Global Catholic nuns urge reporting of sex abuse to police
ROME — The Catholic Church’s global organization of nuns has denounced the “culture of silence and secrecy” surrounding sexual abuse in the church and is urging sisters who have been abused to report the crimes to police and their superiors.
The International Union of Superiors General, which represents more than 500,000 sisters worldwide, vowed to help nuns who havebeenabused to find the courage to report it, and pledged to help victims heal and seek justice.
The statement, issued on the eve of Sunday’s U.N.designated International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, was the first from the Rome-basedUISGsince the abuse scandal erupted anew this year and as the sexual abuse of nuns by clergymen has also come to light.
The Associated Press reported earlier this year that the Vatican has known for decades about the problem of priests and bishops preying on nuns, but has done next to nothing to stop it. While such abuse is known in Europe, Africa, South America and Asia, there have also been cases of sexual abuse committed by women against other women within congregations.
The UISG condemned what it called the “pattern of abuse that is prevalent within the church and society today,” citing sexual, verbal and emotional abuse as types of mistreatment that festers in unequal power relations and demeans the dignity of its victims.
To mark the U.N. day calling for an end to violence against women, the head of the Italian bishops’ conference, Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, issued a video message on the subject — but didn’t mention sexual violence against sisters by fellow clergymen, evidence of how taboo the subject is within the church hierarchy.
The AP reports the Vatican has long known about priests and bishops preying on nuns but has done little to stop it.