Call for those guilty of child abuse to be prosecuted

Mon, Jun 1, 2009, 01:00

CHRISTIAN BROTHERS:CRIMINAL PROSECUTIONS should be brought against those guilty of abusing children in religious-run institutions, the Christian Brothers has said.

The order’s communications director, Brother Edmund Garvey, said yesterday the 18 orders, cited for abusing children in their care by the Ryan commission, should make substantially more resources available to compensate victims.

In an interview on BBC Radio Ulster’s Sunday Sequence show, Brother Garvey said: ‘‘The processes of the law and the processes of the State and of the legal system must be used to bring people to justice who perpetrated criminal actions against children.’’

He said members of the order had been ‘‘horrified and deeply ashamed’’ by the details of systemic abuse at Christian Brother institutions revealed in the report.

Brother Garvey admitted the order’s response to complaints of abuse had been ‘‘wholly inadequate at times’’ and represented a serious failure.

Brother Garvey, who has been a Christian Brother since 1962, said he had seen boys ‘‘beaten with a strap’’ but had never witnessed the sort of abuse detailed in the Ryan report.

A former professor at Maynooth College said yesterday the only hope for the official Church in the wake of the Ryan report revelations is if it admits it has done wrong.

Fr Enda McDonagh, former professor of moral theology, said the church did wrong either directly in the form of abuse, or indirectly through cover-up, ignoring the abuse or not wanting to know.

His criticisms were not confined to the 18-congregations named in the report, or to the members of the conference of Religious of Ireland (Cori); he wanted to indict the whole church, he said. “I believe we all will never be able to present ourselves as Christians in public again until we undertake that complete humiliation that will show us for the sinners we are,” he said.

Fr McDonagh said he was aware he had taught some students who went on to be abusers, though he had no idea of their natures at the time. “In the subsequent years, I think I should have taken a much more active interest in who was abused and who were the abusers,” he told Marian Finucane on RTÉ Radio.

He said the church could only begin repentance if there was encouragement from the abused.

“We haven’t earned that yet,” he said.

He said he would like to take part in the “silent march of solidarity” with former residents of the institutions planned for Dublin on Wednesday, June 10th, but he did not know if he would be welcome, or if he would be worthy of going.

Marchers will meet at Parnell Square at noon and will walk to the Dáil, where wreaths will be laid “in memory of the living and dead” of the institutions.