The moral challenge posed to Religious about the costs of Redress
The public are rightly concerned about recent statements from members of the Irish Government claiming that some Irish religious orders are not meeting their moral obligation to contribute to the cost of making redress to victims of historical institutional abuse.
Our factual response traces the unfolding of the events behind the issue. It seeks to set right many misconceptions around the redress scheme, the indemnity agreement of 2002 between the Government and some religious orders, and the status of the findings of the Ryan Report. It explores the moral responsibility of the persons and organizations involved, and refutes the claims of the Irish Government.
It takes the position that the bill for the redress fund was incurred by the Dáil on its own legal and moral responsibility and is not a benchmark of anyone else’s responsibility. The high cost of the redress scheme is due to the way the Dáil designed it. It was a generous scheme but on a such a huge scale that the religious orders could never be equal partners in it.
As to the moral challenge contained in the findings of the Ryan Report, it points out that each religious order – as a separate and distinct charity in the State – with its own distinctive and historical involvement in the Government system – had to consider which of the many findings applied to it, and to what degree it accepted those findings – and then make its response as it judged fair and equitable. This they have done.
It indicates the huge gap between the way the congregations have understood their own history and the way it is presented in the Report. The long-held understanding of the congregations about their past cannot be simply ‘rubbished’. This divergence will only be resolved when in the course of time academic historical studies have been completed.
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