The Vatican has advised cloistered nuns not to overindulge in social media to avoid sullying their contemplative world with “noise, news and words”.
In a document published by the Vatican’s office for religious life, nuns were told that while they were allowed to use Facebook or Twitter and read online news, they were advised to do so “with discretion and sobriety”.
Nuns should also pay close attention to “online content and the type and quantity of information”, it added.
The guidelines come three weeks after a group of cloistered nuns in Spain published protests on Facebook after a court acquitted five men accused of the gang-rape of a teenager during the Pamplona bull-running festival in 2016, finding them guilty of the lesser offence of sexual abuse.
The sisters of Hondarribia wrote on 26 April: “We live in cloister, we wear a habit that goes almost to our ankles, we don’t go out at night [unless it’s for a (medical) emergency], we don’t go to parties, we don’t consume alcohol, and we’ve made a vow of chastity.
“[Ours] is an option that doesn’t make us better or worse than anyone, even if, paradoxically, it makes us freer and happier than most. And because it’s a FREE choice, we defend with all the means available to us [this is one of them] the right of all women to FREELY say no without being judged, raped, intimidated, murdered or humiliated for it. SISTER, I DO BELIEVE YOU.”
The post attracted 14,000 likes and was shared more than 15,000 times.
Pope Francis has paved the way for more open use of social media, attracting 17.7 million followers to his @Pontifex Twitter account since it was created in 2013.
The most famous Italian nun on social media is possibly Sister Cristina Scuccia, who won Italy’s version of The Voice in 2014. Sister Cristina, who released a new album in March, has 26,900 followers on Twitter.