Feature

Ireland’s Catholic abuse scandal

What a report on abuse in Catholic-run schools says about Ireland, and the church

The new 2,600-page report on physical, emotional, and sexual abuse in Catholic-run Irish schools is “a map of an Irish hell,” said the Irish Times in an editorial. The numbers speak for themselves: 800 abusers, 200 schools, 35 years, many thousands of victims. But it’s worse than that—this was a deliberate system of “torture” and “slavery” at the hands of the powerful church, with the knowledge of the state. This is part of the Irish identity now.

Not to “make light” of the abuse of children 30-plus years ago, said Kevin Myers in the Irish Independent, but—excepting the rare sexual abuse—harsh violence against kids was the norm back then. This report merely details an “unenlightened, superstitious society” that doesn’t exist anymore. Now we’re ruled by a “left-liberal dogmatic” secular “priesthood,” and it’s just as intolerant.

Unforgivably, the actual priests will neither be named nor shamed for their “torture, rape, and beatings,” said Ruth Gledhill in Ireland’s Evening Herald, due to a 2004 lawsuit won by the main “perpetrators,” the Christian Brothers order. If there’s a “ray of light” in this horrible story, it’s that, at least in North America and Europe, the “abuse has now stopped.” Just not in time to save the victims.

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