A Sigh of Relief
We just got a powerful letter from “Gabe.” Messages like this make all our Buddha killing feel worthwhile:
I have just read the article, “[Shattered Faith in Two Parts],” and breathed a sigh of relief that this horrible story has made it to the news. I am so very sorry that this happened to those women years ago, and understand completely how they feel. I was raped by a sister almost nightly for a period of two years. I was a young sister: she was my superior. I had been taught as a novice and every year after that that the superior was God’s representative on earth, that God spoke through her, that I was to obey her in all things “without question.” So, when she started coming into my bedroom at night to get her sexual needs met using my body, I had no idea what to do. I couldn’t tell anyone. This was a long time ago: who would believe me? It would be her word against mine, and I knew no one would believe me!! So, I stayed silent for years. Eventually I sought help and then left the convent. My perpetrator cannot be punished because the statute of limitations had expired by the time I was strong enought to tell anyone. Since then, I and other survivors have spoken with the Leadership Council of Women Religious and the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious. Both organizations have declared that it is not their role to do anything about this, that the congregations are autonomous. So, no one holds sisters accountable. They do not have to answer to anyone, and so these heinous acts continue. Eventually there will come a day that this, too, will come to light and when the news really breaks that women religious also sexually abuse innocent children and vulnerable adults, it will shock people even more than the same news about priests.
Thank you so much for sharing, Gabe. We know it takes strength to do so.
Nathan Schneider is an editor of Killing the Buddha and writes about religion, reason, and violence for a variety of publications. He is also a founding editor of Waging Nonviolence. His first two books, published by University of California Press in 2013, are God in Proof: The Story of a Search from the Ancients to the Internet and Thank You, Anarchy: Notes from the Occupy Apocalypse. Visit his website at The Row Boat.