The patron saint of whistleblowers

Francis X. Rocca of Religion News Service writes:

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Mother Mary MacKillop won’t be canonized until Oct. 17, but some Catholics already have an unofficial title for the 19th-century Australian nun: Patron Saint of Whistle-blowers.

MacKillop (1842-1909), Australia’s first native-born saint, was co-founder of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart, an order of nuns dedicated to the religious instruction of children and care for the poor.

The strong-willed MacKillop, who worked under harsh conditions in the Australian outback, was once briefly excommunicated by her bishop for reasons that have never been entirely clear.

According to a new Australian television documentary set to air a week before her canonization, at least one of the reasons MacKillop was punished was for denouncing clerical child abuse.

David Gibson at Politics Daily has more:

Pope Benedict XVI has for months been battered by criticism over his history of dealing quietly with sex abuse by clergy, but in October he could make his most eloquent response yet when he canonizes a 19th-century Australian nun who was once excommunicated in part because she complained about priests who molested children.

The Rev. Jim Martin of America magazine has also weighed in:

Stunning news that a soon-to-be-saint was excommunicated for urging the church to take action against a sex offender is a reminder of the virulence of the crimes of clerical abuse. And the astonishing story of Mother Mary MacKillop, an Australian sister and foundress of a women’s religious order, who will be canonized on Oct. 17, says a great deal about sanctity, about sin, about women in the church and, finally, about hope.

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