What happens to a nun or sister that gives birth to a child?

Are they allowed to still be in a religious group if they give up the child in adoption? :getholy:

Nuns/sisters take the evangelical counsels: poverty, chastity, and obedience. Celibacy is a form of chastity (but chastity is not the same as celibacy and is not limited to it).

Are you really asking on the hypothetical that a nun or sister falls into sin and gets pregnant?

Interesting question.
I wonder what the answer is as well.

I assume that the having-sex issue isn’t the biggest issue…but that there is a child now and how can a child be brought up in a convent? (do nuns always live in convents?)

Of course, the child can be brought up with the father…they wouldn’t have to be given up for adoption.
I can’t imagine a nun being told she has to give up her child for adoption to continue being a nun.
But the logistics…

Are priests who father children told they have to give them up for adoption to continue being a priest?


Well a man or woman with dependent children can’t give them up for adoption in order to enter a religious order. As a parent the order will deem that your first duty is to bring up your children.

So, if someone gets pregnant I imagine the order will state that the first duty of the new parent is now to bring up their child.

If a diocesan priest has a child in North America or Europe they are laicized and expected to bring up the child.

There’s a difference between nuns and sisters so some of these questions might depend on which we’re referring to. Sisters do not always live in convents – at times their position within their order demands they live elsewhere (as in teaching sisters living at different schools, for example) or they might receive a dispensation to live elsewhere. I don’t think religious orders have a universal method of disciplining or responding to violations of vows. It may seem that the practical questions associated with a child being born to one of the order’s members might be most significant, but it’s also (perhaps equally in some ways) significant that the member has broken her vows, which bind the members together. If a child is born to a woman who engages in adultery, of course the needs of the child must take priority. But this doesn’t mitigate the effect of the adultery on a woman’s marriage.

I have a hard time imagining any religious or priest being told to abandon their child in order to continue being a religious or priest. I’m fairly certain that the priest would be laicized and the sister or nun would be dismissed from the order and both told to go and be a parent. Some religious orders won’t even take you if you have elderly parents who need care, so I have a hard time imagining them keeping a sister on who had a child, even if the child lived with his or her father primarily.

I believe that we all sin, regardless of vows or holy orders. If the nun repents I dont see why she cannot remain a nun.

Of course the priest would be laicized - he has definitely broken his vows. And nuns have appeared pregnant from time to time, though many of them were impregnated by rape. In that case, they had not broken their vows - they were victims. I think it would be taken on a case-by-case basis, as it has also not been unheard of in the past for communities of nuns to raise abandoned children.

A lot of this would depend on whether our sister is under solemn or simple vows. From what I understand, one can only be dispensed from a solemn vow by the Holy See, and that process might take a while–certainly much longer than a pregnancy. Thus, the superior of the community might have some very pragmatic decisions to make until this is the case.

Most living under solemn vow live in a strict enclosure, however, making the chances that your hypothetical situation might happen virtually nil. As for simple vows, that becomes much different. I’m not sure who can dispense from a simple vow. Perhaps a canonist would be able to give a better response to this.

I think the question may have been triggered by an article that appeared yesterday on the website of the Daily Mail (UK) that a nun had “unexpectedly” given birth. Of course, consider the source…

No. Each bishop handles this differently, but the most common is the priest returns to the lay state and cannot function as a priest except to give absolution to someone in danger of death.

A sister or a nun (how a cloistered nun would get pregnant is beyond me now that women and men are no longer housed in the same monastery) would have to return to the world to take care of their child.

Quite some years back now, our diocesan Catholic newspaper carried an article about a young missionary religious who had been raped and became pregnant from the rape. She left religious life to be a mother to her child and this was her own free choice. She had been very sad to leave religious life. This did strike me as heroism and a reminder of the dangerous environments in which our missionaries can be working. Not impossible I don’t think that there might be cloistered religious living in areas that can be dangerous or might become dangerous.

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