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Vatican acknowledges abuse of women religious by priests

NCR Staff

The Vatican has acknowledged the sexual abuse of women religious by priests in a declaration posted March 20 on the Vatican website by spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls.

The problem to which the declaration refers was the subject of an extensive report in the March 16 issue of NCR. That story and the documentation upon which it was based are also available on this website.

The Vatican statement reads:

In relation to the news of cases of sexual abuse of women religious on the part of priests or missionaries, the director of the Sala Stampa of the Holy See, Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls, has released this morning the following declaration:

"The problem is known, and is restricted to a geographically limited area.

The Holy See is dealing with the question in collaboration with the bishops, with the Union of Superiors General (USG) and with the International Union of Superiors General (USIG). The work has two sides, the formation of persons and the solution of single cases.

Certain negative situations cannot cause to be forgotten the frequently heroic fidelity of the great majority of male religious, female religious and priests."

The statement, in Italian, is on the Vatican website at www.vatican.va The above is a translation by NCR.

The statement did not specify what geographic area is involved nor what was being done to deal with the problem.

Further details on the issue will appear in the March 30 issue of NCR.

The declaration was issued following publication of a long report – based on NCR’s March 16 cover story – in the March 20 issue of La Repubblica, Italy’s largest-circulation daily. The piece was written by leading Vaticanologist Marco Politi.

National Catholic Reporter, March 20, 2001