Pine Whispers

Nun abuse rocks church

Megan Curling, Editor-in-Chief

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“Trust has been broken,” junior Maribeth Mohr said.

Similar sentiments have been expressed by people of all faiths after the latest edition of the monthly Vatican City women’s magazine, “Women Church World,” was published on February 1, detailing not only how nuns have been sexually abused within the church for years, but Pope Francis has also acknowledged the issue and cited the hierarchy of the Catholic church as the source of the problem.

On February 5, while on the papal plane back to the Vatican from a trip to the United Arab Emirates, Pope Francis confirmed with Nicole Winfield of the Associated Press that these reports were true.

Among the most stunning details revealed in the magazine article was that a report was sent to the Vatican in the 1990s detailing priests sexually abusing nuns in Africa during the AIDS/HIV epidemic, as they were seen as “safe.”

In the three decades since initial whisperings of the abuse of nuns came to light, little has changed within the church.

“I think the fact that the Pope has acknowledged the situation is worlds better than it was a few months ago, but there is still a long road ahead,” Mohr said.

“Women’s Church World” claims that the years of silence surrounding the abuse are rooted in the women’s fear of retaliation from their superiors, echoed in the now infamous child abuse scandal within the Catholic church still being expunged today, 17 years later after being brought to the surface by the Boston Globe’s spotlight team.

“I believe that this kind of stuff happens in most religions, where you have people with power and people without power, and the close proximity of vulnerables, you’re going to have this happen…,” Career Center European History teacher Leigh Munley said. “It also may be the function of because of this aura of priests can’t marry, or have sex, they take this vow of celibacy. It smacks it even more, it sounds even worse.”

On February 7, The Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the largest organization of religious women in the United States, called for a “refashioning” of the primarily male-led church while expressing gratefulness for the Pope’s acknowledgement and regret for not acting sooner.

“I feel as the future of the church, we as young people must express how wrong covering up sexual abuse is, through protest marches or simply talking about in on social media,” Mohr said. “Or the church will simply have to deal with the fact that their congregations will continue to shrink

At the end of February, the Pope hosted a pre-planned three day summit in the Vatican with presidents of all bishop conferences discussing, in depth, the abuse of vulnerables (i.e. nuns, disabled adults, children, etc.)

“When you look at child abuse, it begins a whole lifetime cycle and the problems, without saying they should be strung up, they should be strung up,” Munley said. “It needs to be, stop hiding, get rid of it, and if you bring it to the forefront, they start to respect the church again.”

As Catholics are faced with another scandal, the world anxiously awaits just how the church will respond, with high hopes for justice in the so-called, “#nunstoo” movement.

“I don’t think its exclusive to the Catholic Church, certainly it just feels more explosive, and it feels like it never ends. It never ends as a Catholic… ” Munley said.

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

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Nun abuse rocks church