The publication of a government report last month, the Ryan report, exposed stories of rape and beatings by nuns and brothers in more than 216 Catholic-run residential institutions. Over four hundred thousand children stayed for a short or longer period of time in monasteries, care homes and orphanages and many of them turned out to be abused, molested, humiliated, raped or beaten. An official inquiry last month, led by the respected judge Sean Ryan, reported that sexual, physical and emotional abuse had been ‘endemic’ in religious, reform and industrial schools, dating back to the 1920’s.
The silent march, organised by Survivors of Institutional Abuse Ireland, highlighted the fact the Catholic Church in Ireland, and the government, have always kept silent and it still is a very sensitive issue many Irish rather not talk about. The more than 7000 who did come out to central Dublin wore white ribbons and carried children’s shoes to represent the loss of childhood. They delivered a petition to representatives of some of the religious institutions and orders mentioned in the report: “We, the people of Ireland, join in solidarity and call for justice, accountability, restitution and repatriation of the unimaginable crimes committed against the children of our country by religious orders in 216 institutions.”
Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said he was unable to attend, because he was attending the Catholic bishop’s general meeting. He sent a representative.
After the meeting, it was clear the bishops had discussed the report because they released the statement: "Heinous crimes were perpetrated against the most innocent and vulnerable, and vile acts with life-lasting effects were carried out under the guise of the mission of Jesus Christ. This abuse represents a serious betrayal of the trust which was placed in the church. For this we ask forgiveness." Earlier this week Archbishop Martin said he had briefed the Pope and the Holy Father had been "visibly upset".
Although the Ryan report contained hundreds of witness reports, mentioned nuns, brothers and other religious workers by name and rank and the document describes many abuse cases in detail, no one has been arrested.