DUBLIN (ChurchMilitant.com) - A religious order in Ireland has fulfilled its pledge to put more than $30 million into a fund for abuse victims.
The Congregation of Christian Brothers is topping off its 30 million euros ($33 million US) of cash contributions to a redress program for those abused as children at reformatory schools and other institutions in Ireland.
The Christian Brothers have given money gradually since 2013 to reach the pledged amount. In 2019 alone, they put 8.8 million euros ($9.7 million US) into the endowment — most of it in the past four months.
Officially titled the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund (RISF), the redress program was set up by government officials after the 2009 Ryan Report, which detailed shocking allegations of child abuse at residential institutions in Ireland.
The five-volume Ryan Report (full name "Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse") contained 1,000 allegations of physical and sexual abuse at 200 institutions in Ireland between the years 1914 and 2000. The institutions named in the report included hospitals, reformatory schools and children's homes, to name a few.
The Congregation of Christian Brothers is just one of the 18 religious orders in Ireland that managed institutions where alleged abuse incidents occured.
Collectively, the 18 congregations have given more than $100 million to the RISF over the years, and are in the process of handing over properties worth nearly $270 million.
In addition to the RISF, the Christian Brothers have payed out millions in sex abuse lawsuits — and not only in Ireland. The order has also faced abuse suits in the United States and Canada, costing millions of dollars in settlements.
Joe McHugh is Ireland's Minister of Education. His department oversees Caranua, the nine-member board that directly manages and uses the RISF. McHugh commented on the Christian Brothers' latest payments to the RISF, "I welcome the latest contributions made by the Christian Brothers, as it fulfills the congregation's pledge to complete its voluntary contributions."
McHugh added, "These payments ensure that Caranua has access to the full 110 million euros in cash contributions which were committed to. Most importantly, the financial contributions will allow Caranua to continue its supports for survivors."
Irish law capped off the total cash amount given to the RISF at 110 million euros ($122 million US). The Christian Brothers' latest contribution reached that limit, finalizing cash pledges from religious orders.
The Christian Brothers had an additional half a million dollars in cash that would have exceeded that limit; instead, that money went to Ireland's new National Children's Hospital.
While the RISF's cash limit has been reached, religious congregations are still working on handing over ownership of the properties that they pledged to relinquish — properties worth 242 million euros (nearly $270 million US). According to the Irish Times, the government has so far accepted 18 properties for transfer from the religious orders, three of which are still in the process of being transferred.
Caranua came under scrutiny in 2017 after a board member made remarks that some saw as hurtful to abuse victims. In February 2018, two board members resigned and called for Caranua to be shut down.
The Christian Brothers have faced sex abuse lawsuits throughout the English-speaking world, including Australia, Canada and the United States.