“A problem of global proportions. Numerous reports, particularly an Associated Press investigation last year, suggest the abuse of Catholic nuns is pervasive and deeply institutional, affecting religious communities on nearly every continent. But even long before these allegations appeared, clergymen in Africa had been reported to the Vatican for similar crimes in the 1990s. Most recently, though, the Vatican-based magazine Women Church World raised the problem in its February issue, helping vault it back into the public eye.
“Finding a new voice. For both sides, breaking the silence represents a major milestone. The nuns who recently emerged with their stories likely found fresh support amid the #MeToo movement that’s helped elevate female voices around the world. Pope Francis, meanwhile, has taken another step away from tradition — in this case, of institutional silence — adding to a widely recognized progressive streak in which he’s called for tolerance of gays, lesbians and divorced Catholics. Still, some believe the pontiff’s acknowledgment is “disingenuous” given what they describe to be the multitude of cases the Vatican has long known about.
“Tending the shepherds. In admitting the abuse, Francis said the church has already suspended clergymen and dissolved some orders of nuns over reports of misconduct. That’s in addition to the Vatican’s current in-house trial against former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick for sexually abusing children and harassing fellow priests, as well as the recent removal of many Chilean church leaders amid similar allegations (or covering them up). When it comes to sexual misconduct against nuns, critics say victims who try to report abuse often aren’t taken seriously by the powerful clergymen who wield influence over them. In India, nuns say they’ve been sexually pressured by priests for decades. Even whistleblowing priests, like those in Uganda several years ago, have faced attacks for reporting potential abuse, either through church sanctions or lawsuits.
“Facing man’s law. Those lacking confidence in the Catholic Church’s ability to adequately crack down on various forms of abuse might take heart in the ongoing legal probes in various countries. Take, for instance, last year’s Pennsylvania grand jury report that detailed hundreds of cases of child sex abuse — or the recent conviction of Cardinal George Pell, the church’s third-ranking official, in Australia on similar charges. But will the rising chorus of women’s voices help spark prosecutions of sexual assault against nuns? That remains to be seen.” – SOURCE: OZY