Sexual abuse scandal in the Congregation of Christian Brothers

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The sexual abuse scandal in the Congregation of Christian Brothers is a major chapter in the series of Catholic sex abuse cases in various Western jurisdictions.

Abuse by country[edit]

Australia[edit]

In Australia, there were allegations that during the 1970s sexual abuses took place at the junior campus of St Patricks College and St Alipius Primary School in Ballarat, Victoria. After investigation, Brothers Robert Best, Edward Dowlan and Stephen Francis Farrell were all convicted of sex crimes. Dowlan and Best were later transferred to the senior campus, and continued to offend.[1]

Canada[edit]

The Christian Brothers in Canada more than 300 former pupils alleged physical and sexual abuse at the Mount Cashel Orphanage in Newfoundland. When allegations of physical and sexual abuse started to surface in the late 1980s, the government, police and local church leaders conspired in an unsuccessful cover-up. In Ontario in January 1993 the Christian Brothers reached a financial settlement totaling $23 million with 700 former students who alleged abuse.[2]

Allegations of sexual abuse at Mount Cashel Boys Home orphanage in Newfoundland (Canada) led to a royal commission, (The Hughes Inquiry) and further investigations followed into allegations at other institutions across Canada.

Ireland[edit]

In Ireland, during the latter part of the 20th century, Christian brothers schools were noted for brutal and frequent use of corporal punishment.[3]

Sexual abuse was also common. Artane Industrial school's staff hosted a number of Brothers who had repeatedly been warned for “embracing and fondling” boys. Others accused of rape, beat or bribed their victims into silence. Accused Brothers were invariably excused, lightly admonished or, typically, moved to other institutions where they were free to continue abusing children for decades.

1998 apologies

In Ireland in March 1998, the Congregation of the Christian Brothers published full-page advertisements in newspapers apologizing to former pupils who had been ill-treated whilst in their care. The unprecedented advertising campaign expressed "deep regret" on behalf of the Christian Brothers and listed telephone lines which former pupils could ring if they needed help.[4]

Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse

In 2003, the order took legal action against the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, to prevent the Commission from naming deceased brothers and brothers who were too old to competently defend themselves. The High Court rejected the challenge, but did stipulate that the Commission must take into account the corroboration of accusations and the testing of witness evidence, and to allow the representatives of deceased brothers to cross-examine witnesses.[5] However, Justice Seán Ryan later overruled this when he took over the commission, and declared that individual perpetrators of abuse would not be named unless they had already been convicted [6]

The Commission found that thousands of Irish children at Christian Brothers institutions were abused and that more allegations were made against the Irish Christian Brothers than against all other male religious orders combined.[7][8]

In the Irish Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse's five-volume report of its investigation of systemic abuse of children in Ireland, the Congregation of Christian Brothers, which was the largest provider of residential care for boys in the country, received more allegations of abuse than all of the other male religious orders combined.[9]

They have accepted the allegations were correct, saying ""The Christian Brothers accept, with shame, the findings of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse ... The congregation is deeply sorry for the hurt we have caused - not just for the mistakes of the past, but for the inadequacy of our responses over recent years." [10]

Financial settlements

On the 5 November 2009 the organization announced they would be paying €34 million in reparations, following the publication of the Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse the previous May. Up to €30m is to be given to a Government trust, in addition to €4m for counselling services. The donations reflect the "Christian Brothers' acceptance, shame and sorrow at the findings of the Ryan Report".[11]

In late November 2009 the organization announced they would supply a €161 million (£145 million sterling) package as part of reparations for child abuse in Ireland.[12] This includes a donation of €30 million to a government trust and €4 million donated to provide counselling services.[12] Playing fields owned by the organisation and valued at €127 million would be transferred to joint ownership of the government and the trust that runs former Christian Brothers schools.[12]

United States[edit]

According to the John Jay Report, there were 4,392 sexual abuse allegations in the US against priests from 1950 to 2002.[13] During that period at least one member of the Congregation of Christian Brothers was arrested for child sex offences, in this case for indecent solicitation of a minor.[14]

United Kingdom[edit]

In December 2012, the Christian Brothers school St Ambrose College, Altrincham, Greater Manchester, was implicated in a child sex abuse case involving teaching staff carrying out alleged acts of abuse both on and off school grounds.[15]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ellingsen, Peter. Ballarat's good men of the cloth. The Age Newspaper, June 14, 2002.
  2. ^ "Child and youth sexual abuse by clergy: The Canadian Situation". Religioustolerance.org. 2001-02-28. Retrieved 2009-04-08. 
  3. ^ "Casual brutality marked life in Artane". Sunday Business Post. 2003-09-07. 
  4. ^ "Catholic order apologises publicly for abuse". BBC News. 1998-03-30. Retrieved 2009-04-08. 
  5. ^ "Christian Brothers granted €1m in legal costs". RTÉ News. 2004-01-16. 
  6. ^ "New information about abuse is divulged". RTÉ News. 2004-06-16. 
  7. ^ "Irish inquiry indicts church-run schools", Philadelphia Inquirer, 21 May 2009
  8. ^ Sharrock, David (2009-05-21). "Irish State colluded with religious authorities to hide child abuse report says". The Times (London). Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
  9. ^ CNN, "Report reveals decades of child abuse in Irish institutions", 20 May 2009. Accessed 20 May 2009.
  10. ^ BBC, "Orders to offer more to abused"
  11. ^ "Christian Brothers donate €34m in reparation". RTÉ News. 2009-11-25. Retrieved 2009-11-25. 
  12. ^ a b c Catholic order pays out for abuse, BBC News, 25 November 2009
  13. ^ John Jay College of Criminal Justice (2004), The Nature and Scope of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States 1950–2002, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, ISBN 1-57455-627-4, retrieved February 7, 2012 
  14. ^ "Christian Brother caught in Net sex sting". Chicago Sun Times. 1998-04-21. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  15. ^ Scheerhout, John. "Police launch child sex abuse probe at top all-boys school near Altrincham | Manchester Evening News". menmedia.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-12-08.