Mónica Astorga Cremona, the superior of the convent of the Discalced Carmelites of Neuquén, in Argentina, revealed that Pope Francis responded to an email of hers in which she told him about the recent inauguration of the housing complex for Trans women on which she has been working for the last three years, and told her that “God will reward you abundantly”.
“Dear Mónica, God – who did not go to the seminary or study theology – will reward you abundantly. I pray for you and your girls. Don’t forget to pray for me. May Jesus bless you and the Holy Virgin take care of you. Fraternally, Francis”, the pontiff wrote to the religious last Wednesday, as she divulged.
Monica’s “girls”, as she always calls them, are no more and no less than the Trans women she accompanies.
The nun said that, as on other occasions, the message arrived by email, but with an attached image of the Pope’s text “written with his tiny handwriting”, because “he does not use a computer”.
“He never opposed what I do and for me it’s a great support”, she said.
“When he was in Neuquén in 2009 as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he told me: ‘don’t abandon this frontier work that the Lord has given you and, for whatever you need, you can count on me'”, he added.
The religious explained that “the term ‘frontier’ has a lot of meaning at the Church level” and implies working with people “discarded” by society, “with whom few want to get involved”.
Three years ago, the Catholic news agency ACI Prensa revealed another of the Pope’s emails to Sister Mónica, in which he said that “I have you and the convent close to my heart, as well as the people with whom you work. You can tell them”.
“In Jesus’ time, lepers were rejected like this”, the pontiff wrote to the nun on another occasion to express his rejection of discrimination against Trans people.
Born in Buenos Aires in 1967, Sister Mónica lives in the cloistered monastery of Santa Cruz and San José de Neuquén where for the past 14 years she has accompanied the Trans women who come to her to leave their addictions or prostitution and to get a job or learn a trade but who face opposition even from a sector of the Church itself.
“Sometimes I ask him what to do when they say bad things to me, and he always repeats to me: ‘don’t give up praying and keep going with this, I will accompany you’. And in the last email he said to me: ‘Did Jesus have a better or worse time? Don’t expect to have a good time when you do something”, Sister Mónica revealed.
(With reporting by Télam news agency)