Cases of Sexually Abused Nuns Investigated

Vatican Responds to Report About Priests and Missionaries

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VATICAN CITY, MAR. 20, 2001 ( The Vatican revealed today that for some time it has been investigating accusations of nuns being sexually abused by priests and missionaries. The cases were primarily in Africa, reports say.

A press statement published by Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls explains that «the problem is known and is circumscribed to a limited geographic area.»

The statement was in response to an article in today´s La Repubblica, an Italian daily, which states that the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life received accusations in the mid-1990s, from African nuns who said they were seduced or suffered sexual abuse by priests.

The cases reported were primarily in Africa, the newspaper explains, «where the culture does not favor celibacy and where, by tradition, it is impossible for a woman or adolescent to oppose a man, especially if he is elderly or a priest.»

The article in La Repubblica is based on information published in the U.S. weekly National Catholic Reporter. The source quoted is a report sent by Sister Maria O´Donohue to the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life.

In its statement, the Vatican clarifies that the problem was addressed when the report was received: «The Holy See is handling the question in cooperation with the bishops, the Union of General Superiors, and the International Union of General Superiors. Work is being done in the double sense of forming persons and solving particular cases.»

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