Some 325 abuse allegations made against priests since 1941 - Safeguarding Children report
A significant number of children were abused in the care of religious orders according to the latest audits carried out by the National Board for Safeguarding in the Catholic Church.
The 43 reviews, which cover eight male orders and 35 female orders, show that a total of 325 allegations of sexual abuse were made since 1941 against 141 priests or brothers resulting in 8 criminal convictions.
“Overall there is considerable improvement in safeguarding practice evidenced in these reports,” Teresa Devlin, CEO of the NBSCCCI, said but she added that “The history is undeniable, that once again a significant number of children were abused in the care of Religious.”
However, she said that what is strikingly different among the orders today as opposed to the past is a determination to respond pastorally, to report to the civil authorities promptly and to seek guidance in order to minimise risk to children.
This latest series of reviews deals with orders such as the Jesuits, Rosminians and Capuchins.
The Capuchins had 72 allegations made against 21 members resulting in two convictions. There are seven men living who have had allegations of sexual abuse made against them. Of these seven men, one man has been convicted of sexual abuse charges in the criminal courts and received a prison sentence of three years.
A total of 79 allegations were made against 36 members of the Jesuits, resulting in no convictions.
In a statement, the Jesuits said “One allegation is one too many, and words of apology can sound so inadequate in face of the heinous crime of child abuse.”
Apologising unreservedly to anyone abused under their care, the order which runs prestigious schools such as Belvedere College and Gonzaga College said it was “a cause of great sadness to us that anybody was ever abused by a Jesuit” and that they were “ashamed of our betrayal of your childhood and your trust”.
The NBSCCCI criticised the absence of a compassionate response to survivors in some Orders. It said there is now a recognition among the female religious orders that previous care of children was often harsh.
The Bons Secours order, which ran the Mother and Baby Home in Tuam until it closed in 1961, was one of the smaller female congregations reviewed.
However, because the Mother and Baby Homes are currently under investigation by the State they do not fall within the terms of reference of the NBSCCCI review as there have been no allegations of sexual abuse against any nun ministering there.