After decades of silence, nuns finally begin to talk about abuse at hands of a few priests - The Daily Sentry

After decades of silence, nuns finally begin to talk about abuse at hands of a few priests

Nuns are silhouetted in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on April 1. Some nuns are now finding their voices, buoyed by the #MeToo movement and the growing recognition that adults can be victims of sexual abuse when there is an imbalance of power in a relationship. - AP

After decades of silence, handful of nuns are now finding their voices as they come forward to call on the Catholic Church over the sexuaI abuse and harassment of priests.

An examination found by AP shows that cases of abused nuns have emerged in Europe, Africa, South America and Asia, demonstrating that the problem is global and pervasive, thanks to the sisters’ second-class status in the Church and their ingrained subservience to the men who run it.

Buoyed by the #MeToo movement, some nuns are now coming forward letting the Church know that even adults can be victims of sexual abuse when there is an imbalance of power in a relationship.

Some of the nuns are going public to denounce the Church's inaction on the issues, even after major studies on the problem in Africa were reported to the Vatican in 1990s.

These issues of the Church flared in the wake of scandals over children abuse, and recently to adults, including the revelation that one prominent US cardinal Theodore McCarrick, reportedly sexuaIIy abused and harased his seminarians.

McCarrick, was the former Archbishop of Washington, he was removed from the ministry in June after a review board found “credible” evidence that he had assaulted the teen while working as a priest in New York in the early 1970s.*

 Cardinal Theodore McCarrick / AFP Photo

The Vatican also confirmed McCarrick’s resignation as a member of the College of Cardinals.

“Yesterday evening the Holy Father received the letter in which Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington (U.S.A.), presented his resignation as a member of the College of Cardinals,” the Vatican said in a statement on Saturday.

“Pope Francis accepted his resignation from the cardinalate and has ordered his suspension from the exercise of any public ministry, together with the obligation to remain in a house yet to be indicated to him, for a life of prayer and penance until the accusations made against him are examined in a regular canonical trial.” It added.

Pope Francis / photo from Catholic News Agency

Although he has officially retired, McCarrick, 88, has been one of the most prominent American cardinals active, he continued to travel abroad regularly, participating on human rights issues.*

Meanwhile, a nun in India recently filed a formal police complaint accusing a bishop of rape-something that would have been unthinkable even a year ago.

Furthermore, cases in Africa have reportedly come up periodically but not taken seriously.

As also stated in an article published by The Observer, in 2013, a well-known priest in Uganda, Fr Anthony Musaala wrote a letter to his superiors that mentioned “priests romantically involved with religious sisters” — for which he was promptly suspended from the church until he apologized in May. And the sister in Europe spoke to the AP to help bring the issue to light.

“I am so sad that it took so long for this to come into the open, because there were reports long ago,” Karlijn Demasure, one of the church’s leading experts on clergy sexual abuse and abuse of power, told the AP in an interview.

“I hope that now actions will be taken to take care of the victims and put an end to this kind of abuse.” Demasure added.

A nun who no longer goes to confession regularly, after an Italian priest forced himself on her while she was at her most vulnerable times; recounting her sins to him in a university classroom nearly 20 years ago.

At that time, the sister only told her superior and her spiritual director, silenced by the Catholic Church’s culture of secrecy, her vows of obedience and her own fear, repulsion and shame.

“It opened a great wound inside of me,” she told the Associated Press. “I pretended it didn’t happen.”

And after a long time of silence, the nun is one of a handful that participates worldwide in denouncing the issues inside the Catholic Church.