Mainstream media are showing a commendable restraint in their coverage of decades-long abuse of children in church-run schools in Ireland. The details are soul-crushing and they appear in each report: Thousands of children, from the 1930s and into the 1990s, subjected to humiliation, shaming, beating and rape. The government has paid 12,000 victims an average of $90,000.
I think one of the more hellish details comes from Sarah Lyall of The New York Times:
Some of the schools operated essentially as workhouses. In one school, Goldenbridge, girls as young as 7 spent hours a day making rosaries by stringing beads onto lengths of wire. They were given quotas: 600 beads on weekdays and 900 on Sundays.
Girls were routinely sexually abused, often by more than one person at a time, the report said, in "dormitories, schools, motor vehicles, bathrooms, staff bedrooms, churches, sacristies, fields, parlors, the residences of clergy, holiday locations and while with godparents and employers."
Each of the stories I've read today mostly let the facts speak for themselves, with occasional quotes from grown victims about the lifelong scars they have experienced. Henry Chu of the Los Angeles Times offers this:
"It's something you never forget," Tom Sweeney told Irish television, referring to the five years he spent in industrial schools, including two years at Artane, a facility run by the Christian Brothers in Dublin.
"Things didn't happen in your life after that," said Sweeney, 63. "Your life fell apart. Your marriage fell apart. Your communication with your children fell apart, and it all stems [from] being in Artane. We never got closure, and we never will get closure."
I salute Mary Jordan of the Washington Post Foreign Service, one reporter who found a small ray of hope:
But the commission said that victims also recalled kindnesses by priests, nuns or lay employees: "Many emphasized the enormous difference that just a kind word or gesture made to their daily lives."
Shawn Pogatchnik of The Associated Press was the one reporter who provided a link to the government's 2,600-page report. For lighter reading, consider Dante's Inferno.