LEICESTER, United Kingdom – Ireland’s Child and Family Agency said 29 of 135 church bodies were rated “excellent” in its recent audit, while 16 were rated “unsatisfactory.”
The agency, called Tulsa, issued its ‘Audit of Religious Orders, Congregations and Missionary Societies Safeguarding Arrangements and Management of Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse – Volume II’ on Feb. 20.
Volume I of the report was published in 2012 and covered 24 Catholic dioceses in the Republic of Ireland.
The new audit details the management of 1882 separate allegations of child sexual abuse, and the extent of adherence of each church body to the existing guidance in place at the time the allegations were made.
“This audit was undertaken as a recommendation of the Ferns report in 2005. It is the second volume of work which covers the period from 1996 up to 2015. From this audit it is clear that these church bodies have made substantial improvements over time to adhere to child protection and safeguarding guidelines,” said Brian Lee, Tulsa’s director of quality assurance.
The Ferns Report was issued by the government in the wake of a clerical abuse scandal in the Diocese of Ferns and uncovered more than 100 allegations of child sexual abuse made between 1962 and 2002 by clergy working in the diocese. It was the first of several major government reports on the clerical abuse scandal in Ireland.
According to the audit of religious orders, 50 percent of the allegations had been made against eight of the nine congregations of religious brothers, 23 percent were made against 25 congregations with priests and brothers. 18 percent were made against 25 male and female missionary societies, 8 percent against the eight houses of contemplative monks and sisters, and just 1 percent related to congregations of religious sisters.
The majority of the congregations with “unsatisfactory” ratings were aging congregations of women religious that do not currently work with young people, and the audit team said it had “not concerns” about them.
However, the De La Salle Brothers, the Franciscans, the Marist Fathers, the Discalced Carmelites, and the Servites were all strongly encouraged to improve their safeguarding standards.
Revelations about clerical sexual abuse has left public confidence in the Church at its lowest level in the history of Ireland.
Once the most Catholic nation in Europe, in 2015 Ireland held a referendum on same-sex marriage in which 62 percent of the voters backed changing the constitution to allow the practice. The government is now preparing another referendum to strike down the constitution’s protections for the unborn, allowing legalized abortion in the country.
Pope Francis is expected to visit the country during the World Meeting of Families, which is taking place in Dublin from August 21-26, 2018.