VATICAN CITY (CNS): The Vatican has acknowledged the problem of sexual abuse of nuns by priests in some missionary territories and said it was working with bishops and religious orders to correct it.
Following the March 20 statement, missionary officials and senior members of religious orders said the dimensions and geographical extent of the sexual abuse were largely unknown and complicated by sometimes overlapping issues of cultural practice and failure to live celibacy vows.
They also said instances of sexual abuse and misconduct did not paint a complete picture of the Church in Africa and elsewhere. But the acknowledgment drew attention to long-standing concerns that the African Church’s rapid growth has not been accompanied by adequate formation or commitment.
Papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said that “some negative situations” should not obscure the “often heroic faithfulness of the great majority of men and women religious and priests”.
He said the problem “is restricted to a limited geographical area”, which he did not identify, and said the Vatican was addressing it through the “dual approach of formation of persons and of solving individual cases”.