The Ryan Report into Priestly Abuse
Let us examine recent history regarding the Irish priestly sex abuse scandals, to see just what went wrong for the priestly hierarchy in this once-deeply Roman Catholic nation.
A massive, 2600-page report on child sexual abuse by Romish priests in Ireland (known as the Ryan Report) was published in May 2009 by an independent commission, the Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse, after listening to evidence from victims given over a nine-year period. The commission was established by the Irish government in 2000 to hear evidence from people who alleged that they suffered abuse at institutions since 1940. These institutions, funded by the state but usually run by Roman Catholic religious orders, included schools, orphanages, hospitals, children’s homes, and other facilities.
The report stated that physical and sexual abuse, including rape, was endemic in government institutions for boys that were run by Roman Catholic religious orders, chiefly by the order known as the “Christian Brothers”, between 1940 and the late 1970s. Literally thousands of boys were abused during this period. It said: “A climate of fear, created by pervasive, excessive and arbitrary punishment, permeated most of the institutions and all those run for boys.” Children lived in daily terror. And although girls supervised by orders of nuns, chiefly the order known as the “Sisters of Mercy”, suffered much less sexual abuse (although it certainly did occur), they suffered frequent assaults and humiliation designed to make them feel worthless. “In some schools,” the report stated, “a high level of ritualized beating was routine…. Girls were struck with implements designed to maximize pain and were struck on all parts of the body. Personal and family denigration was widespread.” Witnesses not only described being hit and beaten, but being flogged, kicked and otherwise physically assaulted, scalded, burned, and held under water. They described being beaten in private, as well as in front of other staff, residents, patients and pupils. One man described everyday humiliations he had suffered as a boy in “Christian Brothers” institutions, such as being forced to wrap his urine-stained sheets around his neck and parade in front of other children when he had wet his bed.
Proper spanking, of course, has been used since the beginning of the world and is a very biblical form of chastisement (Prov. 13:24; 19:18; 22:15; 23:13,14; 29:15); and unfortunately in today’s world, psychologists and others have convinced many that any form of corporal punishment is wrong, which is nonsense. But flogging, kicking, scalding, burning, and being held under water! – such things can rightly be classified as nothing less than methods of torture. The report said the overwhelming, consistent testimony from the victims had demonstrated beyond a doubt that the entire system treated children like prison inmates and slaves. It stated: “It was systemic and not the result of individual breaches by persons who operated outside lawful and acceptable boundaries.”
It also said that sexual abuse was reported by approximately half of all those who testified before a confidential committee of the commission. And sexual abusers were often repeat offenders. Furthermore, it was clear from the documented cases that monks and priests were aware of the propensity for abusers to continue to abuse – despite the religious orders’ claims that the recidivist nature of sexual offenders was not understood. The report uncovered previously secret Vatican records which showed that “Church” leaders knew of the child sex abusers in their ranks, going as far back as the 1930s. And not only did “Church” officials do nothing about it, but they deliberately and knowingly shielded such sex abusers from arrest! They simply shunted the offenders off to new parishes or locations where they continued the abuse.
Feigned Sorrow and Hollow “Apologies” from Irish Roman Catholic Leaders
Officials of the Roman Catholic institution in Ireland claimed to welcome the report, and to express sorrow about the incidents it documented. And yet as always, the sincerity of those high-ranking ecclesiastical officials had to be seriously doubted, especially when the president of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Sean Brady, the Romish cardinal of Armagh, Northern Ireland, said that “the report throws light on a dark period of the past”. The past? What a lie! This was not a dark period of the past, for it was still going on in the present! Thus, even while professing sorrow over these shocking crimes, he chose his words carefully so as to give the impression that it was all over, it was in the past, it was not happening anymore, and it would not happen again. He did his best to cover up the truth, and to push it all into some “dark period of the past”.
A.W. Richard Sipe, an ex-Benedictine monk and priest, was involved in full-time research into the sexual and celibate practices of the priests and bishops of Rome. Not a Christian and moreover sadly a psychotherapist, so that he saw the problem and the solution in terms of the unbiblical muddy waters of psychotherapy, which can never help anyone, Sipe nevertheless ripped the veil off much of the goings-on of priests, caused by the doctrine of priestly celibacy. Commenting on the claim that these sins had been committed only “in the past”, he wrote (italics added): “Apologies from the hierarchy continue to be offered as if the problem of sex abuse is ‘now behind them.’ News Flash! The problem of sex by Catholic clergy and religious is very much alive and well within the clerical system. Sexual distortion… is endemic to the clerical culture….Most are not actually interested in understanding or practicing celibacy…. The system of authoritarian ecclesiastical control fosters and protects secret sexual expression – homosexuality and a double life. The power structure colludes to cover up the facts about clergy sexual activity. Sexual failings by bishops and priests are relegated to the confessional wastebasket where all is forgiven and forgotten…” He went on: “The problem is over? Is there anyone who thinks that Irish and American bishops and priests have lost their sexual drive – or their orientation, or their habits and relationships? In what ways has the clerical system of education or culture changed?” As a psychotherapist and not a Christian, Sipe spoke of “sexual orientation”, and this of course is nonsense; but nevertheless he was absolutely correct in stating categorically that the abuse of children continues. It is most certainly not “in the past”. These men have not suddenly all undergone a moral change. They are evil men, with evil desires.