Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Irish state and Catholic Church complicit in abuse

The Irish Child Abuse Commission today released a report that according to The Times:

"catalogued sexual, physical and emotional abuse inflicted on 35,000 disadvantaged, neglected and abandoned children by both religious and lay staff over the last 70 years."

"Institutions run by religious orders, including industrial and reform schools, institutions for the disabled, orphanages and ordinary day schools have been examined by the Commission over the past nine years.

Sexual abuse was endemic in boys' schools, while in girls' schools children were subjected to predatory abuse by male employees, visitors and while on outside placements."

Apparently, whenever Roman Catholic church authorities were confronted with allegations that a member of the church had physically or sexually abused children, the response was to remove the individual and place him (or her) elsewhere - where the abuse simply continued. A grand filthy revolting cover up. The church cared more about its reputation than the children

"The report found: "The risk (to children) was seen by the congregations in terms of the potential scandal and bad publicity should the abuse be disclosed..."

Delightful.

The Department of Education was complicit in this "Abuse was rarely reported to the State authorities but on the rare occasion the Department of Education was informed, it colluded with the religious orders in the culture of silence. The Department generally dismissed or ignored sexual abuse complaints and never brought them to the attention of the Garda."

In other words, the Irish state was complicit with the Roman Catholic Church in the systematic cover up of those who raped and beat children - such a bastion of morality from this institution that effectively provided a protected path for pedophiles and sadists to have a career that met their criminal propensities - all with the state turning its head.

Expect lots of apologies, contrition and seeking forgiveness. Expect charges, prosecutions and compensation? Hardly.

So Vatican? What are you going to do for those who were abused? What will you do to help identify and prosecute those who abused? Or is saying sorry enough? Where the hell was God when his representatives were torturing kids on his property?

UPDATE: It just gets worse sadly. The executive summary is not short. It is worth repeating some of the most disturbing findings:

The school which saw sexual abusers protected by the church to save its reputation...

"Artane Industrial School in Dublin. Artane was founded in 1870 and was certified for 830 boys. This was almost four times the size of any other school in the State...sexual abuse of boys in Artane by Brothers was a chronic problem. Complaints were not handled properly and the steps taken by the Congregation to avoid scandal and publicity protected perpetrators of abuse. The safety of children was not a priority at any time during the relevant period."

The school where known sex abusers were transferred to...

"Glin was a large Industrial School in Co Limerick with a population of over 200 boys during a substantial part of the relevant period.... The documents revealed that a system of harsh and pervasive punishment existed in Glin during the relevant period. The documents also revealed that Brothers with a known propensity for sexual abuse were transferred to Glin indicating a serious indifference to the safety of children."

The abuser who was persistently protected by church and school authorities through several schools:

"Mr John Brander, who taught children in the primary and secondary school sector in Ireland for 40 years. He was eventually convicted of sexual abuse in the 1980s. He began his career as a Christian Brother and after three separate incidents of sexual abuse of boys, he was granted dispensation from his vows. This chapter goes on to describe this man's progress through six different schools where he physically terrorised and sexually abused children in his classroom. At various times during his career, parents attempted to challenge his behaviour but he was persistently protected by diocesan and school authorities and moved from school to school. Complaints to the Department of Education were ignored."

The school that flogged boys for minor transgressions:

"Daingean Reformatory, Co Offaly. This was the only boys' reformatory in the State for most of the relevant period and was managed by but not owned by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. The physical abuse of boys in Daingean was extreme. Floggings which were ritualised beatings should not have been tolerated in any institution and they were inflicted even for minor transgressions. Children who passed through Daingean were brutalised by the experience and some were damaged by it."

The school for boys with special needs who was known to have abused in England was brought to Ireland to teach at the school, but the Brothers don't accept responsibility for it:

"Lota which was a residential school for boys with special needs run by the Brothers of Charity in Glanmire, Co Cork...n one case, a Brother who was known by the Congregation to have abused in England and was known to the police there, was brought back to Ireland and assigned a teaching position in Lota, where he worked for over 30 years. This Brother admitted to multiple sexual assaults of boys in the school. The circumstances of his return to Ireland and the handling of allegations against him whilst in Lota are a serious indictment of the Brothers of Charity. The Brothers have admitted that abuse took place but, as in the case of other Orders, they have not accepted Congregational responsibility for it."

In summary the physical abuse noted was: "In addition to being hit and beaten, witnesses described other forms of abuse such as being flogged, kicked and otherwise physically assaulted, scalded, burned and held under water. Witnesses reported being beaten in front of other staff, residents, patients and pupils as well as in private. Physical abuse was reported to have been perpetrated by religious and lay staff, older residents and others who were associated with the schools and institutions. There were many reports of injuries as a result of physical abuse, including broken bones, lacerations and bruising."

Or how about a culture that blamed girls who were victims of sexual abuse for causing it and criticised for reporting it:

"including vaginal and anal rape, molestation and voyeurism in both isolated assaults and on a regular basis over long periods of time. The secret nature of sexual abuse was repeatedly emphasised as facilitating its occurrence. Witnesses reported being sexually abused by religious and lay staff in the schools and institutions and by co-residents and others, including professionals, both within and external to the institutions. They also reported being sexually abused by members of the general public, including volunteer workers, visitors, work placement employers, foster parents, and others who had unsupervised contact with residents in the course of everyday activities. Witnesses reported being sexually abused when they were taken away for excursions, holidays or to work for others. Some witnesses who disclosed sexual abuse were subjected to severe reproach by those who had responsibility for their care and protection. Female witnesses in particular described, at times, being told they were responsible for the sexual abuse they experienced, by both their abuser and those to whom they disclosed abuse."

While they were at it, there is the emotional torture of kids, why not tell them their parents are dead:

"deprivation of family contact, humiliation, constant criticism, personal denigration, exposure to fear and the threat of harm. A frequently identified area of emotional abuse was the separation from siblings and loss of family contact. Witnesses were incorrectly told their parents were dead and were given false information about their siblings and family members. Many witnesses recalled the devastating emotional impact and feeling of powerlessness associated with observing their co-residents, siblings or others being abused. This trauma was acute for those who were forced to participate in such incidents."

So the Catholic Church in Ireland has been responsible for running concentration camps of children to torture them in ways one step short of the Nazis. It is unspeakably evil, sadistic and revolting - and the church must be made to pay, it needs to be purged of criminals who committed these acts and were accessories to it, and most of all it is time to sue the church. Until this club for sadists and pederasts (funny how mostly boys are victims isn't it?) is faced with the sort of accountability anyone else would have - if they ran a child torture and rape club - it will sit uncomfortably, whilst the evildoers who had their fun quietly fade away - and lives were ruined.

It's time for the church to compensate the victims and to purge itself of evil - anything less must be unacceptable.

UPDATE 2: Damian Thompson at the Daily Telegraph blogs about the reaction to the report from Archbishop Vincent Nichol. He has called for those who committed the abuse to be held to account "no matter how long ago it happened" and tellingly "I'm glad it's a scandal. I would be very worried if it wasn't a scandal... I hope these things don't happen again but I hope they're never a matter of indifference". That is a good start, shame it had to come from someone in England though.

UPDATE 3: The Independent in Ireland reports more details "the slave labour in Goldenbridge as little girls were forced to make rosary beads for sale, for hours and hours, until their fingers bled. Or the little girl locked up by the nuns in an empty furnace for two days. "We could hear her howls." Or Colm O'Gorman's memory of the disgusting activities of the sexual predator priest Sean Fortune. Or the little boy who had his hand held in boiling water by a Christian Brother just to teach him a lesson." It has echoes of Japanese POW camps or Nazi concentration camps. It believes that those who came forward for this inquiry feel empty and cheated, particularly since some in the Church still fail to accept it was systemic and an institutional failing, not just a few bad people within:

"Perhaps the most serious failing of both church and State was their silence.

None of this would have unfolded had it not been for the determination of a few brave individuals to reclaim their lives and set the record straight.

The thousands of victims, now adults, who then flocked into the light became an irresistible force which has brought about the Ryan report. Yet, somehow, there is a sense of unfinished business."

UPDATE 4: The Irish Examiner said:

"the Church cannot avoid the conclusions that it presided over the most appalling abuses, physical, sexual, emotional and psychological. It very often protected those responsible. More shamefully, it put the needs of the institution before the welfare of the child.

In recent times the Church has declared itself different from the one that tolerated and hid these scandals. The introduction of nationwide child protection procedures is one aspect of this. However, the depth of collusion and depravity revealed in Mr Justice Seán Ryan's report, and the Church's very poor track record, suggest that it might be wise to wait before deciding if this new position is a strategy or a reformation."

And of course the state failed too "The Department of Education was heavily criticised too. The CAC found its "deferential and submissive attitude" towards religious congregations "compromised its ability to carry out its statutory duty of inspections". The institutions were "accorded a low status within the department". It found that the system of inspection "was flawed and incapable of being effective".

8 comments:

Canterbury Atheists said...

Well said LS.

The decades of organised abuse, is not the only crime that has been perpetrated by Catholic Authorities in Ireland.

Rather than feeling sorry, for the suffering for they meted-out to defenseless children, some babies (yes, babies) – The Catholic Church is defiant and unrepentant!

One of the main orchestrates of the abuse, in Ireland ‘The Christian Brothers’ successfully sued The Commission in 2004, to keep the identities of their members secret.

This is like the SS Death Squads suing the Allied prosecutors at the end of WW2, to keep the names of the guilty ‘secret’.

So despite all the sickening testimony and all the facts presented – the priests & nuns involved in the abuse will continue to live a quiet life of reflection, courtesy of very institution the commission said orchestrated it.

Despite the scale of what happened over decades, in Ireland, eye-witness testimonies, facts being public record etc – all the guilty parties will escape prosecution.

The Catholic Church does what knows best, and is well versed at.

Showing what a corrupt and morally bankrupt institution they are – the victims are treated like shit, considered mere collateral damage.

All Rome is interested-in, is protecting the name of the church and hiding-away the pedophiles in dog-collars, all of which no doubt have their feet-up in some church sponsored Catholic retirement villages, reminiscing with each other, about 'the good old-days' when they could sodomise some small child with impunity.

Enjoying their retirements, blissfully remembering those heady days when any child was yours for the taking.

The starving children begging for food, whist your own belly was full.

The cowering toddlers, you beat until their skin broke and the floor was covered in red.

Then, as the pleasure of the excitement are re-kindled, quietly slipping away to your room to masturbate.

Knowing fully well The Church protects its own, as you put another shovel of coal on the priory fire, before you curl-up, safe under their eternal care.

Christian Brothers.

Corrupt to the core.

Paul.

Sus said...

"It's time for the church to compensate its victims and purge itself of evil. Anything less is unacceptable".

Correct. It all makes for gut-wrenching, absolutely repugnant reading. The subsequent attitudes and actions from the authorities is unforgivable.

And that the Irish state was complicit should come as no surprise: there *was* no separation of church & state in Ireland, so the church's word was - literally - law.

It may surprise many libertarians to know that I went to a Catholic primary school here in NZ in the 70s. My experience could not have been more different: in fact, it was no different to that of my local public school friends, except with better behavioural and educational standards. It was very different even to my dad's experience in the 50's at the same school.

Nor do I suffer, or ever have done, from so-called Catholic guilt. I don't buy into any of that crap.

Those terrible Irish institutions are legendary in their infamy, but nor should those monsters demonise by association the good people connected with the system, especially a half a world away.

I detest collectivism in all its forms. And it is downright insulting that good priests I know and have known should be subjected to collective demonisation.

libertyscott said...

Indeed Sus, but that is why the rest of the church must come together and exturpate the massive weeping tumour that it has been nurturing.

Otherwise one might rightly take the view that the mafia has some good people in it too, and we shouldn't criticise all those who belong to it.

So the eyes of the rest of us will be asking "what are you going to do about it"?

Clarke said...

libertyscott -

A very good but truly disturbing post. Good coverage of an important issue.

OECD rank 22 kiwi said...

Craggy Island will never be the same.

Feck!

Sus said...

Hi Scott, thanks for your reply.

Para 1: Absolutely.

Para 2: Right thinking, wrong analogy, the mafia being a criminal organisation ... and yes, I know what naturally comes next! :)

Para 3: See above.

James said...

"It may surprise many libertarians to know that I went to a Catholic primary school here in NZ in the 70s."

Not really.....Catholic schools in 1870's NZ were well regarded I hear....

;-)

Zach Lassiter said...

I think as a christian with a disability that churches need to realize that sometimes they can accidently be abusive to the special needs population.