The Catholic Church is investigating after two nuns returned from missionary work pregnant despite taking a vow of chastity.
The two women, who belonged to separate religious orders in Sicily, were working in their home continent of Africa but now face an uncertain future within the church.
One of them, a mother superior, found she was several weeks pregnant while the other woman discovered the news when she went to hospital with a stomach ache.
The latter’s religious order has not been identified, but local media reports say she belonged to a convent in Sicily’s Nebrodi mountains.
She has moved to Palermo, the island’s capital, to prepare for childbirth and is believed to be considering giving up monastic life.
The mother superior, whose age is not known, is based at an institute that helps ‘fallen women and their children.’
Nuns and priests must take a vow of chastity to become ordained, meaning they aren’t allowed to have sex.
Pope Francis admitted earlier this year that some nuns had been sexually abused by clerics.
A church source in Rome told Sicilian outlet ANSA: ‘There is consternation at this news. 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.
‘The most likely outcome is they will leave their religious service.’
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