Original Chinese Language Article: By Xinhua News Agency
(Translated by Adrian Chan-Wyles PhD)
The Irish judiciary investigation lasted nine years before a report was finally released on the 20th of May, 2009. This report exposed the abhorrent behaviour of the powerful Irish Catholic Church in Ireland, toward children over the last 60 years, and has revealed that thousands of vulnerable children in committed into Church care, were victims of sexual abuse, beatings and other physical and mental violence, at the hands of Catholic Church priests, nuns and lat-employees. Child sexual, physical, and mental abuse has serious long-term and shocking repercussions for its victims. The Head of the Catholic Church in Ireland publically apologised today, for the church’s involvement in this historical child sexual abuse case.
The children were treated like slaves and prisoners.
From 1930s to the 1990s, more than 30,000 children were sent by the Irish Courts to Irish Catholic institutions for education and training. These children were sentenced by the Courts for stealing, truancy, or because they came from broken families.
Following a damning TV documentary in Ireland exposing the Catholic Church and its historical role in institutional sexual child abuse, the Irish Prime Minister – Bertie Ahern – announced in 1999 that he was launching an investigation into the allegations. The following year, a special commission of inquiry was established. The Commission of Inquiry lasted nine years, and accessed thousands of former students, Church officials, and Church agency employees, and recorded their testimonies for the final completion of the investigative report. The Irish High Court – on the 20th of May, 2009 – released the subsequent 2,600-page report.
Two hundred and fifty Church agencies gave evidence, and out of this disturbing testimony it was found that the ‘Sisters of Mercy’ and the ‘Christian Brothers’ were the most prolific offenders through relevant information received by the Commission. In addition, Ireland’s largest school in Dublin – the “Artane” Industrial School – was revealed to have also participated in the child sexual abuse. The report shows that young boys and girls (entrusted into Church organizational care), were subjected to systematic abuse. Boys were sexually harassed and raped routinely, whilst young girls were treated as prostitutes and often subjected to the sexual appetites of male Church employees, and even rented-out to fee-paying “clients”, where they were sexually abused. This abuse also included physical beatings and humiliation. The Report stated that the clergy chastised students all the time so that the children lived daily in abject fear – as a consequence, the Report continued – their situation was more like prisoners and slaves, than that of vulnerable children needing compassionate guidance and care.
The Irish Catholic Church concealed complaints from abused children.
Church organizations deliberately ignored complaints made by vulnerable children, and actively concealed the shocking facts of each case. The Catholic Church had a policy of protecting the child-abusers and punishing the victims for complaining. Investigators wrote in the report that when the children complained that they were being abused, the Church authorities usually ignored the complaint and took no action against the abusers.
The Report also revealed that the Irish Catholic Church had a nonchalant attitude toward the sexual abuse of children under their care – considering this abhorrent behaviour to be both ‘normal’ and ‘endemic’. Abusers, if they were ever questioned about their illegal behaviour, were dealt with through a secret form – a procedure that did nothing to fundamentally address the issue or prevent further abuse. Victims that grew up in Church institutions, later disclosed their experiences, but many high-ranking Church officials were of the opinion that their claims were exaggerated and not real. Church officials thought that the most important thing (for the Church) was to prevent the scandal, rather than help the victims of the child sexual abuse, who had suffered untold mental and physical injuries.
The Irish Government pays compensation to the victims of child sexual abuse.
As for the matter of financial compensation, the Irish government has paid the 12,000 victims around $90,000 each, but to get this payment – the victims must stop all legal action against the Irish Government and the Irish Catholic Church. Many victims have rejected this condition, and have continued to campaign to bring their abusers to court. The Report of the Commission of Inquiry recommends that the Government take further measures, including the establishment of a Monument, the providing of advisory services and education to victims, and make greater efforts to enhance the protection of children.
The Head of the Catholic Church in Ireland – Sean Brady – after the report was released revealing the true extent of the historical sexual child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church) stated that he was “deeply sorry and ashamed.” The Christian Brothers also issued an apology and stated that it was willing to pay-out compensation to its victims.
A US agency against religious abuse stated that although the child abuse has come to light, and the Church has apologised, this was not enough to deter further abuse. Only severe punishments can prevent crimes against children.
Xinhua News Agency International Online