Pope admits nuns are sexually abused by priests and bishops – BBC

Pope Francis with nuns at the Vatican

BBCIt is thought to be the first time that Pope Francis has acknowledged the sexual abuse of nuns by the clergy. … The pontiff admitted that the Church had an issue, the roots of which lie in “seeing women as second class”. – BBC

Pope Francis has admitted that clerics have sexually abused nuns, and in one case they were kept as sex slaves.

He said in that case his predecessor, Pope Benedict, was forced to shut down an entire congregation of nuns who were being abused by priests.

It is thought to be the first time that Pope Francis has acknowledged the sexual abuse of nuns by the clergy.

He said the Church was attempting to address the problem but said it was “still going on”.

Last November, the Catholic Church’s global organisation for nuns denounced the “culture of silence and secrecy” that prevented them from speaking out.

The Pope’s comments come amid long-running cases of sexual abuse of children and young men by priests at the Church.

What did Pope Francis say?

Speaking to reporters while on a historic tour of the Middle East on Feb. 5th, the pontiff admitted that the Church had an issue, the roots of which lie in “seeing women as second class”.

He said that priests and bishops had abused nuns, but said the Church was aware of the “scandal” and was “working on it”, adding that a number of clerics had been suspended.

“It’s a path that we’ve been on,” he said.

“Pope Benedict had the courage to dissolve a female congregation which was at a certain level, because this slavery of women had entered it—slavery, even to the point of sexual slavery—on the part of clerics or the founder.”

Pope Francis said sexual abuse of nuns was an ongoing problem, but happened largely in “certain congregations, predominantly new ones”.

“I think it’s still taking place because it’s not as though the moment you become aware of something it goes away.”

Where is the abuse said to have taken place?

The female congregation dissolved in 2005 under Pope Benedict was the Community of St Jean, which was based in France, Alessandro Gisotti of the Vatican press office told CBS News.

In 2013, the Community of St Jean admitted that priests had behaved “in ways that went against chastity” with several women in the order, according to the French Roman Catholic newspaper La Croix.

In a separate case in India last year, a bishop was arrested over allegations that he raped a nun 13 times between 2014 and 2016.

Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who headed the diocese in Jalandhar in the northern state of Punjab, has denied the accusations.

In Chile, reports of abuse of nuns carried out by priests led the Vatican to launch an investigation last year. The women were reportedly removed from the order after highlighting the abuse.

Last year, the Associated Press news agency reported cases of abuse in Italy and Africa.

What have women in the Church said?

Just days ago the Vatican’s women’s magazine, Women Church World, condemned the abuse, saying in some cases nuns were forced to abort priests’ children – something Catholicism forbids.

The magazine’s editor, Lucetta Scaraffia, said Pope Francis’s acknowledgement of the abuse “can be of some help”, but warned that the Church needs to act.

“If the Church continues to close its eyes to the scandal … the condition of oppression of women in the Church will never change,” she wrote.

The magazine said the #MeToo movement meant more women were now coming forward with their stories.

Last year, French website Le Parisien reported the case of “Christelle” (in French), a former nun whose name was changed to preserve anonymity.

Christelle said she had suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a priest of her congregation in France between 2010 and 2011.

“His gestures became more and more inappropriate,” she said, adding: “But he kept going … until the day he raped me.

“He was unable to control himself … he had a split personality.” – BBC News,  6 February 2019

Nun in confessional booth

A 2019 report by the Associate Press “uncovered a decades-long history of [Indian] nuns enduring sexual abuse from within the Church. Nuns described in detail the sexual pressure they endured from priests, and nearly two dozen other people—nuns, former nuns and priests, and others—said they had direct knowledge of such incidents.”



2 Responses

  1. Kerala Bishop

    Church priests allegedly rape teen girl, charged under POCSO Act in Mysuru – TNM Staff – The News Minute – Mangaluru – 4 February 2019

    Police in Mysuru are investigating a complaint issued by the mother of a 16-year-old girl, who has alleged that her daughter was sexually assaulted, raped and abused by three priests of a church. The girl and her mother are reportedly natives of Mysuru. Narasimha Raja Police Station in Mysuru had filed the FIR against the three men who hail from Mangaluru and have been booked under the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

    The accused have been identified as Sebastian, Bennet Amman and Joshua Amman, who all are natives of Balmatta in Mangaluru.

    Speaking to TNM, Mysuru City Police Commissioner K.T. Balakrishna said, “The preliminary investigations are underway. The mother had given the complaint, but the address and personal details are not accurate and we have not been able to trace either the victim or her mother. However, investigations are underway and we will take strict action against those involved.” He further noted that the accused have yet to be apprehended and are currently absconding.

    The girl was allegedly taken by the three priests to Mangaluru in November after they had promised to give her a job and reassured her mother of financial assistance she needed to build a house. As per the complaint, however, the girl has been sexually abused since mid-December and was made to do physical work and chores around the house.

    “The complaint given by the woman states that the victim was subject to sexual assault by the three men. They had promised to give her mother 1 lakh rupees to assist her in building a house and also said they would help secure a job for her,” adds Balakrishna. He also stated that the girl was not allowed outside the house and was threatened into keeping silent.

    Mysuru police have formed teams and are currently working to track down the men who have been named as accused in the case.

    This comes days after a Bengaluru-based woman accused a bishop of sexual harassment and had attempted to take her own life after threats from him. The woman, who is undergoing treatment at CSI Hospital, is said to be recovering while the Shivaji Nagar police have registered an FIR against the accused.


  2. Letter to Kerala CM

    Kerala nun rape case: National Commission for Women requests CM Vijayan’s prompt action – Mirror Now – February 2019

    The National Commission for Women (NCW) wrote a letter to Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan requesting him to intervene and “take prompt action to ensure prevention of sabotage of material evidence and witnesses in pending case against rape-accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal, so that justice may prevail.”

    The NCW had received complaints from Sister Neena Rose and Sister Ranit Pallasseril of St Francis Mission Home, Kuruvilangad, Kerala, who were issued transfer orders by their congregation last year. The nuns alleged that the transfer orders were aimed to split them and to “sabotage the case” against the accused Bishop. They also alleged that the congregation wanted to pressurise and threaten them as they were key witnesses in the case.

    Four of the nuns supporting the survivor were sent transfer orders to join different convents in Punjab, Jharkhand, Bihar and Kannur. Another nun was asked by the church to appear before the authorities in Jalandhar to explain her decision to protest against the Bishop. The nuns were also asked to not deviate from their religious duties.

    In January, the nuns had also written a letter to the CM Vijayan with a similar request. They had emphasised that the accused Bishop could easily influence the case. Save Our Sisters (SOS) forum had also sought the CM’s intervention in the case and requested the government to ensure that the lives and safety of the nuns were protected. The Bishop has been accused of raping a nun multiple times at the convent in Kuruvilangad between 2014 and 2016.


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