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A 2,600 page report detailing abuse at Catholic reform boarding schools in Ireland was released this week, and if it weren't for the number of corroborating documents and eyewitness accounts, the findings would be too much to believe.

"A climate of fear, created by pervasive, excessive and arbitrary punishment, permeated most of the institutions and all those run for boys," the Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse reports. "Children lived with the daily terror of not knowing where the next beating was coming from." Thousands of witnesses and documents show blatant sadism at nearly all of the institutions. Sexual abuse was also common, though incidents of rape and molestation were largely confined to a handful of the institutions.

In the course of their investigation, the commission also uncovered Vatican documents indicating that the church was covering up sexual abuse at the schools as far back as the 1930s. The Catholic orders that operated the schools offered apologies on Wednesday--many have already received monetary compensation--but say that they will continue to protect the identities of the accused abusers.

The entire report may be viewed here.

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