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In the past,why did the Christian Brothers and the government cover up child abuse?

patslatt

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Some acquaintances who attended Christian Brothers schools in the 1950s had good educational experiences,but in some schools there was a culture of violent corporal punishment,including beatings with fists and very painful canings on the hands for minor errors in class,such as a failure to recite accurately a great many lines of poetry. One acquaintance,a graduate of a Christian Brothers school who became a sergeant in the US Marine Corps, said the culture of the Marines was very similar,in the form of a somewhat sadistic military stoicism.

This culture must be viewed in the context of tolerant attitudes towards corporal punishment in Irish society. Historically,the Irish attitude was probably influenced by the culture in English boarding "public schools" for boys,in which corporal punishment included caning on bare buttocks until blood was drawn.This influence could have come from the many Irish protestant families who began educating their children in England with the introduction of steamships around 1860. In his autobiography, Winston Churchill stated that his privileged public school,Harrow,had a practice in the 1880s of flogging completely naked children as young as eight in a room off the study hall from where their screams were clearly audible.

There are folk tales that the Irish national school system which commenced under a Liberal UK government in the 1830s used considerable corporal punishment to discourage children from speaking Gaelic. Even into the 1970s,many Irish national primary schoolteachers used excessive corporal punishment,usually beatings with a stick on the palms, and humiliated students with cruel remarks.

This historic culture of corporal punishment paved the way for vicious sadism and sexual abuses perpetrated in the industrial schools run by the Christian Brothers.

But the most important reasons for sexual abuse were the cunning of the paedophiles and the coverups by the Christian Brothers religious of their crimes.

Court cases of paedophilia show the extraordinary lengths to which paedophiles will go to find work that brings them into contact with children, in occupations such as teaching,the clergy,coaching and school employees. This should not be surprising,given that sex drive motivates an awful lot of male behaviour and a perverted sex drive is no exception except for individuals whose moral conscience suppresses it.

As for the coverups,this is in the tradition of the authoritarian Catholic Church whose historic instinct since its foundation is to cover up anything that would damage the Church's reputation and "scandalise the laity".

Naively,the Church and especially the conservative Vatican didn't seem to realise that "truth will out" in an age of intense scrutiny by a free press and media.

Had the Church dealt decisively with the paedophiles by defrocking them immediately instead of transferring them to other parishes or schools,even though their crimes should have been reported to the police,there would be public sympathy for the coverups approach.

The key question is,why did churchmen tolerate the presence of known paedophiles in their midst? Did the Irish Church have a total sense of immunity from prosecution stemming from the priest ridden Ireland of the 1950s and earlier? Did churchmen feel that membership in the priesthood somehow placed paedophiles above the law? Did they feel that the child victims who were from single mother families and broken homes or who had committed petty crimes were morally inferior and undeserving of human sympathy? The sadistic behaviour of the Christian Brothers and the Sisters of Mercy towards children in industrial schools suggests that.

One conclusion I draw from the scandals is that the so called contemplative spiritual life of sexually repressed clergy in cloistered religious orders is psychologically unhealthy for most people.

As for the government coverups,historically Irish society was too deferential to the Church and the attitude of the government reflected that. Anything that seriously displeased the Church until maybe the late 1960s would have brought down the government.

No institution of society could challenge the Church then.The judiciary were composed of conservative catholics educated in the best schools. The media hardly knew how to do investigative reporting until a generation ago. The trade unions were inarticulate.

Will there be any consequences for the Church? Its influence on the Irish government and society will be continue to diminish and attendances at Church will become mostly social in character. A generation hence,African and Filipina immigrant priests will preside over ceremonies. The Filipina priests,who are very conservative,will strike Irish Catholics as odd,in the same way that primitive mullahs from Pakistan strike British Muslims.
 
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ajax1000

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There was no money. The vast majority were doing a good servive providing education. Why would that be changed? What was the alternative?

And we will have very bad times again soon.
 

silvernut

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Any member of the clergy is guilty by association. Abuse was endemic - if you weren't abusing, you were covering it up or at best turning a blind eye.

I blame the laity too. If you really believe what's in the bible how can you square that with what has gone on in the church. Who was it that said "there are none as blind as those who refuse to see"? If you are a practising mass-going catholic, you are, indirectly, an enabler.

The church, like any organisation, only have power over you if you let them. the crocodile tears currently being shed should be looked at against a background of deception. Their refusal to renegotiate the settlement shows just how sorry they are.
 

blinding

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The catholic church and Fianna Fail had/have too much power in Ireland.

Power without some checks and balances will always be abused.

These two organisations have to be stripped of power to show that who ever has power will not be allowed to do with it as they please.
 

louis bernard

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For me, people who say priests, and the Church are all evil are basically racists. I.
What on earth are you talking about? This has got nothing to do with “racism” it is all about the heinous crimes that religious congregations (with the connivance of cowardly and subservient governments) committed against innocent children. Why do you PC people have to try and bring “racism” into every debate?
 
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The catholic church and Fianna Fail had/have too much power in Ireland.

Power without some checks and balances will always be abused.

These two organisations have to be stripped of power to show that who ever has power will not be allowed to do with it as they please.
Who set the system up in 1921 ?
 

blinding

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Who set the system up in 1921 ?
Who was in power hand in glove with the catholic church for the vast majority of the time since.

Two institutionally corrupt organisations that fed off one another and carved up as much power as possible between them.

They abused this power and the weak and vunerable. The evidence is there just open your eyes and your mind to see it.
 

galwayboy

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There was an ethos of following orders. Peer pressure was used to induct others into the horrific system. It is easy to look back now from a distance but who knows what we would have done or if we would have had the courage to stand up against a whole system.
 

Munion

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We were used to following orders. When the Brits left the Church took up the mantle.

The ironic thing is that the high standard of education they gave us ultimately caused their downfall. As our knowledge & confidence grew so our willingness to take their crap diminished.
 
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Who was in power hand in glove with the catholic church for the vast majority of the time since.

Two institutionally corrupt organisations that fed off one another and carved up as much power as possible between them.

They abused this power and the weak and vunerable. The evidence is there just open your eyes and your mind to see it.
AH so the non Fianna Fail Govts had no power and never had the ability to do anything ?

In which case why would anybody have a non FF govt as they never had the power to do anything.
 

IvoShandor

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yes
To be fair to Fianna fail (something they sticks in my craw:)) there is no evidence that Cumann na Gael or any of its coalition partners (with the partial exception of Noel Browne) were any less subservient to the church in their short periods in power.
 

blacbloc

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We were used to following orders. When the Brits left the Church took up the mantle.

The ironic thing is that the high standard of education they gave us ultimately caused their downfall. As our knowledge & confidence grew so our willingness to take their crap diminished.
A point not lost on the rabid neocons who are doing their utmost to destroy our education system now.
 

Andrew49

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AndrewSB49
There was no money. The vast majority were doing a good servive providing education. Why would that be changed? What was the alternative?

And we will have very bad times again soon.
That is a lie. The Ryan report deals with the monies these Orders received from the State ... also bear in mind what these Institutions were called:

:: >>>> INDUSTRIAL SCHOOLS <<<<::

The Christian Brothers were the most prevalent Catholic group associated with industrial schools for boys--such as the great school in Dublin, Artane, which housed as many as 900 boys at its peak, training them in such fields as

  • Farming
  • Carpentry
  • Weaving
  • Tailoring
  • Harness making
  • Painting.
And these trades made money for the Christian Brothers who sold their wares/produce in the market.

Ryan Report quotes
The boys eating facilities: Everything in connection with the [boys] kitchen and the preparation and serving of food calls for complete re-organisation and re-conditioning ... Too many boys are at each table though half of the room is vacant almost. All the food for the meal is piled on the table before the meal begins. The boys proceed to make a most awful mess when the meal begins. There is not the slightest attempt to eat in a civilised fashion. The Brother and teacher in charge can do nothing with over 500 to look after.
The condition of the boys’ kitchen may be contrasted with the provision made for the kitchen that looked after the 24 Brothers in Artane. The Visitor noted in 1960: The food supplied to the Brothers is excellent and very well cooked. There is a cook, assistant cook, six boys in training, and a Brother looking after the Brothers’ kitchen.
 

An Gilladaker

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We were used to following orders. When the Brits left the Church took up the mantle.
The church were handed the mantel by the free state government
in order to use whatever power the church had to condemn republicans they did not want to have face men like Dan Breen who had told them what to do with their excommunications
[When the bishops blessed the blue shirts who sailed beneath the swastika to Spain]
 

cactusflower

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There was an ethos of following orders. Peer pressure was used to induct others into the horrific system. It is easy to look back now from a distance but who knows what we would have done or if we would have had the courage to stand up against a whole system.
Yes: the hierachical structure of the Church and the Orders was a mill that ground down the children of the poorest families and made money out of them. It was used as an example to threaten all children with.

Abuse and neglect is still going on. Are we standing up to it?
A vote for any party that supports social and economic equality would be a start.

The first target of Lenihan's cuts last Autumn was the book grants for low income children and education grants for Traveller children.
 

drkpower

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A point not lost on the rabid neocons who are doing their utmost to destroy our education system now.
Who are these rabid neocons, prey tell?

I always find it funny how the loonie student socialist reactionary types slate the "neo-con right" for making us frightened all the time (see any Ml Moore documentary) while they use precisely the same tactic in reverse ("neo-cons".......oooooh, frightening; New World Order.......oooohhhhhhhh, hold me......).

Yet they dont see the irony. Perhaps they havent gotten to irony as a topic in their UCD Arts and Sociology degree...?
 
Joined
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The church were handed the mantel by the free state government
in order to use whatever power the church had to condemn republicans they did not want to have face men like Dan Breen who had told them what to do with their excommunications
[When the bishops blessed the blue shirts who sailed beneath the swastika to Spain]
And the Christian Brother who fought with the republicans gets remembered where ?
 

louis bernard

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Apr 6, 2008
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The church were handed the mantel by the free state government
in order to use whatever power the church had to condemn republicans they did not want to have face men like Dan Breen who had told them what to do with their excommunications
[When the bishops blessed the blue shirts who sailed beneath the swastika to Spain]
I think you may need stronger tablets, ring the surgery and make an apointment.
 


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