Coalition Calls Vatican to Accountability for Abuse of Nuns
At demonstrations in New York and Washington D.C., a coalition of over 140 religious, human rights and women's rights organizations, including the Feminist Majority Foundation, called the Vatican to accountability in an effort to end sexual violence against nuns by Catholic priests. The coalition, led by Catholics for a Free Choice, called for an independent fact-finding mission and presented a letter and petitions addressed to Pope John Paul II.
The Call to Accountability is a response to reports of rape and abuse of Catholic nuns by priests in 23 countries. Despite having been informed of widespread abuse as early as 1995, the Vatican has taken no public steps to address the problem. Sexual abuse is reported to be highest in areas where AIDS is prevalent, because nuns appear to be "safe" sexual partners. In one diocese, 9 nuns died of AIDS, while 29 others were reported to be pregnant by priests.
The Call to Accountability Campaign hopes to put pressure on the Vatican to take a public stand against sexual violence, and to punish those priests who have raped and abused women. "The hyporcrisy of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church is astounding," said Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal, "The Vatican leads the campaign against abortion and birth control under the guise that sex is only for procreation at the same time that some priests rape and impregnante women, sometimes forcing them to use contraceptives or to have abortions."