Catholic women’s group upset Vatican ignored sexual abuse against women

sexual abuse against women

The Catholic Women’s Council (CWC) has expressed disappointment the Vatican’s revised laws omit any mention of clerical sexual abuse against women.

The Vatican published a heavily revised set of laws on June 1.

The change promoted the investigation of allegations of clerical sexual abuse, particularly of minors, and to establish punishment for offenders.

“While the changes and clarification regarding abuse against minors are a step in the right direction, the absence of any mention of the abuse of women that is equally widespread is a glaring omission,” said a statement from the CWC.

“Sad that the revised canon law does not explicitly consider the clerical sexual abuse of women as a crime in the Church,” said Virginia Saldanha, the CWC chairperson and a theologian based in Mumbai, India.

The CWC, a global umbrella group of around 50 Catholic networks and organizations, said the changes in laws also show the patriarchal leanings of the church leadership.

The Women’s Ordination Conference, which is part of CWC based in the USA, described the revision as “a painful reminder of the Vatican’s patriarchal machinery and its far-reaching attempts to subordinate women.”

Clerical sexual violations often include the abuse of adults, particularly women.

The abuse takes place when a person with superior power exploits and takes advantage of a vulnerable person and causes physical and psychological harm to that person, Saldanha explained.

The laws say a priest who solicits a penitent to commit a “sin against the sixth commandment” under the pretext of confession should also be punished.

Saldanha said Catholic women often seek priests’ counselling and guidance for issues including marital problems, even outside confession. “Is it not a crime if priests solicit women outside confession?”

“The Church has been dominated by the thoughts, words and decisions of men for centuries. It is time that we break out of this culture of male supremacy and return to the equality that Jesus created for women,” Saldanha said.


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