Nun unaware of her own pregnancy gives birth to baby boy

Healthy infant named after Pope Francis

By Patrick Vaillancourt, News Editor

A South American nun living in Italy, who gave birth to a healthy nine-pound baby boy last week, claims that she did not become aware of her pregnancy until she went into labour.

Sister Roxana Rodriguez, a 33-year-old from El Salvador who lives at the Little Disciples of Jesus convent in Campomoro, Italy, said that the child is a “gift from God.”

Campomoro is approximately 80 kilometres north of Rome and the Vatican.

Rodriguez had been rushed to hospital due to what she thought were severe abdominal cramps. When doctors performed an ultrasound, they found she was in the advanced stages of giving birth.

Initially, Rodriguez had been upset with the notion of giving birth, considering her responsibilities and promises as a sister of the Catholic Church. “I can’t give birth, I am a nun,” Rodriguez reportedly said to doctors.

She named the boy Francesco, in honour of the chosen name selected by the current pontiff, Pope Francis. Reports from the hospital indicate that the infant is healthy considering the lack of screenings and medical follow-ups that routinely take place throughout a woman’s pregnancy.

Father Benedetto Falcetti, of a church near Little Disciples of Jesus, said the father is an “old flame,” and that “[everything] happened last spring, around March or April time when she was back in El Salvador to get her passport renewed.”

This will likely pose a problem for Rodriguez in terms of her being a member of the convent. She became a nun in September 2012, but will now likely have to give that up to care for her son. Nuns, like members of the Catholic clergy, are required by Canon law to remain celibate.

Rodriguez reportedly told her social worker that she will gladly leave the convent to take care of her son. “I will definitely take care of my baby because he is a gift of God,” said Rodriguez. “However I am very worried about the commotion that this has stirred up.”

When asked how she was feeling, Rodriguez replied that she “felt more like a mum than a nun.”

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected in 2013 as the 266th Catholic pontiff, replacing Benedict XVI who resigned. Before being introduced to the world, Bergoglio chose the regnal name Francesco, or Francis, and was the first of his predecessors to select the name. Pope Francis, a Jesuit from Argentina, has said that he chose his regnal name in honour of St. Francis of Assisi.

Pope Francis himself has not spoken on the matter, but if his public statements and sermons are any indication, he might be feeling a bit conflicted: Pope Francis subscribes to the long-held view that members of the clergy should be celibate, and has stated “For the moment, I am in favour of maintaining celibacy.”

By the same token, Pope Francis’ views on the role of women in the Church might indicate that he would be inclined to allow Rodriguez to stay in the convent with her son. Additionally, as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis expressed sympathy for the children of unmarried mothers, as some priests refuse to baptize the children. He stated that such priests “drive God’s people away from salvation.”

“In our ecclesiastical region there are priests who don’t baptise the children of single mothers because they weren’t conceived in the sanctity of marriage,” the Pope has said. “These are today’s hypocrites.”

This odd and remote issue has the potential to put Catholic doctrine to the test.