Friday, May 22, 2009

Report: widespread abuse of Irish children in Catholic institutions

A 9 year report covering decades of abuse in Catholic institutions for children in Ireland, including reform schools and orphanages was released yesterday, reports the Christian Science Monitor. The abuse included beatings, rape and molestation.

The report found that sexual abuse was “endemic” in boys’ institutions, and throughout the system children were “frequently hungry” and “lived with the daily terror of not knowing where the next beating was coming from.” The investigation spanned incidents from the 1930s to the 1990s. Many of the institutions have since closed. The government has vowed to increase unannounced inspections of those still open.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The Sisters of Mercy, one of the religious orders named in the report, offered an apology on its Web site to the people who "were hurt and damaged while in our care."

The report criticizes Ireland's Department of Education, which had legal responsibility for children in industrial and reformatory schools, for failing to stop the beatings and rapes. It says department officials were aware of abuse in schools, but the department's inspections were inadequate and it failed to exercise its "ample" legal powers, such as removing schools' managers.

This is beyond shameful. The descriptions of the systemic abuse turn one's stomach. Sadly, living in these conditions results in damage and hurt that can never be fully healed for the victims.

The report states that:

"Nevertheless, each instance of sexual abuse was treated in isolation and in secrecy by the authorities and there was no attempt to address the underlying systemic nature of the problem. There were no protocols or guidelines put in place that would have protected children from predatory behaviour. The management did not listen to or believe children when they complained of the activities of some of the men who had responsibility for their care. At best, the abusers were moved, but nothing was done about the harm done to the child. At worst, the child was blamed and seen as corrupted by the sexual activity, and was punished severely.

The Victim's Group has urged the Vatican to take action after the release of the report, including that the Vatican should "publicly rebuke the religious order that fought to keep abusers' names out of a damning report that details thousands of crimes against minors in Ireland."

There has been a call for a National Day of Repentance, according to the Irish Catholic newspaper, including a "a liturgy to be organised ''as an expression of sorrow to God for the clerical abuse of children''.


Terri said...

This is horrifying. I had Sisters of Mercy in high school (in the US) and they couldn't have been more compassionate and encouraging (while having high expectations.) I am so sad that the kids of this article lived such horror.

Wheelie Catholic said...

You are so right. There are so many dedicated clergy members. This is indeed sad, as well as horrifying.