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Argentinian judge acknowledges years of gender abuse suffered by 20 nuns in groundbreaking ruling

Buños Aires, Argentina (AP) — An Argentina A judge ruled on Friday that 20 cloistered nuns in the country’s conservative north were abused by senior clergy for more than two decades and ordered the accused archbishop and church officials to undergo psychotherapy and sex discrimination training.

The verdict of the motherland Francis spotlights the long-standing abuse of nuns by priests and bishops in the Catholic Church.

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Although long overshadowed by other church scandals, such abuses in religious life are increasingly being made public and condemned as nuns are inspired by the #MeToo movement, which has had corollary consequences in the church# NunsToo.

Women gather around the San Bernardo convent in Salta, Argentina, on May 3, 2022, in support of the cloistered nuns who accuse Salta Archbishop Mario Antonio Caganello and other church officials of carrying out a Gendered psychological and physical violence. The Argentine court ruled that on Thursday, April 4, 2024, Caganello and three other church officials committed different forms of violence against the cloistered nuns of the convent. (AP Photo/Natasha Pisarenko)

“I conclude and confirm that for more than 20 years the nuns suffered religious, physical, psychological and economic gender-based violence,” Judge Carolina Cáceres said in her ruling in Salta, northwest Argentina.

She also ordered that the sentence be conveyed to Francis.

The four accused clerics deny committing any violence. The archbishop’s lawyer, Eduardo Romani, dismissed Friday’s ruling as baseless and vowed to appeal. However, he said the archbishop would comply with the order and receive treatment and anti-discrimination training through an institution. local NGO “whether or not he agrees with its basis”.

Lawyers for the nuns hailed the ruling as unprecedented in Argentina because it recognized the plight of journalists and deeper issues of sexism.

“It breaks the ‘status quo’ because it targets a person who has tremendous power,” attorney Jose Viola said.

In recent years, there have been several high-profile cases involving nuns, lay people or consecrated women who denounced spiritual, psychological, physical or sexual abuse by once-noble priests.

But complaints largely fell on deaf ears Holy See In Argentina’s all-male class system at the local level, this apparently prompted the nuns in Salta to seek redress from the secular justice system. A similar scenario played out decades ago when the clergy abuse of minors scandal first broke out and victims turned to the government. Proceedings were brought to court due to inaction by church authorities.

Twenty nuns from the cloistered Discrete Carmelite Order of San Bernardo, dedicated to solitude, silence and daily contemplative prayer, raised their claims in 2022, causing uproar in conservative Salta.

Their complaint lists a range of abuse, including verbal abuse, threats, humiliation and physical assault (though not sexual assault).

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The nuns said Archbishop Mario Cargnello grabbed, slapped and shook women. They said Caganello once pinched a nun’s lips to shut her up. On another occasion, he pounced on a nun and pinned her to the ground. They also accused Cagello of borrowing money from the nun and not paying it back.

Judge Cáceres described the incidents as part of a pattern of “physical and psychological gender-based violence” produced by the church’s strict hierarchy and culture of silence.

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