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PostWatch: An irregular correction to the Washington Post

Brought to you by Christopher Rake


Monday, January 06, 2003
3:37 PM

Andrew Sullivan swings and misses in a recent post that links to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch story about the sexual abuse of nuns. The problem is that the story has an incredibly high figure for abuse that is reminiscent of many other over-hyped feminist claims, and says that only "some" of the abuse is the fault of priests without getting more specific about percentages. Sullivan:

Forty percent of women religious have experienced some kind of sexual abuse - many at the hands of the Church? Now how will the hierarchy manage to blame this on the homosexuals? No doubt they'll give it their best shot.

Here's what the story says:

A national survey, completed in 1996 but intentionally never publicized, estimates that a "minimum" of 34,000 Catholic nuns, or about 40 percent of all nuns in the United States, have suffered some form of sexual trauma.

Some of that sexual abuse, exploitation or harassment has come at the hands of priests and other nuns in the church, the report said.

Well look, Andrew, the report itself says "some" of that abuse comes from other nuns...

Tales in the survey sound horrific--including a nun driven away from confession for 18 years after being fondled in the confessional. But it tells us nothing about how common the problem is.

The other funny thing about this story is that the findings of the survey were first published in two religious journals in 1998, as the Post-Dispatch says, but not covered in the mainstream press. So why is the paper writing about it now?

For new visitors to PostWatch, my take on the sex-abuse crisis in the Church is that 1.Gays are no more nor less sinful than straights but also B). Given the overwhelming percentage of abuse that was practiced by gay priests, it was nonsense to deny a special problem exists in the gay priest subculture at this time and place.

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