One of Ireland's biggest religious orders clashed today with an organisation representing victims of child abuse after denying it has been responsible for widespread abuse.
In a statement, the Christian Brothers rejected what they called ``the now-established perception'' that there had large scale systematic abuse in institutions they ran.
They stressed that it had been openly acknowledged that ``some abuse'' had taken place, but said allegations had been made against large number of their members, the vast majority of whom strongly rejected the claims.
The order maintained that more than 95 percent of Christian Brothers had worked in ordinary day schools for periods of up to 40 years, without any allegation or hint of complaint against them. of
But the One in Four victims' organisation said the Christian Brothers' statement marked ``a highly-regrettable backward step.''
It claimed the move amounted to ``a return to the mindset of blanket denial, which characterised the Christian Brothers` approach to the issue of sexual abuse prior to 1999.
``In both content and tone, the statement will cause further deep hurt to the men and women supported by One in Four, who experienced widespread sexual, physical and emotional abuse in institutions and day schools run by the Christian Brothers.''
The organisation also declared: ``Those who will find the statement most offensive are the many victims seeking support from One in Four, who as day pupils in schools run by the Christian Brothers, experienced significant levels of abuse.
``For these vulnerable men and women, there is no political forum, no redress and no acknowledgement of their abuse.
``The reason for this statement by the Christian Brothers to exonerate 95 percent of their members accused of sexual abuse, is not yet clear.''
One in Four said such attempts at ``re-writing the history of sexual abuse perpetrated by members of the Christian Brothers'' should serve to strengthen political resolve for the reinstatement of an Irish government commission that was established to probe institutional abuse over a period of decades.