By Mark Abrams

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A prominent nun active in supporting survivors of clergy sex abuse in Philadelphia says she is surprised the new pope is backing the crackdown on a group representing religious women in the Roman Catholic Church here in the US.

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Sister Maureen Paul Turlish belongs to the Sisters of Notre Dame and is active in the Philadelphia chapter of Voices of the Faithful, a national organization which represents nuns in the US.

Turlish had hopes that Pope Francis would distance himself from the actions of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, who, while pope, directed the organization to change its ways because of what he called “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith,” an apparent reference to the group’s exploration of church stance on sensitive topics including birth control, abortion, church governance, and the ordination of women.

Turlish says she is troubled by the notion that the church may have used the action against the nuns’ group to divert attention from the ongoing clergy sex abuse scandal.

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“This heavyhandedness with the nuns, from my point of view, seemed to be diversionary, to bring attention off that problem and put it on something else,” she told KYW Newsradio today, “and I still, to a certain extent, feel that way.”

Turlish says the nuns simply want a voice in the church’s mission.


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