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By MICHELE M. BETTI | b&a opinions | http://bettiandassociates.com

In my recent visit to Ireland to meet with victims of clergy sexual abuse, I found five years after the Irish government released its 2600-page report on clergy sexual abuse, Catholic faithful say they will never go back to the Catholic Church.

I was astounded to learn that every single person I sat down with shared how they knew of someone abused, were abused themselves or had a family member abused.

The Irish government commissioned a study, which took nine years to complete. On May 20, 2009, the commission released its 2600-page report http://www.childabusecommission.com/rpt/pdfs, which drew on testimony from thousands of former victims and officials from more than 250 church-run institutions.

The commission found that Catholic priests and nuns had terrorized thousands of boys and girls for decades and that government inspectors had failed to stop the chronic beatings, rapes and humiliation.

The report characterized rape and molestation as “endemic” in Irish Catholic church-run schools and orphanages.  Priests and nuns in orphanages and reform schools in Ireland from 1930 to 1990 physically and sexually abused thousands of children.  The report stated, “A climate of fear, created by pervasive, excessive and arbitrary punishment, permeated most of the institutions and all those run for boys.”

More than 300 people who lived abroad, including in the United States, returned to Ireland to testify at 166 hearings on what happened to them in schools and group homes.  In all, more than 1,000 people, most now in their 50s or older, described rapes, molestation, floggings, scaldings and other abuse.

The closest the United States has come to a similar accounting was a 2004 report commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.  This report found that 5,000 priests (more than 4 percent of all those who had served in the United States since 1950) had been credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors.

More than 12,000 Americans have reported being abused by priests and subsequent lawsuits seeking justice have cost the church more than $2 billion.

Because the Vatican and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops continue to delay justice and reparation to their victims, several U.S. dioceses have had to declare bankruptcy.  Most of the costs associated with these lawsuits have gone to large defense law firms hired by the Catholic Church.  These law firms violate the rules of professional conduct, rules of ethics, knowingly deceive victims and judges, advise on the fraudulent transfer of assets, and hide and destroy documents and evidence in an effort to carry out the policies of the Vatican and Catholic Bishops to perpetuate the greatest cover up in history.

Copyright 2014, b&a opinions.