Eighteen Catholic religious orders in Ireland offered Wednesday to pay $110 million to children who were physically and sexually abused by nuns and priests while they lived in the Church’s schools and child care centers. Victims of the abuse, however, criticized the offer as too low. More than 3, 500 now-adults have filed for hearings in a court set up by the Irish government two years ago to investigate abuse claims. Depending on the number of victims who file suits against the orders, total settlements may reach more than $430 million. The Irish government has already agreed to provide the additional compensation.
More than 150, 000 Irish children passed through the Church-run schools and centers during the 20th century. About 20,000 survivors are still alive today. The so-called schools and centers, which were also known as “industrial schools,” did not teach the children to read or write but rather used them as slave labor, making shoes, pillow cases, and doing other manual labor. Many children were placed in the institutions by government officials because they were the children of poor parents or single mothers, who were deemed “unsuitable guardians.”