May 25, 2009 / 8:49 AM / 11 years ago

Archbishop says more must be done for Irish victims

DUBLIN (Reuters) - The Archbishop of Dublin called on Monday for Irish religious orders to do more for people who were raped and beaten in Catholic-run schools, raising the pressure on the orders to pay more compensation.

Diarmuid Martin is the most senior church figure to lean on the orders after the publication last week of a harrowing report into endemic abuse at the reform institutions they ran on behalf of the state between the 1930s and the 1970s.

The 18 orders, including the Christian Brothers and the Sisters of Mercy, have refused calls to reopen a 2002 deal with the Irish government, which capped their contribution to a redress scheme for thousands of victims at 127 million euros ($177.7 million).

The total compensation bill is expected to top 1 billion euros.

“The fact that the mechanisms of fulfilling your side of that agreement have not yet been brought to completion is stunning,” Martin wrote in an opinion piece in The Irish Times.

“Whatever happens with regards to renegotiating that agreement, you cannot just leave things as they are.”

“There are many ways in which substantial financial investment in supporting survivors and their families can be brought about, perhaps in creative ways which would once again redeem your own charisma as educators of the poor.”

Martin also warned that there would be more shocks in store when a separate report into the sexual abuse of children in his diocese will be published later this year.

Sex abuse scandals have rocked the Catholic Church around the world. In 2007, the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Los Angeles agreed to pay $660 million to 500 victims in the largest compensation of its kind.

Ireland’s Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said on Sunday that the orders should pay more but reiterated the government view that the congregations were under no legal obligation to revisit the deal.

The government will hold a special cabinet meeting on Tuesday to consider the report, which did not name any of the abusers following a successful legal challenge by the Christian Brothers, a lay organisation which runs schools from Australia to Tanzania.

No one will be prosecuted as a result of the nine-year investigation.

Junior coalition partners in the government, the Green Party, have said there was a case for the orders to make a greater financial contribution to victims following the report.

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