DUBLIN – Ireland's Catholic order of Christian Brothers, reeling from a report cataloguing decades of rapes and beatings of children by priests, bowed to pressure on Tuesday and said it would review compensation to victims.
Irish religious orders had previously refused to renegotiate a deal for victims despite pressure from church leaders and politicians after last week's report into abuse at institutions the orders ran between the 1930s and the 1970s.
The Christian Brothers accept, with shame, the findings of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, it said. The congregation is deeply sorry for the hurt we have caused.
Religious orders' total contribution to a redress scheme for thousands of victims that is expected to top 1 billion euros ($1.4 billion) was capped at 127 million euros under a 2002 agreement.
Prime Minister Brian Cowen said other orders should follow the Christian Brothers' example. I would hope that all the remaining congregations would indicate similarly that they are minded to do the same or to make a further important gesture to the victims, he told parliament.
The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse said in its harrowing five-volume report, which took nine years to compile, that orphanages and industrial schools in 20th century Ireland were places of fear, neglect and endemic sexual abuse.
FAILED IN MOST BASIC DUTY
Chaired by a High Court judge, the commission blasted successive generations of priests, nuns and the Christian Brothers for beating, starving and, in some cases raping, children in Ireland's now defunct network of industrial and reformatory schools.
The 18 orders that signed the deal with the government -- including the Christian Brothers -- on Monday said they did not want to renegotiate its terms.
The Brothers on Tuesday begged forgiveness for the children's suffering and said they would review how much they could pay in reparation without compromising current services and investment.
The order will release an update on the question of compensation within six weeks, it said, adding it would also conduct a wider review of the entire order that had lost its way and failed in its most basic duty.
Successful legal action by the Christian Brothers, the largest provider of residential care for boys in the country in the period examined by the report, led the Commission to drop its original intention to name the people against whom the allegations were made.
Revelations of abuse, including a string of scandals involving priests molesting young boys, have eroded the Catholic Church's moral authority in Ireland, once one of the most religiously devout countries in the world.