RELIGION: Jesuits have paid €7.4m in settlement costs to abuse survivors

Congregation encourages anyone abused by any Jesuit to contact them and/or relevant authorities

The congregation has also paid the legal costs, from its own funds, of members facing abuse allegations.

A Jesuits’ spokeswoman said they expect further allegations of abuse to be made involving members, not least as a redress scheme was introduced earlier this year following the disclosure of abuses by Fr Joseph Marmion at Belvedere College in Dublin.

“The redress scheme is ongoing and cases continue to be dealt with when they arise,” she said.

She added that “the Jesuits want to continue to encourage any person who has been abused in any way at the hands of Fr Marmion SJ or any other Jesuit to contact them and/or the relevant authorities”.

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The redress scheme referred to was introduced last January. It is for men abused as boys by Marmion at three Jesuit Colleges in Ireland and was welcomed as “a positive step” by a steering committee representing the men. It offers abused men €75,000 and over, depending on the severity of abuse.

Marmion, who died in 2000, is believed to have abused dozens of boys at Belvedere College in Dublin; Clongowes Wood College in Kildare and at Crescent College in Limerick. The redress scheme is voluntary

In July 2021, the Jesuits acknowledged that allegations pupils were sexually abused by Marmion at Belvedere College in the 1970s were not properly investigated or brought to the attention of the Garda. In a then statement the congregation said “decisions were made that should never have been made and decisions that should have been made, were not. There are no excuses. We are profoundly sorry for the terrible wrongs that were done to survivors.”

Spiritans and Jesuits

Meanwhile, a former pupil at Belvedere College has expressed bewilderment “about the Garda [Police]  announcement of an investigation of the Spiritans after RTÉ’s recent coverage of them, but no known investigation into the Jesuits. Very odd. We have the same sort of detail and extent. But the Jesuits are not investigated as an organisation. This needs explaining.”

David O’Gorman, who attended the school from 1974 to 1982, said that as “an ex-student of Belvedere College” he was “very concerned at the lack of investigation, transparency, disclosure, and the lack of any prospect of accountability or consequences for abusers and the institution”.

The Jesuits “clearly think that they will get away with some relatively small payouts but no real consequences for their position in Irish life. The State is doing nothing. Victims are left to take on the Jesuits on their own or through the in-house Jesuit process which is completely controlled by the Jesuits,” he said.

“I don’t think anybody believes that there is only one Jesuit child abuser,” he said. Dismissive of the redress scheme introduced by the congregation last January, he said the compensation offered was “a joke and anyone in receipt of restitution will have to give up any possibility of compensation at a later date”.

The redress scheme was “cruel, self-interested and typical of the Roman Catholic Church”, he said. “The Jesuits have behaved appallingly and they continue to do so. I don’t believe they should get away with it. These are matters of public concern — not matters for the nearest carpet and brush,” he said.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times

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