All Over the World, Catholic Nuns Are Having Their Own #MeToo Movement

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The Catholic Church, which has yet to meaningfully address cases of child sexual abuse throughout its parishes for years, must now face a new class of people speaking out about sexual abuse within the church: nuns emboldened by the #MeToo movement.


The Associated Press reports that nuns from around the world are coming forward with stories of sexual abuse committed by priests and criticizing senior leadership within the Catholic Church for not doing anything to prevent it from happening.

In Chile, the AP writes, a small group of nuns went on national TV and revealed that they had been abused by priests and other nuns. And last month, a nun accused of a bishop of rape, filing a complaint with the police.

Like in many powerful industries and landscapes, nuns are likely afraid of reporting abuses by their superiors because of their own subordinate status within the church, which itself makes the sister vulnerable to abuse. When they do come forward, there is not a system in place to handle their claims swiftly or justly. Professor Karlijn Demasure, who has studied clergical sexual abuse and formerly the executive director of the Center for Child Protection from the Pontifical Gregorian University, told the AP:

“They (the priests) can always say ‘she wanted it,’” Demasure said. “It is also difficult to get rid of the opinion that it is always the woman who seduces the man, and not vice versa.”

The nuns in Chile are speaking out against priests just as all of the bishops in Chile were allowed to resign in May after another major sexual abuse scandal. And the AP’s report comes weeks after the New York Times reported that cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was removed from the ministry in June after the Archdiocese of New York examined a claim that McCarrick sexually abused a minor and deemed it credible, was accused of sexually abusing young adult men in the church for years.

Senior Writer, Jezebel



The Catholic Church is rotten through and through. That’s why the whole “cool pope” thing perturbs me. It’s just putting a friendly face on the same old viciousness and corruption. He comes to Ireland next month and I’ll be amazed if he apologises for the immense damage they caused.

I hope these women find peace— they have no doubt been victims of awful abuse.

Sadly, it was nuns who were the day-to-day perpetrators of the worst of Irish women’s trauma. The priests were evil and laid the poison, ripping women from their homes when they “fell”. They were also abusing children in untold numbers. But the nuns were the vicious, evil creatures who, without compassion or mercy, enslaved those girls, beat them and stole their children. Those nuns were products of an institution that is the purest microcosm of the patriarchy to ever exist; the mechanisms of patriarchy are made explicit inside the church, complete with women made bare life to suffer for the sins of all and women brought in to mete out the punishment so that men don’t get their hands dirty. I never really understand the need for recourse to shows like The Handmaid’s Tale where I live. It’s not fiction; it’s recent history. Ask your grandmother; hell, ask your mother.

Of course, there were kindly nuns but they were no match for the sisters burying children in septic tanks. This is off-topic, I know, and I don’t want to derail discussion of their victimisation but I suspect this is an institution that is beyond reform.