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20 religious orders reviewed in safeguarding audits

By Sarah Mac Donald - 03 December, 2015

Teresa Devlin1The National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland published its second last tranche of child safeguarding audits of religious orders on Wednesday covering three male and 17 female congregations.

The audits looked at 53 allegations against 44 priests, brothers or sisters between 1941 and 2009. None of these resulted in a conviction.

According to the National Board, the overviews of safeguarding practice across the twenty safeguarding reviews show good safeguarding practice, prompt reporting of allegations to the civil authorities and managing of risk.

Full reviews were carried out on the Legionaries of Christ, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and the Mercy Sisters as all three continue to have substantial public ministry with children.




Numbers of Priests/Brothers Numbers of allegations, suspicions and concerns

(sexual, physical and emotional)

Numbers convicted
Legion of Christ 4 4 0
Oblates of Mary Immaculate 13 18 0
Mercy Sisters 17 31 0
Total 44 53 0

The historical context of all three Orders is referenced in the early section of the reports; the Mercy Sisters and the Oblates ran a number of notorious residential institutions in the past which were investigated by the Ryan Commission.

The Legionaries of Christ has in recent years attempted to rehabilitate itself following revelations concerning its founder Mexican Fr Macial Maciel, who was instructed in 2005 to retire to a life of “prayer and penitence” on the orders of Pope Benedict over allegations of sexual abuse, fathering a number of children with different women, and drug taking.

The NBSCCCI noted that each of these orders has had “significant challenges to address from the past” but added that it was “reassuring to the National Board to note the positive strides they have made in ensuring that the environments within which they currently work have good safeguards for children”.

The audits found that the management of allegations in all three has increasingly and significantly improved, and there is strong evidence of their commitment to reporting allegations to the civil authorities and to managing risk.

Other key findings said there had been considerable commitment of resources in all aspects of child safeguarding across these three orders; in prevention and in responding to allegations.

Case files were well maintained, with good evidence of action taken recorded on file.

In general good adherence to other aspects of the 7 standards. A good awareness of the need to maintain boundaries while working for other organisations outside the Church.

The Board is satisfied that child safeguarding is an engrained component of the religious life and child related activities of these Orders/Congregation.

The other 17 orders and congregations had a more limited review carried out as they have little or no contact with children and no allegations of sexual abuse levelled against them.

Among the female orders there was one allegation of emotional abuse, which has been appropriately dealt with.

The 17 included a large number of female Congregations, who are increasing in age profile, but declining in numbers along with one male order with no allegations and limited ministry with children.

These 17 are:

  1. Benedictine Monks Rostrevor
  2. Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart
  3. Dominican Nuns of St Catherine of Siena in Drogheda
  4. La Sainte Union Sisters
  5. Little Sisters of the Assumption
  6. Little Sisters of the Poor
  7. Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit
  8. Our Lady of the Cenacle Sisters
  9. Redemptoristines (Order of the Most Holy Redeemer)
  10. Religious of Jesus and Mary Sisters
  11. Salesian Sisters
  12. Sisters of Perpetual Adoration
  13. Sisters of Sr. Claire
  14. Sisters of St Marie Madeleine Postel
  15. Sisters of the Holy Family of Emile Rodat
  16. St Joseph of Annecy Sisters
  17. Ursulines of the Irish Union Sisters

According to the National Board’s CEO, Teresa Devlin, these reviews show that “a series of good habits having been created” among religious orders and that overall “Reporting to the civil authorities is prompt, case files are recorded correctly and risk is properly assessed.”

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