Victims blast US nuns organization

By Mary Dispenza, Mary O’day, Tim Lennon
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
August 13, 2019

Victims blast US nuns organization

It’s meeting now in Scottsdale for 3 days

“Sisters are being reckless,” group says

SNAP: “We’ve been ‘repeatedly rebuffed by nuns

Group wants national data base of predatory sisters

“The nuns are more secretive even than the bishops,” victims say

It’s been 15 years since SNAP 1st sought help, unsuccessfully, from LCWR


Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, survivors of abuse by nuns and priests will prod the largest US nuns’ group to

--let adults sexually abused by nuns speak at their conference,

--mount an ‘aggressive outreach drive’ to find and help others violated by nuns, and

--post names of credibly accused child molesting nuns on its website.

They will also

--urge the roughly 17 US attorneys general who are investigating clergy sex crimes and cover ups to include nuns and their victims in these probes and

--beg “anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered” wrongdoing by nuns to “come forward, start healing, protect others and call law enforcement.”


Wednesday, August 14 at 2:30 p.m.


On the side walk outside the Fairmont Hotel, where the nation’s largest group of nuns is holding its annual assembly), 7575 E. Princess Drive (corner of E. Hacienda Way) in Scottsdale AZ


Three-five victims who belong to an international support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (, including at least two who were violated by nuns and one who is the head of the organization’s board


1) Roughly 800 nuns (also known as “women religious”) are attending the annual conference of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, a 1350-member umbrella group that represent nearly 80 percent of the 44,000 nuns in the United States.

While SNAP remains highly critical of how bishops are handling clergy sex crimes and cover ups, the group notes that nuns are acting “far more recklessly, callously and secretively” than bishops are, because:

---Most bishops post names of credibly accused abusive priests on their websites

---Bishops adopted, 17 years ago, a national policy on abuse, and

---Bishops let four abuse victims speak to their full assembly 17 years ago, but neither the LCWR nor any of the roughly 200 religious orders of nuns –despite repeated requests- have taken “these simple steps towards prevention and healing.”

Recent legislative reforms in several heavily Catholic states (New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island) is likely to lead to more civil abuse and cover up lawsuits involving nuns, SNAP predicts.

It was 15 years ago that SNAP first sought help from the LCWR and urged it to release the names of all women sexual predators with credible abuse reports against them.

In 2004, SNAP wrote the LCWR, but feeling frustrated by the nuns’ response, months later, SNAP held a news conference outside the LCWR headquarters inviting the Catholic sisters to meet face-to-face and proposing other reforms. But there’s been virtually no progress, SNAP says.

Earlier this year, Pope Francis became the first high ranking church official to acknowledge that nuns have been victimized by bishops, priests and other clerics. No one in the church hierarchy, however, has admitted that some nuns are and were abusers themselves and that other nuns ignored or concealed (and are concealing) their crimes.

Estimates of how widespread abuse by Catholic sisters is are hard to come by. There are more nuns than priests in the US (44,117 vs. 40,477) and because of the work they do – mostly in schools and hospitals – they have much more access to kids.

There are more than 100 publicly and/or credibly accused abusive nuns listed on, the most authoritative source on clergy sexual abuse.

In the Fairbanks diocese, 15% of the accused abusive clerics were nuns.

Nine accused abusive nuns are in/from the relatively small diocese of Great Falls-Billings MT.

The Phoenix diocese lists 18 credibly accused religious order clerics, all are men.

A St. Paul MN-based law firm says it has sued roughly 20 abusive nuns (Jeff Anderson & Mike Finnegan 651 227 9990).

“We believe there are more priest victims than nun victims but we also believe there are more nun victims than anyone would imagine,” said Mary Dispenza of SNAP. “And because they’ve largely been overlooked and because the LCWR refuses to do any real outreach, many nun victims are trapped in shame, silence and self-blame.”

The even bigger concern, she said, is that “we are convinced that there are hundreds of nuns and ex-nuns who have hurt innocent kids or vulnerable adults and may still be violating others because they’re unsupervised, ‘under the radar’ and have experienced no consequences for their destructive actions.”

LCWR officials will claim their group has no real power over the individual orders of nuns, SNAP predicts. But SNAP doesn’t believe this and notes that for years, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops made the identical claim (until 2002, when intense public pressure prodded the bishops to adopt a nation-wide abuse policy for all dioceses).

The LCWR is based in Silver Spring Maryland and is headed by Sr. Carol Zinn of Philadelphia and Sr. Sharlet Wagner (an attorney) of Notre Dame, Indiana.

Its public relations person is Sister Annmarie Sanders (301-588-4955, 

2) SNAP also wants nuns to be included in the independent investigations currently being run by the roughly 17 attorneys general across the US.




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