The cases recorded by law enforcement agencies are only the tip of the iceberg, as they are often handled behind closed doors
Reports, documentaries and lawsuits reflect a dark outlook of the Catholic cleric in Chile. Hundreds of priests take advantage of their spiritual authority to obtain sexual favors, as has been known for more than three decades. In the South American region 158 religious people have been investigated since 2000 for cases of sexual abuse that have affected at least 266 lives, 178 minors, as reported by the Chilean Prosecutor's Office on July 23, 2018.
Leer en español: Monjas abusadas, una realidad perturbadora en Chile
The data recorded by the agencies of the law are only the tip of the iceberg, because many of the cases are handled by the same communities behind closed doors. Some of the most prone to be abused are the nuns, who in most cases decide to be silent about the submission that religious life implies and the lack of support from the congregation itself. There are more and more sisters who, despite their pain, find the strength to break the silence. These are your stories:
In July of 2018, a group of nuns from the Hermanas del Buen Samaritano congregation made public, through a TVN report, the sexual abuse they suffered from priests. One of the victims was Yolanda Tondreaux. "A priest approached me, he touched my chest and he kissed me on the face, reaching my lips ... He fondled me. It disgust me". The sister immediately told the mother superior, and far from finding support and comfort, he called her a liar and sent her to confession with the same abuser.
Sister Yolanda is part of a group of 23 nuns who were expelled from the congregation for reporting abuses. Others received monetary compensation of up to 20 million pesos (more than $ 30,000 USD) in exchange for their silence, says Tondreaux.
Before Sister Yolanda, there were other victims in the same congregation who dared to reveal their scars in search of justice. Consuelo Gómez left the Sisters of the Good Samaritan in 2017, shedding herself of the physical and psychological abuses perpetrated by priests and nuns. She said she suffered from stomach herpes because of a depression, they did not give her medical attention in the congregation. No one took action until her family found out and they took her to the doctor.
After this, she was transferred to Spain, where far from escaping misfortune, she experienced even more traumatic situations. Consuelo revealed that they touched their private parts to supposedly check the underwear. "By the same token, there was a lot of harassment from priests, chaplains and spiritual directors, many undue touches. They went their hands to areas that should not. This happened also in Chile, but in Spain they defended it a lot and accepted this behavior", said Consuelo.
In Spain, a nun, also a Chilean, abused her repeatedly. "When I went into the bathroom, she would also do it and lock it with keys and then grope me. He forced me physically and psychologically to do things that I did not want", explained the former religious who is now outside the community after 19 years of service.
In May 2017, Sister Francisca, of the Monastery of the Holy Trinity of the order of the Capuchin Poor Clares, said that five years ago she became pregnant after having been raped by Hernán Ríos, who was staying in the monastery, together with others, to make repairs in the place. The mother superior chose to incite her to the written resignation of the congregation and the Catholic Church. "They slandered me about theft, they told me that I was guilty of everything, that I did it on purpose. They accused me, my sisters were very cruel to me", declared Sister Francisca.
"The Catholic Church, instead of protecting her, defending her, and giving her professional guidance to denounce the crime that she suffered inside the monastery, from the beginning it doubted her word, blamed her for the violation and expelled her," said lawyer Camila Maturana, who took the case of Sister Francisca.
LatinAmerican Post | María de los Ángeles Rubio
Translated from "Monjas abusadas, una realidad perturbadora en Chile"