Thanks to the #MeToo movement, more and more women are speaking out about injustice in their workplace and raising awareness of sexual abuse. This movement has most recently affected the church. More and more nuns are coming out about the harm they have suffered at the hands of church leaders.
Sexual abuse in the Catholic Church has been occurring for years but due to its common culture of secrecy and the nuns’ vows of obedience paired with the shame and fear that accompanies the after-effects of sexual abuse, there is still little information surrounding the abuses that nuns have suffered. However, there have been cases in Europe, Africa, South America and Asia, which further highlights that religious sisters are being harmed on a global and pervasive scale.
Most recently, a group of former nuns from the Congregation of the Good Samaritan in Chile revealed on national television the sexual abuses that have been committed by priests visiting the community and added that when they reported these incidents, they were mistreated. Specifically, they publicized that at least three priests had abused the nuns.
“My silence stings my conscience. We have more than 23 sisters who in one year were expelled from the congregation because they were sexually abused.” -Yolanda Tondreaux
The Catholic Church has long been under fire for its years of sexual abuses and cover-ups. From the violation of minors and now of religious sisters, the Vatican has no shortage of problems to fix. In fact, earlier this year Pope Francis himself began purging Chile’s Catholic hierarchy due to the all the scandal surrounding the organization. This hierarchy has been exposed for systematically covering up abuses cases by destroying evidence and pressuring investigators to discredit accusations. These controversies have actually led Francis to be the first pope to reference a “culture of abuse and cover-up” in the Catholic Church. He accepted the resignation of the very bishop at the center of the scandals in Chile, Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno, along with two others.
Although the #MeToo movement started in Hollywood, its impact has affected us in every industry. More and more women are publicizing their experiences despite the still-present shame and aversiveness surrounding the topic. Hopefully, the Catholic Church will address the abuses of their members and protect all its past victims.