Bishops Crack Down on Nuns: Decisions from a Parallel Universe


Click here to read: “The Inquisition: Vatican issues a knuckle-rap to the nuns,” by Cokie Roberts and Steven V. Roberts, phillyburbs.com, April 26, 2012

Excerpt: “The nuns’ silence on gay marriage must be particularly galling to their new inquisitor. Archbishop Sartain has thrown the full force of his office behind a proposed ballot initiative to overturn Washington state’s new marriage equality law. His 2010 appointment to the Seattle archdiocese provoked protest from victims of pedophilia, because only a year earlier, Sartain had ordained a molester — later convicted of his crimes — despite warnings from other priests.”

Editor’s note: After being cited in Amnesty International’s report of human rights violators, this move takes “you know what.” They realize they are losing moral authority over the faithful and hope to force women’s religious orders to further their agenda. And it’s an agenda far removed from what I learned in religion class. It’s a power play – pure and simple.

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56 Responses to “Bishops Crack Down on Nuns: Decisions from a Parallel Universe”

  1. Below is a letter I sent to Archbishop Chaput.

    April 26, 2012

    Good Morning Archbishop Chaput:

    I am sorry that I am once again writing to you but as our Bishop you are our official teacher and frankly, I am so fed up I don’t know where to turn. The daily transcripts and news reports about the Philadelphia dioceses sexual abuse trial are painful but it is necessary for us to follow because of the sin and civil crime of abuse to children and the crime of the dioceses “cover-up.” I know there are some who say that this was not a “cover-up” because the individuals were given the medical treatment that was the accepted method of treatment, but they ignore that abuse of children has always been a civil crime and the individuals involved should have been turned over to law enforcement. I am well aware that in most cases after an individual was arrested they were given probation and medical treatment by the courts but they broke the law and had to first be arrested. The Philadelphia dioceses and many others in the US, Europe and tragically the Vatican ignored civil law and worried more about scandal and how the crime would adversely impact the church financials. I believe, at this time, the concern of the church hierarchy should be on the fact that in the not too distant future similar crimes of sexual abuse by priest and the “cover up” by dioceses in Asia, Africa and Latin America will result in this issue rearing its ugly head for many years.

    I try hard to be a good Catholic and I am a Catholic because of my belief in the Eucharist, Scripture and the Liturgy of the Mass. With all respect to you, I must admit that I have lost my respect for many of the church hierarchy. The “icing on the cake” is the recent 8 page report from the Vatican of their 3-yeart inquiry of the US Catholic Nuns and their organization “Leadership Conference of Women Religious.” It seems to me that the church hierarchy in Rome is “asleep at the wheel” – they should have been spending these 3 years performing an inquiry into why dioceses, Bishops and Cardinals were not following the civil laws and taking action to stop the sexual abuse of children. I try to go to Mass daily and regardless of if I am in my parish or somewhere else in the world I see few attendees and I see the young adults avoiding participation in their faith. Why doesn’t Rome see this and know that is a critical issue that must be addressed in today’s society?

    I hope and would urge the Nuns do everything they can to ignore this foolish inquiry and that they let Bishop Sartain know he is needed more in Seattle managing his dioceses than he is needed to “oversee the LCWR.” Bishop Sartain must know that he has had priest step down and that there are currently open cases of claims of abuse to children by priest in the Seattle diocese. Since I was 6 years old Nuns have been a part of my life from my early education to the care of members of my family and I never saw a Nun do anything to violate church precepts or tradition. I wish I could say the same about priest, Bishops and Cardinals! The Vatican report was concerned that the LCWR supported the President’s HealthCare law, well Rome better wake up because many US Bishops and priest also supported this law, commonly called “Obamacare.” The report says the LCWR (Nuns) is pursuing “radical feminist themes” – excuse me, but based on my observance, Nuns have been treated as second class citizens by many priest and many in the church hierarchy. A far bigger concern, in my opinion, is what I call the “radical doctrine of avoidance of following civil law” by priest, Bishops and Cardinals. The barn is on fire and Rome is not paying attention to the fire and damage to the barn because they are out rounding up the horses that are safely out in the pasture while the fire burns unattended.

    I am sorry for the tone of this letter but as Bishop you are a direct line from the Apostles and you are the Shepard of my dioceses and I don’t know where else to turn with my frustration, annoyance and anger over the details of the involvement of so many in the sexual abuse issue and now this decision to “oversee” an organization run by and for Nuns’. Frankly, I have no idea what you can say that will calm down the feelings I have for how the church hierarchy has abandoned its duties to the teaching of Christ. A local priest recently explained my feelings far better than I when he said – “We need to cleanse and purify the Church to reflect truly Christ presence, we need also to bring people back to our Catholic Church family so that they can find Christ once again.” That should be the priority of the elder gentleman in Rome and not to bother Nuns who give Christ like care in education, hospitals and too many of the less fortunate while living a life dedicated to Christ and the church.

    Over the past few years I have read the many postings by the “Voice of the Faithful” and the “Catholics4Change.” This week I officially joined VOF and plan to be active in helping the local “Catholics4Change.” I took this action because it seems to me the lay people who believe in our Catholic faith must step up and do what we can to get the church hierarchy to listen and follow the teachings of Christ. I am a Catholic and I believe in the precepts and teachings of the church therefore I will remain an active Catholic and follow the advice you gave in your book, “Render unto Caesar” about being active.

    I think it is fair and correct to inform you this is the first letter to you that I will openly share with many family and friends.

    Respectfully,

    .

    • Archbishop Chaput will answer personal emails. At least he used to. Just call the Archdiocese’s office and ask for his personal email address.

      • Thanks, Jeannie. Please consider sending Chaput my new piece on the importance of the Philly trial to the pope. Chaput won’t likely read it if I send it. Thanks.

        It is “Philly Predator Priests & Papal Politics”, accessible by clicking on at:

        http://www.bilgrimage.blogspot.com/2012/04/gerald-t-slevin-philly-predator-priests.html

      • Jeannie — This is the third letter I have sent to Archbishop Chaput and he has always responded with a letter that is direct to my points, we may not always agree but I respect him because he will communicate. Cardinal Rigalllli on the other hand was pompous and never even acknowledged my letters.Archbishop may be “conservative” at least that is what I am told but he listens and communicates and he respects the lay people who care about the faith.

    • Hey Joe, small world! Hello from an old friend. I think you sent an excellent letter that echos so many of my own feelings. I do however feel the need to mention personal experiences in interactions with Chaput. I have had two occasions to send communications to the Archbishop. The responses I received were beyond disrespectful. None of my points were addressed in any way but rather I became the recipient of a scolding from this new leader of our Archdiocese. This was also the case in correspondence between a family member and the Archbishop. His responses in this case were so calloused and accusatory it was hard to believe they came from Chaput. But, they did! As a result of my experiences, coupled with those of many others I have had contact with, respect for the office of Archbishop remains but respect for the man occupying it does not.

      John Kaufmann

      • Thanks, John and great to hear from you, its been along time — I love retirement — I await his response and will share it with the C$C , hopefully it will be reasonable and understanding. JOE

  2. Below is a letter I sent to Archbishop Chaput.

    April 26, 2012

    Good Morning Archbishop Chaput:

    I am sorry that I am once again writing to you but as our Bishop you are our official teacher and frankly, I am so fed up I don’t know where to turn. The daily transcripts and news reports about the Philadelphia dioceses sexual abuse trial are painful but it is necessary for us to follow because of the sin and civil crime of abuse to children and the crime of the dioceses “cover-up.” I know there are some who say that this was not a “cover-up” because the individuals were given the medical treatment that was the accepted method of treatment, but they ignore that abuse of children has always been a civil crime and the individuals involved should have been turned over to law enforcement. I am well aware that in most cases after an individual was arrested they were given probation and medical treatment by the courts but they broke the law and had to first be arrested. The Philadelphia dioceses and many others in the US, Europe and tragically the Vatican ignored civil law and worried more about scandal and how the crime would adversely impact the church financials. I believe, at this time, the concern of the church hierarchy should be on the fact that in the not too distant future similar crimes of sexual abuse by priest and the “cover up” by dioceses in Asia, Africa and Latin America will result in this issue rearing its ugly head for many years.

    I try hard to be a good Catholic and I am a Catholic because of my belief in the Eucharist, Scripture and the Liturgy of the Mass. With all respect to you, I must admit that I have lost my respect for many of the church hierarchy. The “icing on the cake” is the recent 8 page report from the Vatican of their 3-yeart inquiry of the US Catholic Nuns and their organization “Leadership Conference of Women Religious.” It seems to me that the church hierarchy in Rome is “asleep at the wheel” – they should have been spending these 3 years performing an inquiry into why dioceses, Bishops and Cardinals were not following the civil laws and taking action to stop the sexual abuse of children. I try to go to Mass daily and regardless of if I am in my parish or somewhere else in the world I see few attendees and I see the young adults avoiding participation in their faith. Why doesn’t Rome see this and know that is a critical issue that must be addressed in today’s society?

    I hope and would urge the Nuns do everything they can to ignore this foolish inquiry and that they let Bishop Sartain know he is needed more in Seattle managing his dioceses than he is needed to “oversee the LCWR.” Bishop Sartain must know that he has had priest step down and that there are currently open cases of claims of abuse to children by priest in the Seattle diocese. Since I was 6 years old Nuns have been a part of my life from my early education to the care of members of my family and I never saw a Nun do anything to violate church precepts or tradition. I wish I could say the same about priest, Bishops and Cardinals! The Vatican report was concerned that the LCWR supported the President’s HealthCare law, well Rome better wake up because many US Bishops and priest also supported this law, commonly called “Obamacare.” The report says the LCWR (Nuns) is pursuing “radical feminist themes” – excuse me, but based on my observance, Nuns have been treated as second class citizens by many priest and many in the church hierarchy. A far bigger concern, in my opinion, is what I call the “radical doctrine of avoidance of following civil law” by priest, Bishops and Cardinals. The barn is on fire and Rome is not paying attention to the fire and damage to the barn because they are out rounding up the horses that are safely out in the pasture while the fire burns unattended.

    I am sorry for the tone of this letter but as Bishop you are a direct line from the Apostles and you are the Shepard of my dioceses and I don’t know where else to turn with my frustration, annoyance and anger over the details of the involvement of so many in the sexual abuse issue and now this decision to “oversee” an organization run by and for Nuns’. Frankly, I have no idea what you can say that will calm down the feelings I have for how the church hierarchy has abandoned its duties to the teaching of Christ. A local priest recently explained my feelings far better than I when he said – “We need to cleanse and purify the Church to reflect truly Christ presence, we need also to bring people back to our Catholic Church family so that they can find Christ once again.” That should be the priority of the elder gentleman in Rome and not to bother Nuns who give Christ like care in education, hospitals and too many of the less fortunate while living a life dedicated to Christ and the church.

    Over the past few years I have read the many postings by the “Voice of the Faithful” and the “Catholics4Change.” This week I officially joined VOF and plan to be active in helping the local “Catholics4Change.” I took this action because it seems to me the lay people who believe in our Catholic faith must step up and do what we can to get the church hierarchy to listen and follow the teachings of Christ. I am a Catholic and I believe in the precepts and teachings of the church therefore I will remain an active Catholic and follow the advice you gave in your book, “Render unto Caesar” about being active.

    I think it is fair and correct to inform you this is the first letter to you that I will openly share with many family and friends.

    Respectfully,

    .

  3. Martin J. Leahy, PhD Reply April 27, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Another article worth reading; this is from Garry Wills, one of the premier intellectuals of our time who has done extensive study and writing about the Catholic Church.

    “The Vatican has issued a harsh statement claiming that American nuns do not follow their bishops’ thinking. That statement is profoundly true. Thank God, they don’t. Nuns have always had a different set of priorities from that of bishops. The bishops are interested in power. The nuns are interested in the powerless. Nuns have preserved Gospel values while bishops have been perverting them. The priests drive their own new cars, while nuns ride the bus (always in pairs). The priests specialize in arrogance, the nuns in humility.”
    http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2012/apr/24/bullying-nuns/

    • Amen, Martin! Well said.

    • Martin, thanks for the Wills article, a friend had e mailed it a couple days ago. I took a look at Abuse Tracker this morning and there are so many really good articles on the Vatican/nuns issue that rather than citing any particular one, I would suggest to readers that maybe they should just put Abuse Tracker on their ‘home page’ ….

    • Today’s Philly Burb’s ‘Commentary’ is excellent relative to the Vatican/nuns issue and the last part of it reads as follows:

      From this, it’s clear the church hierarchy doesn’t want individuals — especially those in religious communities and, more especially, women — thinking (or even worse, speaking out or making important decisions) on their own.

      Standing in seeming contradiction is a quote from Joseph Ratzinger, the former Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, now Pope Benedict XVI, stressing the importance of following one’s conscience versus papal authority.

      “Over the pope as expression of the binding claim of ecclesiastical authority,” Ratzinger wrote in “Comments on Vatican II” in 1967, “there stands one’s own conscience which must be obeyed before all else, even if necessary against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority.

      Unfortunately, it seems that based on the Vatican’s recent actions, it’s OK for certain high-ranking prelates to hold this position on conscience, but God forbid that others — especially women — dare put it into practice.

  4. Joe Gable, your letter is beautifully and respectfully written. I share your feelings and frustration with our church. You deserve an answer. i hope our shepherd listens and answers you with honesty and respect.

  5. I would like the religious sisters to break away from the Latin rite and begin a new “catholic” church based upon social justice and the true meaning of the Gospel. Dear Sisters, please take note….we will FOLLOW you!

  6. It is unbelievable to me how these “men” ( I use the word loosely) have the nerve to critizice the sisters and nuns of our faith. If anyone is upholding the teachings of our Lord it is these religious women! They truly follow in the footsteps of our Lord. They take the vow of poverty, unlike that of the priests who own vehicles, vacation homes, nice clothes, diniing out etc. as well as the Bishops, Cardinals and Pope who feel the need to wear gold, special shoes, hats, vestments and “accessories” to show off their status within the church. If I recall correctly, our Lord was once a carpenter who wore modest clothing, lived a modest life tending to his people by preaching the good news and teaching by example. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about our priests, Bishops, Archbishops or even the Pope. These “men” surround themselves with only the best from personal attendants to the finest works or art etc. I believe they have “lost” the entire message of what our Lord was preaching. When will people wake up and realize that it is these very same MEN who created and implemented all these rules and hierrarchy etc. to have “control” over the flock. At least the sisters, to their credit, are in touch with reality and the real world. They know the difficulties and hardships that people of every race, color and creed face daily. They are “hands on” disciples. If it were not for these faithful, dedicated group of women many of us, if not all of us, would not have felt the love, kindness,warmth,tears and laughter or our Lord. These faithful and dedicated religious women have truly shown us what it is like to be obedient to the Father.

    Is it possible that the male hierarchy is afraid that these courageous women are making them look bad? As usual, a desperate measure taken by the church to deflect the truth of their own criminal and inmoral behavior!

    • Ourchurch, how true! Imagine giving a smack-down to the nuns while the church hierarchy has looked the other way and shuffled priest pedophiles and abusers around for sooo many years! As you said, the nuns have taken vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. No vacation homes, fancy clothes or male companions for them. Not to mention, I haven’t heard of a single nun who has taken time out of her work this year to collaborate with a designer to create her own cologne, as the Pope has done.

  7. I like the idea of a letter campaign. Who would listen though? Please let us know if you get any response. I also really like the idea that “Joan” posted on the last blog about a powerful YouTube type video/photo/fact montage set to poignant music. Do you remember how much press and attention the Kony 2012 got? I would be happy to work on this, with someone. I just want there to be a message out there in the general public that the victims do not stand alone. That those of us Catholic and/or raised Catholic do not all drink the KoolAid, so-to-speak. Now with the sisters being under attack and the Catholic school teacher being fired for going through IVF…. as a woman I want to stand up and scream, but again….. Who in the Church hierarchy would listen?

    • MIchelle, I think you can pretty much count on the fact that a ‘viral’ U Tube piece might want to look at the Philly ‘Timeline’ of reported abuse, ..ineffective clergy response, more appalling abuse and somewhere around 20 years later (after Boston has blown up and Grand Juries have been convened) ….

      the perpetrator may have been sent to a comfortable (and relatively unsupervised) place for ‘prayer and penance’…or laicized and living across the street from a huge child center.

      I think C4C’s last month with 65,000 ‘hits’ is a remarkable accomplishment…but those numbers pale when you consider the number of folks reached in an effective U Tube piece.

      I am very trusting that the Holy Spirit is involved in this matter and very hopeful that very soon we might see such a U Tube video.

  8. Today, I read an editiorial written by Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC), acknowledging all of the “ink, broadcast air and cyberspace” focused in the past week on the Vatican crackdown on nuns. She acknowledged the disconnect between the power-focused men in the Vatican and the sisters who are working with the marginalized and poor. She sympathizes with the plight of nuns along with the rest of us.

    Since Ward’s group focuses on survivors and the families of victims who committed suicide, she asks nuns during this time of prayer, reflection, gathering and seeking dialogue in their current crisis to come clean with the sexual abuse by nuns and do right by the survivors and their families. She notes that had the nuns come clean early on, we might be miles ahead than where we are, today, including no need for two Grand Jury reports in Philly nor for a trial where victims have to relive abuse. “Nor would SNAP be standing near friendless with little financial resources as the bishops bear down on them in a new and fresh legal assault.”

    Ward acknowledges the activism of individual sisters like Sister Maureen Paul Turlish, “but this was not a wholesale response nor did it reach deep and wide into communities (of nuns).”

    When I read Ward’s piece, the pro-nun momentum I’ve always owned and that was gaining over the past week came to an abrupt halt. “Come clean” with their own history of sexual abuse??? Yes, I had known there was a history. Why was clerical sexual abuse more important to me than that of the nuns?

    I don’t want to burst the bubble of anyone on C4C. But if we are genuinely concerned about justice for victims and the protection of children, we must ask about and inquire into the role of nuns in the Catholic Church’s history of sexual abuse.

    I need counseling on this. I am open to any and all thoughts and input.

    If I can get Ward’s editorial out of my mailbox and onto C4C I will. Right now, I have no idea how to do that.

    • Hadit,
      Valid point on the nuns.
      I have not seen data on the sisters in the US but, one of the most disturbing articles I’ve read was that of the Ireland Sisters of Mercy. The sisters admitted to decades of torture and sexual abuse… and the victims were awarded close to 200 million dollars. There are many bad players in the catholic church as we learn day after day.
      You already know where I stand on the complicit silence issue.

      • Hadit, I have the same ‘take’ as JR…My recall of Amnesty International’s, In Plain Sight, made the point that the Irish nuns who were very abusive were the not their Orders ‘best and bightest’ but rather the opposite. No excuse.

        I think SNAP is the best informational source on nun’s abuse stats and I know I have seen some data from them on this issue. Perhaps SnapJudy could comment.

        My own ‘take’ on the Vatican crackdown on US nuns is that there was no one else to go after as they attempted to regain ‘control’ of a Church they have, in many ways, lost.

        I would guess that SNAP’s data on the nun abuse issue in the US would suggest that the % of nun sexual abusers is statiistically insignificant….

      • AND an additional nun thought.

        I just participated in NETWORK’s conference call..hundreds of folks contributed to the ‘dialogue’.

        And there was discussion of the ‘political’ aspects of the Vatican crackdown. THe notion that this was an attempt to silence progressive support for the poor and marginalized during an election cycle was a topic as were the same suggestions that occur on C4C relative to withholding donations and placing notes in the collection basket relative to where the money was going, INSTEAD…to NETWORK, the LCWR etc.

        Also discussion of letters to editors, and the creatve use of social media. And the point was made that NCR was setting up a site for discussion and ‘action’…

        It felt an awful lot like a C4C blog!!!!!

      • Hadit in 2004, which are the only stats I can find :

        The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
        Female Victims of Clergy Abuse
        Recent stories of interest

        Dozens Allege Sex Abuse by Nuns

        SNAP calls on victims to tell stories, appeals to female clergy conference

        By Frank Langfitt, Baltimore Sun
        July 14, 2004

        SILVER SPRING – Spotlighting the role of female clergy in sexual abuse for the first time, a victims advocacy group said yesterday that it had identified about 100 people in the United States who said they had been assaulted by Catholic nuns, sisters and other female religious workers.

        At a news conference, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) called for other victims to come forward so they could share their stories and receive help. The group also askedthe Leadership Conference of Women Religious, a national female clerical organization based here, to allow victims to speak at their annual meeting next month in Fort Worth, Texas.

        SNAP has repeatedly asked the LCWR to speak at their conferences.

    • Thank you, hadit. One of my siblings’ abusers was an IHM. Vowed religious orders are not innocent, either, and I often think that if the tides turn and they are investigated like the priests, what a tidal wave that would be! There’s not only emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, but there’s also a ton of financial misconduct as well. Ask the dealers in Atlantic City.

    • Hadit, of course, there have been nun abusers and you will hear a lot more about them from apologists for the US bishops. The pope and US bishops will try to divide us from the nuns, while the bishops try to get their hands on US nuns’ assets, especially their cash and retirement reserves.

      Please don’t fall for this “divide and conquer” strategy. The nuns are not clerics and most of them are on our side.

      The nuns are now the major counterweight to the bishops, like nothing we have seen so far. While we cannot, of course, give nuns a free pass on abuse; we also need to use their clout to resist the corrupt and united bishops, who are by far the biggest problem, for kids, survivors and women generally.

      • Where do victims fit into your stragedy, Jerry?

        You say: “Nuns are not clerics. Most are on our side. Nuns are the major counterweight to the bad bishops. We need nun clout. Bishops are a bigger problem (than what? than the victims of nun abuse?). ”

        Is NSAC a bishop apologist group? No. It’s a survivors group.

        WHAT ABOUT THE VICTIMS WE HAVE SPENT THE LAST YEAR ADVOCATING FOR???

        How do I all of a sudden get over the hurdle that, when it comes to nun sexual abuse, I am to support the nuns and not the victims???

        Are you sure you’re thinking clearly, Jerry?

      • I am thinking clearly, Hadit, and please don’t lecture and pontificate to me. I am not one of your students! Read what I wrote, please. I said, “We cannot give the nuns a pass…”!. Yes, they must be investigated and prosecuted just like the priests and bishops. But new victims are being created every day.

        The nuns have over 50,000 members who can now be made strong allies to protect kids from criminal bishops. The bishops would love for us to argue over bad nuns, while the bishops grab the nuns’ cash and retirement reserves, as they tried recently doing in Boston. The bishops are not going to be defeated just by 2,000 clicks here a day.

        If you are going to wait until a snow white ally comes along, a lot of new and old victims will suffer needlessly for such misguided scrupulosity.

        My last comment here. I will try to post my pieces here for anyone interested and able to find them since new threads seem to pop up everytime I link a comment here.

      • Jerry,

        You are overbearing, impatient with the thoughts of others, especially when they challenge or differ from yours, easily agitated, controlling, dictatorial, often patronizing and paternal, quick tempered, and narcissistic in terms of needing your work immediately noticed, displayed, commented on and the center of C4C’s attention.

        Do you think you are entitled to your style because your work is exceptional and your labor is great?

        You are your own worst enemy and the source of your own frustration because you permit your style to detract from a person’s full appreciation of your work and labor.

    • hadit, you’ll open a can of worms there!
      Downunder many assisted the hierarchy to deal with God know how many children born to women in “situations created by clergy”
      Some never knowing their true identity with no recored to be found.

  9. I wonder if any of the abusing nuns were allowed to remain in the congregation and sent to a new assignment, or were they expelled? Just wondering. Did their superiors allow them to use their vocation to shield them from the law?

    Also, if the “good nuns” (I am referring to the women who are living their vocation faithfully and not abusing children) renounce the women who have broken their vows, commit themselves to the protection and healing of the children who have been abused under their watch, include the protection of these victims as a part of their many other ministries, and then speak out in their own defense against the “crack down”, perhaps the “good priests” (those men who are also living out their vocation faithfully) will be emboldened to come forward, stand with their sisters in Christ and begin to minister to God’s people again instead of the hierarchy’s agenda.

  10. Nuns abused children too. It must be addressed that they remained silent just like the priests. Knowingly and unknowingly, they allowed abuse to occur. While I think the numbers do not rival the priesthood, the culture of the sisterhood is to protect the institution over everything else. They just happened to be in more of a direct, social justice service role with common people than priests. While I respect the nuns I have known to date…I know they must have known more than they’ve told us thus far.

    I believe the nuns were at the mercy of the priests…but, at no time were they exempt from protecting children and calling authorities. I’ve thrown my hands in the air over the priests…I expect their passivity and cowardice…as for the nuns, I’m even more saddened they could have been pivotal in preventing much of this suffering.

    Not all nuns acted like Sister Maria from the Sound of Music…the stories my mother tells me do not paint the rosiest of pictures…harsh, mean, physically abusive. Some of which could be a sign of the generation (I’m not excusing any wrong behavior due to generational context).

    I don’t plan on playing into any dividing and conquering methods the Vatican employs…I plan to hold the same measuring stick up to the nuns as I have to the priests. What did you know? When did you know it? Did you do anything about it?

    Do nuns take a vow to obey the priest in charge? I should know this as I worked with many nuns and they seemed to bow before the parish priest like he had all the answers. I wasn’t sure if that was their own personal problem or some oath they took while jumping on one foot while turning around 3 times. Anyone know?

    Jerry…while doing an home improvement project the other day…I came across the most hideous color of spray paint and thought of you. 😉

    • Every single case of sex abuse of a minor is hideous no matter who the perpetrator is. Especially ugly if it’s a religious.

      And anyone who knows about it and doesn’t immediately and aggressively deal with it is complicit, and ANYONE who covers up to protect “their” institution is hugely complicit.

      The best US figures, in fact the only figures I can find for nun abuse date back to 2004….and suggest around 100 victims. Were there more, yes….We know that over 6100 priests were abusers and the number of their victims is estimated in the many many many thousands.

      • I agree with you, Joan. Thanks so much for all of the research you provided.

        I support the nuns in terms of the Vatican’s crackdown on them, at the same time I hold the opinion that nuns need to address their own role in the sexual abuse crisis, provide justice to victims, and speak loudly against clerical sexual abuse.

      • It was/is their idiot, immoral silence, that I hold against the orders of nuns. My observation was the same as yours, SW. They deferred to the priests in all things – It was all such a weird cult. I’m glad it’s ending.
        One wonderful exception I can think of is this one. My kids attended a priv.elem. school run by the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart. The director of the school was a nun– a very self-invented, brilliant, indomitable lady. One day, after a school mass, she decided that she did not care for the impatient and condescending way the visiting priest interacted with the students during a Q&A at the homily. She felt he misused his position and tried to make the kids look stupid. As soon as the mass ended, she stomped up to him, and told him loudly and clearly, that because he humiliated her students, he would never be invited back again. He’d messed with the wrong sister’s kids..
        This was told to me a decade later by the priest himself –my former pastor. He was shaking his head and laughing about it by then and actually seemed impressed by her guts and loyalty to the kids. Of course, this nun had the liberty to behave as she did, only because she ran a school which was not connected to the AD.

      • Hadit, you are always welcome to any research I can find. Actually, on the subject of nun abusers…the pickings were slim to none, (no pun intended).

        And my respect for SNAP is very high. Are they perfect, no…are they awfully good, yes. It has been my pleasure to assist them financially.

        My respect for NETWORK happens to be high too.

        And oddly enough, as I think about this C4C discussion, in a really convoluted sort of way …..my support, personal and financial for both organizations, is that they BOTH protect folks who desperately deserve our concern and help.

        My own personal background happens to be on the social justice side…, I know from very immediate experience just how important it is to work politically, at both the state and national level to protect services and programs that help the poor. I have had the privilege of lobbying for the poor, and helping start California’s nuns version of NETWORK.

        I don’t know much about nuns aiding and abetting abuse. I don’t question the fact that some did. But the only nun I know of, involved in the issue was a chancery office official who was totally concerned for victims and had to put up with disgusting priest abusers.

        This appears to be one of those terribly awkward moments in Church history…when no one but the victims are innocent..

  11. The post from Steve Theisen is from an e-mail I received. He is the first person from SNAP that I turned to for help when I began to deal with the sexual assault by the priest I experienced. He’s a good man and always willing to help survivors. As he said, most nuns are not friends to survivors; unfortunately, their work for social justice did not extend to helping us or owning up to the abuse nuns perpetrated. Many nuns did not sexually abuse, but did aid and abet priests. While I agree with their actions on social justice, I cannot overlook their complicity in the crisis.

    • Janet,
      I am so sorry for the abuse you endured. NONE of this garbage should ever happened. I can’t begin to comprehend to “true” number of victims.
      I like this wording, “but did aid and abet priests”. These crimes are felonies. Aiding and abetting a known felon is also a crime.
      Thank you.

  12. Thank you, John~ I appreciate your support. I referred to a post with an e-mail from Steve, but it hasn’t appeared yet. It’s a long post so probably it’s awaiting moderators’ approval. He basically said the nuns have yet to own their part in the abuse crisis- and they did have a significant role, not only as abusers but as enablers.

  13. Maureen Dowd and Nicholas Kristof each have editorials in today’s New York Times on the nuns.

    This is theologian Mary Hunt’s “We are All Nuns”.

    http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/politics/5908/we-are-all-nuns/

    • Hadit…I just read both articles, three hours later on the West Coast…..the Maureen Dowd link is http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/29/opinion/sunday/dowd-bishops-play-church-queens-as-pawns.html?_r=1

      Both articles are great…and what stopped me cold was how much of C4C’s commentary in the last few days was IN the articles….

      • Hadit..still half awake…and rereading my NYTimes ….the Kristof link is http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/29/opinion/sunday/kristof-we-are-all-nuns.html

        I think Kristof in many ways is the conscience of the Times…and I value his international perspective..on human rights et al…he quote everyone from Mary Hunt and Joan Chittister to Kony 2012…

      • Hadit, we are in good company re today’s NYTimes articles. Tom Fox of NCR…just posted the following:

        by Thomas C. Fox on Apr. 29, 2012 NCR Today Sisters Under Scrutiny
        I cannot recall anytime in recent history that the Catholic church was highlighted twice in columns in a single issue of The New York Times. But this is the case today and it the rare development is yet another indicator of the tremendous outpouring of support on behalf of U.S. women religious in general and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in particular as they come under attack from the Vatican for lapses in fidelity.
        Nicholas Kristof and Maureen Dowd both write about the plight of our sisters.
        Writes Kristof: “Catholic nuns are not the prissy traditionalists of caricature. No, nuns Rock!”
        Writes Dowd: “It is an astonishing thing that historians will look back and puzzle over, that in the 21st century American women were such hunted creatures.”
        Columns and editorials are being written across the nation in support of the Catholic sisters. Many of these continue to appearon the NCR website and on NCR’s Support our Catholic Sisters Facebook page.

      • Joan,

        In Half the Sky, written by Nicholas Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, they write: “What was THE moral issue of the 19th century? Slavery. What was THE moral issue of the 20th century? Totalitarianism. What is THE moral issue of the 21st century? The global oppression of women and girls.

        The Catholic Church, a patriarchy, purportedly “infallible” in terms of morals, and notorious in terms of being misogynistic, participates in and fosters the global oppression of women and girls, impeding rather than leading efforts to resolve THE moral issue of the 21st century.

        The crackdown on the nuns is antithetical to the worldwide effort to foster the rights and protect the well being of women and girls being led by the United Nations, all four branches of the U.S. military, a host of industrialized nations and their leaders, scholars, ethicists and moralists, international agencies, NGO’s, relief organizations, and missionaries and humanitarians.

        To a person like conscience-ruled Kristof, having many first-hand, international experiences with oppressed women and girls, and nuns, the Vatican crackdown on nuns is nothing short of glaringly Other, removed from reality, and altogether counter-productive to the global efforts to resolve THE moral issue of our time.

      • Hadit…thanks, not surprised that Kristof has identified the oppression of women and girls as the key moral issue of this century…his columns often deal with the issue very specifically.

        I sent you a post of Tom Fox’s that cites the NY Times with TWO op Ed pieces on the nuns issues….unheard of, and very important, and I don’t recall Fox posting on Sundays, either.

        For reasons beyond understanding it is held in ‘moderation’…my point was, we were both on the right track this am…

        Joan

  14. I want to thank the National Survivors Advocates Coalition their editorial on nuns.

    Although I am dismayed at the Vatican’s actions against the nuns and Leadership Conference of Religious Women (LCRW), I’m not that sympathetic to their “ordeal.”

    I am more dismayed, as the editorial states, at the lack of any action by the LCWR and communities of nuns who have ignored and refused to reach out to those who were sexually abused by nuns and sisters.

    As a member of the SNAP Board of Directors, I and others in SNAP, have heard from hundreds, who as kids, teens, and vulnerable adults (both male and female) have suffered the indignity of the lost of their innocence and trust by perpetrator nuns. I, like many others who were sexually abused by nuns, suffer the same life-long consequences as those kids, teens, and vulnerable adults (both male and female) that were abused by priests and religious men.

    Many have taken the ultimate escape from this pain. Our thoughts and support go out to their family and loved ones. We heard their pain but the LCRW and women religious communities have not.

    We’ve also heard from those who were physically, emotionally, and mentally abused by nuns. We heard their pain but the LCRW and women religious communities have not.

    We’ve heard from Native Americans who were savagely abused in orphanages in Canada and the United States. We heard their pain but the LCRW and women religious communities have not.

    I’m sure many have fond memories of being educated by nuns. I’m sure many continue to place those who wear habits or wear collars on pedestals. I suspect they, like the LCWR, have ignored the pain of the sexually abused.

    Survivors of nun sexual abuse have asked the LCWR for eight years for inexpensive, feasible actions:
    – Let survivors of nun sexual abuse speak at their annual conference;
    – Let survivors of nun sexual abuse speak at their regional conference;
    – Place a link on their websites to SNAP so we can reach out to more survivors; and
    – For those that do not have websites, to place SNAP’s contact information in their publications.

    The LCWR and Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious have heard us but have refused us.
    As the Editorial states, we have heard from several brave religious women. They have heard us and they have taken action.

    The LCWR, Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, and their member communities self-govern, self-investigate, and self-determine the credibility and consequences of each accusation – the same as the bishops and cardinals do.

    The LCWR and communities of nuns have taken stances, positions, and actions on a myriad of social and religious issues. But their silence on the sexual abuses by their own members is heard loudly by countless.

    Thank you again National Survivors Advocates Coalition for your support. Maybe someday I, and others who were abused by nuns, can say the same of the LCWR and Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious. Their time is running out; ours will not.

    • Steve,

      Thanks for posting in C4C.

      Can you or Kristen Ward or NSAC post Ward’s piece so C4C bloggers can read its contents? You and I allude to the editorial in our posts, but we haven’t provided a link to it.

      Thank you.

    • Thanks Steve,
      I am sorry for your abuse. It’s all so disheartening. I have a bad feeling we will hear more about this issue. Thank you for sharing.

  15. Joan sometimes comments with links get thrown into moderation, other times they post with no problem.I am sure Susan will post it when she checks the moderation category. Or just try to post it again.

  16. Luke 17:2

    “It would be better for her if a millstone were hung around her neck and she were thrown into the sea, than that she would cause one of these little ones to stumble.”

  17. Crystal, your nun sounds a little like Mary MacKillop[and one or two Brigidines I know].
    I guess the silent ones who like the three wise monkey’s; see no evil speak no evil and hear no evil, albeit surrounded by all three.

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