Pope Francis has accepted the fact that Catholic priests and bishops have sexually abused nuns and that there is a need for the church to do more to prevent such crimes. This admission by the Pope has come shortly after a Vatican City women’s magazine article of sexual abuse of nuns and forceful abortions by the bishops and priests led to a public outrage. The article also described how nuns have to bring up their children alone without recognition by their priest fathers.
In India, also, nuns have recently come out about abuse in the church. One of them — from Kuravilangad, Kottayam district in Kerala — has even accused a bishop of repeatedly raping her while the Catholic church disregarded her claims. The pope said that sexual abuse is prevalent in “some new congregations and in some regions” but it could be found anywhere in the world.
“I think it’s still going on, because it’s not something that just goes away like that,” he told AFP. He said that the church has suspended accused priests and bishops and that the Vatican has been “working on it for a long time now”.
“I don’t want to hear it said that the Church has not got this problem, because it has.”
ALSO READ: Open letter to Pope Francis regarding the Kerala nun rape case
“Must we do more? Yes! Do we want to? Yes!” he said. Pope said that the root of sexual abuse lies in “seeing women as second class”.
“I think it’s still going on, because it’s not something that just goes away like that,” said Pope Francis. He added that the church has suspended accused priests and bishops and that the Vatican has been “working on it for a long time now”
“Women Church World”, a supplement distributed with the Vatican’s Osservatore Romano newspaper, alleged that nuns have been silent over sexual abuse for long because they feared retaliation.
“If the Church continues to close its eyes to the scandal—made even worse by the fact that abuse of women brings about procreation and is therefore at the origin of forced abortions and children who aren’t recognised by priests—the oppression of women in the Church will never change,” editor Lucetta Scaraffia wrote.
The survivor in India, a former Superior General of her congregation, has alleged that Bishop Franco Mullackal of the Roman Catholic disocese of Jalandhar, the patron of her congregation, raped her repeatedly over a period of two years. She was also allegedly subjected to intimidation by him and threatened too.
While the nun spoke out about the sexual abuse in June last year, the police started formal questioning in September when media put pressure on the authorities.
Picture credit- KHOU