A fiercely debated, long-delayed investigation into Ireland's Roman Catholic-run institutions says priests and nuns terrorized thousands of boys and girls in workhouse-style schools for decades â€” and government inspectors failed to stop the chronic beatings, rapes and humiliation.
Nine years in the making, Wednesday's 2,600-page report sides almost completely with the horrific reports of abuse from former students sent to more than 250 church-run, mostly residential institutions. But victims' leaders said it didn't go far enough â€” particularly because none of their abusers were identified by name.
The report concluded that church officials always shielded their orders' pedophiles from arrest to protect their own reputations and, according to documents uncovered in the Vatican, knew that many pedophiles were serial attackers.
The investigators said overwhelming, consistent testimony from still-traumatized men and women, now in their 50s to 80s, had demonstrated beyond a doubt that the entire system treated children more like prison inmates and slaves than people with legal rights and human potential.
"A climate of fear, created by pervasive, excessive and arbitrary punishment, permeated most of the institutions and all those run for boys. Children lived with the daily terror of not knowing where the next beating was coming from," the final report of Ireland's Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse concluded.
More than 30,000 children deemed to be petty thieves, truants or from dysfunctional families â€” a category that often included unmarried mothers â€” were sent to Ireland's austere network of industrial schools, reformatories, orphanages and hostels from the 1930s until the last church-run facilities shut in the 1990s.
The report, unveiled by High Court Justice Sean Ryan, found that molestation and rape were "endemic" in boys' facilities, chiefly run by the Christian Brothers, and supervisors pursued policies that increased the danger. Girls supervised by orders of nuns, chiefly the Sisters of Mercy, suffered much less sexual abuse but frequent assaults and humiliation designed to make them feel worthless.
Victims of the system have long demanded that the truth of their experiences be documented and made public.
But several victims â€” who were prevented from attending Wednesday's report launch and scuffled with police outside a central Dublin hotel â€” said the report didn't go far enough and rejected the church leaders' apologies as insincere.
Kelly said the report should have examined how children like himself were taken away from parents without just cause, and demanded more answers from Irish governments that ceded control over their lives to the church. He said any apologies offered now were "hollow, shallow and have no substance or merit at all. We feel betrayed and cheated today."
But its findings will not be used for criminal prosecutions â€” in part because the Christian Brothers successfully sued the commission in 2004 to keep the identities of all of its members, dead or alive, unnamed in the report. No real names, whether of victims or perpetrators, appear in the final document.
The Irish government already has funded a parallel compensation system that has paid 12,000 abuse victims an average of euro65,000 ($90,000). About 2,000 claims remain outstanding.
Victims receive the payouts only if they waive their rights to sue the state and the church. Hundreds have rejected that condition and taken their abusers and those church employers to court.
Wednesday's report said children had no safe way to tell authorities about the assaults they were suffering, particularly the sexual aggression from church officials and older inmates in boys' institutions.
"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," the commission found. "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 commission dismissed as implausible a central defense of the religious orders â€” that, in bygone days, people did not recognize the sexual abuse of a child as a criminal offense, but rather as a sin that required repentance.
In their testimony, religious orders typically cited this as the principal reason why sex-predator priests and brothers were sheltered within the system and moved to new posts where they could still maintain daily contact with children.
But the commission said its fact-finding â€” which included unearthing decades-old church files, chiefly stored in the Vatican, on scores of unreported abuse cases from Ireland's industrial schools â€” demonstrated that officials understood exactly what was at stake: their own reputations.
The church is cultivating a glorified breeding ground for pedophiles and protects them to save their own rotting reputations, while a nation of millions continues to lay their trust and children in their care.
Now to be fair this was during a time where pedophilia in the church had not really reared its sick ugly head in the news, but I honestly don't think the church has reformed its way and still continues to think putting wolves in with a flock of sheep is a good idea. :mad:
A lot of these abuse victims are going to continue into the ranks of the church too and i bet anything repeat what had happened to them (obviously not all, but many pedophiles have had a history of child sexual abuse)
If anything the church should be selling out and removing pedophiles from their ranks, that would help their reputation and lessen the problem, not sheltering them for christ sakes.
What do you think?