02/23/2019, 13.10
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Sr Veronica Openibo: Sexual abuse also in Africa and Asia

On the third day of the Vatican meeting on the ‘Protection of minors in the Church’, the Nigerian nun shows that the scourge of abuse is also present in the countries of the South of the world. Responding to this urgency is part of the Church's mission.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Sexual abuse is an issue “in countries in Africa and Asia” as well as “Europe, the Americas, Canada and Australia,” said Sister Veronica Openibo, of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus

The nun, who is from Nigeria, delivered the first of a series of reports on the third day of the Vatican meeting on ‘Protection of minors in the Church’.

One of the issues she stressed is the link between finding solutions to the abuse problem and the mission of the Church.

Sister Veronica has lived in Africa, as well as Europe and America. She noted "sexual abuse in convents and formation houses" in Nigeria, among an "ethnic group [that] practiced a lot of incest ", the story of a dying old man who said that he had experienced sexual abuse “as a teenager from the priests in his school,” and that of a “thirteen-year-old girl’ who was sexually assaulted by a priest.

For her, it is important that transparency, complaints, and healing also be implemented in countries where people are "struggling to put food on the table".

"The fact that there are huge issues of poverty, illness, war and violence in some countries in the Global South does not mean that the area of sexual abuse should be downplayed or ignored. The Church has to be pro-active in facing it."

Concerns about the problems related to the protection of minors stem from the realisation of the "damage" it has wrecked upon "the mission of the Church".

The nun makes a number of suggestions, like stressing the vocation of the laity against "clericalism" and the presumed "superiority" of vocations of male and female virginity, preparation of "educational programs and training kits", and exerting influence "in the film industry, TV and advertising" to promote a “better view of the human person."

“We are called,” she said, “to proclaim the good news but we must BE good news to the people we serve today. No wonder Pope Francis has declared the month of October 2019 the Extra Ordinary Missionary Month.”

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