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Catholic nuns break their silence on abuse by priests: 'I pretended it didn't happen'

The Catholic Church has a "global and pervasive" problem with the sexual abuse of nuns by priests and other male clergy, The Associated Press alleged in a lengthy investigative report published Saturday. The true prevalence of the abuse is unknown, as abuse reports are often kept quiet:

Some nuns are now finding their voices, buoyed by the #MeToo movement and the growing recognition that adults can be victims of sexual abuse when there is an imbalance of power in a relationship. The sisters are going public in part because of years of inaction by church leaders, even after major studies on the problem in Africa were reported to the Vatican in the 1990s. [...]

The extent of the abuse of nuns is unclear, at least outside the Vatican. Victims are reluctant to report the abuse because of well-founded fears they won’t be believed, experts told the AP. Church leaders are reluctant to acknowledge that some priests and bishops simply ignore their vows of celibacy, knowing that their secrets will be kept. [AP]

"It opened a great wound inside of me," one nun told the AP, recounting her experience of abuse at the hands of a priest who was supposed to be hearing her confession. "I pretended it didn't happen." She came forward with her story only after the priest in question died.

Earlier Saturday, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, D.C., who has been credibly accused of sexual abuse of a teenaged altar boy. And on Friday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court approved publication of a 900-page grand jury report on more than 300 "predator priests."

Read The Associated Press' full report here.