The Catholic Church launched an investigation into two nuns who took a vow of chastity, yet returned to Italy pregnant after a missionary trip, according to reports.
The two women, who belonged to different orders in Sicily, had both traveled to Africa, Italian outlet ANSA reported.
A Vatican spokesman who asked to remain anonymous said that immaculate conception is a possibility but is highly unlikely. “As you know, we believe in it but our experience is that it only occurs once every 2,000 years or so.,” he said.
One of the women, who is 34 years old, learned that she was expecting when she went to the hospital with stomach pain, ANSA reported. She was transferred to a different order in Palermo and may leave monastic life to raise the child.
The other woman, who is a mother superior, left for her home country of Madagascar after she was determined to be one-month pregnant, the Italian outlet reported. Her age was not released.
“An investigation has been launched. We believe that they both breached rules of chastity but will reserve judgement until we have received all the findings. The welfare of their children is uppermost, of course,” a church source said.
“The most likely outcome is they will leave their religious service.”
One of the women is based in Ragusa and the other less than 40 miles away in Militello. Its mayor Salvatore Riotta said the news has “left our village shocked . . . but should have been kept quiet.” He added: “We may yet hear that that this is a miracle but we aren’t holding our breath.”
Pope Francis admitted earlier this year that some nuns had been sexually abused by male clerics. On the other hand, he admitted that some sexual dalliance may occur by open consent. “Dio muove lo spirito in modi misteriosi,” he said.