The#MeToo movement that swept through Hollywood in recent times has also began to gather momentum in The Vatican as a handful of nuns have come out to share their experiences of sexual abuse in the hands of priests and bishops.
A examination carried out by Associated Press found that cases of abuse have emerged in Europe, Africa, South America and Asia.
According to AP, the sisters are going public in part because of years of inaction by church leaders, even after major studies on the problem in Africa were reported to the Vatican in the 1990s.
It is difficult to determine the extent of abuse as most victims are reluctant to share their story.
However, about half a dozen sisters in Chile have gone public on national television. The sisters told their stories of abuse in the hands of priests and other nuns, they also spoke about how their superiors did nothing to stop it.
A sister in Europe told AP, ”I am so sad that it took so long for this to come into the open, because there were reports long ago.”
Another sister recounted her experience which took place in 2000 at a Bologna university. She narrated how, during confession, she and a priest were seated opposite each other in a classroom and he got up and forced himself on her.
She shared how she pushed him back to his chair and continued her confession. A year later, another priest made a sexual advance on her. These experiences made her stop going to confession, except with her spiritual father who lives in another country.
“It opened a great wound inside of me,” she told the Associated Press. “I pretended it didn’t happen.”
AP reports that she only told her provincial superior and her spiritual director, silenced by the Catholic Church’s culture of secrecy, her vows of obedience and her own fear, repulsion and shame.
Karlijn Demasure, one of the church’s leading experts on clergy sexual abuse and abuse of power, told the AP in an interview. ”I hope that now actions will be taken to take care of the victims and put an end to this kind of abuse.”