Global Catholic nuns urge re­port­ing of sex abuse to po­lice

Orlando Sentinel (Sunday) - - PEOPLE & ARTS - By Ni­cole Win­field

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 have been abused 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-based UISG since 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.

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