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At Vatican abuse summit, African nun scolds bishops on their errors

Sr. Veronica Openibo says there is a need to ask responsible and sensitive lay people and women religious to give a true and honest evaluation of candidates for episcopal appointments. (TWITTER PHOTO)

VATICAN CITY – An African nun scolded Roman Catholic bishops on Saturday for many mistakes in handling the sexual abuse crisis, saying the Church had to acknowledge its “mediocrity, hypocrisy and complacency”.

Sister Veronica Openibo, a Nigerian who has worked in Africa, Europe, and the United States, spoke with a soft voice but had a strong message for the prelates sitting before her.

“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 said.


Openibo delivered her talk at the start of the penultimate day of a Vatican summit conference of some 200 senior Church officials convened by Pope Francis to confront what he has called the scourge of sexual abuse by the clergy.

She directly told Pope Francis, sitting near her on the dais, that she admired him because he was “humble enough to change your mind,” apologize and take action after he initially defended a Chilean bishop accused of covering up abuse. The bishop later resigned.


“How could the clerical Church have kept silent, covering these atrocities? The silence, the carrying of the secrets in the hearts of the perpetrators, the length of the abuses and the constant transfers of perpetrators are unimaginable,” she said.

She spoke of her shock when she watched the 2015 Oscar-winning film Spotlight, which uncovered how Church leaders in Boston moved predator priests from parish to parish instead of defrocking them or turning them over to civil authorities.

“At the present time, we are in a state of crisis and shame. We have seriously clouded the grace of the Christ-mission,” Openibo said.

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