It's not just little kids who are endangered by Catholic priests -- Catholic nuns also have reason to fear. The Vatican has finally admitted that nuns all around the world have been sexually abused and even raped by priests. Africa has had the most problems, but many other countries have been involved as well, including India, Ireland, Italy, the Philippines and the United States.
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.
Source: The Independent
Wow -- people abusing position of religious power and authority to get sexual favors... who could ever have expected that to happen? Well, just about anyone with even a causal familiarity with the history of people holding religious power and authority... especially men holding religious power and authority over women.
To be fair, this isn't something limited to just religious contexts -- we see similar problems in other institutions as well. It's just that when we see people with political or corporate power abusing their positions to get sexual favors, they aren't also typically preaching to others the evils of sex and abortion.
And as if all the abuse, rape, and hypocrisy weren't bad enough, it appears that high-level Vatican leaders worked to suppress the reports of what's been happening in order to save the public image of their church. Gee, sound familiar?
When [Sister Marie McDonald, mother superior of the Missionaries of Our Lady of Africa] addressed bishops on the problem, many of them felt it was disloyal of the sisters to send reports.
"However, the sisters claim they have done so time and time again. Sometimes they were not well received. In some instances they are blamed for what happened. Even when they are listened to sympathetically nothing much seems to be done" One of the most tragic elements that emerges is the fate of the victims. While the offending priests are usually moved or sent away for studies, the women are normally chased out of their religious orders, they are then either to scared to return to their families or are rejected by them. they often finished up as outcasts, or, in a cruel twist of irony, as prostitutes, making a meagre living from an act they had vowed never to do.
Every institution has "bad apples," and when an institution grows large and diverse enough, the number of such "bad apples" will also grow rather large. Given the size of the Catholic Church, it would be surprising if there weren't at least a few incidents like these happening from time to time. So it would be wrong to hold the Vatican and the church itself to be blameworthy... until we read about the leadership's reactions.
A morally and ethically responsible leadership would act to stop such abuses and crimes. It would take steps to prevent them from happening again, at least to the extent possible. Instead, the leadership acted to stop such abuses from becoming public knowledge. They blamed the victims, hid reports, moved around the rapists, and drove off the women. Sound familiar? It should -- that's much how the Vatican and church leaders reacted when told about priests raping children.
Coincidence? I don't think so. This is a pattern of behavior that derives directly from what the institution and its leaders truly value. It tells us what's really going on in the halls of power. Put most simply, though, it tells us that the Vatican should not be treated as holding any sort of moral, political, or social authority whatsoever. It's too corrupt, venal, and concerned with preserving its own power to care about the people being harmed.