Strong Women Steal the Show at Vatican Abuse Conference

Sister Veronica Openibo, a Nigerian nun who studied in the United States and has worked in Africa and Europe provided one of the strongest voices at the Vatican’s crisis summit on clerical sex abuse. “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, turning to Pope Francis who sat near her as she spoke. “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?” Openibo was one of only a handful of women present at the four-day conference, which wraps up Sunday with a mass and remarks by the pope. She, along with other women religious, have been particularly hard on the prelates in attendance, many of whom are accused of doing too little to stop abuse in their diocese. “We must acknowledge that our mediocrity, hypocrisy and complacency have brought us to this disgraceful and scandalous place we find ourselves as a Church. We pause to pray, Lord have mercy on us!” — Barbie Latza Nadeau