Wednesday 21 March 2018

No criminal convictions in 53 allegations made against 44 members of religious orders by Catholic Church watchdog

Picture posed.
Picture posed.

Sarah Mac Donald

The latest tranche of audits from the Catholic Church’s safeguarding watchdog has examined 53 allegations made against 44 priests, brothers or sisters across 20 religious orders.

The allegations examined by the National Board for Safeguarding in the Catholic Church over the period between 1941 and 2009 and resulted in no criminal convictions.

The focus of the three in-depth audits were the Legionnaires of Christ, the Sisters of Mercy and the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

Another 17 orders and congregations which have limited ministry with children and have not received allegations of child sexual abuse against their members were also examined. There was one allegation of emotional abuse, which the reviewers found had been appropriately dealt with.

The review of current practice shows considerable improvement in responding to allegations and to responding to those who come forward according to the NBSCCCI. 

According to the National Board’s CEO, Teresa Devlin, these reviews show that “a series of good habits having been created” among religious orders and that overall “Reporting to the civil authorities is prompt, case files are recorded correctly and risk is properly assessed.”

The Sisters of Mercy was one of the congregations investigated by the Ryan Commission into abuse in residential institutions. The order ran St Vincent’s Industrial school in Goldenbridge which was the subject of the 1996 ‘Dear Daughter’ television documentary.

However, this review does not revisit the work of either the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse or the Residential Institutions Redress Board.

Today’s reviews find that though the Mercy Sisters, the Legionnaires of Christ and Oblates of Mary Immaculate “had significant challenges to address from the past” positive strides have been made to ensure that the environments within which they currently work have good safeguards for children.

According to the NBSCCCI, the management of allegations in all three congregations has “significantly improved, and there is strong evidence of their commitment to reporting allegations to the civil authorities and to managing risk”.

This latest tranche is the second last tranche of reviews under the current review guidelines operated by the NBSCCCI.

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