Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Shame of the Christian Brothers

Rarely has the term Christian Brothers been used in a less appropriate way.

The Roman Catholic lay teaching organisation of that name has been heavily criticised in a nine-year official investigation into child abuse in Catholic institutions in Ireland over a period of sixty years, during which time thousands of vulnerable children experienced physical, sexual and psychological abuse at the hands of nuns, priests and lay teachers.

To add to the injury of the original abuse, the perpretators cannot be brought to trial as a result of a legal ruling in which the Brothers sucessfully argued that the names of all involved should not be made public.

As a Christian believer myself, I am appalled at this report and am reminded of the words of Christ when he vehemently attacked the religious leaders of his day:

"And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." Matthew 8:5-6

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean." Matthew 25:27

And finally,

"You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?" Matthew 23:33

The full text of the Irish report can be viewed here.

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1 comment:

Thomas said...

The conclusions in the Executive summary are deeply disturbing.

What isn't clear to me, is what is being done to ensure this doesn't happen again. The recommendations sound so general - what changes have been made to the institutions, and how will institutions ensure these changes are enacted?

So disturbing is this conclusion in both it's breadth across so many places and depths of abuse of every kind - physical, sexual, neglect, emotional, that it's very difficult to know how to respond, and I can feel the temptation to simply ignore all of this as I don't know where to begin - overwhelming is the word, troubling and deeply sad manner.

I wonder, how can we do something about this?

This line seized me ...
"There was constant criticism and verbal abuse and children were told they were worthless."
So disgusting is this, that I feel turned to intercede, but I want to act and speak to others also. But to whom, and how?