French nuns shun Viagra

They're investing like never before, but not in Pfizer.

By Jack Boulware

Published June 27, 2000 7:00PM (EDT)

According to a recent financial report in Le Monde, many nuns in France are getting savvy about playing the market and investing their earnings. It makes sense, because the majority of French nuns are old and relegated to living in nursing homes, and a French nun's welfare pension amounts to only $5,000 a year. The increased interest in financial matters adds up to much more than a dip in the collection plate. Out of 50 religious investment groups in France, two funds set up by nuns are already worth more than $27 million.

But the sisters are particular about where they sock their cash. Their ethics and investment association, which encompasses the 50 investment orders, refuses to invest in a variety of industries of which they do not approve, including alcohol, tobacco, weapons, pet food and, in a peculiar inclusion, the U.S. pharmaceutical group Pfizer, manufacturer of Viagra.

Although the popularity of the little blue boner pill is growing with, one might say, a visible and turgid insistence, and Pfizer's enormous advertising campaign saturates the world's media, the nuns just don't believe Viagra is something they should support. Although Viagra is not meant to kill another person, and no animals die during its manufacture (or for that matter, field testing), the nuns shun the erectile dysfunction remedy on principle.

"I thought it useful to invest in a laboratory until I discovered that it was booming because of Viagra," said Sister Daniele of the Xavieres.

At this writing, Pfizer has no plans to withhold distribution of Viagra from French nuns.

Jack Boulware

Jack Boulware is a writer in San Francisco and author of "San Francisco Bizarro" and "Sex American Style."

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