A massive, 2600-page report on child sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests in Ireland 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, now in their 50s to 80s, alleged to have suffered abuse at institutions since 1940. These institutions, which were funded by the state but usually run by Roman Catholic religious orders, included schools, orphanages, hospitals, children’s homes, and other facilities.
The report (known as the Ryan 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.i
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 are 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.