See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Nasty habits...


Bend and SNAP:  So, did Catholic school sisters, you know... abuse kids?
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According to Fr. Z there is "voluminous new data emerging concerning the sexual abuse of children by women, and, in particular, by Catholic nuns..."  A few other bloggers, now including me, picked up on the story, which originated from the 2009 Salon opinion piece by Frances Kissling, "Nuns On the Run From the Truth".  In her report discussing the LCWR last year she observed; "LCWR leadership refused to allow survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic sisters to address the past few annual meetings..."
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Two things - I at first found it hard to believe sexual abuse could have been pervasive, if indeed it existed at all amongst Catholic school sisters.  I knew from experience severe, mean and nasty disciplinary actions were commonplace.  Such corporal punishment and ridicule of children would never be tolerated today.  But anything sexual?  I never heard about it - with priests yes - nuns, no.  So gross.
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Secondly, I couldn't figure out why Fr. Z and others would even post about the issue - it seemed to me to be a form of cyber mudslinging, flaming more scandal, and so on.  I wondered if it was perhaps revenge for the pro-Obama health care 'apostasy' participated in by the sisterhood of the traveling pantsuit.  Then Fr. Z intervened in his own comment box to clear up any confusion as to why this is a big deal once again.   


It is time for a mid-course clarification comment:

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Liberal LCWR types, who are at war with the bishops over who gets to speak for the Church and who want to force a fracture in the Church’s discipline (celibacy) and teaching (male priesthood), claim that they – women with their “relational wisdom” – would make better priests than men, because – and here is the slimy irony – women wouldn’t abuse children.
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SNAP disagrees and has been trying to engage the LCWR for years.
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The LCWR is in denial and won’t have anything to do with SNAP. - Source
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Perhaps a bit off topic, but I thought SNAP was bad - but now they are good?
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Apparently.
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Anyway, the LCWR is a hornet's nest I sure wouldn't want to stir up.

8 comments:

  1. Like you I could not understand Father Z`s article.

    The sources which we quotes as evidence of widespread sexual abuse by nuns have been denigrated in the past.

    There would seem to be a lack of hard evidence for all of the charges

    Surely before such serious charges are levelled, one has to have hard evidence.

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  2. I don't know what to say... except that I am sad.

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  3. I would guess there have been some instances of what they are talking about, but I have trouble believing it was pervasive. Compare the statistics for sexual abuse by female teachers vs male. Some high profile cases, but not that common. It's not that women and girls can't be abusive. They just do it different, more passive-aggressive. Remember the mother superiors in Sts. Bernadette and Therese's stories? Seemed kind of borderline abusive to me. Think "mean girls" grown up.

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  4. Terry and Br. Wm - It is sad - like Melody, I just think it was not as pervasive as people are saying - especially the sexual abuse - if it was same-sex abuse, that really could have been inappropriate instruction on hygene and women's issues. I just can't imagine nuns living in community acting with such depravity. To be fair, corporal punishment was pretty much across the board in those days for miscreant kids.

    Melody - you are a very level headed woman, you know that. Thanks for always leaving such insightful comments.

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  5. Austringer11:22 AM

    Melody, I agree -- ill-tempered nuns who could be nasty with kids? Sure...I had some of those when I was in grade school. This was back in the 70s, and the convents had begun to empty, leaving behind some bitter and sometimes loopy elderly sisters. I remember one in particular who liked to whack kids' knuckles with the metal edge of a wooden ruler, though I was spared. Another liked to humiliate those who didn't understand by bringing them up in front of the class, to display their ignorance at the blackboard (This I did experience, as I just didn't understand how to multiply and divide fractions.) We all survived, and no parents threatened lawsuits. But sexual stuff?? That is so unlikely...men and women are just plain different in their sexuality, despite what the feminists would have you believe. As you mentioned, there have been a number of high profile cases, but their rareness is what gives them the high profile.

    On a related note, I've been reading Cassian's "Institutes" (thanks, Terry, for writing about this as it propmpted me to get the book). At one point, Cassian relates the story of a man who entered the monastery with a young son, about 6 or 7 years of age, as I recall. In order to test the new monk's detachment, they mistreat, beat, and neglect the boy in front of his father (even, at one point, directing the father to throw his son into the river -- which he does). My modern sensibilities were taken aback by this -- this just seemed like gratuitous abuse. Hard to imagine Jesus approving of this...

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  6. Z and his ilk have been proponents of the "the gays did it" theory on abuse. It seems to me as if they're shooting themselves in the foot if they start blaming women now.

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  7. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think I remember awhile back on Fr Z's blog concerning the problems in Ireland with their boarding schools, orphanages, etc of the abuses that went on for YEARS, not just sexual abuses, but physical and emotional abuses, by both religious men and women. Spare the rod spoil the child taken to extremes. Emotional abuse doesn't leave physical scars but the invisible types that run deep and adversly affect personalities and outlooks.

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  8. Anonymous9:25 PM

    I'd like to agree that this simply can't be! But that was exactly what prevented so many in the Church (not to mention society at large!) from seeing the abuse of children by priests (and teachers, and fathers, and uncles, and boy scout leaders, etc, etc) for so very long. This was the attitude that protected and enabled Marcial Maciel to sodomize, womanize, embezzle, and even engage in incest with small sons (all while being treated like a saint) for well over half a century. It can't be!!

    I want to see the statistics and have these claims of sexual abuse at the hands of nuns investigated for credibility, of course, but I no longer disbelieve anything just because, "It simply can't be!"

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