Church child protection reports: 870 allegations of child abuse made against 325 Christian Brothers
Brothers welcome the review finding that the congregation had developed “a robust safeguarding ethos and culture at its remaining operations in Ireland”
The review said that the “broadcasting of two documentaries on Irish television (Dear Daughter in 1996 and States of Fear in 1999) led to a new emphasis on the experience of victims of abuse at the hands of religious congregations”
The review found that there had been 870 allegations of child abuse made against 325 Christian Brothers, 12 of whom were convicted in the courts. It found that “the numbers of allegations and Brothers accused is substantial. The files read by the reviewers left them in no doubt that a great number of children were seriously abused by Brothers. Information on the abuse in Christian Brothers’ residential establishments is well documented in the Ryan Report”.
It noted how “until relatively recently, the internal Church processes within the Christian Brothers were not carried out” but that “there are now clear protocols in place for Brothers with allegations and accusations”.
In the 66 years between 1931 and 1997, the Christian Brothers received 92 allegations of abuse while in the subsequent 15 years (1998-2013) they received 794 allegations.
The review said that the “broadcasting of two documentaries on Irish television (Dear Daughter in 1996 and States of Fear in 1999), led to a new emphasis on the experience of victims of abuse at the hands of religious congregations”.
The volume of allegations the Christian Brothers then faced, the review concluded, “placed overwhelming pressure on the structures designed to address child protection concerns” within the congregation in Ireland. It said “the years 1995-2008 marked a period of acute and fundamental change” for the Brothers in Ireland, as “evidenced by a dramatic rise in complaints, against deceased, former and living Brothers relating to abuse having taken place in the 1960’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s; a surge of litigation; public inquiries and adverse media and public comment”.
The challenge facing the Brothers “was how best to balance the demands of structured legal processes and litigation whilst maintaining the progress towards more effective safeguarding which has been evident in practice since 2008,” it said.
However, the review concluded, that “faced with the extent of demand for litigation, whereby a large volume of complaints were notified to the Province (Brothers in Ireland) by way of solicitors’ letters, acting on behalf of complainants, that the opportunity for a pastoral response was impeded by an increasingly legalistic process”.
The reviewers found the Brothers’ “initial response to reporting allegations to the statutory agencies was not systematic and was inadequate” but they “now report promptly”. They were “impressed by the positive working relationship” between the Health Service Executive and the Christian Brothers.
However, they also found that “the stated policy of the Christian Brothers is not to act in any way that could be seen to be an interference with the legal process and they therefore have had limited, if any, direct contact with those complainants who communicated through their solicitors”.
In a statement the Brothers welcomed the review finding that the congregation had developed “a robust safeguarding ethos and culture at its remaining operations in Ireland” and “has become a safe organisation for children and young adults”.