. The event was organized by The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Culcutta and the Missionaries of Charity to celebrate the life of Saint Teresa of Kolkata. Dibyangshu Sarkar/AFP/GETTY

“In the eyes of Jesus we are all children of God, but in their concrete life some nuns do not live this, and they experience great confusion and discomfort,” said one nun described as Sister Marie, according to The New York Times.

Sister Marie lamented that “[nuns] are rarely invited to sit at the table they serve.”

The article, “The (Nearly) Free Work of Sisters,” describes how in addition to often having to serve male members of the church, women’s work is undervalued in general.

The entire March issue of the magazine is dedicated to women and work. The magazine’s editor Lucetta Scaraffia, has long been an opponent of what she has called “misogyny” in the church.

GettyImages-671749398 French Benedictine sisters from Abu Gosh, an Arab-Israeli village near Jerusalem. Thomas Coex/AFP/GETTY

“Until now, no one has had the courage to denounce these things,” Scaraffia, told the Associated Press. "We try to give a voice to those who don't have the courage to say these words.”

Pope Francis, who is seen as one of the Church’s most progressive leaders, has spoken out about the plight of women. In a 2016 address, he said nuns should be working in service to the church, not servitude.

“Let these ... sisters go to the schools, into the neighborhoods, with the sick, with the poor. This is the criterion: a work that involves service and not servitude,” said the Pope.