Holy baby! How does this happen?
A nun in Italy gave birth to a baby boy in January
Compared to the 19th century, outward sexuality and having sex before marriage has gained a greater acceptance in society as a whole. But is this increasing acceptance also affecting chastity vows in the Roman Catholic community?
Roxana Rodriguez, Salvadorian nun in her 30s, recently gave birth in Reiti, Italy on Jan. 15, 2014. This is a shocking occurrence, as nuns are Roman Catholic women who take vows of poverty, obedience and chastity. The chastity vow specifically allows a nun to lead a comparable life to Jesus Christ, who remained chaste in able to devote his life and love to God.
Rev. Martin X. Moleski, professor of religious studies and theology at Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y., still viewed the chastity vow as important.
“In religious life under the vow of celibacy, there is no conflict between a spouse or children, and the needs of the community,” he said.
Before giving birth, Rodriguez lived at the Little Disciples of Jesus convent in Campomoro and devoted her time, along with the other sisters, managing and supporting a senior citizen’s living facility. Moleski’s statement corresponds with this idea of nuns devoting their life to God and the community, and in able to do so fully, remaining single and chaste is essential so no outward forces intervene in their chosen and dedicated professions.
Rodriguez claimed she wasn’t aware of her pregnancy, but she was rushed to the hospital due to severe stomach cramps. She was quoted by an Italian news agency: “I did not know I was pregnant. I only felt a stomach pain.” She named her baby boy Francesco, after the current Pope, Pope Francis.
According to the Inquisitr, Rodriguez became a nun in September 2012 and hadn’t taken her vows until recently. The Inquisitr also had information about an interview with Father Benedetto Falcetti, a priest at St. Michaels Church, in Reiti. In the interview, Father Falcetti said Rodriguez had traveled back to her hometown in El Salvador to renew her passport in the spring of 2013. Speculation has emerged with the assumption that Rodriguez may have had an affair with a childhood sweetheart during this time, resulting in her pregnancy. Sister Erminia, head of the Little Disciples of Jesus convent was also quoted. She said, “It seems she was not able to resist temptation.”
Charles Zola, a professor at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, N.Y., agreed with the idea that societal ideas have an affect on celibacy.
“American society says that money, sex and independence from authority is the best way of life,” he said. “It is not easy to remain committed to anything anymore; we live in a society of instant texts, instant food and instant pleasure.”
But Zola also felt it is important to not only look at those who took vows in the Roman Catholic church, but also in everyday life. Zola made the point that just because people wear a wedding ring or practice a religious habit, these items don’t cover up who a person really is.
However, there might be another explanation for Rodriguez’s pregnancy. The Inquisitr posted an interview with Massimo Casciani, spokesman for the bishop of the convent. In the interview, he was quoted as saying that Rodriguez’s pregnancy may have resulted from rape. Casciani and the other members of the Catholic Church in Reiti are investigating this allegation. Rape among Roman Catholic nuns is not a new occurrence. In a survey done in 1996, 40 percent of Catholic nuns in the U.S. reported being sexually abused, according to the Boston Globe.
Rodriguez has decided to keep and raise her baby. According to Attractour.com, an Italian news agency declared that she has been receiving donations and help from the workers at the hospital and people around the community. However, not everyone in Rieti believes she should stay in the community, but instead raise her son outside of religious institutions.
“I don’t think it is unfair to ask her to leave a way of life that is based on chastity,” Moleski said.
Roger Haskins, the lead pastor of Eastside Church in Fairport, N.Y., also looked at this suggestion as less of a punishment and more of a recovery.
“In my opinion and experience, biblical discipline should always have as its highest purpose restoration or healing rather than punishment,” he said.
Although many elevated Roman Catholics in Italy are both embarrassed and angered by this event, Rodriguez seems happy with the outcome. She was quoted in the Inquistr and said, “I will definitely take care of my baby because he is a gift of God.”
Morgan Mavetz is a sophomore writing major who believes in Immaculate Conception. Email her it at mmavetz1[at]ithaca.edu.