Irish tsunami, international version

Yesterday Doug complimented American media on showing "commendable restraint" in reacting to the more than 2,500-page report documenting decades of child abuse by Irish monks and nuns. I have to admit that I am torn between being convinced that the facts do speak for themselves, and a sense that readers should be faced with the scale and breadth of the horrors inflicted on institutionalized children -- all the more ghastly because it was done by men and women "of God."

It's been interesting to see that same tension apparently play itself out in the reporting. There's been a flood of international coverage. Actually, it's probably more accurate to say that in this globalized media culture, many media outlets have used stories from the AP and other organizations with reporters in Ireland.

Many of the very detailed reports have come out of the U.K. in general and Ireland in particular, which has been awaiting this final report since an interim one was issues in 2003. Here's a summary of some of it from a story in Friday's Irish Times. You might expect that some of the more histrionic verbiage would come from England --and so it does. A few paragraphs into the article readers run into Ruth Gledhill and her take-no -prisoners perspective on the scandal. I'll let this one speak for itself.

The BBC story sticks to the facts. At a time in which some are painting all Catholic institutions with the same broad brush, The Mail Online helpfully details which religious organizations were accused, what they were accused of and their responses to the publication of the report. On the other hand, the Mail Online also has this article, which is "damning" from the beginning, jumping way over the line into editorial.

Read instead a relatively subdued story from AFP (Agence France-Presse) via France 24. An Australian angle is also covered by AFP. Many articles, including this one posted on the Sky News website, included expressions of apology from church officials like Irish Cardinal Sean Brady.

There's lots more out there, easily accessible by Google search. But I thought that writers Carmel Crimmins and Padraic Halpin brought home the persistent aftermath of the abuse in this Reuters story. With a careful choice of adjectives, they were able to remind readers that in Ireland the gamut of emotions runs from remorse to anger to ongoing trauma. The lede brings readers right back into present tense in a way that is unsettling:

Victims of sexual abuse and neglect in Catholic-run schools and orphanages in Ireland swamped counseling services on Thursday after the publication of the harrowing findings of a nine-year investigation.

The litany of violence, published on Wednesday, lifted the lid on one of the darkest chapters in Irish history and prompted scores of victims to end decades of silence.

Powerful stuff in a relatively small country where, for so long, the Catholic church has been one of the dominant institutions. Let's hope that future coverage takes a look at what church leaders like Cardinal Brady and others are doing as they cope with the aftermath of the scandal, and some reasoned analysis of the secular legacy of this countrywide tragedy -- in which the government has also been taken to task.

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