The abuses of priest make Catholics give up their religion

At the end of last century we had in several countries, like Belgium, the Netherlands and the United States, that the abuse of young people by Catholic clergymen came to light and shook the community.

In Belgium alone, more than 120 victims stood up to denounce the church’s failure to stem the sexual abuse, which went on for years. But in the 1950ies and 60ies often parents did not want to believe their children when they came home with such stories of abuse. In such a way, frequently those kids for a second time became a victim.

Monseigneur Roger Vangheluwe Brugge.jpg
On 23 April 2010 Pope Benedict XVI accepted Vangheluwe’s resignation after his admission that he had repeatedly sexually abused his nephew for 13 years, starting when the boy was just 5 years old. The abuse began when Vangheluwe was a priest and continued after he was made a bishop. His is the first episcopal resignation in Belgium relating to the sexual abuse of minors.[
The thing that bothered people the most was that bishops when they found out about abuses, did not punish the perpetrator but simply transferred him to another place. In Belgium, there was even a very distinguished bishop who made sexual victims himself and when the courts came after him, he hid in France, where he can still live undisturbed today. But the pope reigning at that time did not walk free either, because he knew about several cases and kept it quiet and even protected certain accused people.

In a hypocritical way, Bishop Vangeluwe even dared to say openly and repeatedly in the press that such stories of abuses in the Catholic Church only served to undermine the Church.
The bishop declared:

“I think you need to be well informed about these things. In a way, it’s not a tougher subject than many others. Yes, it’s embarrassing, it’s scandalous. But then again, so are many other things […] Also, there have been some articles that imply that pedophilia is nowhere so little prevalent as in the Church […] {De Standaard, 26 April 2010}

As late as 21 April 2010, Vangheluwe had written a column in a regional edition of the Flemish Catholic weekly Kerk en Leven (“Church and Life”), saying that

“at present we suffer from the scandals that batter the Church: everywhere there are stories of priests abusing children. It’s horrible to see these things surface, and they hurt us deeply. Nevertheless, this shouldn’t blind us from the fact that the majority of priests lead exemplary lives and represent a support to many. (…) They aspire to imitate Jesus. {Het Laatste Nieuws, 23 April 2010.}

In 2012 priests and bishops from 110 dioceses and 30 religious orders were attending a four-day workshop ahead of a May deadline to submit their guidelines for review by the Holy See. Monsignor Charles Scicluna spoke to reporters on the sidelines of a Vatican-backed symposium on clerical sex abuse that was designed to help bishops around the world craft guidelines to protect children and keep paedophiles out of the priesthood. He said:

“It is a crime in canon law to show malicious or fraudulent negligence in the exercise of ones duty.”

Though he also added

“I’m not saying that we should start punishing everybody for any negligence in his duties. But … it is not acceptable that when there are set standards, people do not follow the set standards.”

He pointed to a problem that, theologically speaking, bishops are very much masters of their own dioceses and as such the pope shall not quickly interfere with domestic issues.

“What we need to do is to be vigilant in choosing candidates for the important role of bishop, and also to use the tools that canonical law and tradition give for accountability of bishops,”

he said.

“It’s not a question of changing laws, it’s a question of applying what we have.”

Though after so many years we still can see that not much seems to have changed. Except we now come to hear about more cases of priests who now no longer have sex with boys or girls but have forced their sexual appetites on nuns.
At a time when the Vatican  at last took some more concrete steps to address a long ordeal with sex abuse and coverups, a growing chorus of nuns came speaking out about the suffering they have endured at the hands of the priesthood, including rape, forced abortion, emotional abuse and labour exploitation.

In the MeToo era, with variations of related local or international names, the social movement against sexual abuse and sexual harassment , there’s a growing chorus of nuns speaking out as survivors of abuse as well.

A 2018 investigative report by the Associated Press found that the abuse of nuns

“is global and pervasive, thanks to the universal tradition of sisters’ second-class status in the Catholic Church and their ingrained subservience to the men who run it.”

A devout Catholic from Germany, Doris Wagner was 24 years old, joined a convent in 2003. Living and working at this religious community just outside the Vatican, there was a priest who came into her room, closed the door behind him, got sitting on her right hand on the sofa. And he just started to undress her. When she told her superiors, she says the priest went unpunished, allowing him to rape her again and again. In other cases often nuns were told they would be at fault by provoking the priest.

This is not the only event where a nun told her superiors, whilst they did nothing to stop the priest from continuing his dirty work. Story after story like Wagner’s is reaching a crescendo.

A recent investigation by the Associated Press found cases of abuse across four continents. You would think now the Vatican can no longer ignore the scandal, though this year, Pope Francis made a shocking admission and acknowledged what had been a longstanding dirty secret of the Roman Catholic Church, that some priests had been sexually abusing nuns, the question remains what the church is going to do about it.

The Italian cover of “The Veil of Silence: Abuses, Violence and Frustrations in Female Religious Life" by Salvatore Cernuzio. Courtesy image
The Italian cover of “The Veil of Silence: Abuses, Violence and Frustrations in Female Religious Life” by Salvatore Cernuzio. Courtesy image

In a newly published book, a Vatican journalist details the mental and physical abuse, oppression and racism experienced by religious sisters. Their treatment is often considered one of the most hidden issues within the Catholic Church.

The book, “The Veil of Silence: Abuses, Violence and Frustrations in Female Religious Life,” is written by Salvatore Cernuzio, a Vatican reporter from Italy, after he began to hear the stories of abuse and belittlement that exist in many female religious congregations.

But an other facet we may not lose sight of, is the sexual abuse by nuns, because also women misused minors.

Anne Gleeson was 12 years old when she says Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet Judith Fisher — her charismatic, redheaded history teacher at Immacolata School in Richmond Heights, Missouri — began singling her out for special attention.

“She’d wander around the classroom, and she’d lean on my chair and press her fingers into my back. Or she’d send me a little note or leave a present in my desk,”

Gleeson, now 63, said. The secret, forbidden touches gave Gleeson shivers.

She says the rape began in 1971 when she was 13, although it would take three decades and some therapy for her to recognize it as such. In Gleeson’s adolescent mind, she was simply head over heels in love with a woman 24 years her senior. The sexual contact happened anywhere and everywhere, Gleeson said:

Anne Gleeson at age 13, her age when she says Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet Sr. Judith Fisher, 24 years her senior, initiated a sexual relationship with her. "She completely stole my adolescence," Gleeson told Global Sisters Report. (Provided photo)
Anne Gleeson at age 13, her age when she says Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet Sr. Judith Fisher, 24 years her senior, initiated a sexual relationship with her. “She completely stole my adolescence,” Gleeson told Global Sisters Report. (Provided photo)

in stairwells at the school, in Fisher’s bedroom at the convent, on the overnight trips Fisher arranged with Gleeson’s mother and another Sister of St. Joseph.

Anne Gleeson at age 13, her age when she says Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet Sr. Judith Fisher, 24 years her senior, initiated a sexual relationship with her. “She completely stole my adolescence,” Gleeson told Global Sisters Report. (Provided photo)

“To me, it was almost miraculous,”

Gleeson told Global Sisters Report.

“I was even kind of jealous of the ring on her finger. She was the bride of Christ — and, yet, she told me that we would always be together forever.”

Nuns and priests misused such ideas that they were people of God and would take care that the person would be with them in heaven.

Alone in the USA according to the watchdog group BishopAccountability.org, as of September 2020, 162 women religious have been publicly accused of sexual abuse in the United States. But former Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, Mary Dispenza, who heads the subgroup within the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP) for those abused by Catholic sisters, has received more than 90 phone calls and emails with stories of both physical and sexual abuse, about 60 of them just in the last two years. She suspects that the real total might be in the thousands. After all, there are more than 6,700 credible abuse accusations against priests, and women religious, globally, outnumber priests by more than 200,000.

In any case it is very clear that the Catholic Church did not manage to protect little children and that they did not undertake protective measures as soon as they became aware of any wrongdoing.

Several abuse survivors had similar experiences when they told someone in the church or in a religious community what a Catholic sister or priest had done to them:

Their claims were downplayed or dismissed, and the sister or priest in question faced no immediate consequences; if she or he was ever removed from active ministry, it was not until decades later.

Many accused sisters and priests may have died, but their victims live on with a trauma. Lots of them lost faith not only in church but also in God and religion in general.

A major French report, which took 2 1/2 years to conclude, listening to victims and witnesses and studying church, court, police and press archives starting from the 1950s, was released Tuesday and found that an estimated 330,000 children were victims of sex abuse within France’s Catholic Church over the past 70 years, in France’s first major reckoning with the devastating phenomenon.

“About 60% of men and women who were sexually abused encounter major problems in their sentimental or sexual life.”

says Jean-Marc Sauvé, the president of the commission that issued the report.

Sauvé said the overall figure of victims includes an estimated 216.000 people abused by priests and other clerics.

The 2,500-page document prepared by an independent commission comes as the Catholic Church in France, like in other countries, seeks to face up to shameful secrets that were long covered up.

Olivier Savignac, head of victims association “Parler et Revivre” (Speak out and Live again), who contributed to the probe, told The Associated Press that the high ratio of victims per abuser is particularly

“terrifying for French society, for the Catholic Church.”

The Catholic church seems to forget how those events derailed those victims lives.

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Preceding

  1. People are turning their back on Christianity
  2. Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and lightening
  3. Clergy not contributing enough to America
  4. Different assessment criteria and a new language to be found for communicating the faith
  5. Youngsters, parents and the search to root in life
  6. About declining numbers who declare themselves as religious
  7. An other trait for faith in Jesus and his God

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Please find to read

  1. Subcutaneous power for humanity 2 1950-2010 Post war generations
  2. Manifests for believers #1 Sex abuse setting fire to the powder
  3. Manifests for believers #2 Changing celibacy requirement
  4. Continuous surprises of Catholic horror in Canada
  5. After Years Of Abuse By Priests, #NunsToo Are Speaking Out
  6. New book shines light on abuse and racist discrimination of Catholic nuns
  7. Catholic nuns lift veil on abuse in convents
  8. Nun, among few at Vatican abuse summit, blasts church for ‘mediocrity, hypocrisy and complacency’
  9. Abused nuns reveal stories of rape, forced abortions
  10. Nuns Raped Girls With Crucifixes as Female Pedophilia Was Covered Up by the Church
  11. Survivors of sex abuse by nuns suffer decades of delayed healing
  12. Survivors Of Sexual Abuse By Nuns Want Greater Visibility For Their Accusations
  13. French report: 330,000 children victims of church sex abuse

in Dutch:

  1. Een Manifest voor Gelovigen

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Additional reading

  1. Male domination and tyranny giving opportunities to defile the Name of God
  2. Abuse been kept silent by Jehovah’s Witnesses organisation
  3. People are turning their back on Christianity (Our world)
  4. Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and lightening (Our world)
  5. Clergy not contributing enough to America (Our world)
  6. Different assessment criteria and a new language to be found for communicating the faith (Our world)
  7. Youngsters, parents and the search to root in life (Our world)
  8. Women, conservative evangelicals and their counter-offensive

+++

Related

  1. Child Sexual Abuse within the Dutch Catholic Church
  2. Belgium launches legal action against the Vatican for sexual abuse by paedophile priests
  3. Now Gathering in Rome, a Conclave of Fallible Cardinals
  4. My Story
  5. Redeeming Power: Understanding Abuse and Authority in the Church by Dr. Diane Langberg Book Review
  6. Portraits of Betrayal in the Diocese of Buffalo: We’re taking names.
  7. Accountability is key to establishing Trust in the Diocese of Buffalo
  8. Occasionally, news reporters want to know what normal Catholics in the pews think.
  9. “I want these cardinals and these bishops to put their ass on the line and start protecting their people.”
  10. While being completely ignored by lay “leaders” in diocese, Dr. Dennis DePerro displayed integrity in face of clergy sex abuse crisis in Diocese of Buffalo
  11. A Statement on Clergy Sexual abuse
  12. Pa. legislature to move sex abuse survivor stand-alone bill
  13. Pope Francis Asks For, Accepts MN Bishop Michael Hoeppner’s Resignation Following Sex Abuse Investigation
  14. Warrior writers – Kristal and Eileen
  15. What the hell is Bishop Mike thinking? Pandering to diocese’s version of “Blue Wall of Silence” won’t “renew” anything
  16. Josh Duggar and the Predator’s Playbook
  17. “Wayback Wednesday” ~ Preventative Measures: 6 Steps SBC Churches Can Take to Prevent Sexual Abuse
  18. Rev. Ryszard Biernat speaks to national audience: Disrupting the dioceses’ sexual predatory culture will get you banned from ministry
  19. My message to Papal Nuncio: As a corroborating witness to Msgr LiPuma’s participation in clergy sexual abuse coverup, I object to his candidacy to any office or title in the Roman Catholic Church
  20. Woe to the shepherds
  21. A portrait of clericalism in the Diocese of Buffalo
  22. Seven Years Ago
  23. Senators, survivors call for accountability in botched handling of child sex abuse reports–something bishops NEVER do
  24. The silent collateral damage of the clergy sex abuse crisis points to the absurdity of the Church Synod
  25. Child Sexual Abuse : Spread the Word!!!
  26. Child Sexual Abuse: Submerge to Emerge
  27. How Can You Define Premeditated Child Sexual Abuse?
  28. What is Child Sexual Abuse Grooming?
  29. Child Sexual Abuse Grooming: Confusion and Manipulation
  30. Who are Child Sexual Abuse Predators?
  31. Women and Child Sexual Abuse
  32. Is Pedophilia a Sexual Orientation?
  33. Dr. Benjamin Carson: Same-Sex Marriage and the correlation between Homosexuality, Pedophilia, and Bestiality
  34. Five Frequently Asked Questions About Religious Spiritual Abuse and Child Sexual Abuse
  35. Will the Church Help Child Sexual Abuse Survivors with Mental Illness?
  36. Why do People Sexually Abuse Children? By Minister Marlene
  37. How Should a Pastor Respond to Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse?
  38. Five Myths About Lil’ Wayne and his Child Sexual Abuse
  39. Silence is Violence: End Child Sexual Abuse
  40. Marko Hamlin: One Man’s Story Of Overcoming Child Sexual Abuse and Depression
  41. You Are A Survivor Of Child Sexual Abuse
  42. Processing…
  43. Procession (2021) ☆☆☆1/2(3.5/4): The Act of Healing
  44. ReGAIN Manifesto – Regain co-editor comes clean
  45. When Inaccurate Memories Cut
  46. Called to the Foot of the Cross: Why the Catholic Church Needs a “Catechesis of Survivor Stories”
  47. Vulnerability is not a negative state

Published by Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".

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