Father Edward Flanagan warned Ireland that their reform schools were “a scandal, un-Christlike, and wrong.”

He also told them the secret behind his successful “Boys Town” approach.

So reports Irish Central today.

With Boys Town a movie success, he brought Ireland his message: “There is no such thing as a bad boy.”

But after touring reform schools, he said the Christian Brothers at that place and that time had lost their way.

Reports the paper:

Speaking to a large audience at a public lecture in Cork’s Savoy Cinema, he said, “You are the people who permit your children and the children of your communities to go into these institutions of punishment. You can do something about it.” He called Ireland’s penal institutions “a disgrace to the nation,” and later said, “I do not believe that a child can be reformed by lock and key and bars, or that fear can ever develop a child’s character.”

When he arrived back in America, Fr. Flanagan said: “What you need over there is to have someone shake you loose from your smugness and satisfaction and set an example by punishing those who are guilty of cruelty, ignorance and neglect of their duties in high places . . . I wonder what God’s judgment will be with reference to those who hold the deposit of faith and who fail in their God-given stewardship of little children.”