MO - Sex abuse victims to protest outside nuns’ conference
As hundreds of American Catholic nuns meeting this week in St. Louis, clergy sex abuse victims will protest outside urging them to address the under-reported issue of clergy sex crimes and cover ups by nuns.
A nationwide self-help group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is upset with the main organization of nuns, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). SNAP says the LCWR “refuses to take any real steps to heal the wounded or protect the vulnerable.”
“It’s stunning, really, to see nuns moving more timidly and slowly on child sex crimes and cover ups than bishops,” said Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP’s outreach director. “Abuse by nuns is certainly more common than anyone suspects, and inaction by nuns’ groups contributes to this secrecy.”
For at least eight years, SNAP has repeatedly prodded the sisters’ organization to
--let childhood sexual victims to speak at the nun’s conference,
--actively reach out to victims of nun abuse, and
--post the names, photos and whereabouts of proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting nuns on church websites.
SNAP’s first protest will be tomorrow, Monday, August 6,from 8:45 p.m. until 10:15 p.m. outside the Millennium Hotel, 200 S. Fourth (between Clark & Walnut) in downtown St. Louis
“The scandal of child molesting nuns takes a backseat to abuse by priests, remaining dangerously in the shadows,” said Steve Theisen of Iowa SNAP who was sexually victimized by a nun as a child. “More and more, we’re hearing from men and women who were molested, as young kids and vulnerable adults, by nuns across the country. Yet nun officials have done little to determine just how widespread such crimes and cover ups are or take effective steps to stop them in the future.”
“It’s ironic that the LCWR makes the same excuses for inaction now what bishops used 20 years ago,” said David Clohessy, SNAP’s director. “They make essentially bureaucratic claims like ‘our structure doesn’t permit us to do more’ and their meetings are not ‘the best venue’ to address these issues. It’s very disheartening.”
The LCWR is also under fire from top Catholic officials.
In April of this year, the Vatican announced that they were instituting a “reform effort” for the LCWR, in an effort to bring the group in line with traditional Vatican views on issues such as birth control and women’s ordination.
“We sympathize with the nuns, because we abuse victims have also been treated harshly and attacked by bishops,” said Dorris. “But that’s no excuse for doing little or nothing to help suffering adults get better or help vulnerable kids be safer.”
The LCWR has more than 1,500 members, roughly 900 of whom are expected at this meeting. It represents about 95% of the 68,000 women religious in the US. Few of these religious communities of women answer to the local bishops; instead the majority of these orders report to an obscure Vatican office.