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TALCA, Chile (ChurchMilitant.com) - Former religious sisters in Chile are claiming they were sexually abused by priests and fellow nuns.
In a July 24 television report in Chile, five former nuns of the Congregation of the Good Samaritan claimed they were sexually abused by priests in the diocese of Talca, as well as by sisters in their congregation.
One of the former sisters, Yolanda Tondreaux, said in the report, "My silence stings my conscience. We have more than 23 sisters who, in one year, were expelled from the congregation because they were sexually abused, there was abuse of authority."
Likewise, another former Good Samaritan sister, Eliana Macías, alleges she was sexually abused by a priest who "would go into the nuns' rooms" at night to exploit them.
The five former nuns claim their then-superior, Patricia Ibarra Gómez, responded to complaints of abuse by bullying nuns into leaving the community.
Though not naming names, the five women say at least three priests abused them. One of the women, Consuelo Gómez, alleges she was a victim of sexual abuse by fellow Good Samaritan sisters.
Earlier this year, the Pope sent Msgr. Jordi Bertomeu and Abp. Charles Scicluna to investigate the clerical sex abuse scandal in Chile. The five former Good Samaritan sisters say they were able to present their accounts of sexual abuse to the Vatican's investigators.
The Associated Press (AP) used the former Good Samaritan sisters' story as a touching-off point to claim that the problem of priests sexually exploiting nuns is a worldwide phenomenon. An AP report on July 28 said that priests get away with abusing nuns because of the "universal tradition of sisters' second-class status in the Catholic Church and their ingrained subservience to the men who run it."
When all the bishops of Chile offered to resign in May, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of several, including Talca's Bp. Horacio Valenzuela. The diocese in southern Chile is currently headed by Apostolic Administrator Bp. Galo Fernandez Villaseca.
An apostolic administrator is a member of the clergy who runs a diocese temporarily in absence of a diocesan bishop. According to The Catholic Encyclopedia, "While the jurisdiction of the administrator apostolic is similar to that of the bishop, yet his honorary rights are greatly limited."
Talca's apostolic administrator, Bp. Fernandez, said in a May 29 report, "There are things that are not normal, that aren't right, and it's our responsibility to face them, correct them and where there has been a crime there certainly ought to be sanctions."