Saturday, November 17, 2018

Sister Stanislaus Kennedy and False Allegations against The Sisters of Charity [1]

Sister Stan Apologises but Defends Nuns against "Elder Abuse"


Sister Stanislaus Kennedy was the victim of obscene and lying allegations from the late Mary Raftery in 1999. She was subjected to  a barrage of abuse from Irish "liberal" journalists for months - until the social worker who was supposed to have informed her about the sexual abuse of children in the 1970s wrote to the Irish Times to state that he had done no such thing. Nothing discouraged, Sister Stan publicly apologised in 2009 for the alleged abuse of children by the Sisters of Charity. In 2015 she bravely defied the Irish Bishops to announce she was voting in favour of same-sex marriage.  Then in 2017 she expressed her surprise at the new barrage of abuse directed at the Sisters of Charity during a controversy over the transfer of the National Maternity Hospital which they had founded in the 19th century. She described the lies hurled at her colleagues as "Elder Abuse" -  a description which some would regard as pitifully inadequate.

Sister Stan is very much on the left "liberal" wing of the Irish Church and has been criticised by conservatives both inside and outside the Church. However it seems to have escaped her attention that the only people to resort to obscene abuse and lies are her own "liberal" friends!

[ For a conservative critique of Sister Stan's political and economic ideas see the article by Richard Miller of the Edmund Burke Institute "Sister Stan's Road to Serfdom" ]


1999 Mary Raftery and Sister Stanislaus Kennedy (1)
[Irish Times, Letters Page,  22 December 1999 ]


Sir - In relation to the recent controversy regarding whether or not Sister Stan knew about sexual abuse in Kilkenny in the late 1970s I would like to put the record straight.

I was the childcare worker referred to in the States of Fear programme and in the book Suffer the Little Children, who resigned from St. Joseph's Kilkenny in 1977.

I did not tell Sr Stan at any stage that children were being sexually abused in St. Joseph's because I myself was unaware that sexual abuse was occurring.

It was in 1995/1996 that I got my first inkling that children had been sexually abused in 1977, almost 20 years after it is alleged that I told Sr Stan.

It is my belief today, as it was then, that Sister Stan did everything she could in 1977 regarding the children in St. Joseph's.

Yours etc


1999 Mary Raftery and Sister Stanislaus (2) 

Extract from SUFFER THE LITTLE CHILDREN by Mary Raftery and Eoin O'Sullivan

".While the publication of the Kennedy Report was greeted with considerable publicity and wide approval, it was clear that neither the State nor the Catholic Church shared that enthusiasm for change....... A year after the report had been published, one of the civil servants on the Kennedy Committee was to receive the full brunt of criticism from the Catholic Church. At the Church's major seminar on child care in Killarney in 1971, he was called into a room and held to account by the Bishop of Kerry, Eamon Casey, and by Sister Stanislaus Kennedy, even at that stage a major force in the history of child care. They wanted to know how it was that the Department of Education could have presided over a report which gave the religious orders so little credit for their great work on behalf of children for so many decades"

Mary Raftery gives the source of the above account as an article by Fintan O'Toole "Not Asking Questions Cold Again Fail Children" Irish Times 21 May 1999. When journalist Breda O'Brien questioned this story she came under attack by Fintan O'Toole. The following is an extract from Breda O'Brien's response in the Irish Times on 10 January 2000. Her article is entitled "A Search for the Truth Does Not Question Reality of Child Abuse".

"On December 10th, 1999, Fintan O'Toole declares that "Breda O'Brien, a sincere and committed journalist, has made extravagant claims about her own alleged ability to uncover flawed research in SUFFER THE LITTLE CHILDREN.." (One shudders to think what an insincere and uncommitted journalist might be capable of)..........................

O'Toole claims that in the 1970s, Sister Stan, along with Bishop Casey, in a private room berated the two civil servants from the Department of Justice and Education who sat on the Kennedy Committee. O'Toole claims sources who say that this incident happened.

My sources who say it did not happen are; Sister Stan: Risteard MacConcradha, the representative of the Department of Justice; Antoin O'Gormain, the representative of the Department of Education; and Richard O'Donovan, of the Department of Education, secretary to the Kennedy Committee. Who are O'Toole's "sources"? Bishop Casey perhaps?" [Highlighting is mine. RC ]

2005 Mary Raftery Slandered Bishop Peter Birch (3)
In the early 1960’s Sr Stanislaus was sent to Kilkenny to work alongside the Bishop of Ossory Peter Birch in developing Kilkenny Social Services. For nineteen years  until his death in 1981, Bishop Birch was guide and mentor to Sr. Stanislaus as the Kilkenny social services developed into an innovative, comprehensive model of community care becoming a blue-print for the rest of Ireland. Naturally he also attracted the attention of Mary Raftery!

In March 2005 Mary Raftery wrote in the Irish Times - in relation to St Joseph's residential school in Kilkenny run by the Sisters of Charity:
Several of these children, as young as four, were subjected to over a decade of continuous and savage abuse both physical and sexual. We know that a number of them told adults of the torture that they were suffering. We know that a number of prominent individuals, including the local bishop, Dr. Peter Birch, and Sister Stanislaus Kennedy, were made aware of some of the allegations of abuse. We know that for the children concerned little or nothing happened as a result of their complaints.

When challenged by the Superior General of the Sisters of Charity Mary Raftery replied:
 I neither stated nor implied that Bishop Birch was aware that boys at St. Joseph's were being sexually abused.
The connivance of the Irish media ensured that Ms Raftery was allowed to get away with her blatant lies!


The Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (Ryan Report) was published on 20 May 2009 and depicted residential institutions run by the Catholic Church over decades as places where sexual and physical abuse were endemic. As per Wikipedia "The Report's conclusions section (Chapter 6) supports the overall tenor of the accusations without exception

In effect the Commission ignored allegations that were clearly false while accepting as true any accusation of abuse that the religious orders could not prove was false!

2009 Sr Stan apologises to abuse victims
Sister Stanislaus Kennedy - Sorry and ashamed
[ RTE News Wednesday, 1 Jul 2009

Sister Stanislaus Kennedy has apologised unreservedly to survivors of child abuse in Catholic-run institutions. Sr Stan said the Sisters of Charity were sad, sorry and ashamed that children suffered physical, emotional and sexual abuse while under their care. 
She also said that the order must now live up to its financial responsibilities.

Sr Stan is a prominent campaigner for homeless people.

The order is holding a conference on social justice in Dublin today.

The Ryan report into institutional child abuse [and] the economic downturn will be discussed at the conference.

Sr Miriam Hennessey of the Sisters of Charity told the conference that the findings of the report were 'overwhelming and disturbing' for all her nuns. On behalf of the congregation, she apologised again to all past pupils for what took place in the institutions under the congregation's care.

President Mary McAleese has described the institutional abuse of children as 'a millstone of biblical proportions in Irish history'. Addressing a conference organised, she said the abuse of some of the children in the nuns' care was a sad chapter in their history, which calls for resilience, determination, humility and focus in the journey of amending and healing that lies ahead.


2015   Sr Stan to vote in favour of same sex marriage
Well-known social activist at odds with Catholic hierarchy on referendum stance
[ Irish Times, 11 May 2015 by Carl O'Brien]

Sr Stanislaus Kennedy has announced she will vote in favour of same-sex marriage in the forthcoming referendum.

I have thought a lot about this,” she told The Irish Times. “I am going to vote Yes in recognition of the gay community as full members of society. They should have an entitlement to marry. It is a civil right and a human right.”

Sr Stan (75), as she is widely known, is a member of the congregation of the Religious Sisters of Charity and founder of the homeless support organisation Focus Ireland.

When asked how she reconciled her position with the Catholic Church’s teaching on the issue, she said she was speaking in a personal capacity.

I have a big commitment to equality for all members of society. It’s what my life has been about. We have discriminated against members of the gay and lesbian community for too long. This is a way of embracing them as full members of society.”

She was speaking following a contribution to a conference on the impact of austerity policies organised by the trade union Unite.

Catholic Church leaders, however, have strongly supported a No vote in the referendum.  Earlier this month, the Catholic primate Archbishop Eamon Martin reiterated the church’s opposition to same-sex unions on the basis that they were not “similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.” .....

NOTE: The five justices of the UK Supreme Court recently ruled that the refusal of Asher's Bakery in Belfast to make a cake with a slogan supporting same-sex marriage was not discriminatory. The dispute began in 2014 and even some LGBT people thought it was a mistake to push the issue. What is Sister's Stan's view?


2017  Depiction of Sisters of Charity Like ‘Elder Abuse’, Says Sr Stan 

Nun was shocked by some of the ‘very distasteful’ media coverage of the order
[Irish Times, Saturday  3 June 2017, article by Paul Cullen]

The depiction of the Sisters of Charity during the recent controversy over the transfer of the National Maternity Hospital to St Vincent’s hospital was akin to elder abuse, according to one of the order’s best-known members.

Sr Stanislaus Kennedy said she was shocked and surprised by the scale of the controversy over St Vincent’s and the criticisms levelled at her order. “It shook me, it really did.”

During the controversy, very little thought was given to the background of the Sisters of Charity and the work its members had done over the years, she said. She said her order had been depicted as “a power-grabbing congregation” and “a group of old ladies who didn’t know what they were doing”. “A lot of the stuff that came out in the media about us was very hurtful. There was a lot of misunderstanding and misrepresentation. It was very distasteful.”

Sr Stanislaus, the founder of Focus Ireland and the Immigrant Council of Ireland, said her order had been depicted as “a power-grabbing congregation” and “a group of old ladies who didn’t know what they were doing”. In another context, this would come under elder abuse,” said the 78-year-old nun.

The controversy was sparked by the revelation last month [May 2017] that the Sisters of Charity would own the National Maternity Hospital when it moved from Holles Street to St Vincent’s because it owns the wider campus. Critics claimed the State was “gifting” the new facility to the order, which could have undue influence on the maternity hospital.

However, last Monday, the order announced it was withdrawing completely from St Vincent’s and would therefore have no involvement in the NMH when it moves.

Minister for Health Simon Harris will next week tell Cabinet his plans for the €300 million project, which is fully supported by both hospitals.

Homeless work
Sr Stanislaus pointed out that Sisters of Charity has a long-term record of giving properties away. Thirty years ago, it led the way for other orders by providing Stanhope Street convent in central Dublin for use as housing for the homeless.

The order had also provided properties at the North Circular Road, Richmond Road, Harold’s Cross and Baldoyle in Dublin, and in Cork and Waterford, for housing and other charitable purposes.
 “We are a hard-working, humble congregation that did its work for years without much notice.”
We are a hard-working, humble congregation that did its work for years without much notice
The order gave “quietly, without bells and whistles” but fulfilled what it set out to do in terms of honouring the aims of its founders, Sr Mary Aikenhead, she said.

Sr Stanislaus said she knew nuns working in St Vincent’s who had given their lives for the needs of the powerless. “I might be better-known in the media, but I couldn’t hold a candle to these colleagues in terms of lifelong dedication.”

Asked whether the order should have done more to put its point of view across, Sr Stanislaus said she could understand why the Sisters would not want to go before “the barrage of the media”.

Although she was not involved in the discussions about withdrawing from St Vincent’s, she said she was aware “for a number of years” this was under discussion.

Asked whether complete withdrawal had been contemplated, or whether this was a response to the controversy, she said: “I think we would have withdrawn anyway. That was the plan.”


I have given prominence to what might be regarded as a minor episode i.e. the claim by Mary Raftery and Fintan O'Toole that at a Conference meeting in 1971, Sister Stan berated a civil servant who sat on the Kennedy Committee on child care for failing to give credit to the Church for its work on behalf of children. This is hardly the worst of the thuggish attacks directed at Sister Stanislaus Kennedy and the Sisters of Charity. However it has its own significance. This is NOT one person's word against another's.  Every civil servant who attended the Conference, confirmed to journalist Breda O'Brien that no such episode took place. So where did Raftery and O'Toole get their data from? The same place that an anti-Semite gets his information about Jews?

I have a personal interest in the episode where Mary Raftery slandered Dr. Peter Birch. In the 1960s our Novice Master Brother Maurice Kirk used to speak to us about the Bishop of Ossory and the then De La Salle Novitiate in Castletown, Co. Laois is in the diocese of Ossory!

Sister Stanislaus did finally speak out last year in the wake of the controversy about the National Maternity Hospital. Her description of the torrent of lies directed at her colleagues as "Elder Abuse" was inadequate and seems to suggest that Catholic nuns are just another group of "vulnerable victims". I don't think she understands what type of society we are living in - or that the liberal Catholics who helped to create it have a moral obligation to try to undo some of the damage they have done!. (For example see my previous article "The Apologies of the Sisters of Mercy...")

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