Thursday, 24 November 2016


Kate, a nun, was raped five times by three priests...she still can't speak of it



WHEN my sister Kate left home to become a nun, I was a typical teenager. To me, her choice was something I couldn't quite understand, even though the rest of my family was delighted. Why would anyone want to become a nun of all things?

I had always felt she was different to me - not just because of the age gap, which was only four years - and this decision emphasised that feeling.

We weren't a particularly religious family. We were all brought up as Catholic, but we weren't the sort of family who had brothers going off to be priests, or any family history at all of relatives who had chosen that life.

I called it Kate's "other world". It was as alien to me as my life of boyfriends and music was to her.

My parents and the rest of the family - we have two younger brothers - were supportive, if surprised. She was the sister who was closest in age to me, but when she first told me of her religious calling, I never expect to ever develop such a close relationship.

She told me: "Charlotte, the Church is my future."

On top of that, she intended to work abroad, which meant the gap would be even wider. Mum and Dad didn't know what to do to support her specifically, but me, Kate, and my two younger brothers were all brought up to believe our choices were right and they would always be behind us.

To be honest, the family was caught between two worlds. 

We were Catholic, but it was in the same way as lots of people - we went to Mass every so often, we knew what religion we were ... but it wasn't the be all and end all.

I think Kate chose it for more than the religion, although that may sound silly.

She was a very spiritual person. She was very quiet and very thoughtful. But, more than that, she always wanted to help people and never saw the bad in anyone.

I think we all expected her to become a nurse or maybe work with children. She just took that in a different direction, really.

By the time she was talking of going to Africa, we had come to terms with it to some extent. I felt I had lost her in some ways and that I became the eldest - but I always felt she would come back to us.

What I had no idea of, as she left home, was that my sister, the nun, was leaving to be abused and raped.

Today, while ever more stories come out from around the world about priests who abuse and who are even involved in paedophile rings, she is a wreck.

Every time someone denies it, or the Vatican claims that it is a conspiracy theory, I look at my sister and am overcome with a wave of anger. I see the reality of that way of thinking - and the lives it ruins.

We wrote to each other quite frequently while she was away, probably once every three or four weeks.

I felt guilty in some ways that I had this spiritual sister who was sacrificing her life for the good of others, while I did nothing.

I went to college, I enjoyed myself - she was saving the world in my eyes.

Kate sent home stories of what she was doing in Kenya and Nigeria. She told us all of the communities in which she lived, and she spoke often of the children in particular.

I remember there always seemed to be someone in each community who she really took to, adopted almost. She told me about the wildlife and customs and poverty. And she was also really proud that she was spreading God's word.

I have to say that I took all of that with a pinch of salt - Kate needed it, but it didn't mean much to me.

However, there were other things she was doing that I was proud of - it seemed more important to me that she was helping to educate children and teach them about clean water than the Bible.

But those letters were just the tip of the iceberg and hid an awful truth she still can't talk about. All through her voluntary work and religious work, I thought I was learning about her life. 

I knew nothing. She said nothing of what she was really going through. I thought she did, but now I know that I was getting a sanitised version.

It seemed hard enough - the food, the water problems, the lack of any support at times - but it was nothing compared to what she was going through physically and sexually.

Kate had travelled to Africa aged 22 in 1993, when I was 17. She threw herself into her work and remained there on and off for about five years, returning home for short holidays.

I would always look forward to her trips home and hearing about her work. I remember one summer she was back, it was the hottest weather Scotland had had for years. But she'd remind us it was 10 times hotter in Africa.

It wasn't until after she returned in 1998 that Kate started writing me different letters.

I still have them, in two boxes. There is the box full of letters while she was there, full of colour and interest.

And the box that tells the real story - every day she put on this face and was Kate, the happy person who loved her work. But she was also Kate who was being attacked and defiled in a way that she never could have imagined when she left Glasgow.

There are lots of them and I can't even begin to imagine how long it must have taken her to unburden the horrors.

Those letters told me of a different life and different experiences. They told of Kate's rape by a priest with whom she worked, and they told of abuses that I now know have been hidden for years.

Kate was raped on five different occasions, by three different men, all of them clerics. This happened in two different countries.

In one country, it was a single man who started work there the same time she did. She assumed they were both there to do God's work, though she knew he was from a totally different background which saw women in a different way.

When he first raped her, she did what a lot of women do, nuns or not - she asked whether it was her fault.

That night, he came back and did it again. When she went to her superiors, there was no support in terms of helping her with what she went through. She was treated like dirt, moved on and told to keep quiet.

The next time, she was raped by two men. It happened on three occasions. The first time, they threatened her - and this was to be the pattern.

One of them was in a much higher position than the other, and when she finally got the courage to report it - when a visiting charity worker arrived - it was to him it was reported.

She didn't become pregnant, thankfully - but when she wrote to me, it was her focus on other aspects of her experience which really hit me.

She couldn't tell me what was going on at the time. I think that was partially because she was protecting me. She just wanted to get home and then work it all out.

One of her clearest recollections is not of the rapes themselves, but of the complete lack of awareness of the potential implications by her abusers.

From what Kate said - or wrote, as she still can barely talk about it to me directly - there was no attempt made to justify what happened.

Although we can sit here and say, "well, there couldn't be", the callousness really affected her.

There was no remorse, no indication of guilt or shame. Certainly no apologies. She meant nothing to them and it was perfectly clear this wasn't a one-off.

They were used to doing this - it was part of their lives.

What I feel now is that we really have to get this issue out into the open. I have seen my sister suffer so much - not just through what was done to her, but what happened afterwards.

She left the Church and I think she was absolutely right to do that, but she seems to be floating about since then.

She has had her whole belief system taken from her, as well as her physical security. She's had counselling and has had help from lots of good people, many of whom are involved in Church matters - but I do think she still blames herself in some way.

There are many good people tackling this issue and they've told me Kate's response is quite normal. It amazes me that they can even talk in that way.

What sort of world do we live in where there actually are support groups for raped nuns, where we can actually calmly discuss the right and wrong responses to how nuns feel when they are raped by priests and other men in the Church?

As a woman, I feel strongly about this anyway and no rape is ever right. But nuns? That just seems so ludicrous and so wrong that I can't even get my head round it.

People who work in this field have told me that religious women who are raped and abused face enormous confusion and guilt because they aren't just dealing with this most awful violation, but the fact that the system they love protects their abusers.

I read a feature in a Roman Catholic magazine about nuns being forced to have sex with priests. In some cases, the women had been pushed into abortions after becoming pregnant and they were excommunicated and pushed away.

In one instance, a priest impregnated a nun, forced her to have an abortion which killed her - and then officiated at her funeral.

There is more of this stuff than you can possibly imagine and there has even been a book published by one nun who renounced her vows so she could speak of the repeated rapes she suffered.

This Canadian woman, Yvonne Maes, then found out her attacker was ministering, unchallenged, in Scotland.

It's true that a lot of the abuse takes place in Africa, where Kate was. The male clerics have a lot of power and there is also a fear of HIV and Aids, which makes them think that not only is sex with virgins the safest option, but that it also offers protection. As always, it's the women and children who suffer.

But Kate wasn't naive in the way that many of the women from these communities may be. She knew about sex - we had supportive parents and she was a normal girl who just so happened to want to be a nun. But still it happened to her.

Last year, there was a huge rally in Washington which asked the Vatican to recognise what was going on and to support the nuns. This served as a catalyst and sparked rallies in 23 different countries. The Pope's previous statement had said that we should pray for the men involved.

That is exactly the attitude which sickens me most about this whole affair. The women mean nothing - all that matters is the protection of the Church. The priests just get transferred elsewhere and the women are shamed.

What happened to my sister shouldn't happen to any woman.

She wasn't raped once, she was raped five times. She wasn't raped by one man, she was raped by three. She wasn't just raped, she was sodomised and assaulted.

She wasn't just ignored when she reported it, she was belittled and blamed.

How that can be supported by any organisation which claims it is based on love and kindness is beyond me. The fact that she is not alone is almost too much to take on board.

When my father first found out about it, I think it would have been easier for him to discover Kate had made it all up because it took a complete reassessment of his whole belief system to take on board what had happened to his daughter.

We all have to live with this now - Kate has been back in Scotland for a couple of years and we are actually closer than I would ever have imagined.

But what a way to get that closeness. She is a victim - she acts like one and thinks like one.

She can't trust her faith any more, and she has no idea what to do with her life.

Pat says:

What a horrific story!

There is a long tradition of priests and nuns being involved sexually.

Of course there is a MASSIVE difference between a priest and nun having mutually agreed sex and RAPE.

In the US the priest / nun aspect is known as THE THIRD WAY.

The rape of nuns by priests has been an issue in Africa where priests used nuns instead of prostitutes to avoid getting HIV.

I believe this story.

I once met a woman in Belfast who was gang raped by 5 priests. I reported this to the police. 


  1. Sexual abuse of any kind is unacceptable. More so when perpetrated by those who are supposed to respect the person as enshrined in the code of conduct set out in the organisations of which they are part.

  2. Absolutely disgusting and revolting beyond words.

  3. When I read stories like this I have to wonder at the authenticity of Christian belief in general among the RC clergy. Time and time again practices completely at odds with the professed belief system of catholicism (love; respect; care;faith etc etc) are being revealed, not as occasional blemishes and failings of weak individuals, but as a systemic modus operandi of a very significant proportion of RC clergy. Has it always been so, but concealed, unlike today's ease of communication and news?

    While I have met many clerics sincere in their beliefs, and dutiful/honourable in their way of life, given the nature of the revealed abuses, I have to wonder(even of those dutiful clerics) just how many of them actually and sincerely believe in the basic tenets of Christianity. I suspect uncovering that is impossible given the many weighty imperatives for clerics to maintain their role.
    But every time I meet a cleric I wonder.

    1. MMM, as an "insider" I can tell you that you are correct in what you say.

      Many clerics do not really believe.

      The majority if those who do will always put canon law and the institution before Christian values.

      For the most part the RC religion is one big charade.

  4. Buckley you are not an "insider" your an "outsider" don't fool yourself

    1. Let me correct - I am an OUTSIDER with INSIDER knowledge, information and well placed contacts :-)

    2. In wondering how and why +Pat has so much information of the internal goings on of the RC church, is it fair to make certain assumptions concerning his sources?
      While indeed he may, at times and for whatever perhaps mischevious reason, have been fed misinformation, he certainly does appear to regularly be aware of internal goings-on within the RC church long before public knowledge of the issues. And, I suspect, he knows far more that he feels able to reveal in these blogs.
      So in relation to possible assumptions concerning his sources:
      Even though they have misgivings about various RC matters do they think;
      1) Their concerns are being/have been/will be ignored?
      2) Voicing concerns is likely to disadvantage them within the RC clerical structure?
      3) They think/hope that +Pat's revelations is the only realistic prospect of bringing about change?

      There may well be many more possibilities, just as one could make assumptions that those clerics who remain silent even in the face of wrongdoing may do so out of a misguided sense of loyalty to the Church or 'clerical club'.

  5. Living now in London and being an ex Seminarian of Allen Hall I have been going to a well known HIV clinic for over 10 years. What amazes me is the number of African nuns who attend the same clinic. It's interesting that quite a few wear their navy blue habit to their appointment. Is it true that Missionaries in Africa prefer to have sex with nuns because they see them as low risk from having HIV? It seems to be the Nuns ending up testing Positive and not the Priests.

    1. Well of course sex isn't the only way HIV is transmitted. Mother to child in utero. In South Africa there are now many HIV+ kids who've got it from being wet nursed by a nanny. In places where the infection rate is reckoned to be 25% (so probably higher and certainly rising) it is a plain fact of life.

  6. You state that you reported a 'gang rape' of a woman by five priests.
    How long ago? Where? You did mention this before.
    I find it incredible that no visible legal action has been taken on this most serious matter.
    What is the status or progress of the police investigation.

    1. It is with the police - PSNI.

      It is a historic case.

      The woman needs to come forwards again for progress.

      The priest's names are known to myself and the police.

    2. There have been false allegations made at many levels in the past!
      Is it not possible that this also might be a false allegation? Even given recent horror stories, this, I find incredible.
      You have, Bishop, been fed false and dubious stories in the past.
      It seems to me that normal prudence would indicate that a more cautious approach should apply here.
      Has the Bishop of the Diocese concerned been informed?
      If so, is he - the Bishop - not obliged by Church Law to immediately suspend the accused - guilty or not?

    3. You've more information that the police Pat.

  7. There's rotten apples in every Church no matter how big or small it is, fact!
    Isn't that the case Pat?

    1. Yes. But maybe in some cases its the BARREL thats rotten and there are a few good apples left in it?

  8. I agree wholeheartedly with the above comment. This story is the sort of thing that The Protestant Telegraph used to revel in, and Ian Paisley. It ranks along with that level of vicious anti Catholicism that is based on nothing more than hysteria and paranoia. If, and it is a huge if, this serious crime has been committed, then the proper civil authorities have been informed and have decided that there is no case to answer, or that there is no evidence. Otherwise I am sure we would have had prosecutions. But then again whats the point of saying this? Im sure those who take seriously these ravings will accused the police of being in cahoots with Church to cover it up! Not something I would imagine would take place in Northern Ireland.

    1. I belive the PSNI took what I told them seriously and that there is nor will be any instance of cahooting.

  9. MMM
    Bishop Buckley had no difficulty in forwarding information to both the Archbishop of Dublin and the Archbishop of Armagh about their deviant priests - but he was on these occasion able to provide reasonable proof!
    All he - Bishop Buckley - does here, is publicise an unsubstantiated allegation. I do not state that these allegations are false - but even following an almost unceasing torrent of horrors - I, personally, find this allegation impossible to believe.
    And should Bishop Buckley not contact the Diocesan Bishop concerned and provide him with the names of the accused - and the name of the accuser? And would not the Bishop be obliged to IMMEDIATELY suspend the accused according to Church Law? If I was a Bishop I would not want these men in my Diocese.
    Bishop Buckley has not provided any legally acceptable evidence here - nothing even close to the clear evidence presented to both Archbishop Martins.

    1. I have provided the PSNI with all the information and names I have.

      The investigation and evidence gathering is now in their hands.

    2. Did you not feel obliged, Bishop, to forward the names of these men to their Bishop?
      If not, why not!
      This episode, if it is true, has to be one of the most appalling, seriously sinful, and criminal events ever recorded in the history of your Blogs.
      I too, find this story impossible to believe!

    3. Any time I have told their bishop about these things he has not taken any action and has in fact supported the priests. He has of course covered himself well in various ways.

      Let the police gather any evidence they can.

      The priests involved are out of ministry in various ways.

  10. Not exactly a fulsome or enlightening reply!

  11. Sam you do go on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Sam goes on with every good reason -
      He'd stop, i'm sure, if he for once got a lucid reply

  12. Bishop Buckley, I'm sure your a well educated man but I find presented on this blog a lot of unsubstantiated allegations that have little or no factual evidence to support them, it's all hearsay and mockery of individuals and parts of society that you have issue with
    I'd prefer to see more of the pastoral side of you and see that educated side of Bishop Buckley, failing miserably now to recognise that part of you.
    The Church is far from perfect like all aspects of life but please give it a chance to bear fruit!
    I'll be long gone and buried like you and the Church will still be here.
    Well said 18:41.

    1. Bear fruit? There comes a time when non fruit bearing or indeed bitter fruits suggest removal of tree!

  13. Hiya Faar Pat. Any word o Big Lily's friend thon big Dean

  14. Some people really aren't paying attention.
    The Catholic Church's hierarchy will never act.
    The police service will only act if there is sufficient evidence and a prosecution is in the public interest.
    Justice for sexual offences is a long road with many cul de sacd.
    If the offender is a Catholic priest the Church will not be interested.
    Get with the programme.

  15. Patriarchy, practically speaking, translates as an imbalance of power between the sexes.

    While the Catholic Church remains patriarchal, this imbalance will always encourage some clerics to use the power imbalance to abuse women or kids.

    The problem isn't primarily individual clerics, but an institutional system of gender (and other) inequality which brings out the worst in these individuals.

    The system is evil and needs to go with more urgency than I can say.