Abused nuns: ‘The training of priests must be addressed’

Karlijn Demasure, Executive Director of Centre for Child Protection, attends a press conference at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Monday, Feb. 16, 2015. Pope Francis' point man on clerical sex abuse says the failure of the church to punish bishops who covered up for pedophiles has seriously hurt its credibility and that the church must now lead the way by "humbly making the commitment to accountability, transparency and zero tolerance." Cardinal Sean O'Malley said canon lawyers and theologians were reviewing proposals for the pope on holding bishops accountable that were developed by Francis' commission of experts, which he chairs and includes two abuse survivors. (AP Photo/Isabella Bonotto)



The most complicated cases are those in which the bishop always tends to side with the abusive priest, says a professor of theology at the Gregorian

Nicolas Senèze, Rome
March 7, 2019







Karlijn Demasure, a professor of theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome proposes several means of putting an end to the sexual abuse of nuns committed by priests.


Here is an article by Professor Karlijin Demasure (Professor of theology, Rome) on the proper training of priests so that they do not abuse nuns.  She mentions of some systematic changes in the training of nuns too to make them aware of the possible danger of sexual abuse so that they avoid situation that could facilitate the abuse (not being alone in a priest's room, never being alone with priests). She just stops at these suggestions without highlighting on modern CCTV and other security systems.  What about teaching self-defence to nuns during their novitiate days? She is also silent on the complicity of nuns superiors with predator priests and bishops as was the case with Frightening Franco Mulakkal.  Isaac Gomes, Asso. Editor, Church Citizens' Voice.  


It is important to know how nuns can be induced into having sexual relations with priests. It is rarely a case of brute force. Often, the priest instigates a relationship that then allows him, over time, to go further and further.

One sensitive issue is that of new movements which are sometimes closed and almost sect-like in nature, where young nuns are cut off from the outside world. A particular kind of supervision would have to be established with regard to apostolic visits.

Moreover, when the priest is the founder of the movement and has the advantage of a charisma that gives him real power, it becomes more and more difficult to accept the word of victims.

We see this in reactions of rejection, including rejection by mothers superior who side with the priest against their sister. This is due to the continuance of the theology that gives priority to the priest, designating him as superior, as holy. Even women cannot believe that is possible that priests commit this kind of crime.

In this old theology, in which it is the woman, Eve, who is the seductress, the priest cannot be guilty. And a bishop even less so!


The importance of training

The most complicated cases are going to be those of diocesan congregations in which the bishop on whom they depend always tends to side with the abusive priest rather the nun who is the victim.

In this kind of congregation that is totally dependent on the bishop, it is difficult to make a complaint without the risk of putting into question the work or finances of the other sisters.

This is why it is important that the training of nuns includes making them aware of the possible danger of sexual abuse so that they avoid situation that could facilitate the abuse (not being alone in a priest's room, never being alone with priests).

Boundaries of this kind are beginning to be put in place to some extent, even though it's far from being the case everywhere.

However, in this, the emphasis is on the responsibility, even the culpability, of nuns, I believe that the training of priests must also be addressed.


The issue of clericalism

Of course, there can be cases of loving relationships between a priest and a nun founded upon mutual consent. These no doubt exist, and although these cases involve a transgression of the vow of chastity, there is no question of abuse.

There is abuse in a relationship of dependence between the two, if the power is unequal. This is what the training of priests must stress.

Here, we come back to the issue of clericalism, which was denounced by Pope Francis. It is a pity that, in terms of responsibility, accountability and transparency, this issue was not addressed as such during last month's Vatican Summit on sexual abuse within the Church.

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2 Responses

  1. Isaac_gomes says:


    In Kolkata, one parish priest named K.K. Sebastian alias Sebastian Kuzhipala used to bully his parishioners through use of money power and goon power.  He would invariably rub shoulders with the local level honchos of the ruling party and get a lot of his unethical work done, mainly murky real estate deals.  It is understandable he could not have done this without the knowledge of his then Provincials. He had hired goons to silence his parishioners who were upright and did not toe the dotted lines.  Even nuns of the different congregations complained to the Archbishop against Fr K.K. Sebastian’s brashness and requested for his REMOVAL. Ultimately K.K. Sebastian vanished into the blue when the said parishioners filed a court case against him, his provincial and others. Reportedly he is still lurking around in the outskirts of Bengal.  Fr K.K. (?) is also infamous for his Loreto Convent Lucknow September 2006 so-called “manifestation of Lord Jesus Christ in physical form” through occult session.  On seeing the demo of Jesus entering one's body through a "hissing sound" resembling a snake, over a dozen students fainted during the ritual while several others came away psychologically upset and frightened. The episode created a stir after some parents went to the media over the alleged “forceful indoctrination” of their children.

    Readers may refer to websites: https://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-lucknow-convent-school-shut-in-protest-over-jesus-christ-row-1052483

    and https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Loretos-date-with-Jesus/articleshow/1973682.cms

  2. George Nedumparambil says:

    These are some suggestions. (1) No convent should have a chapel where priests conducts Mass or hear confessions unless the convent is in a remote area where there is no nearby church. In such cases only priests above 65 years of age should be deputed to the service. (2) Wherever churches exist nearby, nuns should attend Mass and make confessions there.  (3) The practice of preparing food for  priests by nuns should be completely stopped.  Instead priests should have their own arrangements. (4) Convents should be given a fixed amount by the diocese and should not be dependent on the pleasures of clergy for funds.  (5) Convents should be made free of interference from the clergy. (6) The practice of overnighting by priests at the convents must be completed banned. .  

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