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Psychological abuse of nuns in monasteries, revealed in a book

Psychological abuse of nuns in monasteries, revealed in a book

The complaint comes from within the walls of the Holy See. “Veil of Silence” collects chilling testimonies of the abuses of power some nuns experienced after they entered the convent and were deserted when they decided to leave, explains the book’s author, Salvatore Sernozio, a journalist in state media in an interview with Effie. Vatican.

The book, which has just been published in Italy and edited by San Paolo, “originated from several journalistic investigations which caught my attention, but above all from an encounter with a friend whom I had not seen for a long time, even a nun was so appreciative of her religious order. And how it was when he came home : unrecognizable,” he says.

Then Cernuzio began to investigate, going to a religious community in Rome where the nuns who had left the monasteries and did not know where to go took refuge, and from that moment on, he received the testimonies of women “who needed to listen and ask” for him to listen. to others who know them and who have gone through the same thing.”

Eleven Testimonies, La Punta del Iceberg

The journalist highlights that the eleven nuns he found asked not to reveal their identities, and says that in addition to suffering abuses, especially power, due attention was not paid to the nuns: according to 2018 updated data from the consecration of consecrated institutes. Apostolic Life and Communities Only 3.8% of the world’s institutes were the subject of an apostolic visit. “Considering that this is an official number, it can be assumed that it is only the tip of the iceberg of a generalized crisis,” he says.

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“Stupid! Where’s your head? Pay attention a little.” Screams still echoed in Marcella’s head. Only a week before she left the seminary where she had spent more than twenty years of her life, and though the nervous chief who dictated the course of the day had disappeared according to her mood, she still lives with guilt, shock, and fear that someone would scold her when she woke up ten minutes late,” The testimony of a nun from Latin America.

Sanctions were continuing. Fortunately, not physically, but always psychological: lack of food deprivation, ban on playing, public insults. “He was shouting constantly, even in the chapel in front of the Blessed Sacrament, perhaps because of a light or a spot on the floor,” says Marcella, a name invented to ensure anonymity.

He needs psychological help after leaving the monastery

The woman began psychotherapy: “I suffer from past traumas. I am always afraid of making mistakes …”, she admitted in the book because many of them, as Cernuzio points out, need emotional support and the worst thing is that in the monastery they denied this possibility. “They told them that prayer would be good,” he explains.

The testimonies also indicate that in many of these violations there is a hidden racist current against women from poor countries. “You’re not a nun yet, and you don’t know what to do, you don’t have the right to say this, you don’t understand anything,” they told Anne-Marie, who was born in Cameroon, to whom and they did not rescind incessant racist comments. Even telling her that her mother died in her first year of primary school.

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Alexandra, a 31-year-old holy woman, reveals that after she admitted to the head of the congregation that she was sexually assaulted by a priest with whom she was working on a project, she accused her of provoking herself. “She kept silent, but that could have been my impression. What broke me was her response. She told me that others have also complained of similar issues, and obviously, if that happened, it was because we nuns provoked pastors,” he says.

“I lay dormant for weeks, weighed down by thoughts, crushed by trauma, and feeling filth and fear,” writes Cernozio, who only hopes the book “does good for these nuns and does good for the church.”

His work is presented by the Procurator of the Synod of Bishops, Nathalie Becquart, the first woman to vote in this council. “It makes us hear the cries and suffering of the often silent consecrated women who entered religious communities to follow Christ and found themselves prey to painful situations which, for most of them, led them to leave the consecrated life.”