In a press release dated November 23, 2018, the International Union of Superiors General of Religious Communities (IUSG), whose headquarters are in Rome, encouraged women religious to lodge their complaints and denounce “abuses of all sorts.”
L’Osservatore Romano published this appeal in its Italian edition of November 27, 2018.
L’Osservatore Romano last March, denounced the work conditions of women religious. Now the Superiors General are lifting the veil on a taboo: the abuses of which women religious can be victims in the world must be denounced, regardless of the authors, including those within the Church herself.
Religious women are victims of abuse of power and sexual abuse and of rape, including by the clergy, and not only in India and in certain African countries. The law of silence has prevailed for a long time, such religious women being afraid of being themselves accused if they open themselves to their Superiors.
The IUSG’s press release marks a decisive turn so that victims will never be afraid to open themselves to their Superiors and the aggressors can no longer cause harm.
The IUSG also announced measures for the prevention of abuses.
Here is a translation of the IUSG’s press release.
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THE IUSG’S DECLARATION AGAINST ALL SORTS OF ABUSES
The International Union of Superiors General (IUSG), which brings together 2,000 Superiors General of Women’s Religious Communities of the whole world — representing more than 500,000 Sisters –, expresses its profound sorrow and its indignation in face of the scheme of repeated abuses, which prevail today within the Church and in society.
Abuse in all its forms — sexual, verbal, emotional, and all inappropriate use of power in a relationship, which harm the dignity and the healthy development of the victim.
We give our support to the women and men who had the courage to denounce abuses to the Authorities. We condemn those that engage in the culture of silence and secret, often under the cover of “protection” of an institution’s reputation or by affirming that it is “part of our culture.” We recommend a transparent civil and criminal denunciation of abuses, whether it is within Religious Congregations, at the parish or diocesan level, or in any public domain.
We ask every woman religious who has been abused to denounce the abuse to the Superior of her Congregation and to the ecclesial and civil Authorities according to the case. If the IUSG receives a denunciation of abuse, we will offer a listening presence and we will help the person to have the courage to lodge her complaint with the competent organizations.
We commit ourselves to work with the civil Authorities and those of the Church, to help the victims of abuse to heal their past, through accompaniment and calling for justice. We will also invest in the prevention of abuses by collaborating at the level of formation and by putting in place educational programs, both for children as well as for men and women. We want to weave links of solidarity in these dehumanizing situations and contribute to a new creation in the whole world.