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Revelation of Mass Abuse in the Catholic Church of Ireland

May 20, 2009

From the BBC, the results of a nine-year long study find that young boys were routinely abused by pedophiles within the Catholic Church and that the hierarchy was aware that the crimes were being perpetrated.

An inquiry into child abuse at Catholic institutions in Ireland has found church leaders knew that sexual abuse was “endemic” in boys’ institutions.

At the very least, the Church response appears to be actual and sincere contrition:

More than 2,000 told the Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse they suffered physical and sexual abuse while there.
The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, said he was “profoundly sorry and deeply ashamed that children suffered in such awful ways in these institutions”.
“This report makes it clear that great wrong and hurt were caused to some of the most vulnerable children in our society,” he said.
“It documents a shameful catalogue of cruelty: neglect, physical, sexual and emotional abuse, perpetrated against children.”

While the apology is a welcome change from the stubborn denials that originally came from the Church in America, this development is still as enraging as it is tragically routine. As a former Catholic school student, a former altar boy and the son and grandson of pious and devout Catholics, my response to these stories is always a visceral one. For those who impart Jesus’ teachings about grace and the Church’s teachings about authority to condone the abuse of helpless and dependent children is a crime all the more unforgivable because of the sacred trust the Church is committed to uphold. When an individual priest violates the sanctity of his vows and the innocence of the children with whom he works, that priest destroys a child’s faith in the Church. And when the institution of the Church allows the abuse to continue, they destroy the validity and authority of the Church itself.

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