The outrage sparked by the program "Abused Sisters: The Other Scandal of the Church" on the Franco-German public television channel ARTE, which aired in early March, has led many French Catholics to raise their voices to call for new measures to make sure these crimes do not happen again.
Abuse of sisters
As president of CORREF, the French conference of men and women religious, Dominican Sr. Véronique Margron is drawing attention to sexual abuse in the church and its causes, and urging congregations to listen to victims and take action.
After Francis' admission of the issue of clergy abuse of nuns, Catholics are urging him to act firmly against abusers, especially in India, where supporters of a nun who has accused a bishop of rape find themselves censured by church authorities.
As the Vatican grapples to devise stronger protocols and responses following a historic summit focused on clergy sex abuse of minors, five nuns in India complain of church repression for their support of a former superior general who was allegedly raped by a bishop.
"Sexual abuse of nuns by clergy has long been a problem in Poland — and it's a very painful matter," Ursuline Sr. Jolanta Olech, secretary-general of the Warsaw-based Conference of Higher Superiors of Female Religious Orders, told Poland's Catholic Information Agency, KAI.
Recent credible sexual abuse allegations in India and East Timor have underscored the fears of many in the church that clerical sex abuse is rife in South, Southeast and North Asia, which have a collective population of at least 120 million Catholics.
While sisters praised Pope Francis' recent acknowledgment of the issue, they called for follow-through by establishing protocols for reporting the physical and sexual abuse of sisters and changing the underlying clerical and power structures.
Aboard the papal flight from Abu Dhabi — Pope Francis has admitted that the Vatican must do more to prevent the physical and sexual abuse of nuns and sisters by Catholic priests.
In the Great Lakes Region of Africa, consecrated women and men who have been exposed to the realities of sexual abuse were urged to address its horror through a wakeup call at two formation workshops. The first workshop was organized and hosted in 2017 in Goma, where sexual violence has been used as a weapon of war. As woman activist Lina Zedriga Waru says, "The body of woman is the battle field for the perpetrators."
Women religious are now openly discussing a subject that was once taboo — sexual harassment, abuse and rape of sisters by clergy — in congregational motherhouses and national conference offices. Slowly, an era is ending in which Catholic women religious were silent victims of sexual abuse by priests and bishops.
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