NUN SPEAKS OUT ON
ABUSE IN CATHOLIC CHURCH

MSNBC        TheSilenceWeKeep
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THE SILENCE WE KEEP
A NUN’S VIEW OF THE
CATHOLIC PRIEST SCANDAL


BY KAROL JACKOWSKI

“With this book, Karol Jackowski rips the lid off the sexual scandal that has shamed every Catholic since those decades-old whispers of priests abusing children turned to shouts and headlines.”
– Lorenzo Carcaterra

 

In the wake of the sex abuse scandals that continue to plague the American Catholic priesthood, it’s no surprise that attention is shifting to the sisterhood and what they might know.  Indeed, these submissive and unwitting partners in parish life probably know a great deal.
    In a brave new book, The Silence We Keep: A Nun’s View of the Catholic Priest Scandal (Harmony Books; March 2004), Karol Jackowski, a nun since 1964, attests that the abuse uncovered thus far, represents the tip of the iceberg, and that until clerical silence is lifted and the truth revealed fully, abuse among the church fathers will remain rampant.
    Some American nuns have sat silently throughout this ordeal because they too have been the victims of sexual abuse at the hands of priests or even other nuns. Last year, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on an overlooked national survey conducted by St. Louis University in 1996, which concluded that approximately 40% of all nuns in the United States “have suffered some form of sexual trauma.” And priests may not even be as celibate as believed. Jackowski cites a 1990 study of clerical sexual habits that reported that
conservatively 20% of priests were sexually active with women, that 20% were
homosexual—10% of who were sexually active, 4% of those with children.   Sadly, sex scandals in the Catholic Church have never been limited to America—The Silence We Keep reveals that widely publicized abuses have been reported in countries such as England, Ireland, Canada, Australia, and throughout Africa and South America. And the abuse dates as far back as the tenth century when figures like the notorious Pope John XII (955-964) turned the Lateran Cathedral into a brothel and ultimately died in the bed of a married woman.
    In the Silence We Keep, Karol Jackowski calls for a sweeping transformation within the Catholic Church or a Second Pentecost, where the culture of privilege among the church fathers is purged, where women can be ordained as priests, and where the faithful have an equal voice in parish life.  Most provocatively, however, she encourages the American Catholic Church to weigh seceding from the Roman Catholic Union in order to lay the groundwork for a new Catholic Church in the United States.
    With the fear of being ostracized from their place of worship and employment, it is no shock that few sisters and priests have come forth in this time of religious question.  However, despite the risks involved, Karol has a firm conviction that a reformation of the church is now part of her calling.  The Silence We Keep is the first step in her mission.
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