Accused Sister of Nazareth denies abuse claims
Sr Bernard Mary, a Sisters of Nazareth nun accused of child abuse and who was subsequently claimed to be dead, said yesterday she was bewildered by the accusations.
"I find some of (the allegations) quite disgusting - that anybody could even think those thoughts," the diminutive 69 year old nun told The Australian in her first public response to the allegations.
Allegations include that young girls under the Sisters' care in the 1950s and 1960s were raped with flagsticks and forced to eat feces and rotting food.
A court document filed in Brisbane last year, on behalf of the order, had stated she was dead but that was "a mistake" by lawyers. Several women are suing the Sisters of Nazareth for abuse they allegedly suffered - and they name Sr Bernard as an abuser.
Far from being abused, the children she looked after had "on the whole a very happy life", she said. "Really they had a lot of fun to try and make up for the fact that they had missed out on the love and support of family."
Sr Bernard said discipline was tougher in those days. It was acceptable to smack children but there was nothing that could be construed as abuse. Sr Bernard thinks she was the victim of a conspiracy. The children had often been rejected and dumped by their mothers..
"Strangely enough, when that rejection rises to the surface, it's not the parent they go back to, it's the person who looked after them."
Catholic paedophilia scandals hit Ballarat (ABC Radio The World Today)
Sisters of Nazareth shield accused sister (3/9/02)
Abuse spotlight on Sisters of Nazareth (29/8/02)
Sisters of Nazareth
Breach of Faith (The Bulletin)
18 Sep 2002