We read a Catholic News Service (CNS) report in Catholic San Francisco (Jan. 17), the paper of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, with the curious headline, Nuns Report Less Abuse Than Women in General, Study Says. The report was about a social-scientific survey of nuns conducted by researchers at St. Louis University. There were 1,164 usable responses, a large sample, such that the survey could be considered representative.
The CNS story quoted the findings: The current data suggest that at least 13 percent of sisters have had a negative sexually oriented experience at the hands of another sister after entering religious life. Note the word negative, which would indicate that were not talking here about consensual sexually oriented experiences among nuns (weve heard that lesbianism is practiced consensually in many liberated religious orders).
Weve been sitting on this story a while, waiting for some sort of corrective response from our bishops or the leaders of womens religious orders. So far we havent seen any. In fact, weve seen little in the Catholic press about it.
On top of this, the CNS report says, Moreover, about 8 percent of sisters have been sexually exploited and/or harassed by a priest .
So as many as 21 percent of nuns have been victimized, but we get the cheery headline in Catholic San Francisco that Nuns Report Less Abuse Than Women in General . The headline makes it sound like everything is just fine. But it isnt.
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