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Confession time: Priests, nuns & 1000 years of loneliness

Nuns getting pregnant is not new, one gave birth to a son in 2014 and named him after Pope Francis

Quantum of Solace: The convents and monasteries are insular spaces, and like prisons, the outlet to sexual urges are found within and hence the ‘bending petticoats’ of many a nun.

By Shifa Mwihaki

Feature writer/Essayist

Two African Catholic nuns who returned to Italy pregnant from their missionary work in their home countries have ignited the age old debate about the vow of chastity which forbids them from any encounters that can lead to the maternity ward.

But lately, and besides pregnancies, the Catholic Church has had to confront cases of priests raping nuns, forced abortions, priests testing positive and children born out of pews resulting in nuns becoming single mothers.

The case of the two nuns has refocused attention on the Catholic Church which condemns its clergy to a life of celibacy, and with it, the battle against biological urges.

Pope Francis, the former bouncer, and now head of the Catholic Church has promised to review the vows of celibacy terming them ‘archaic.’

Most priests and nuns-the symbol of the church’s maternal love- would applaud his views going by the many cases of those who were wrestled down by the human urge for love, intimacy and children-and left the church.

Like Catholic nun Stella Nangila who was impregnated by Fr Godfrey Siundu in 2004. They both quit,  got married.

Ten years before Siundu and Stella hit the sack, a report by the late Irish Sister Maura O’Donohue covering over 20 countries revealed that nuns were ‘considered safe sexual partners for priests as opposed to other women.’

The orders, convents and monasteries  within the Catholic Church are insular spaces, and like prisons, the outlet to sexual urges are found within and hence the ‘bending petticoats’ of many a nun.

Others don’t wait to be preyed on while praying. Like Beatrice Magoka.

She had been a nun for 16 years until 2011 when she fell in love with cabin maker Tyrone Wright during a church sponsored exchange programme in America. Beatrice, now 45 and Wright, 54 married that April in 2011. 

The case of Beatrice, a Kenyan from Nyamira, was rare as unlike priests, nuns hardly leave the convent to get married. To leave, she has to be excommunicated by the council of her local church. 

So the case of the two nuns who returned to Italy heavy with children, is not new.

What surprised most was that one of them was a Mother Superior-basically the head of a Monastery where they are also known as Novice Mistresses. Curiously, she served at an institute that helps ‘fallen mothers and their children.’

Her bulge is a month old, and were it not for persistent tummy aches that saw her rushing to hospital, she would have known much later what her side shenanigans in Africa did to her biology.

Being a nun is a lifetime calling, but the two will ceases offering services to the church and become a fulltime mothers. One is just 34.

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Becoming a nun is one long winded journey. Consider. The books of Titus, Timothy, Ephesians, Colossians and Peter speak about God calling people to a vocation of service to God in their daily lives within the church. Those who heed the calling become aspiring nuns who later take the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Nuns who join Missionaries of Charity take the fourth vow to serve the poor. Most are sourced out of high school or college.  

In her research on The Calling and Role of Catholic Nuns in Kenya, Margaret M Atuma discovered that most girls become nuns from some “inner calling”, influence from friends and nuns for those who attended Catholic schools. For others, more so those from large families there was that  subconscious urge to benefit economically and academically. Still for others, becoming nuns was a mixture of fear and desire, faith and finance.

A life of communal prayers and running assigned errands

Sister Act: Sr Leonida Katunge is a Catholic nun and a lawyer for Marianne Kitany who is embroiled in a nasty divorce case with Meru Senator Mithika Linturi. Besides church and charity, nuns also have their side careers.

But most are also mere nubile 20 year olds, the period of wild sexual urges which are suppressed in the years spent in the convent as novices engaged in a life of communal prayers and running assigned errands.

Atuma’s research was done at the University of Nairobi in 1993. Nothing much has changed.

The sexual urges are mixed with monthly changes as the girls begin their  academic studies and community service before taking temporary vows in the fourth year.

During Atuma’s research, one ex-nun named Dorothy confessed to being overwhelmed, fell head over heels with a Nigerian priest who was clueless about her palpitating heart, and too cool off, she took to exciting herself with the accompanying guilt pangs. Then came the fibroids too.

Depending on the order, these vows are renewed annually until the ninth year when the hair is cut and final vows taken signaling marriage to the church in an elaborate ‘wedding’ complete with a ring.

They then join one of two orders: the Contemplative focusing on meditation and prayers or the traditional apostolic ones who work as doctors, nurses, development and social workers, psychologists, researchers, counselors, teachers, lectures and charity volunteers.    

There are lawyers as well. Like Sister Leonida Katunge, who holds a doctorate in theology from the University of St Anselm in Italy, was admitted to the bar as an advocate of the High Court of Kenya. She is representing former Chief of Staff in the office of the Deputy President, Marianne Kitany in her divorce case against Meru Senator Mithika Linturi in Nairobi.   

During her research, Margaret Atuma asked Sister Jane of the Blessed Virgin Mary Congregation in Karen in Nairobi about what the inner conflict surrounding a life as religious spinsters and the maternal desires. She said “the first contact with God is disturbing and the conflict is natural since every woman wants to be loved by a man and to bear children.”

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Being a nun is for life and leaving means petitioning the Pope through the head of a convent. Reasons include pressure from parents, oppressive rules and dealing with hideous Mother Superiors. Others is a change of heart to get a family of their own. The petition might be rejected but if accepted a nun signs a release form, besides swearing to continue leading a holy, religious life. 

So, leaving is either through formal channels or informal ones like pregnancies and it’s not the first time nuns are being pumped to the maternity ward.

Indeed, of the three commonest vows, the one of chastity, “that invitation to deep intimacy with Christ,” appears to be the hardest for both priests and nuns who are meant “to surrenders their sexual secrets to God.” 

In 2014, a Salvadorian nun from the “Little Disciples of Jesus” convent who also learned of impending motherhood through a stomach cramps, gave birth to a son.

It is not yet known whether the two nuns were impregnated by a congregant or a man of the cloak

The world is not enough: Sr. Roseline Lenguris became the first Catholic nun from the Samburu community in 2017 when she returned home from Sisters of Mary Immaculate after 13 years. “They received me very well, and they are not expecting any cows or grandchildren from me,” she said in view of the vows nuns take of poverty andchastity.

The 31 year old aptly named the son Francesco (Francis) after the current Pope Francis, a popular name in Italy where St Francis of Assisi is the much-loved national patron saint.

 It is not yet known whether the two nuns were impregnated by a congregant or a man of the cloak, but in February 2019, Pope Francis publicly admitted Catholic bishops and priests have been known to use as ‘sexual slaves’  a practice that might be still rife.

Indeed, his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, the first Pope to resign in 600 years, dissolved one religious order of women because of “sexual slavery on the part of priests and the founder.” The order, ‘Soeurs Contemplatives de Saint Jean’ (Contemplative Sisters of St John) was based in France where the founding priest admitted in 2013 to behaving “in ways that went against chastity” with several women.

Such cases have been reported from the DRC, Brazil, the Philippines, India, Peru to Ukraine and Kenya- where several Catholic nuns have been impregnated forcing them to quietly leave the church.   

 Several priests in Nairobi are known to prey on nuns especially novices through second parties and unregistered cellphone numbers according to Catechists who work Catholic churches who told Undercover that it’s not uncommon for some nuns to nurse the aftermath of ‘flushing’ in Catholic hospitals.

 Fr Vincent Wambugu, the Secretary General of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB formerly the Kenyan Episcopal Conference) once told the media that “I have no defense to deny because I have no facts and the church has not discussed such an issue” and when pressed whether at any time cases of priests cavorting with nuns have been reported, he retorted that “that is a very bad question. I am not aware of that and may not comment on it conclusively.”

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 Nuns could be the focus of celibate attention now, yet Catholic priests have fared worse off in matters of the loin. A number have abandoned celibacy like Fr Godfrey Siundu who was excommunicated after impregnating a nun, Stella Nangila, in 2004.

Sometimes I would feel so guilty or feel like dying when I thought of the celibacy vows I took

You only live once: Fr John Karimi and his son. He decided not to live a lie and get married.

He was then based in West Pokot District. Their wedded two years later in a ceremony held at the Kitale ASK showground and presided by RCC Archbishop Dr Karl from Germany.  Fr Siundu founded the splinter church named the Ecumenical Catholic Church of Christ, for married priests.

Another priest who got married is John Karimi from Kirinyaga County. He quit arguing the church was living a lie in view of the deep-rooted activities among priests and nuns.

Karimi quit five years ago recalling: “I used to make love to these women. More often than not I would sleep with a woman and the following day on Sunday I’m at the altar delivering a sermon and giving out sacrament. Sometimes I would feel so guilty or feel like dying when I thought of the celibacy vows I took.” 

  Karimi had been a priest for 15 years and says that celibacy is not practical as 95 percent of priests succumbed when the craving struck and for that reason “I made up my mind to walk out of the church and have a wife of my own whom I cherish instead of living a hypocritical life and finally go to hell.”

Karimi is now a bishop at the Ecumenical Catholic Church of Christ.

 Then there is Peter Njogu Kibutu who never tires of telling whoever cares to listen that “I was a Catholic priest for 25 years and I can tell you that this rule has made the church to be a laughing stock.”

He quit the Catholic church and was in 2011 April ordained the new bishop of Mt Kenya for the Restored Universal Apostolic Church founded by former Catholic archbishop Emmanuel Milingo from Zambia. 

Rev Njogu, a father of three, is married to Mary Njogu and often argues that mandatory celibacy adds no value to the priesthood as it’s not even doctrinal considering it began in 1123 A.D. and before then “Popes, bishops, and priests had been marrying for over 000 years and Holy Masses were still being consecrated.”

Look at the shame of pedophiles, concubine, secret unions, family breakages

From Rome with Love: The progressive Pope Francis termed the vow of celibacy as ‘archaic.’

Rev Kabutu explains that the first Pope was married and there is no reason why Pope Francis should not.

He considers the onset of celibacy as the beginning of the problems facing the church as that “was when the devil started bedeviling the Roman Catholic Church. Look at the shame of pedophiles, concubine, secret unions, family breakages, and manipulation…observing the rule of celibacy rather than love as Christ asked us to the church has lost dedicated servants…blind obedience to particular churches or Bishops or priests is not a guarantee to heaven.”

Sociologists are of the opinion that though priests give up everything to offer hope, it can be trying being celibate since human beings desire to get and give love and be surrounded by family. Celibacy is going against nature and which can be a moral Mt Sinai to climb. 

But now Pope Francis, the one-time bouncer, intends to overturn the “centuries-old ban” on Catholic priests getting married arguing “the law of celibacy was not part of the doctrine of the church. It was started more than 1000 years ago by a Pope and is thus archaic and needs to be reconsidered.” 

2 Replies to “Confession time: Priests, nuns & 1000 years of loneliness

  1. It is a disgrace but when all nuns and priests must read 1 Timothy 4 especially 4:3 must understand that they are NOT forbidding to mary,it is a lie. They can marry instead of practising fornication otherwise they will end up in Hell and wasted their years pretending to be holy. Each. and every nun and priest must have the World’s holiest book ,The Holy Bible.
    BIBLE– Basic Information Before Leaving Earth.
    To SDA or Seventh Day Adventist- commanding to refrain from eating certain food. That is a lie too as our Bible says—to read 1 Timothy 4:3 too.
    Being followers of Jesus Christ and NOT satanic cult,must read OT and NT of our Holy Bible to understand
    Catholic has 73 books in both the OT and NT while other followers of Jesus Christ has 66 books.
    Catholics must read and pay particular attention to EXODUS 20. It is very very very important so that they stop their idol worship. may God bless you all.

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