Kiltegan congregation criticised in latest Church reports

325 Christian Brothers faced a total of 870 child abuse allegations from 50s to 70s

The Church’s National Board for Safeguarding Children (NBSC) said “abuse that has been identified outside the Irish region has not in every case given rise to an appropriate and robust response.” Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

The Church’s National Board for Safeguarding Children (NBSC) said “abuse that has been identified outside the Irish region has not in every case given rise to an appropriate and robust response.” Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Tue, Dec 10, 2013, 16:08

The Kiltegan fathers religious congregation has been heavily criticised in the latest tranche of reviews on child protection carried out by the Catholic Church.

The Church’s National Board for Safeguarding Children (NBSC) said, where St Patrick’s Missionary Society, Kiltegan, was concerned that “abuse that has been identified outside the Irish region has not in every case given rise to an appropriate and robust response.”

The reviews which also include six Catholic diocese and the Christian Brothers this morning, have been generally positive where the dioceses are concerned.

However the NBSC reviews has been very critical of past handling of allegations in most instances, particularly by the St Patrick’s Missionary Society based at Kiltegan, Co Wicklow and of the Christian Brothers.

It has disclosed that 325 Christian Brothers faced a total of 870 child abuse allegations most of which related to the 1950s, 60s, 70s period. All had been reported to the gardaí and health authorities with 12 Brothers convicted in the courts. The NBSC reviewers found that the Christian Brothers’ initial response to reporting allegations to the statutory agencies “was not systematic and was inadequate.”They also found that “in the vast majority of cases reviewed, the Christian Brothers did not have direct contact with the alleged victim and the files developed contained significant correspondence between legal representatives of the parties involved.”

This, they said, “was to the detriment of pastoral care and restorative practices, which the Province could provide.”

However the reviewers also met with representatives of the HSE and said they were “impressed by the positive working relationship between this agency and the Christian Brothers.” They go on to say that their review “clearly mirrors the historically progressive understanding the Christian Brothers have developed of child protection issues. It also reflects the positive attributes of their work and the extensive positive experiences they have of working with young people.“

For their part the Christian Brothers have pointed out that they have received juse one allegation against a member of the congregation in the past decade with a total of ninereceived this past 23 years.

Where St Patrick’s Missionary Society is concerned, it has received 50 allegatoins made against 14 members . All had been reported to police and one member convicted in the courts.

In a fairly damning observation about this congregation the NBSC reviewers said that “abuse that has been identified outside the Irish region has not in every case given rise to an appropriate and robust response.” They said it was “ important to emphasise that all children deserve the same respect and attention regardless of where they are geographically located, or of their ethnicity. The reviewers are concerned that this has not always been reflected in the practice of the SPMS (St Patrick’s Missionary Society), as detailed in the case files.” It gives examples to illustrate the point.

They also say that they “were not satisfied that canonical sanctions against many of the priests who are known to have abused children were being sought as a matter of course.”

The review also says that “there has been confusion in the SPMS with regard to confidentiality. It was reported to the reviewers that historically, the interpretation of ‘confidentiality’ had in effect been ‘secrecy’. As a consequence, there was real reluctance to share information about safeguarding matters in the Society.”

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