Two Catholic nuns who took a vow of chastity are under investigations for getting pregnant, Italian media has reported.
The two, who are now at risk of expulsion from the monastic life, returned to Sicily, Italy from mission work in Africa.
They are both African and had returned home for charity.
“It appears that both women were back in their home nations and obviously had some form of sexual encounter. An investigation has been launched. They both breached strict rules of chastity but the welfare of their children is uppermost,” UK-based tabloid The Sun reported.
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Italian news outlet ANSA reported that one of the nuns, 34, found out that she was pregnant after going to a hospital in Sant'Agata di Militello due to persistent stomach pains.
The paper said it had confirmed the news with the clergy but had not received official declaration by the religious order to which the nun belonged.
It added that the nun had been transferred to Palermo and will likely abandon the order to become a full-time mother.
In the second case, the nun is from Madagascar and her pregnancy is reported to be a month old.
Though her age was not revealed, the Italian press said she held the position of mother superior and was based at an institute that helps ‘fallen women and their children’.
A mother superior is a senior monastic in charge of a convent or order.
Nuns and priests must take a vow of chastity to become ordained, meaning they are not allowed to have sex. They also profess the perpetual ‘solemn vows’ to live a life according to the evangelical counsels of poverty and obedience.
In 2014, the Catholic Church handled a near similar case in Italy.
A nun who gave birth to a baby boy said she had no idea she was pregnant.
She was rushed to hospital with abdominal pains, which she thought were stomach cramps.
The 31-year-old named her newborn Francis after the current Pope.
Early this year, Pope Francis admitted that clerics have sexually abused nuns, even keeping them as sex slaves.
The Pope made the revelations while on a historic trip of the Middle East in February.
“Pope Benedict had the courage to dissolve a female congregation which was at a certain level, because this slavery of women had entered it - slavery, even to the point of sexual slavery - on the part of clerics or the founder,” Pope Francis said, adding that they were addressing the issue.