Elderly nuns chain themsleves at Vatican protest

VATICAN CITY Sun Jun 8, 2008 5:53pm IST

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VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Two elderly Italian nuns chained themselves to a lamp post outside the Vatican on Sunday claiming they had been wrongly expelled from their cloistered convent and wanted Pope Benedict to help them return.

The two women, Sister Albina Locantore, 73 and Teresa Izzi, 79, remained in locks and chains on the edge of St Peter's Square for several hours, including the some 20 minutes while the pope delivered his weekly message and blessing.

The two women told reporters they had left their convent of Carmelite nuns in central Italy for several months for health reasons but when they returned the mother superior refused to let them back in the cloistered convent.

The mother superior accused them of disobedience and banished them, the nuns said.

One of the nuns held up a placard reading: "Your Holiness, we are neither prostitutes, nor violent, nor thieves, nor mentally infirm".

Another placard appealed to the pope to investigate their case.

"After 50 and 60 years of service to the Church they treat us like sacks of garbage, all because we supposedly did not obey our religious superior," Sister Albina said.

The Vatican was trying to arrange a meeting between the nuns and an official of the Vatican department that oversees convents.

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