Predatory Nuns

Sexual Abuse in North American Catholic Sisterhoods


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About the Book

Since the first scandals broke in the mid-1980s, the sexual misconducts of priests have cost the Catholic Church in America more than $4 billion in compensation settlements and incalculable damage to its reputation. Although their crimes have attracted far less attention, predatory nuns have also caused harm. The depredations of these nuns took place in convent novitiates, orphanages, boarding schools for Native Americans, and in Catholic schools, both elementary and secondary. Their victims, male and female, ranged in age from six-year-olds to young adults.

This book focuses on the criminal behavior of North American nuns and the responses from church leadership. Mothers superior were outspoken in their refusal to accept responsibility for the crimes committed under their watch, and their inclination was to close ranks and protect the predators, endangering many children and young people in the process. The complainants, on the other hand, were considered nuisances to be pushed aside with the least amount of exposure and expense possible. Straightforward and informative, this text begins by exploring the nuns’ vow of chastity and its relationship with human sexuality, followed by dozens of case studies detailing the sexual abuse that nuns committed in various settings.

About the Author(s)

A professor emeritus in the Faculty of Education, the University of Lethbridge, Canada, Brian Titley is the author of seven books that examine power and resistance in a variety of historical settings. He divides his time between homes in Nanaimo, British Columbia, and Dublin, Ireland. Visit his website


Bibliographic Details

Brian Titley
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 172
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8957-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4717-3
Imprint: Exposit

Table of Contents

Preface 1
1. Syllabus of Errors: The Church and Its Sexual Predators 5
2. Foolish Virgins: Novice Nuns and the Vow of Chastity 22
3. A Laying On of Hands: Older Nuns and Younger Ones 39
4. Sorrowful Mysteries: Orphanages 56
5. Weaknesses of the Flesh: Missions to Native Americans 76
6. Unfaithful Servants: Catholic Schools 94
7. Days of Reckoning 115
Conclusion 127
Chapter Notes 131
Bibliography 149
Index 157

Book Reviews & Awards

“Timely and unprecedented”—Historical Studies in Education