Drogheda Independent

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Nun quits following abuse by priests

A LOCAL nun has joined a new religious group after claiming to have suffered physical and mental abuse at the hands of priests for many years.

Mother Maria Francesca has 'given up Rome' to become a Franciscan Sister of the Blessed Sacrament in Liverpool. The 58-year-old is now part of the 'Ecumenical Catholic Church', which allows women priests and married priests. A NUN from Duleek has broken away from the Vatican as she says she cannot stay silent anymore on the ' bullying, sexual and physical abuse' she and others suffered at the hands of Catholic priests during the past few decades.

Mother Maria Francesca is a member of the Stears family in Duleek, but has been a nun in the UK for many years, recently 'giving up Rome' to become a Franciscan Sister of the Blessed Sacrament in Liverpool.

The 58- year- old says she defended the Catholic Church to the hilt in the past, but could no longer stay silent on the abuse she has suffered and witnessed, or the fact the Vatican imposes rules she simply cannot follow.

'I can now embrace anyone - gay, lesbian, divorced, transsexual - everyone the hierarchy in the Vatican told me I was not allowed to accept or help,' says Maria Francesca, her Duleek accent feint amongst her adopted Liverpudlian brogue.

'I personally suffered terrible physical and mental abuse at the hands of Catholic priests - I was sexually assaulted, thrown across the sacristy, I saw another sister struck - but when I complained to the Archbishop, I was told to ' sit down and be quiet'. Well I did then, but I can't anymore.'

Mother Maria is now part of the Ecumenical Catholic Church, which allows women priests, married male priests and inclusion for some minorities excluded from communion and marriage by the traditional Catholic Church.

She has followed the events surrounding Cardinal Sean Brady with interest, and is also aware of the censuring of Fr Brian Darcy and others who speak against the Church.

' Cardinal Brady and his conspirators must step down immediately,' she says.

'Put them on trial and let the people judge them.

' The Archbishop of Dublin is the only man left in the Catholic Church I respect, as he cried real tears and handed over the files.'

Maria Francesca says it was very hard giving up the traditional Catholic Church at her age.

'It wasn't easy to do, but so many of us now are disillusioned and want to come with us,' says the nun, who formed the new order in March with Sister Maria Clare and Sister Maria Solanus.

'I always read what Fr Brian Darcy read, and agreed with it, and I know Fr Iggy in Drogheda and Fr John in Duleek, who are also wonderful priests, but I couldn't continue to stay quiet about what I knew.

'I obeyed for 43 years, but there are so many broken people who need help, and are being turned away.

'I have known young girls made pregnant by Catholic priests and made to feel guilty for it, while the priest goes unpunished.

'It's time they 'fessed up, as they say on the streets of Liverpool.'