The Catholic Church’s worldwide organization of nuns called on nuns who have been sexually abused to report their abuse to law enforcement and church officials.
The International Union of Superiors General (IUSG) encouraged nuns Friday to report abuse, condemning the church’s culture of silence and secrecy, and vowing to help nuns who have been abused to find justice and healing. The IUSG, which represents 500,000 nuns across the world, made the statement two days before the U.N.’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. (RELATED: Diocese Won’t Defend Indian Bishop Accused Of Raping Nun, May Pay For Nun’s Attorney)
“We condemn those who support the culture of silence and secrecy, often under the guise of ‘protection’ of an institution’s reputation or naming it ‘part of one’s culture,’” the statement reads.
“We advocate for transparent civil and criminal reporting of abuse whether within religious congregations, at the parish or diocesan levels, or in any public arena,” it adds.
Vatican officials have known about the problem of male clergy and others sexually preying on nuns but have yet to fully acknowledge it or take action to address it, according to The Associated Press. Cases of clerical sex abuse against nuns have reportedly occurred in Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America. A series of studies commissioned in the 1990s reportedly revealed that priests in Africa targeted nuns in particular to avoid HIV transmission from prostitutes.