The latest report by the Roman Catholic Church’s child protection overseer, which focused on 43 religious congregations, revealed that as many as 325 allegations of sexual impropriety have been leveled against 141 brothers or priests in Ireland since 1941 and only eight have been convicted of criminal charges.
The National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBSCCC) audited eight male religious orders and 35 female religious orders to conclude that the Jesuit Order had failed to inform the Gardaí of at least 22 allegations of child sexual abuse that have been leveled against members over the past four decades. However, Teresa Devlin, CEO of NBSCCC, also said the Order had clarified with the Gardaí that those specific cases did not meet the set requirements for reporting. A spokesperson for the Jesuit Order said that these cases were concerns or suspicions for which there were no understandable grounds and that is why the board believed every allegation worth reporting had been reported to the concerned authorities.
Devlin pointed out still that there were delays of up to four years in reporting certain allegations to the Gardaí during the 1990s. Apart from the Jesuits, this avalanche of audits by NBSCCC included the Capuchins, Camillians, Cistercians, Carmelites, Rosminians, Salesians and Sacred Heart Fathers. The fact that only eight criminal convictions have been made despite 325 allegations being leveled against various religious orders only reiterates what Devlin referred to as the undeniable conclusion that a significant number of children continue to be abused under religious care. Apart from the Jesuits, the Rosminian Order was criticized as well for its substantial delay in writing reports of allegations made to civil authorities until 2009.
Both orders welcomed the findings of NBSCCC’s report and apologized to those who were abused under their care. The board confirmed that overall, the report found a noticeable improvement in safeguarding practice across all eight male orders.
The Jesuit Order said in a statement, “We are ever conscious of the terrible damage inflicted on people who are victims of abuse, and we recognize the importance of ongoing review of our child protection procedures, and of the handling of allegations. We wish to unreservedly apologize to any person who has been abused under our care. It is a cause of great sadness to us that anybody was ever abused by a Jesuit.”
While the Jesuits said that they had already started to fully implement all the suggestions offered by NBSCCC, the Rosminians said that they were looking forward to working with former residents to ensure the healing process continues.
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