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The Boston Globe

Opinion

Opinion | Farah Stockman

In singling out nuns, Catholic Church overlooks its history

In 1899, a contingent of nuns journeyed into the malarial forests of southern Africa to set up missionary schools. They mastered the clicking language of the Ndebele tribe, baked communion bread in brick ovens they built themselves, and steered clear of the subject of monogamy so as not to enrage the polygamous local chief.

In 1911, another group of sister-pioneers set sail for the islands of Fiji to run a clinic for lepers. In 1929, nuns in black habits rode a steamship up the Yangtze River into the heart of China, braving insufferable heat, flying termites, and warring generals.

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