Catholic nuns denounce culture of silence and secrecy

Catholic nuns throughout the world are denouncing the culture of silence and secrecy surrounding sex abuse in the Church.

The Rome-based International Union of Superiors General, which represents more than 500,000 sisters worldwide, is urging nuns who have been abused to report the crimes to police and their superiors.

They have promised to help nuns who have been abused to find the courage to report it. They have also promised to help victims heal and seek justice.

The Superiors General’ statement was made the day before the UN-designated International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

News reports earlier this year claim the Vatican has known for decades about the problem of priests and bishops preying on nuns, but has done little to stop it.

The Superiors General’ statement condemns the “pattern of abuse that is prevalent within the church and society today.”

It notes sexual, verbal and emotional abuse are all types of mistreatment that festers in unequal power relations and demeans the dignity of its victims.

“We condemn those who support the culture of silence and secrecy, often under the guise of ‘protection’ of an institution’s reputation or naming it ‘part of one’s culture.’

“We advocate for transparent civil and criminal reporting of abuse whether within religious congregations, at the parish or diocesan levels, or in any public arena.”

An Associated Press (AP) investigation says it found that cases of priests abusing nuns have emerged in Europe, Africa, South America and Asia. AP says its findings emphasise the way sisters’ second-class status in the church has contributed to a power imbalance where women can be mistreated by men “with near impunity.”

While some nuns voices are being heard via the MeToo movement, many victims remain reluctant to come forward.

Sisters fear they won’t be believed and will instead be painted as the seducer who corrupted the priest.

AP says often the sister who denounces abuse by a priest is punished, sometimes with expulsion from her congregation, while the priest’s vocation is preserved at all cost.

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News category: World.

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