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Irish commission finds abuse was 'endemic' in Church-run institutions

May 20, 2009

The long-awaited report by an Irish government commission has found that physical and sexual abuse of children was 'endemic' in a system of Church-run institutions for decades. The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse released a 2,600-page report on May 20, citing more than 2,000 complaints of abuse in the reformatories and orphanages that housed more than 30,000 troubled children under the auspices of the Church. The commission's report came after a contentious decade of research, during which investigators complained about a lack of cooperation from the religious orders that had administered the institutions. The Christian Brothers, who supervised the largest number of children, came in for particularly strong criticism in the report. As part of an agreement with the religious orders, the commission's report does not name the individuals accused of abuse, and will not be used as the basis for legal prosecution. Irish government leaders acknowledged that the report makes "shocking" reading, but took pains to point out that the system of Church-run institutions for juvenile delinquents, orphans, and children of dysfunctional families has been dismantled.

Cardinal Sean Brady of Armagh, the Primate of All Ireland, issued the following statement:

Today’s publication of the Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, by Mr Justice Sean Ryan, throws light on a dark period of the past. The publication of this comprehensive report and analysis is a welcome and important step in establishing the truth, giving justice to victims and ensuring such abuse does not happen again.

This Report makes it clear that great wrong and hurt were caused to some of the most vulnerable children in our society. It documents a shameful catalogue of cruelty: neglect, physical, sexual and emotional abuse, perpetrated against children.

I am profoundly sorry and deeply ashamed that children suffered in such awful ways in these institutions. Children deserved better and especially from those caring for them in the name of Jesus Christ.

I hope the publication of today’s Report will help to heal the hurts of victims and to address the wrongs of the past. The Catholic Church remains determined to do all that is necessary to make the Church a safe, life-giving and joyful place for children.


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