Friday, August 17, 2018

The Apologies of the Sisters of Mercy - and the Visit of Pope Francis to Ireland

Chief Apologiser Sister Helena O'Donoghue 

I have an article on my old website concerning the Irish Sisters of Mercy - and their policy of abasing themselves before people who make false allegations of child abuse. It begins as follows:
Together with the Christian Brothers, the Sisters of Mercy have been THE major target for false accusations since at least 1996. The Sisters policy of apologising to false accusers has had disastrous consequences - and not only for themselves. They appear to believe that a false accuser is a "deeply hurt" person and that an apology will lead to "healing and reconciliation". The outcome of this policy is that no distinction is made between vicious fraudsters and people who may have a genuine grievance. Not surprisingly, their apologies have been met with loathing and ridicule but other religious orders have followed suit and eventually the Bishops themselves, (even though the latter had initially defended themselves strongly to the extent of suing media that slandered them).

I recently posted two comments on an article in America Magazine entitled U.S. Sisters Demand Action on Sexual Abuse Crisis by Michael J. O'Loughlin. The "action" the American Sisters are demanding is that they be protected from sexual abuse and harassment "
perpetrated by those in positions of trust in the church community". [my emphasis]. This demand does not seem to refer to harassment from persons making false allegations of child abuse, child rape and child murder. Do American nuns really not face this problem - which is a major issue in Ireland? Or can it be that the group referred to in the article the "Leadership Conference of Women Religious" [LCMR] have no interest in defending their falsely accused colleagues? The latter is certainly the case in Ireland. The Irish counterpart of the the American group is the Association of Leaders of Missionaries and Religious of Ireland [AMRI] . This Association is led by the Sisters of Mercy who have gone out of their way in attempting to appease people who despise them!

First Comment re Article "US Sisters Demand Action on Sexual Abuse Crisis"

Rory Connor  - 7 August 2018
I sent a message to the American Religious Sisters of Mercy concerning their counterparts in Ireland; the latter took the side of people who made false allegations of child rape and murder against their own colleagues - and failed to withdraw their support from false accusers even when the Court of Criminal Appeal issued a Certificate of Miscarriage of Justice to one former nun! I wrote:

Regarding the visit of Pope Francis to Ireland, can the Irish Sisters take this opportunity to withdraw their apology to the accusers of Nora Wall (formerly Sister Dominic). See Wikipedia article on Nora Wall. Also reprimand our current Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan for repeating in 2009 a libel for which Nora Wall had received damages from the Sunday World in 2002. He did so under Parliamentary Privilege and the Irish Sisters said nothing at the time.

My blog is and the Profile section contains a link to my Background.

Finally the Irish Sisters should withdraw their apology to the Howe family who accused Sister Xavieria Lally of murdering baby Marion Howe with a red hot poker in 1955. The Howe's made that claim in an article in the Daily Mirror on 11 October 1997. Try googling the headline

Daily Mirror executives rightly believed that the Sisters of Mercy would not object and would prevent Sister Xavieria from defending herself or suing for libel. An article in the far more "respectable" Irish Times on the same date observed: "Why then has the order issued qualified apologies? Why has it paid compensation to the Howes, albeit a relatively meagre sum? Is there not a tacit admission here that what these people say happened did happen? Or are we to believe that the Sisters of Mercy have taken to paying compensation and issuing apologies for things that didn't happen at all?"

In contrast Nora Wall, no longer a Sister of Mercy, successfully sued the Sunday World for libel in 2002, received a Certificate of Miscarriage of Justice from the Court of Criminal Appeal in 2005 and successfully sued the Irish Government and Director of Public Prosecutions in 2016 (after a battle lasting a decade which her former colleagues ignored). Sister Xavieria is now deceased but is owed an apology by her colleagues who betrayed her and allowed her to be vilified precisely because she did NOT leave the Congregation. The visit of Pope Francis, the Pope of compassion should motivate those colleagues to repent and - at the very least - withdraw their apologies to those who slandered Nora Wall and Sister Xavieria.

No reply from either the Irish Sisters of Mercy - or their American counterparts. I presume the latter are part of the group who are now criticising the Bishops for failing to protect nuns!!

Second Comment re Article "US Sisters Demand Action on Sexual Abuse Crisis"

Elaine Boyle - 8 August 2018
Laicize, excommunicate, prosecute

Rory Connor - 10 August 2018
WHO exactly do you mean? My information about the Religious Sisters of Mercy in Ireland is that there was a conflict between Liberals and Conservatives in the Congregation about how to deal with a avalanche of allegations, some of which were impossible to disprove 40 or 50 years later but others were either proven to be false (rape allegations against Nora Wall and Pablo McCabe) or OBVIOUSLY ludicrous from the beginning (murder allegation against the late Sister Xavieria Lally).

The Conservatives wanted the Congregation leaders to defend the innocent and to condemn false accusers. The "Liberals" - who predominated in the leadership - took the view that even women who told obvious lies about the nuns must have been deeply hurt by the Church in order to say such things; therefore the proper response to their pain was to apologise to them and to pay "compensation", for which no proof of wrongdoing would be required. By a truly incredible co-incidence, the younger liberal leaders who took this decision were not themselves the target of the obscene allegations - it was the older nuns who objected to this approach and it was THEY who were thrown to the wolves!

The above article by Michael J. McLoughlin is entitled "U.S. Sisters Demand Action on Sexual Abuse Crisis". Would I be correct in assuming that the Leadership Conference of Women Religious whom he quotes, have never condemned false allegations against clergy or nuns? Also that the Religious Sisters of Mercy in the USA are members of this Leadership Conference??

Apart from the Wikipedia article on Nora Wall, there is an article by Breda O'Brien in the Irish Jesuit Review 'Studies' entitled "Miscarriage of Justice: Paul McCabe and Nora Wall"

It focuses on the homeless schizophrenic man whom the Irish Sisters of Mercy ALSO betrayed. (See NOTES [1] and [2])

"Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength"

The above quote comes from the King James Bible translation of Psalm 8:2. In this particular case, strength and wisdom come from the internet magazine SpikedOnLine which is edited by atheist Irishman Brendan O'Neill. A recent article "Can Poetry Survive Outrage Culture" was penned by writer Candice Holdsworth. It concerns the sad fate of a poet Anders Carlson-Wee who was savaged by an online social,media mob for a poem published in the (very liberal) Nation magazine last month. Once the mob denounced the poem as non-PC, the two poetry editors at the Nation who had accepted it, completely backed away from the work and published an apology, which they posted above the poem. They said they had made ‘a serious mistake’, were sorry ‘for the pain we have caused to the many communities affected by this poem’, and planned to ‘earn the trust back’ of their readers. Poet Carlson-Wee also grovelled. 

It's very reminiscent of the behaviour of the Irish Sisters of Mercy abasing themselves before false accusers in the hope of "healing their pain" and "promoting reconciliation"! Two readers who commented on Holdsworth's article explained the mentality very well.

The poet's self-abasement had the usual effect - the mob smelled blood and doubled-down on the claimed outrage. His cringing and cowering statement was itself deemed 'problematic' and full of 'thought-crime'.

Never apologise to these buggers, it won't get them off your back. You can never be apologetic enough and they don't ever accept it as contrition, just as an admission of guilt for which there is no redemption.

Mark Beal reply to mouseketeery 
Besides, does anyone actually believe the apologies? They only thing the apologizing party achieves is severely diminishing the amount of respect anyone has for them, and probably their own self-respect.

NOTES regarding Pablo McCabe

[1] Paul (Pablo) McCabe was Nora Wall's co-accused and the "homeless schizophrenic man whom the Irish Sisters of Mercy ALSO betrayed". He was the ultimate victim of this miscarriage of justice. Obviously he had no money but prior to 1999, no woman had ever been convicted of rape in Ireland so Regina Walsh fingered him as the main rapist and claimed that Nora Wall had held her down while Pablo had raped her. Her intention was to claim "compensation" from the Sisters of Mercy; Pablo was "collateral damage"!

Breda O'Brien's article in Studies Review in Winter 2006 focuses on Paul McCabe and indicates how the very Merciful Sisters originally favoured him:

Paul McCabe addressed a Diocesan Gathering of Mercy Sisters in Gracedieu in Waterford in 1988. His account tells of being born in Dublin in 1949 to a single mother. She struggled on until Paul was three, but she ‘had great difficulty in working, paying for accommodation and paying someone to look after me.” Thus he came to live in what was to become known as the “ old St. Michael’s”, a junior industrial school run by the Sisters of Mercy in Cappoquin. His memories of that time are “very happy ones of caring and interested women.” He then went to the Industrial School at Artane, Dublin, which he found traumatic, as it had “over nine hundred boys in a very strict set-up.”.....

So when Pablo could be presented as a victim of the Patriarchy, the Sisters allowed him to  address one of their annual meetings. It's difficult to imagine John Charles McQuaid, the doyen of the Irish Catholic Church in the  20th century doing anything similar. But McQuaid would never have betrayed an innocent man (and one of his own priests) as the Sisters betrayed Pablo McCabe and Nora Wall!

[2] This is the text of the Sisters of Mercy apology to Regina Walsh - as per the Wikipedia article on the case:
"We are all devastated by the revolting crimes which resulted in these verdicts. Our hearts go out to this young woman who, as a child, was placed in our care. Her courage in coming forward was heroic. We beg anyone who was abused whilst in our care to go to the GardaĆ­."

The article continues:
Even after the collapse of the case against the two accused, the Sisters of Mercy made no effort to apologise to Wall or to withdraw their statement of support for Walsh. One commentator remarked: "The young woman their hearts were going out to, was the false accuser, not their own innocent nun. Our absolutist system had seduced them into identifying with the accuser and betraying their own sister."

The media which had savaged Nora Wall ("Vile Nun", "Pervert Nun", "I Was Raped by Anti-Christ") put no pressure on the leaders of the Sisters of Mercy to withdraw their apology. As for their own consciences - well perhaps the visit of Pope Francis will cause the Merciful Sisters to reconsider their behaviour??