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article imageChildrens Rights Abuses Widespread in U.S., Irish Catholic Church

By Carol Forsloff     Jul 14, 2009 in World
Recently completed reports relate widespread child abuse in Catholic-run institutions in Ireland. It was found priests and nuns were guilty of abuse with congregations looking the other way. How does this impact messages about protecting life?
Not only did the Church itself shield perpetrators of bad deeds over many decades, but so did government officials, according to these recent reports from a Commission given the task of investigation. In fact when abuse was reported, the government and the religious congregations supporting institutions caring for children failed to step in and aid the victims. Pedophiles were guarded by the church in a fashion described as self-serving secrecy. Details referencing the widespread nature of crimes against children and issues by category can be found here.
In June the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse announced its closure of research into the allegations and outline of findings. The Commission had been established in 2000 and examined abuse allegations and history of church and government machinations from 1936 to the present. The findings of Commission reveals abuse of power within the religious administration of the Catholic Church as well as certain government entities.
The report includes several large volumes of information regarding abuses, especially of children during the period reviewed by the Commission. What it found was that physical abuse, emotional abuse and neglect of children were widespread in the religious institutions. The system itself was outdated. Religious commitments made change difficult. Rules and regulations regarding corporal punishment were ignored by both the institutions and Department of Education bodies who were supposed to provide oversight and didn’t. The Commission says specifically “A climate of fear, created by pervasive, excessive and arbitrary punishment, permeated most of the institutions and all those run for boys.” Children lived with the daily terror of not knowing where the next beating was coming from.” It goes on to say those children who tried to escape were dealt with very severely. Sexual abuse was endemic, pervasive, and covered up in a fashion that “the damage to the children affected and the danger to others were disregarded.” Congregations’ refusal to confront religious authorities was said to be in part responsible for the abuse.
The Commission, following its report of abuse, goes on to detail the type of atmosphere that children should have when under care and what the responsibilities institutions have to insure children are given basic human rights.
The United States has seen its share of abuse within the Catholic Church, also investigated, with the result the Church has made strong pronouncements about these issues. The Catholic Church and child abuse issues have been widely written about and discussed for years.
At the same time the Catholic Church takes a strong stand on abortion, condemning those who believe in pro-choice ideas or those who believe that life begins not at the moment of conception but at quickening in the womb or after birth itself. The Church maintains a position of preserving life, yet the Commission has established proof about widespread abuse of living children, many without parents to protect them over many years, covered up by church governing officials and the congregations that support them. Many of these children were institutionalized, according to historical records, because they were rejected, unwanted, or found with problems needing institutionalized support. The Commission’s findings raise questions about how life is viewed and consequently dealt with in the Catholic Church and specifically how unwanted children are treated after they are born, especially the innocent, forgotten and helpless.
More about Catholic Church, Sexual abuse, Child abuse, Abortion
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