I just don’t understand why nuns and priests should practice celibacy because human beings are born with urges that have to be fulfilled; they have to eat, drink and procreate so as to guarantee that life on earth goes on.

But why then suppress these urges in the name of God? These people should behave normally, get married, have children and manage their urges like everyone else.

This, I have written in response to a story about a nun, Sister Roxana Rodriguez, who gave birth to a baby boy and named him after the Pope, and said that she felt more like a mother than a nun.

The nun, who hails from El Salvador, gave birth to a baby boy in Italy last week who she described as “a gift of God” and pledged to take care of him as she faces expulsion from the convent.

Sister Rodriguez (33) a nun with the Order of the Little Disciples of Jesus, was rushed to San Camillo de Lellis hospital in Italy with acute stomach pains in the town of Rieti, 80km north of Rome, on Tuesday last week apparently unaware that she was pregnant. A few hours later a baby boy, weighing nearly over 4kg was born and named Francesco. The story has created so much buzz locally and abroad as questions are continually asked why these people should not be allowed to lead a normal man and woman life in holy matrimony.

This story has, however, reminded me of my college days when I was an art student at some journalism and art college in Zambia over three decades ago.

I arrived at this tertiary institution three days after school had started and I was allocated a room that I shared with some Tanzanian nun. There was, apparently another man of the cloth, a Catholic priest who had also come for journalism training.

One of the Zimbabwean male students at the college was to share with this priest, but little did we know that this man was actually more man of the flesh than spirit. We all felt betrayed.

The nun is the one who actually raised concerns about the nocturnal activities by the priest who apparently had a sexual relationship with some Catholic student, who was also housed at the same hostel with us. One day around midnight, as I was walking towards the ablution block, which was located at the far end of the building, I found the Zimbabwean male student sitting on the steps along the corridor, hands crossed over his chest. He was shivering with cold.

I asked him what he was doing at that time of the night, in the cold. The response was: “Chola (not her real name) is having mass with father.” I and other youthful students somehow believed the story because we were not Catholics . . . but the nun I shared my room with was livid about that development.

This went on for many months and it soon became an open secret as everyone at the institution talked about this relationship.

The Catholic student, who is now late, had suddenly stopped sharing the shower with us in the mornings. We always raced to the bathroom to get the first bath before the hot water ran out. She chose to come to shower long after we had left the bathrooms.

By the time we graduated, she was fully pregnant and now wearing maternity dresses. She delivered the baby shortly afterwards. We were to learn later that the priest had wanted to leave priesthood, but his diocese had turned down his application.

I was to learn many years later, that she died of depression stemming from this relationship. She was heartbroken, lonely and left with a daughter she was to raise alone. The El Savadorian nun I mentioned earlier is obviously now being treated like a pariah; reprimanded and forced to leave her convent. But a priest can sexually molest young children and the matter ignored or covered up. . . . see a double standard there?

Celibacy is a difficult way of life that is definitely not for everyone or even for most people. It is not the norm, although it is a spiritual path that has existed since time immemorial.

I would not be so quick to judge. Rodriguez did not engage in sex with minors. This shows the humanity in any religion or faith. She is assuming her shortcomings, and moving to her next stage in life with dignity — motherhood.

Apparently, Pope Benedict XVI defrocked nearly 400 priests for raping and molesting children in his final two years before stepping down as the head of the Catholic Church in 2013 according to a report by The Associated Press.

The Catholic Church was publicly dressed down for its handling of sex-abuse scandals around the world, facing harsh questioning over its implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which the Holy See signed on to in 1990.

Back home in Zimbabwe, I know of a nun who fled a local convent after she constantly turned down sexual advances from some priests.

“Whenever we complained to our Mother Superior, she would react angrily saying that we are tarnishing image of the church,” said the former nun who is now working as a social worker at a local public hospital.