The buried dark secrets of the ‘Sisters of the Good Shepherd’

By Sarah Boucault

During the 1950s and 1960s in France, thousands of young girls considered to be from problem backgrounds were placed in care in institutions run by the nuns of the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, a Catholic order whose vocation was to ensure their welfare. A recently created association of those once sent to the hostels is now demanding recognition and compensation for the violence they say they suffered at the hands of the nuns, including physical and mental abuse and forced labour. But, as Sarah Boucault reports, the order is proving less than enthusiastic at opening up its potentially incriminating archives to public scrutiny.

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They call themselves “Les Filles du Bon Pasteur”, but for the “Girls of the Good Shepherd”, not only did nobody lay down their lives to protect them, no-one did anything to save them from the violence they say they suffered at the hands of nuns among the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, a Catholic order whose self-proclaimed mission was to ensure their welfare.