In April 2009, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin publicly warned all Irish Catholics to brace themselves for the publication of the Ryan Report in May. This was a monumental investigation, named after Chairperson Judge Sean Ryan, begun in 1999 and concluded ten years later. Entitled ‘The Report of the Commission on Child Sexual Abuse’, it dealt in great detail within its 2,600 pages with clerical abuse reaching back to before the Second World War. The Commission’s brief was to investigate all forms of child abuse in Irish institutions for children. The majority of allegations it investigated focused upon the system operated in some sixty residential ‘Reformatory and Industrial Schools’ operated by Catholic Church Orders, more often than not run by the Christian Brothers.
The report should be made compulsory reading for the wide range of apologists not only for the current Pope, it is a truly shocking indictment. The report establishes that the system within these schools treated children ‘like prison inmates and slaves’ devoid of any legal rights. The report identified sub-human behaviour that repeatedly records beatings and rapes, subjection to naked beatings in public, being forced to perform oral sex, and even beatings after failed rape attempts by Christian Brothers.
Adjectives including ‘systemic’, ‘pervasive’, ‘chronic’, ‘excessive’, ‘arbitrary’ and ‘endemic’ are used by the Commission to describe the indescribable. Those apologists will search in vain for evidence that what occurred was perpetrated by a very small minority, although even one perverted degenerate would be one too many. It is clear from the details contained within this document that we are confronted with a widespread evil that went on year after year, decade after decade.
Not much comfort for the apologists is to be found in those conclusions. Indeed, as can be seen, although the area of investigations differed vastly from Justice Ryan’s epic investigation of industrial schools and orphanages, the evidence and the conclusions to be drawn from the respective reports have an overwhelming symmetry. As for the ‘learning curve’ pleading of ignorance, Archbishop McQuaid was dealing with such cases in the 1950s and 1960s. There have been bishops all over the world who have used this defence during the past thirty years. Any adult male – be he a bishop or a man in any other walk of life – who did not know long before this scandal became public knowledge that grown men having sex with children is wrong and insidiously harmful to children is either an idiot or a liar or both.
Non Angli, sed angeli – "They are not Angles, but angels". Aphorism, summarizing words reported to have been spoken by Gregory when he first encountered pale-skinned English boys at a slave market, sparking his dispatch of St. Augustine of Canterbury to England to convert the English, according to Bede.