Sr Stan apologises for abuse by her order

PATSY McGARRY, Religious Affairs Correspondent

SISTER STANISLAUS Kennedy has expressed her shock and shame at abuses disclosed in the Ryan report in institutions run by her congregation.

“As a Sister of Charity I am ashamed, shocked and horrified and I am desperately sad and sorry, as I know all the other Sisters of Charity are too, that these abuses took place and that these heinous crimes were committed in one of our institutions [St Joseph’s industrial school, Kilkenny],” she said yesterday.

Speaking at a conference in Dublin on Justice and the Downturn, which was organised by the Sisters of Charity, she continued, “all over the country children entrusted to the care of religious congregations, ours included, suffered enormously in a sickening abuse of power and position and a scandalous exploitation of vulnerability, for which there is no excuse”.

Speaking at the same conference President Mary McAleese noted “there is a candle burning here today, lit earlier this morning when you held a minute’s silence in commemoration of those whose childhood experiences of institutional abuse are so graphically set out in the Ryan report.

“Some of that suffering happened to children in the care of the Sisters of Charity. It is a sad chapter in your order’s history and indeed in Irish history, a millstone of biblical proportions and one that calls for [congregation founder] Mary Aikenhead’s resilience, determination, humility and focus in the journey of amending and healing which lies ahead.”

In her address Sr Stanislaus continued that “our first duty as religious is to acknowledge the hurt we have collectively caused and this is being done. Our next duty is to do everything in our power to make reparation for the harm done, to alleviate their pain and suffering and to restore, as far as is possible, the dignity that was taken from them as children. This includes facing our financial responsibilities in a generous spirit and with an open heart.”

Her congregation’s “most urgent duty now is to ensure that widescale and systematic abuse of children does not happen again in this country, and this is why it is so vitally important that we build a socially just society. Abuse happens when power is vested in individuals and institutions who are unaccountable. In a socially just society, where individuals – children and adults – are valued and their needs are met as a right, abuse at this level could not happen,” she said.

The report raised questions “for our society as a whole. All levels of our society – the Government, politicians, the gardaí, the courts, the health system and medical professionals, and civil society – must unpack the revelations of that report, learn from it and commit to truly putting the interests of vulnerable child first now and into the future,”she said.

She went on to describe the current childcare system as “disgracefully inadequate” and asked “how can we say without blushing that we are determined to learn lessons from the Ryan report and are determined to protect and cherish children in this country when we know they are suffering now?”

She also queried the involvement of the Sisters of Charity in a private hospital at Elm Park in Dublin. “As a congregation we have to look at the relationship between our private and public healthcare and to ask ourselves is this in keeping with our charism? In the words of Mary Aikenhead – Is it ‘giving to the poor what the rich can buy for money’? and giving ‘equal advantage and equal attention’ to all?”

Speaking to the media she repeated assertions to this newspaper on May 23rd that she did not know about abuse at St Joseph’s where, according to the Ryan report, “two dangerous sexual abusers” were employed in the 1970s. At the time Sr Stanislaus lived in a convent on the school grounds while working in the community. The Ryan report includes two claims that she had been told about physical abuse of children at St Joseph’s.

Irish Times 01 July 2009

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17 Comments.

  1. The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

    Hamlet Act 3, scene 2, 222–230

  2. Sunday 25 October – RTE Radio – Miriam Meets 10:00am to 11:00am.

    Two nuns from the Sisters of Charity on the radio. One is Sister Stan and she reiterated that she was the only nun, NAY THE ONLY PERSON in Ireland who didn’t know children were being abused in the institutions. Same Old Same Old from Stan. The other nun (Sister Shiela?) actually stated that the Ryan Report was UNBELIEVABLE … !

    So there we are folks – no change from the Sisters of Charity.

  3. I once heard a man speak about apologies and why there are so ineffective for the most part. He said that there are three parts to an apology before it can be truly considered complete. 1) State the simple words ‘I am sorry’, without embellishment or fancy.
    2) Acknowledgement of the injury and its impact, and of ones personal responsibility to have prevented it from happening.
    3) Ask for what the victim of the injury requires of you in order to make things better if not completely redress the injustice.
    All of this is based on the assumption of Truth.
    In this Sister’s speech I did not see any of the above. It was full of flowery speech and embellishments as if she too were a victim.
    When it comes down to it she is gravely personally at fault. Ignorance is no excuse when driving a car and certainly not when when raising children in the name of the state and God.
    Shame on the Catholic Church for allowing these characters to continue to walk free.

  4. Re Mari Steed’s comment:

    The Catholic Church is the Catholic Church no matter what country its in. We all (us Irish) know only too well the savage sadism of the Christin Brothers and their “sisters” the Charity Nuns.

    In a nutshell, the Catholic Church is an EVIL organisation! And those that defend it are either total morons, or total sociopaths. There is no “middle ground” in organisations as corrupt as that.

  5. Hi Mike. I can’t help but feel that the religious orders will do nothing more than keep on with apology after apology. Frankly, I’m sick of their apology. I got some money from the Redress Board but as I’ve been working since I was 21 years of age I regard that payment as nothing more than a tax rebate. Indeed, I was getting my own money for the abuse inflicted on me while in the care of the Sisters of Mercy just like thousands of others.

  6. Dear Mary Cornish,

    My heart goes out to you Mary, but in all honesty, you won’t get the justice you’re looking for from those mad (schizoid)fuckers – they are far too dehumanised to be able to respond to your human needs.

    Meantime, I wish you all the very best of luck in tracking down your family.

    Martha

  7. “In her address Sr Stanislaus continued that “our first duty as religious is to acknowledge the hurt we have collectively caused and this is being done. Our next duty is to do everything in our power to make reparation for the harm done, to alleviate their pain and suffering and to restore, as far as is possible, the dignity that was taken from them as children. This includes facing our financial responsibilities in a generous spirit and with an open heart.”

    I don’t know how she can even state things like this. The combined total of all the orders monies for restitution comes to less than 5% of the total. The rest is all coming from Irish taxpayers, thanks to the government cutting deals with the various orders.
    If they cared at all, they (the orders) would offer to butch up and pay 95% of it, giving the taxpayers a break. But, their only care is money.

  8. You deserve much more than just an apology from Justice Ryan, much, much more.

  9. Mary Cornish - Henderson

    Paddy
    I am the person mentioned In the Ryan report and all I have got from the Commission to Inquire is Sorry we made a mistake I don’t accept the apology they have given. If it was one of the perpetrators of the abuse it would have been taken off their website the same day . None of the apologies given have meant anything. It is the same as when we were taken to Court as infants I am been told by the Department of Justice. The papers were used in error. I spent 14 years in Goldenbridge and what I have wanted is Justice. The Justice I want is my medical files and to tell me who my family are.
    May Cornish

  10. And for those who want to lose their breakfast/lunch, here’s the aforementioned letter to the editor of the Inquirer, from the De La Salle Christian Brothers in Philadelphia:

    Ireland has its own ‘Brothers’

    Re: “Irish inquiry indicts church-run schools,” Thursday:

    It is important to note that the religious order of Christian Brothers in Ireland in this article about sexual abuse is not the same religious order commonly known as the Christian Brothers in the United States and the Philadelphia area.

    The “Christian Brothers” referred to in a release from the Irish government are the Congregation of Christian Brothers (Edmund Rice Christian Brothers). They are not the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools (De La Salle Christian Brothers). The De La Salle Christian Brothers are commonly known as the Christian Brothers in the United States.

    It is important not to harm the reputation of the Christian Brothers and their associates, who have nearly 100 educational institutions in the United States.

    Brother James F. Rieck
    Director of admissions
    La Salle College High School
    Wyndmoor, PA

  11. There’s an intrinsic problem with most of these ‘apologies’. I read a letter to the editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer recently (in the wake of the Ryan Report release) wherein the De La Salle Christian Brothers, who are quite prominent in Philadelphia and elsewhere in the U.S. as respected educators, released this confusing ‘it wasn’t us!’ statement. They wanted to assure the reading public that they were not affiliated with the order(s) of Christian Brothers responsible for so much of the abuse in Ireland.

    The letter went on execrably and all I could think was, “You stupid bastards [note: I can use that word because I am a bastard] — why can’t you just offer an apology to all victims of abuse, no matter who the perpetrator and then speak up for how this is not what Jesus would do?”

    How hard is to simply say, “I’m sorry” without all the attendant finger-pointing and “Oh, but I didn’t see it happen…” and other nonsense? How about “I’m sorry and yes, I’m responsible, even if I didn’t directly perpetrate the abuse because I stood by and allowed it to happen and did nothing to protect the children or women in my care”?

    People like Sister Stan had blinders on and hands clapped firmly over their ears, singing, “La la la la…”

    These people need to man, er — sister, brother, priest — up and do what’s right. Take responsibility for your collective actions and stop pretending that you didn’t see it going on around you. That’s such a cop-out.

  12. Having heard the interview with Sister ‘Stan’ on the Eamonn Keane show, Newstalk 106 I couldn’t help but feel she was being evasive by throwing in apologies instead of answering what she was asked. It’s safe to say that most of us are sick and tired of apologies coming years and years after the publication of books like “Nothing to Say” – Mannix Flynn and “The God Squad” – modesty prevents me from name dropping here.

  13. Sister “Stan” denied emphatically on the Eamonn Keane Show that she knew nothing of any kind of abuse happening in Kilkenny.

  14. Stan is a classic product of The System, of the RC “shite” that has dominated Ireland for soooo long!

    She asks: “Is it ‘giving to the poor what the rich can buy for money’?”

    She obviously believes that the ‘Rich’ eg., those with money, can buy Love!

    What a pathetic woman!

  15. I am inclined to agree with you Paddy on that one.

    The only sadness is- THEY GOT FOUND OUT.

  16. Like all the apologies from these people they need to be dissected line by line, paragraph by paragraph and sometimes word by word.

    She says:
    ——
    These abuses took place and that these heinous crimes were committed in one of our institutions [St Joseph’s industrial school, Kilkenny.
    ——
    Actually Stan, may I call you Stan ? I have another name for you but it takes up more space, Actually abuses took place in all Institutions managed by the Sisters of Charity. This is just another mealy-mouthed ‘apology’

    Paddy you may have an IDEA as to how close you are to the truth concerning Stan … in the early 70s when I was a father for the first time and sitting at home with my family watching the telly – Sister Stan appeared on the TV, mouthing off some inanities. What she was saying would only have been important to herself it was her appearance on my telly and in my house that created an effect on me -I began to shout obscenities and I picked up the closest thing to hand (an alarm clock) and fired it at the telly – breaking both in the process. It was only much much later I discovered Stan was a Sister of Charity nun and that she once worked in their Institutions in Kilkenny !!!

    My first five years were in a Institution in Kilkenny ‘managed’ by the Sisters of Charity and I received brutal treatment from the nuns.

  17. The more I listen to Sister Stanislaus the less inclined I am to believe that she was unaware of the abuse that went on in St. Joseph’s, Kilkenny. It’s a case of “Me thinks she doth protest too much” so to speak.

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