Furios Mass-goers walked out of a Catholic church recently in Co. Cork in protest at an elderly priest’s defense of industrial schools revealed as hell-holes of abuse in the Ryan report.

Retired priest Father Con O’Donovan, who is in his 70s and who was standing in for the regular priest at a Saturday evening Mass in St. Fursey’s Church, Banteer, delivered a sermon in which he said that children held in industrial schools had benefited from great advantages given the circumstances they would otherwise have faced.

He asked for prayers for members of religious orders who devoted their lives to the children in the institutions.

Up to a dozen people were reported to have walked out of the church at the end of the sermon. One man turned back at the church door and said to the priest on the altar, “May God forgive you.”

The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, chaired by Justice Sean Ryan found in its 2,600-page report of a nine-year investigation that abuse was “endemic” in institutions run by religious congregations throughout the 20th century in Ireland, blighting the lives of thousands of victims.

Eighteen religious orders criticized in the report will have to fully detail their assets to the government before a deal is struck on how much extra compensation they should pay.

A joint meeting of representatives of the 18 orders and Taoiseach (Prime Minister) is to take place this week.

The Department of Education said that the religious congregations that negotiated a controversial indemnity deal with the government in June 2002 have fully transferred 21 properties worth ****26.8 million to state agencies to date.

A further 40 properties are in the process of being transferred, while cash contributions of ****52 million and services worth ****10 million have been delivered in full.

The deal was for ****127 million in total, a small fraction of the overall redress bill, which is expected to reach ****1.3 billion.

Speaking in the Dail (Parliament) Cowen said, “I do not have a preconceived notion of what is adequate. I must see the full resources available to these congregations in order to make that judgment.”

Minister for the Environment and Green Party leader John Gormley said the government would consider introducing legislation to force disclosure if the orders failed to comply.

Ten of the orders, led by the Christian Brothers, have issued statements indicating a willingness to increase their contributions to a compensation pool.