Sister Maureen Turlish, a Voice for Sex Abuse Victims, Dies at 79

New York Times

July 30, 2018

By Sam Roberts

Sister Maureen Paul Turlish, a tenacious advocate for survivors of childhood sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergymen, died on July 18 in Cincinnati. She was 79.

The cause was viral encephalitis, Paul Turlish, her brother and only immediate survivor, said.

While she had an abiding concern for children, articles in The Boston Globe and elsewhere beginning in 2002 that explored the abuse of minors by priests transformed her into one of the few religious sisters to publicly protest what she denounced as a “conspiracy, collusion and cover-up” by her church’s hierarchy.

“At the time, she was the only religious woman that would publicly stand up for this issue,” the Rev. Thomas P. Doyle, a canon lawyer and advocate for victims of clergy sexual abuse, was quoted as saying by her order, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.

Sister Maureen took to the picket line demanding compensation for victims and an extension of lapsed deadlines to prosecute predators and to lodge civil claims against them. She wrote letters to newspapers, initially under a pen name. She then abandoned anonymity as a founding member of the National Survivor Advocates Coalition and Catholic Whistleblowers.

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