Statement by NOW President Toni Van Pelt:
WASHINGTON – For years, the Catholic Church hierarchy has proven it has no moral authority on issues concerning women. This week, Pope Francis publicly acknowledged for the first time a chronic history of sexual abuse by priests and bishops of nuns, who had been forced to have abortions or give birth to children of these men. In his response, he claimed that the Church has a will to “do something more.”
So do more. Actions speak louder than words. Stop objectifying children and women, treating them as second class parishioners, concubines, or indentured acolytes who are available to service predatory men in your church.
Abuse in the Church has been a well-known issue for decades. Some believe sexual abuse of nuns dates back centuries, and in the 1990s, members of religious orders prepared private reports about this abuse for top Vatican officials that went nowhere.
Stop protecting abusive priests, open the gates of secrecy and adopt real reforms – starting with independent oversight that includes laypersons and leaders of the various orders of Catholic Sisters as part of the process.
Pope Francis needs to do more than improvising an answer about sexual abuse of nuns while standing aboard an airplane. He must punish offenders, support the families and survivors of this heinous abuse, and protect them from retribution for coming forward.
The Catholic Church must make these changes swiftly and immediately – they are hundreds of years overdue.
NOW Press, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-628-8669