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Book on heroic Josephite sparks controversy

A biography on Sister Irene McCormack, the Australian nun executed by terrorists in Peru in 1991, has been condemned by her family as despicable and offensive for speculating about her private life.

The book, The Killing of Sister McCormack, by the Sydney writer and academic Anne Henderson, was launched yesterday by the former governor-general Sir William Deane.

But the brother of the Josephite nun released a statement within hours of the launch, saying the family has been "deeply hurt" by "the many falsehoods in the book".

The family has objected to Ms Henderson's claims in the book that the McCormack family hushed up the suicide of a family member, and that the nun may have had an affair with a married man while staying in Peru.

Ms Henderson said: "It is unfortunate that the overreaction by some members of the McCormack family could create the totally unwarranted impression that my book is something other than a tribute to a great and brave Australian."

Launching the book yesterday, Sir William indicated he was aware of the McCormack family's views.

"Past experience leads me to make the cautionary comments that my launching of the book does not necessarily indicate my endorsement of any particular view in relation to any of those matters of possible controversy," he said. "But I see no need for such caution as regards to the essential message of Irene McCormack's life and death."

The Killing of Sister McCormack - extract
The Killing of Sister McCormack - HarperCollins website


13 Mar 2002