Abuse at the hands of the brothers who had been entrusted with their care

Amanda Banks at the West Australian tells us how the Catholic church in Western Australia dealt with abuse victims. With generosity and remorse and eagerness to make amends? No. With self-interested self-protective fighting and coercion.

The Catholic Church and Christian Brothers fought a class action by abuse victims from WA orphanages at every turn, using their strong legal position to open settlement negotiations with the offer that the men pay their costs.

By “the men” she means the abuse victims – so the church opened negotiations by demanding that the victims pay the church’s costs. The victimizer opened negotiations with a demand that the victims pay costs.

Slater and Gordon lawyer Hayden Stephens has told the royal commission public hearing in Perth this morning of the uphill battle faced by hundreds of men who signed retainers for the national law firm to take on the class action.

Mr Stephens said while a trust of $3.5 million was eventually settled in 1996 after a three-year legal stoush, the Christian Brothers made it clear from the outset that under no circumstances would any agreement be seen to be a payment of compensation to victims.

So much for generosity and remorse and eagerness to make amends.

“Although this amount does not fairly reflect the suffering that these men suffered and experienced at these institutions, it was the best we could achieve,” Mr Hayden told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

“To be blunt, the trustees of the Christian Brothers had their knee on our client’s throat and there was little opportunity for our clients to flex their negotiation muscle, or us on their behalf, with the judicial decisions that had preceded the negotiations.”

See? They’re like anyone else. They look out for themselves, like anyone else. They’re not better than other people. Their religion doesn’t make them good.

The first three days of the hearing were dominated by evidence of 11 former residents of the Christian Brothers’ Bindoon, Tardun, Castledare and Clontarf orphanages.

The men each gave harrowing accounts of sexual, physical and mental abuse, as well as neglect and cruelty, at the hands of the brothers who had been entrusted with their care.

Some of them men have also expressed feeling demeaned and insulted by the class action process, which in some cases resulted in payouts of as a little as $2000.

They’re just racketeers, the men who run the Catholic church. Don’t let them fool you.


  1. Blanche Quizno says

    Reminder*: The Catholic Church has, for its entire history, disproportionately targeted *BOYS* for abuse by priests. Just think for a moment – if they’d wanted access to young girls, they would have established some sort of holy-sounding support position that would enable them to get chosen girls alone, just like they did with the “altar boys.” Everybody would have been just as fine with “maids of the Madonna” or “altar maids” or “altar virgins” (like the “vestal virgins”) (except that they wouldn’t be for long, not around those horny bastard priests!).

    Here, read about the historical evidence: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alex-wilhelm/the-long-scandal-a-histor_b_560904.html

    * since there’s going to come along someone who says it’s somehow bigoted or unfair to claim that only males were abused by priests, that priests were somehow more of an equal-opportunity rape corp.

  2. Omar Puhleez says

    The Catholic Brotherhoods in Australia are little different from the Sicilian Mafia, While Mafia dons and Catholic clergy are prosecutable as individuals, in neither case is there a legal entity (‘The Catholic Church’, ‘The Mafia’) that can be taken to court. In the case of the Catholic Church, this is particularly convenient, as errant priests cannot finish up costing the Church heaps in legal settlements.
    Outwardly of course The One True Church is very much an entity in the way it presents itself to the populace at large. When you become a Catholic, you become a member of a huge world-wide organisation, with a standard international ritual in the Mass. The Church has not been slow to capitalise on this.
    Despite the images of solidity and permanence: cathedrals, churches, convents, monasteries, seminaries, schools, universities.etc, the Church is legally as hollow as a rotten log, This terrible situation has only become apparent with the arrival on the scene of large numbers of victims of clerical sex abuse who want to prosecute the Church for serious compensation, given that it has wrecked their lives in many cases.
    I am sure that this oversight is in process of being corrected, with teams of Catholic lawyers working on it round the clock somewhere. Perhaps also teams of Jesuit theologians are right now hard at it producing philiosophical proofs that legal responsibility and moral responsibility are in no way interdependent. This has to be the case if the Church is to get off this particular hook. Otherwise, the clergy would be no more than a bunch of scheming hypocrites. And that cannot possibly be the case.


  3. says

    Seriously, Blanche? It’s “somehow bigoted or unfair to claim that only males were abused by priests”? How about no?

    How about it’s deeply homophobic and bigoted to insinuate that only boys were targeted? It’s as if you think there’s something extra bad about raping boys over raping girls.

    And how about you go read this – http://brokenrites.org.au/drupal/search/node/girls
    LOTS of girls and women were abused. Fuck you for wanting to pretend they don’t exist.

  4. Blanche Quizno says

    Not “only”. Overwhelmingly. So much so that the abuse of boys was specifically mentioned in the earliest church sources. Of course, it’s possible that the abuse of girls was not regarded with as much distaste and horror as same-sex abuse, which could explain why the rules overwhelmingly mention “boys” but not so often “girls” (although “children” are referenced in at least one document, if memory serves).

    Face it – if the Church had wanted to institutionalize the abuse of girls the way they did with boys, they would have created a female equivalent of “altar boys”.

    The Catholic Church was never an equal-opportunity offender. I never said priests *ONLY* targeted boys or that they NEVER targeted girls. What I said was that priests, historically, have disproportionately targeted boys (go reread my post if you missed that), which we see in the fact that so many of the abuse victims seeking reparations are male. It is entirely possible that boys were more likely to be victimized, because male priests had more access to boys (even outside the “altar boy” program), but, again, if priests really wanted the same opportunities to abuse girls, they could have created an institutionalized program that would have made it easy for them.

    I didn’t mean to offend you. I’m simply talking about the reality of the situation, and the reality of the history. I made that post because I was remembering an earlier post here on clerical sexual abuse where some poster accused everyone of focusing only on the boys, as if boys and girls were equally targeted and we were all simply ignoring the girls. We weren’t. Boys were preferentially targeted.

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