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South African nuns receive apology for mistreatment

A group of South African priests has apologised to African nuns for a range of mistreatment, including sexual abuse.

The National Catholic Reporter in the US first broke the story of five reports submitted to the Vatican documenting sexual abuse of nuns by priests, in Africa and elsewhere, in 2001.

Noting that "African nuns have been and continue to be given a raw deal in the church," the African Catholic Priests' Solidarity Movement apologised for "the many wrongs that have been perpetrated against our African religious sisters and for the role that we African priests have played in this ill treatment."

In its statement, the priests noted that opportunities for advanced education had been available to priests but not nuns, especially those from locally founded congregations.

"African nuns have often been financially disadvantaged. Unlike the priests who have always had some kind of significant allowance, the private use of a vehicle, a private (often spacious) house and many other material privileges, many African nuns have had to live with very little, even when they have been involved in diocesan ministries very similar to those of priests," the statement said.

On the issue of sexual abuse, the priests noted that in many cases where a pregnancy resulted from "an unhealthy relationship between a priest and a nun," the nun had to leave religious life while the priest was allowed to continue.

An African sister welcomed the statement.

"Their apology shows humility and openness, and we are grateful for their honesty," said Sr. Mary Modise, moderator general of the Companions of St. Angela in the Johannesburg Diocese, in an interview with Catholic News Service.

National Catholic Reporter

South African priests' apology for abusing nuns offers hope, nun says (Catholic News Service)

18 Aug 2003