All Catholic priests and nuns worldwide are now required to report clergy sexual abuse and cover-up by their superiors as part of a sweeping new law implemented Thursday by Pope Francis. The law also includes whistle-blower protections for reporters.
In the dirt courtyard of St. Teresa’s Women’s College, in this port city in the southern Indian state of Kerala, a group of nuns cast curious glances toward a knot of chatty first-year students huddled together. The young women are mindful not to speak too loud, lest the sisters overhear the topic of their conversation — the alleged rape of a nun by the bishop who oversees a local religious order.
A highly publicized Pennsylvania grand jury report last year identified more than 300 predator Catholic priests who had sexually abused more than 1,000 children going back decades. But because the crimes were hidden by the church hierarchy, “almost every instance of abuse we found is too old to be prosecuted,” the statewide investigating body reported.
More Catholics are questioning their membership and participation in the church after heavily publicized sexual abuse scandals. Thirty-seven percent of Catholics in the United States say they have been questioning whether or not they would stay in the church after details of the abuse and cover-up became public.