Irish Bishops Asking How, Why Abuse Became Endemic

MAYNOOTH, Ireland, MAY 25, 2009 ( Irish bishops are promising to «carefully reflect» on how and why an environment of abuse was able to root itself in Catholic-run schools for decades in Ireland.

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The Standing Committee of the Irish episcopal conference met today in Maynooth. According to a subsequent statement, the committee welcomed the report published last week about child abuse dating back to the 1930s in schools run by religious orders, «as a significant step in establishing the truth and enabling the voices of survivors of abuse to be heard.»

«We apologize to those so cruelly abused during their childhood while in Catholic-run industrial and reformatory schools,» the bishops said. «This abuse is all the greater because it was perpetrated by those called to care in the name of Jesus Christ.»

The prelates said that a response to the report could not «be confined to a single statement.»

And they affirmed that to «properly address past failures, and to safeguard children today, the whole Church needs to analyze how and why such an abusive environment was allowed to develop and become endemic.»

The committee members emphasized that a response now «must support survivors of abuse and promote a civilization of love for children so that they can receive the best possible care and protection.»

«We will carefully reflect on the report and discuss its findings and recommendations more fully at the June General Meeting of Bishops,» the statement concluded. «We will work closely with religious congregations and institutes in addressing the needs of survivors of abuse and in the healing process. We will continue to promote a safe, effective and accountable environment for children in cooperation with the National Office for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church and with all the relevant statutory agencies.»

The Standing Committee has 12 members and meets to plan the subsequent plenary meeting of the episcopal conference.

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