The Strange Tale of Sister Clare – Part 4

Sister Clare had finally admitted she’d lied to me.

It had taken a significant amount of investigative work on my part, and a lot of time and effort, but I’d presented to her a series of means whereby I could ascertain whether or not she was telling me the truth.

In other words, she had no choice but to tell me the truth, because she knew I would find out anyway.

Just as an aside, I suspected that she was lying to me right from the very first email. Her second email confirmed it. Call it my PGS, or years working as a journalist, but I just knew.

I’d hoped that I was wrong, and so I needed to find out either way – but unfortunately my “instincts” proved to be correct.

Putting aside the nature of our relationship prior to all this – the fact that my wife and I had gone out of our way to support her in so many ways – there were things about her web of lies that particularly upset me –

For instance, when she said:

why do you want to know? Because you think I’m lying? What would that accomplish? Make up a story and tell Bill so he isn’t concerned if I’m not as present on the blog?Why?

I can’t tell you how deeply it hurts that after all this time you think I am a liar.

And also this:

And as much as I want to, I can’t share the report with you. There is confidential information about a third party in it, and violating that would compromise my vows as a nun.

In the first excerpt, she was trying to manipulate me. In the second, she was using her “vows as a nun” to gain my trust.

To be frank, at that time, both disgusted me. I have softened my position since then, but in the spirit of laying everything bare here, I will tell you my true feelings at various stages. This whole episode provoked a range of emotions in me, but later I came to see it for what it really was – but more on that later…

I gave it 24 hours, because I needed to think what to do now. Sister Simon Clare had, in her own words, told me she had lied. She had given me various reasons – that she wanted my love and sympathy. It didn’t wash.

So here’s what I wrote to her, after due consideration –

Sister – 

I have thought long and hard about this. 

You have consistently lied to me – and you finally revealed the truth only after I had placed you in such a position that you could lie no further. 

 I have to ask myself now, what other lies have you told me? 

 I can’t trust you. And you purport to be a nun…

 I have done so much to support you, to help you. 

You ask why would you do this? Lie to me this way? The implication is clear – you wanted me to give you some money. You can say otherwise, but if you look deep within your heart, that’s what you wanted. 

 Here’s what I’m going to do – 

I am going to post onto the blog my email to you this morning, and your response. I feel it is important that the PGS community know what’s been going on. And you yourself said in your email that you were okay to let the blog know what’s happened. So that blog will be going up shortly. 

I won’t ban you from the blog. But I have deactivated your account on the forum, and taken away your moderator permissions. 

I won’t withdraw my offer for you to come on the tour, if you still want to. 

And I will forgive you. 

Most of all, I will forgive you. 

Bill

I took away her Moderator Permissions on the Forum, because she was presenting there as a Spiritual Counsellor, and offering counselling and spiritual advice to others. Given that she had admitted that she couldn’t be trusted, t didn’t feel it appropriate that I continue to offer her that platform.

Again, I was conscious of my credibility in all of this. So many of you had trusted Sister Clare, because I trusted Sister Clare. She no longer held my trust. So certain things had to change. That’s why I initially told her I would put everything up on the blog. I later retracted that. I thought it would be enormously damaging to Sister Clare if all this were made public.

If I were truly to forgive her, then why punish her by making this public? It will be revealed in a later Part as to why I did finally decide to publish this all – but right at that moment, I still had some residue anger, and so I told her I would put it all up on the blog.

As I say, I later changed my mind. I had decided that this should all remain between Sister Clare and me. That, I believed, represented true forgiveness.

In saying I forgave her, I did truly mean it – and I still do. But in my mind, that didn’t mean pretending that none of this had happened. There were still quite a few unanswered questions in all of this for me.

I had determined separately that Sister Clare did in fact have a quadriplegic son, whom she was caring for at home. It was very sad that I had to check this, however online scam artists are known to put forward fabricated stories of personal harrowing circumstances to elicit sympathy and trust.

I had determined from her priest that she had gone on a retreat, and that she was a nun. So I was happy to know that, and that I hadn’t been completely duped.

And in saying that I would stand by my offer to bring her on the tour, I meant that too, at the time. I saw that as a crucial part of my forgiveness. Out of all of this sordid mess, I had to learn something, And I hoped to learn a big lesson about the nature of forgiveness.

Here’s what Sister Clare came back with – (and I have kept all the grammar, spelling mistakes, and formatting, again with no greeting or signature – )

Certainly Bill, whatever you want to do. Will you be including this email?

 You have a blessed heart, certainly to be willing to forgive me for lying to you. And although I have no right to, I ask only one small thing-and I will be praying about it too. Please just open your heart to the possiblity, that I don’t, and never did want your money-it had nothing to do with it. I  will swear to that with my hand on the Blessed Sacrament  and before God and my Mother Superior. I can look as deeply as my heart goes, and its not there. You very very kindly offered me money once before, or said you would if you had it, and I told you then I would never ask or accept your money. As you say, and I would be the first person to shout it to the world, you have always been more than kind to me. I would defend your integrity to an army of Huns.

 Jesus came to the world, thankfully to save sinners and lost souls. I have always admitted to being one of them-and I always will. It amazes me every day that I had a vocation to be a nun. Grace is astonishing. But that’s just it. I’m just a nun and nuns aren’t perfect. I never will be -because I am ,and all priests and nuns and monks and ministers and Popes are too,- imperfect and 100% fallable human beings. I can only represent the sinner who tries, and fails, and sins, and tries again. We are just people the same as any others, some worse, some better, but all the same.That’s not an excuse, just something that should be said often, I believe.

We all are capable of burning dwarves from time to time. I’ll be the first to admit to that-and I’ll still say no one has the right to judge another because of it. That does not mean to say I think you have no right to judge me-please don’t misunderstand. You do, and I’ll stand up for your right to do just that.

 Thank you, Bill. And God bless you as He has blessed me to know you.

On reading this, I immediately thought of Uriah Heep, in Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield. A masterful manipulator. She was swearing on the Blessed Sacrament, and before God and her Mother Superior that what she was now saying was true.

I’m sorry folks – I must be black hearted – because it still didn’t wash. I believed, and still do believe, that all this was a thinly veiled attempt to elicit money from me, and from you all on the blog, just like her previous reference to the $500 she needed for the Retreat, otherwise she would be expelled from the Order.

For me, she was still lying. And she was using her position as a nun to make me believe she was telling the truth.

Jennifer’s take on it was this – that if she was seeking money, then she was really seeking love, because money was a form of love, for her. And that’s all she was trying to do. She was desperately seeing my love, and the love of others on the blog.

Jennifer told me in no uncertain terms that I should not go public with any of this, I should not put the emails up on the blog, and that I was very angry. I should not make any decisions when I’m angry. I should just walk away from it all now, she said, and leave it be. You’ve proven that she’s lied, Jennifer said, surely now it’s all over.

So I sent this email to Sister Clare –

Hi Sister, 

I have decided not to publish anything on the blog. 

It’s between us. 

I can’t fully forgive you if I make this public. It would be a punishment, and I don’t want to punish you. 

Bill

Here’s what she came back with –

Bill,

You offer mercy when I don’t deserve it. Are you sure you aren’t just a little bit Christian ?

Whatever you choose to do about this whole sorry, shameful mess is up to you.I won’t protest or disgree with anything you decide. I have no right to, and I certainly don’t deserve to. But I thank you sincerely and with absolute humility.

May God continue to go with you and all those you love.

My reply –

Dear Sister, 

Thank you – as far as I’m concerned this is all over now. 

All I ask is two things – that you never lie to me again, and that you ask yourself what have you learned from all this. 

I have learned a lot. 

Bill

Notice the greeting “Dear” Sister?

That’s the first time in all this I’d put “dear” in front of her name. And as most of you who have direct contact with me know, I usually don’t put anything in front of a name – sometimes “Hi,” but very rarely “Dear.”

This showed how my heart had softened, and how I was truly trying to forgive her.

So you’d think it was now all over.

But it wasn’t. Not by a long shot…

11 thoughts on “The Strange Tale of Sister Clare – Part 4

  1. Bill,

    I don’t say much on here but I read every word! I want to say how sorry I am that this has happened to you…I am not judging Sister Clare but I am angry that that you have been put in this situation!! I was hoping this was a total scam and not our Dear Sister Clare!

    Debbie

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    • Debbie,

      Thank you, but please give some thought to what Sister Clare said in her last email – we are all fallible. We’ve all told lies, if we’re to be brutally honest with ourselves

      She has done nothing more than many of us have done, myself very much included.

      That’s the way I look at it.

      Bill

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  2. Jennifer and I will be driving from Santiago back to Porto today, so I’ll be out of Internet contact for most of the day. That’s why I have posted this early.

    Bill

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      • We did Julie –

        and had a lovely dinner last night with Marie the Basque, and her gorgeous companion, 87 yr old Manoli.

        It was a great night, and we talked a lot about the tour –

        I also enjoyed meeting Ivar and Johnny Walker – but I will put up a separate post about all this later

        Bill

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  3. Bill, all I can do at this point is continue to offer prayers for all concerned. I hope the overall fallout is not too painful.
    Yes, we are all sinners striving to be saints. We are all human, we all fall. One of the greatest gifts we have, however, is forgiveness – of each other and ourselves.
    May we all be blessed with this gift.
    Each new day is given to us so we can begin again, learn from our mistakes and strive to be the best we can be.
    Blessings
    Anne 🌻

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  4. Bill,
    I have read and will continue to read this accounting of events. I am shocked and saddened with each new post.

    I cannot believe how twisted and tangled this has become. I am brought back to a quote taught to me in childhood – “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” This is truly an accounting that demonstrates the “tangled web” vividly; I so wish it wasn’t the case.

    I am saddened for you and Jennifer. I am saddened as well, for Sister. And I am saddened for the PGS family.

    Arlene

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    • Arlene. Robert Burns, late 1700s, “To a Mouse”. He also wrote “To a Louse”, from which you probably remember the phrase, “Ah but wad the giftie gie us, to see ourselves as others see us”. I always remember both of them, and I bet they don’t teach those in high school any more. He was prolific but unfortunately died at 37 years old.

      And yes, one can not help but think of this poem when following this sordid tale.

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