UPDATE: Victims’ group denounces apology by Christian Brothers

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Barb Sweet
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A U.S. group representing victims is denouncing the apology that the Christian Brothers order issued to victims there and in Canada.

— Submitted letter

“Church abuse apologies are virtually meaningless. Whether long or short, clear or vague, prompt or delayed, they don't protect a single child, expose a single predator or uncover a single cover up,” said David Clohessy of St. Louis, director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).

The comments came in a news release issued after The Telegram reported today online that officials of the order in New Jersey had sent apology letters to some 420 victims, including former residents of the Mount Cashel orphanage in St. John’s.

“Apologies like this are smart public relations and legal defense maneuvers. And it's tragic that they often come only after Catholic institutions are sued and Catholic officials are forced to act,” Clohessy said.

“Virtually every step the Christian Brothers have taken about abuse have been forced on them by wounded victims, aggressive journalists, determined police, skilled prosecutors or outraged donors and Catholics. We are not impressed by the Christian Brothers' ‘promise to ensure it never happens again.’ If they were sincere, we'd see tangible, proven preventative steps taken voluntarily, not lip service and empty 'policies' that are ignored or violated.”

Clohessy called on the Catholic lay order to permanently post on its websites the names, photos, whereabouts and work histories of “every proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting cleric.”

“And they should immediately demote and publicly denounce every single cleric or lay employee who ignored or concealed child sex crimes, while putting every offending cleric or lay employee in remote, secure, independently run treatment centers so they'll be away from kids,” Clohessy said.

“When these steps and others are taken, then we'll believe in the alleged sincerity of Christian Brothers officials.”

••••

(Earlier story)

Christian Brothers apologize with 'shame and revulsion'

Victims of sexual and physical abuse at the former Mount Cashel orphanage are among those receiving a long-owed apology from the Christian Brothers that takes direct and unequivocal blame.

“Words cannot capture the depth of our regret and sorry for the abuse inflicted on children entrusted to our care by members of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers in the United States and Canada,” reads the apology obtained by The Telegram.

“We understand that in place of safety, security, and well-being, many children were instead subjected to physical and/or sexual abuse at the hands of some of our Brothers.”

“We are genuinely sorry and offer a sincere apology to all those who have been directly or indirectly caused to suffer as a result of the deplorable actions of these Brothers. Similarily, we are gravely disappointed in the actions taken by some in past leadership in failing to respond appropriately to allegations against our Brothers. Children should have always been treated as our highest priority, and it is with heavy hearts that we express shame and revulsion for the abuse and ill-treatment suffered by those who, as children in our care, should have been protected.”

The full content of the one-page letter — signed by the New Jersey-based order’s province leader Brother Hugh O’Neill and deputy province leader Brother Kevin Griffith is included here.

The letters have gone out to some 420 victims in Canada and the U.S. who were involved in the recently concluded winding up of assets of the The Christian Brothers Institute and The Christian Brothers of Ireland, Inc.

Some may not have gotten the letters yet as they are still arriving in the mail.

The Mount Cashel victims include claimants from residents of the orphanage as late as the early 80s and as early as the 1940s.

“The wording of this is not an evasive apology,” said Mount Pearl lawyer Geoff Budden, who represents about 90 clients.

Past apologies may have acknowledged regret for what victims feel they suffered, but this one acknowledges the Catholic lay order was complicit, he said.

Budden said the reaction of clients has been mixed with some expressing anger and others taking solace in the acknowledgment and the promise to ensure it never happens again. Though it doesn’t run orphanages, members of the order still teach.

“There are guys here who are not really prepared to forgive. They are still very angry. No apology is going to make them feel very different,” Budden said.

“Others have taken this as an acknowledgement by the Brothers.”

He also said he believes in the sincerity of O’Neill and Griffith, who have met with a number of the survivors.

In February, compensation amounts were decided in a settlement reached last year for individual victims of abuse that include former residents of the Mount Cashel orphanage. The settlement affected some 160 local victims of sexual abuse, mostly residents of the former Mount Cashel orphanage in St. John’s. Some 10 per cent of the victims were other school children.

The settlement includes a $16.5-million cash payment from Catholic lay order the Irish Christian Brothers and one of its insurers and affects more than 420 men and women in the U.S. and Canada who say they were molested as children by members of the Christian Brothers.

The boys orphanage was closed in 1990 and the building demolished in 1992.

bsweet@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Christian Brothers Institute, The Telegram, Ireland

Geographic location: United States, Canada, Mount Cashel Mount Pearl

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Recent comments

  • Marilyn
    March 08, 2014 - 12:28

    Ryan, You are joking, right? These boys were TOTALLY HELPLESS. Year after year they had NO CHOICE but endure physical and mental and emotional abuse, which resulted in long term consequences. Memories cannot just be swept away. The church, the archbishop, the politicians, NO ONE WOULD HELP THEM. Read the post that Maggie Crehan wrote and really concentrate on it.

  • Jackie
    March 08, 2014 - 08:29

    Ryan, Thank God that you were not one of these very unfortunate boys that suffered so much pain and humiliation for very many years. Put yourself in their place....would you say "No thank you. I don't want the money".

    • Ryan
      March 08, 2014 - 11:53

      @jackie Fortunately I wasn't one of the mount cashel victims. But seriously... Taking a settlement money is the same as an apology. Think about it.. "I'm sorry we abused you for all these years.. Here's a couple thousand dollars" taking the money is accepting their apology. And to the fella who suggested changing the name of brother rice. I would guess you probably went to brother rice high back in the day, same as me. Shouldn't we have changed the name way back when this abuse was made public. It sickens me that people who want all these changes, changing school names, removing crosses, went to these schools when they were younger. In this day and age how about we bring back school uniforms.

  • Ryan
    March 08, 2014 - 00:52

    They won't take the apology. But they have no problem taking the settlement money... Hmmmm

  • jerome bennett
    March 07, 2014 - 19:48

    I really liked going to church.What hurts the most is knowing the abusers got away with it because all the others covered it up.Without them those abusers would never have got away with so much.

  • maggie crehan
    March 07, 2014 - 17:59

    BOYS OF MOUNT CASHEL..tune patriot games. No copyrights so feel free to sing, record or whatever. The boys of Mount Cashel lie wetting their beds They wait in the dark for the footsteps they dread Too stunned and ashamed to show where they have bled The boys of Mount Cashel are crying tonight The fine Christian Brothers so saintly we thought Some really were and some really not They’d have gone on forever except they got caught The boys of Mount Cashel are crying tonight The men of Mount Cashel are going berserk Raring to throttle each pitiful jerk But the magistrates say let the law do its work The boys of Mount Cashel are crying tonight Lives without promise lives without hope How they must hate us how will they cope I will follow this trail if it leads to the pope The boys of Mount Cashel are crying tonight I want to be there when the blame comes around Sure there’s plenty enough for us all to be found And I pray to high heavens that God hears the sound Of the boys of Mount Cashel who are crying tonight

  • Fred foley
    March 07, 2014 - 17:15

    Really too little too late for the apology and certainly too little compensation for 10 years direct involvement as an abused and then having to live with the memories for another forty or more years.

  • HOW MUCH OF THE CRIME IN OUR COMMUNITIES TODAY CAN BE ATTRIBUTED TO THOSE WHO SEXUALLY ABUESED OUR CHILDREN?
    March 07, 2014 - 14:52

    How much of the crime in our communities today can be attributed to the "sexual abuse" that destroyed the inner beings of our children can be attributed to those we entrusted them with? Given the criminal activity in our communities today, I think an Inquiry into that question would be in order.

  • DWB
    March 07, 2014 - 14:46

    Why is there still a school in St. John's named after the founder of the "Christian" Brothers? Isn't it time that Brother Rice Junior High was renamed?

  • What percentage of crime in our communities is related to the sexual abuse of the children by those we entrusted them with?
    March 07, 2014 - 14:19

    If there was an Inquiry ordered to compute the crimes committed by the victims of the horrible sexual abuse, I think one would find a lot of the criminal activity in every community where these crimes occurred was committed by those who were destroyed by the abuse inflicted upon them by those they trusted. Shame on those who were entrusted with our children's innocence and naivety and who completely destroyed their whole being!!!!! You all need to be punished for life!!!!

  • DWB
    March 07, 2014 - 13:40

    I have two questions. 1. Why has it taken so long for this bunch to apologize to their victims and 2. Why do we have a secular school in St. John's named after named after the founder of this bunch of miscreants? Time to rename Br. Rice Junior High to something much more appropriate.

  • Gloria
    March 07, 2014 - 13:31

    The Catholic Church is the richest organization in the world. Just look at the Vatican alone. When Jesus said to Peter "Upon this rock I will build my church" I'm sure He didn't mean such a huge, elaborate, extremely rich place as the Vatican. They can certainly afford to pay out legal settlements, which should not have happened in the first place had they been half-decent "people of God", so to speak.

  • Too little, too late, for the victims.
    March 07, 2014 - 11:18

    Those who deliberately covered up the abuse - including church, government and police officials - are as evil as those who abused the vulnerable and defenseless children. Have the NL government and Police departments offered similar apologies to the individual victims? (Court settlements are not apologies.)

    • Just wondering
      March 08, 2014 - 14:21

      Please, don't forget the media, who had a responsibility to stop this tragedy, but refused to report it, thereby playing a major role in the cover up.

    • Just wondering
      March 08, 2014 - 14:22

      Please, don't forget the media, who had a responsibility to stop this tragedy, but refused to report it, thereby playing a major role in the cover up.

  • Nathan
    March 07, 2014 - 10:02

    I look at the Basilica's parking lot sometimes on mass days. It's never totally full, but it makes me wonder, how on earth is anyone in this province still attending mass? Their orders should be disbanded and their churches should be turned into condos so we can all begin to erase the terrible moral stain they inflicted on this place.

    • James
      March 07, 2014 - 11:27

      I gave up going to mass at the Basilica a couple of years ago when, during the homily the priest suggested that the congregation dig a little deeper in their pockets during coming collections to assist in funding the legal bill for lawsuits regarding the mistreatment of children. I was totally disgusted as I knew some of the faces who were attending mass that day were among those who suffered when they were children. And that's all I got to say about that......

    • Patrick
      March 08, 2014 - 10:59

      Friend, you don't condemn an entire organization because of the actions of a few perverts. A former Mountie was just arrested in Calgary for abusing kids 20 years ago...so do we shut down the entire RCMP? Every city in Canada has court cases going on against abusive hockey coaches... so we cancel hockey? If you shut the whole thing down because of a few perverts, then the perverts have won. One thing is for sure, the perverts and abusers of Mount Cashel gave an angle to the anti-Catholic bigots among us.

    • Patrick
      March 08, 2014 - 11:01

      Friend, you don't condemn an entire organization because of the actions of a few perverts. A former Mountie was just arrested in Calgary for abusing kids 20 years ago...so do we shut down the entire RCMP? Every city in Canada has court cases going on against abusive hockey coaches... so we cancel hockey? If you shut the whole thing down because of a few perverts, then the perverts have won. One thing is for sure, the perverts and abusers of Mount Cashel gave an angle to the anti-Catholic bigots among us.

  • Madonna
    March 07, 2014 - 09:49

    An apology is not going to take away all the horrific memories, and consequences thereof, to the victims for the rest of their lives. What is even more frustrating and angering is that most of these perverts didn't even get jail time. They were "Christian" Brothers !