Five religious orders criticised for 'significant' child safeguarding weaknesses

By Joe Little
February 20, 2018

Today's report was a voluntary audit of 135 orders, congregations and missionary societies

[See the report published today by Tusla, the state agency in Ireland that oversees child welfare issues: Audit of Religious Orders, Congregations and Missionary Societies Safeguarding Arrangements and Management of Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse - Volume II - Section 1, Section 2.]

Five Catholic religious orders have been criticised by the Child and Family Agency's audit for their "significant (child) safeguarding weaknesses".

Tusla's report on the response to child sexual abuse by 135 orders says it worked closely with four of the weakest ones until it was satisfied that each had significantly improved its safeguarding practices, while another church-appointed audit body supervised the fifth.

Today's report censures the Christian Brothers, De La Salle Brothers, the Irish Norbertines, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart and the Holy Spirit Congregation for weaknesses.

They include failures to adequately alert Tusla to measures being adopted to protect children from members who had sexually abused minors.

The audit team, which finished its work last year, says it helped the orders concerned by establishing links between them and relevant Tusla areas to share concerns about potential risks.

The audit found that the Christian Brothers topped the list of poorly performing congregations, with 626 allegations recorded against 190 brothers, primarily between 1996 and 2015.

The audit turned up 1,882 allegations of sexual abuse against 549 members of orders in Ireland.

It says around 10% (56) of the total number of religious against whom allegations were made were convicted for child sexual abuse offences.

Tusla gives an "excellent" child protection rating to 29 orders, a "satisfactory" grade to 43, while 16 were rated as "unsatisfactory".

The audit was established on foot of the statutory report in 2005 on the failure of the Ferns diocese to tell the gardaí and health board about the sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy.

In 2012, a HSE national audit of dioceses was published on foot of the Ferns Report.

Today's report, which runs to almost 700 pages, is the second volume of the follow-up to the Ferns recommendations.

It was a voluntary audit of congregations and missionary societies with the purpose of assessing if religious orders complied with church guidance and best practice in the area of child protection, including the immediate reporting of allegations to the civil authorities.

In a statement, Tusla said it demonstrates that these church bodies have made substantial improvements over time to adhere to child abuse management guidelines.


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