The committee organised to investigate allegations and handling of sexual abuse within the Catholic church have released their findings. Please be advised: some readers may find the details very disturbing.
The investigations began in June 2011, when Catholic Bishop of Iceland Pétur Bürcher publicly apologised to the victims of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic priests or other staff, and asked for their forgiveness. In so doing, he said, he was following the example of Pope Benedict XVI, who issued a similar statement not too long before then. Shortly thereafter, a committee was formed to begin investigations into sexual abuse within the church.
Vísir reports that their findings have been released, and indicate very high proportions of students at Landakotsskóli – which was run by the church until 2005 – were subjected to physical and sexual abuse at the hands of the principal, Rev. Ágúst Georg, and a teacher, Margrét Muller.
The committee spoke to 30 former students of the school, and eight of them said they had been either physically or seriously sexually abused by the two. The pattern of abuse allegedly spanned for years, with Georg sexually abusing young children under the pretext of punishment, while many former students described Margrét as a physically abusive sadist.
George was principal of Landakotsskóli from 1961 to 1998, and Margrét taught for about 40 years, retiring in 2003. Both died in 2008.
The Catholic bishop issued an apology to their victims, saying he was “ashamed and scandalised” by the findings. However, one victim of Georg’s – who was abused by him from the time she was nine – said that the bishop’s apology falls short.
“I spoke to priests about [the abuse],” she said. “I spoke to nuns, my dad went to speak to the bishop at that time. Nobody listened. Now somehow I feel I can say: I told you so. This happened.”
The former victim also said that while she still considers herself a Catholic, she cannot forgive Georg for what he did.
“I don’t want to, and I see no reason to do so,” she said. “People talk about heaven and hell, and I’m pretty sure I know which one he’s in, and that gives me some peace.”