The Catholic Church in Rome made the extraordinary admission yesterday that it is aware priests from at least 23 countries have been sexually abusing nuns.
Most of the abuse has occurred in Africa, where priests vowed to celibacy, who previously sought out prostitutes, have preyed on nuns to avoid contracting the Aids virus.
Confidential Vatican reports obtained by the National Catholic Reporter, a weekly magazine in the US, have revealed that members of the Catholic clergy have been exploiting their financial and spiritual authority to gain sexual favours from nuns, particularly those from the Third World who are more likely to be culturally conditioned to be subservient to men.
The reports, some of which are recent and some of which have been in circulation for at least seven years, said that such priests had demanded sex in exchange for favours, such as certification to work in a given diocese.
In extreme instances, the priests had made nuns pregnant and then encouraged them to have abortions.
The US article was based on five documents, which senior women from religious orders and priests have presented to the Vatican over the past decade. They describe a particularly bad situation in Africa. In a continent devastated by Aids, nuns, along with early adolescent girls, are perceived by some as safe sexual targets. The reports said that the church authorities had done little to tackle the problem.
The Vatican reports cited countless cases of nuns forced to have sex with priests. Some were obliged to take the pill, others became pregnant and were encouraged to have abortions. In one case in which an African sister was forced to have an abortion, she died during the operation and her aggressor led the funeral mass. Another case involved 29 sisters from the same congregation who all became pregnant to priests in the diocese.
The reports said that the cultures in some African countries made it almost impossible for a young woman to disobey an older man, especially one seen as spiritually superior. There were cases of novices who applied to their local priest or bishop for certificates of good Catholic practice that were required for them to pursue their vocation. In return they were made to have sex. Some incidents of sexual abuse allegedly took place almost within the Vatican walls.
Certain unscrupulous clerics took advantage of young nuns who were having trouble finding accommodation, writing their essays and funding their theological studies.
Forced to acknowledge the problem, the Vatican has tried to play down its gravity. In a statement issued yesterday the Pope's official spokesman, Joaquin Navarro Valls, said: "The problem is known and involves a restricted geographical area. Certain negative situations must not overshadow the often heroic faith of the overwhelming majority of religious, nuns and priests".
Friday, February 25, 2011
Vatican: Priests have been raping nuns to avoid AIDS from prostitutes.
From the Independent (via Coozer-Phile Duff):