Two women made headlines on Saturday, the third day of the Vatican’s summit on sexual abuse by priests — the first held in the history of the Catholic Church.
The vast majority of summit attendees are men. But some of the toughest criticism so far has been delivered by women.
A Nigerian nun, Sister Veronica Openibo, shamed those before her by invoking cultural touchstones as old at the Ten Commandments and as new as the movie “Spotlight.”
“We proclaim the Ten Commandments and parade ourselves as being the custodians of moral standards and values and good behavior in society. Hypocrites at times? Yes! Why did we keep silent for so long?” she asked.
Openibo recalled her shock after watching “Spotlight,” the 2015 film that portrays the Boston Globe investigation into how church leaders kept stories of abuse hushed and abusers safe from facing justice or being held accountable.
Openibo thanked Pope Francis for allowing her to attend the summit, of which only roughly a dozen participants are women.
Mexican Journalist Valentina Alazraki, who has covered five papacies, also addressed the bishops.
“If you do not decide in a radical way to be on the side of the children, mothers, families, civil society, you are right to be afraid of us, because we journalists, who seek the common good, will be your worst enemies,” she warned.
“It is clear to me,” tweeted Massimo Faggioli, a professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University, “that Vatican meetings (Synod, Curia congregations, etc.) without the voice of women have become meaningless.”
That’s true. Not only because women have different perspectives on abuses by priests, but because women are central to a separate, lesser known story: abuse by nuns.
“We think of nuns as caregivers, and maternal and loving,” former nun Mary Dispenza told CBS News.
Dispenza, according to CBS, is in Rome urging the Catholic Church to present a plan to grapple with the issue of sexual abuse. Another woman in Rome who is raising her voice.