Saintly Australian Was Punished for Exposing Sex Abuse

Monsters and Critics
September 25, 2010

Sydney - Australia's Mary MacKillop, a Catholic nun who died more than 100 years ago, was briefly excommunicated for uncovering the abuse of a paedophile priest, national broadcaster ABC said Saturday.

MacKillop, who is set to become Australia's first saint, was penniless when she was turned out onto the street in 1871 at the age of 29 and just four years after becoming a nun.

'The story of the excommunication amounts to this: that some priests had been uncovered for being involved in the sexual abuse of children,' Father Paul Gardiner said.

MacKillop's banishment lasted five months, after which she was absolved and accepted back into the church.

Next month, MacKillop is to be canonized by Pope Benedict XVI, culminating a century of campaigning for the Melbourne-born nun.

She opened her first school in the Outback town of Penola in South Australia and went on to found the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart order. When she died in 1909, the order had 750 nuns running 117 schools.

MacKillop was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1995.

The revelations of MacKillop's role in fighting sex abuse come as the Catholic Church worldwide is facing up to the past misconduct of priests.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.