The punishments were continuous. Fortunately, never physical, but always psychological: little food deprivation, no recreation.
The complaint comes from within the walls of the Holy See. The veil of silence collects chilling testimonies of the abuses of power experienced by some nuns after entering the convent and the abandonment they suffer when they decide to leave, explains in an interview with Efe his actor, Salvatore Cernuzio, journalist for the official Vatican media.
The book, which has just been published in Italy edited by San Paolo, “It arises from several journalistic investigations that caught my attention, but above all from the meeting with a friend, whom I had not seen for a long time, a nun even appreciated for her religious order and how she was when she returned home: unrecognizable”, reports.
Cernuzio then begins to investigate, going to a religious community in Rome where they take refuge the nuns who leave convents and don’t know where to go and, from that moment on, he received the testimonies of women “who they needed to be heard and they asked her to listen to others they knew and who had been through the same thing. “
Eleven testimonies, the tip of the iceberg
The journalist highlights that the eleven nuns he has found have requested anonymity.
The journalist highlights that in addition to suffering the abuses, especially of power, the nuns have not been given due attention: according to data updated to 2018 from the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, only on 3 8% of the world’s institutes were the object of an apostolic visitation. “Taking into account that this is an official figure, it can be assumed that it is only the tip of the iceberg of a generalized crisis,” he says.
“‘Stupid! Where’s your head? Pay a little attention ‘. The screams still echo in Marcela’s head. Not a week ago she left the religious institute where she spent more than twenty years of her life and, although the neurotic superior who dictated the course of the day according to her mood is gone, she continues to live with guilt, trauma, and fear of being scolded when she gets up ten minutes late”Is the testimony of this Latin American nun.
The punishments were continuous. Fortunately, never physical, but always psychological: little food deprivation, no-play bans, public insults. “He was constantly shouting, even in the chapel in front of the Blessed Sacrament, perhaps because of a light or a stain on the ground”, says Marcela, a name invented to guarantee her anonymity.
Needed psychological help after leaving the convent
The woman has started a psychological therapy: “I have past trauma. I’m always afraid of making mistakes … ”, she confesses in the book because, as Cernuzio points out, many of them have needed emotional support and the worst thing is that in the convent they were denied that possibility. “They told them that everything would be fixed by praying,” he explains.
The testimonies also suggest that in many of these abuses there is an undercurrent of racism, against women from poor countries. “You are not yet a nun, you do not know what to do, you have no right to say this, you do not understand anything”, they told Anne Marie, born in Cameroon, to whom they continually made racist comments and was not even told that her mother had passed away while she was in the first year of her novitiate.
Aleksandra, a 31-year-old consecrated young woman, reveals that after confessing to her superior of the congregation that she had suffered sexual abuse by a priest with whom she worked on a project, she accused her of having provoked it. “She remained impassive, but that could have been my impression. What destroyed me was his response. She told me that others had also complained about similar issues and that, obviously, if it happened, it was because the nuns provoked the priests ”, claims.
“She lay inert for weeks, weighed down with thoughts, crushed by trauma, feeling dirty and scared.”, writes Cernuzio, who only hopes that the book “does good to these religious and does good to the Church.”
The work has the foreword by the undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops, Nathalie Becquart, the first woman with a vote in this assembly. “It makes us hear the too often silenced cries and sufferings of consecrated women who entered religious communities to follow Christ and found themselves prey to painful situations that, for most of them, led them to leave consecrated life”, highlights Cristina Cabrejas. (I)