Chilean nun suing Catholic Church over treatment after rape

By Andrew V. Pestano

April 6 (UPI) -- A nun in Chile said she is suing the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Santiago de Chile and her religious Order of Saint Clare alleging she was forced to leave her convent after she was raped and became pregnant.

The nun -- identified by the alias of Sister Francisca -- said she was 16 years old when she knew her vocation was to be a cloistered nun. When she was 20, Francisca entered the order and six years later fulfilled her vows of poverty, obedience and chastity to become ordained as a nun in the order.


"I was always happy in my cloister. I always said: 'this is my thing, it's what I want,'" Francisca told 24 Horas Chile.

Then in 2012, the buildings in which the nuns lived in Santiago needed repairs so the superior nun ordered that a group of repairmen fix the electrical issues. The men eventually began to sleep in the more than 100-year-old convent.

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Francisca, who was tasked with preparing the workers' food, was raped by Hernán Ríos, a man who took advantage when she was vulnerable due to illness, she said. Ríos was sentenced to five years in jail in 2015.


But initially, Francisca said she told no one "out of fear, out of shame, because there is a shame that invades one and does not let one express oneself." Three months later, the convent discovered she was pregnant and Francisca said the institution rejected her.

Francisca described the rape as a "terrifying strike that turned my life upside down -- that made me suffer much."

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"They told me that I was the one to blame, even more, they accused me of robbery and that I did it on purpose. My sisters were very cruel to me," Francisca said.

Francisca said she was pressured to sign her departure from the Order of Saint Clare and from the Roman Catholic Church. She did not sign but left the convent to seek help with a friend and the San José Foundation to give the child up for adoption.

Francisca is working with the Corporación Humanas, or Humanities Corporation, to file a civil lawsuit against the Archdiocese and the Order.

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