At First Thoughts--A First Things Blog, Sean Curnyn has a post on the Ryan Report of child abuse at industrial and reform schools in Ireland. It includes a reminder that the end result of countries not embracing a separation of church and state is often detrimental to the church:
The report's focus was on abuse in reform schools, where the relative isolation and dramatic absence of accountability allowed the most heinous crimes to flourish, but there's not much doubt that a culture of harsh authoritianism and excessive corporal punishment pervaded the ordinary Irish school system for decades, administered as it was largely by the religious orders in question. Aside from the chief and most obvious tragedy--the suffering of the abused--there is also surely the tragedy of how this has played into the alienation of so many Irish people from their Christian heritage. The forces of secularization, consumerism, new age-ism and the like have surely found fertile ground in a populace where memories and anecdotes of brutality via "the Brothers" are so commonplace. The face of the Church—indeed of any church—should never be transformed from one of Christian charity to one of abusive authoritianism. Ironically, it is how close the Catholic Church was to the political establishment in the Irish Republic--the very lofty position it held--that helped enable this kind of evil to run unchecked.