I thought this information was so important, it warranted a separate post. Because I know of so many Old Boys who were still looking for him and might miss this information otherwise.

It’s always sad to read of someone’s decline, but I do know that Kevin was physically and sexually abusive and could have scarred many Survivors in other, perhaps equally devastating ways. Certainly two Survivors I’ve been in close communication with were very angry about him.

It’s interesting that the DLS etc distanced themselves from him. I guess he was no member of a Dark Network, although he was called in by the Knights of St Columba at St Mary’s Catholic Youth Club, near Woodbridge Rd., when I was seen snogging a girl, after being lined up for the priesthood. It was a big deal, I kid you not. I remember him crossing town and turning up at the Youth Club especially to discuss the shocking truth about what I may or may not have done with the girl.  So perhaps I’m wrong and he was once part of a Network.

Whereas when I read of Brother James’s decline and death, it seems he was being looked after by his fellow DLS brothers. They nurtured this evil viper to the end of his days.  A man they described as timid and shy in their Eulogy.

I think you summed up it very well, Conor . Thank you.

 Conor Pagett commented on ST JOSEPH’S COLLEGE AND BROTHER KEVIN – AGAIN! This is another account of abuse at St Joseph’s sent to me by someone who would prefer to remain anonymous so that the … Hi again Zach! Bro Kevin (or just plain Kevin Dillon) was suffering in an advanced state of dementia in an Ipswich nursing home the last time I heard of him (2017). There was video on the nursing home website of him singing (trying) Christmas carols but the shell of a human being was hard to recognise as the Bro Kevin of our youth. He was a broken man before the dementia set in. Over the last 20 years he lost everything. When the first rumours about allegations of perversion reached the village in Suffolk in which he lived it brought with it abuse and intimidation from the local youths. His house was attacked and windows broken occasionally and after a couple of years he was compelled to sell up and move to Ipswich. The DLS and other powers-that-be distanced themselves from him and this pushed him over the edge. He may be dead now but if he is still alive the natural course of Kevins’ dementia will have inflicted all the suffering which some might think he merits. I remember Bro Kevins favourite instrument of discipline in 1986 was a flexible leather case for a steel ruler. He was decent enough to take the steel ruler out of it before he beat us though. 


Another couple of old posts by St Joseph’s Beulah Hill Old Boys that I think are of interest because of the way their school magazine was, perhaps understandably, pulped.  Roberts – a ‘successful pupil’ – has now been released from prison:

Went to St Joe’s in the 50/60

My first p.t (yes p.t) teacher was George Smith who left the school to become manager of Crystal Palace F.C for 2 years.

I was expelled in 1964 for saying that Brother Solomon (stage name Sidney De Mecardo) was a homosexual paedophile (i did not use that word in 1964).

Famous old boys. Remember Harry Roberts who murdered 3 policemen in 1966. He was a successful pupil in the 1950’s and every copy of Beaulahland which contained his name was destroyed.Roberts is still alive at 70+ and still in prison. Solomon’s stage name was Mike Mercado.

Listen to THIS (

Harry Roberts as an old boy was sold to me during my first term after Brother Sean Sellars was telling 1.2 about famous ex pupils….

Went home and asked Dad who is Dicky Valentine, apparently he is our most famous old boy… Dad said forget him, its Harry Roberts…. miles more famous..


The real purpose of this post is the mechanics of a  Catholic Dark Network.

How they operate.

 And how this can sometimes mean a Catholic paedophile  ‘taking one for the team’. I believe  Brother Solomon had to ‘take one for the team’.

 I’ll come back to that a bit later. But first to set the scene:

In case the tag ‘Brother Solomon’ has drawn you to this site for the first time, let me explain that a Dark Network is an academic term for a paedophile ring. 

An academic study (see my past post ‘Dark Networks’) shows a primary example in Victoria, Oz. Muytjens, Sally (2019) An exploration of the existence of clergy child sexual abuse dark networks within the Victorian catholic church. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.

Muytjens identified 16 Catholic child sex abuse rings in Victoria, Oz.

This, for me at least, validates my own recollections that there was a similar paedophile  ring at St Joseph’s College Ipswich in the 1960s.

There was also a separate investigation by the Age newspaper which covers further criminal Catholic networks in Oz, some of which may overlap with the academic study. If you just want a quick read, here it is:

The evidence for Brother Solomon being in a similar paedophile ring is more circumstantial than Brother James where  two testimonies specifically show the involvement of the Knights of St Columba  who covered up his crimes . This resulted in more of James’s perverted behaviour being inflicted on pupils in the 1970s when he should have been in jail.

To briefly reprise on the evidence about Brother Solomon.

I knew as a first former in 1960/1961 that Solomon was a paedophile. All the kids joked about it and talked about him being sent to a Brothers’ reformatory on Jersey where shipwrecked sailors would be at risk from them.  Brother James – a confirmed Dark Networker – wrote a glowing farewell to Solomon in the school magazine and I remember at the time thinking how it was simply untrue.  Then Solomon went to Beulah Hill where he committed numerous crimes, had a brief interval as a minor pop star, then probably went to do ‘missionary work’ at Homan’s Boys Town in India,  and came back to St Joseph’s Ipswich as lay teacher Mike Mercado in the mid-1980s. He was dismissed over further allegations of sexual abuse.

The endless shifting him from school to school is suggestive of a Dark Network of organized abusers. Then there’s his involvement with Joe Homan, a proven paedophile (I have the private testimony of one survivor from Oakhill which is heartbreaking to read). Homan may have won a libel case alleging abuse, but there is a great deal about him still left unanswered and strongly suggestive of a Dark Network, despite Old Boy Chris Mullin’s whitewash obituary on him in the Guardian.  

There’s more about Solomon which is potentially relevant.  His co-ownership of a fun pier at Weston Super Mare, for example. According to Mullin, he ended his days playing the piano on a pier. Maybe this was the one.

Before getting onto how Solomon ‘took one for the team’, here’s a reminder from Old Boys at Beulah Hill as to what this sick individual was like.

Bear in mind he’d just been thrown out of St J’s Ipswich because of some serious allegations which resulted in him disappearing literally overnight.  So then he’s allowed to carry on at Beulah Hill doing exactly the same!

(I have a private testimony from an Old Boy from Ipswich describing a sexual assault Solomon made on him and a number of other boarders.)

I was a pupil at St Joseph’s College, Beulah Hill, from 1955 to 1965 – I can confirm that it was an absolutely terrible experience – and in 1961, as if there weren’t enough very strange, totally weird, ‘Christian’ Brothers (all from the ‘De La Salle’ order) – they brought in Brother Solomon (they already had Brother Leo and Brother David, niether have been mentioned in these columns but I can honestly say, both horrendous, merciless, harshly-appalling people). Brother Solomon was allowed total freedom by the school and by the order as ‘Master of Discipline’ – everything that has been said here about this man is true, however it all only just touches on his evil brutality, his mental and sexual perversion; I would say he was at least twenty times worse than anyone has stated here – over a period of four years he became worse and worse and by 1964 he was out of control. Dispite what clearly must have been known by those in authority, he was allowed to continue with his sinful, vicious, atrocious, criminal, immoral, debauched, perverted, abhorrent, detestable, monstrous, foul, vile, discraceful ways for a further full year – it was absolutely scandalous. Finally, during the summer holidays of 1965 Brother Soloman was dismissed from St Joseph’s and at the same time expelled from the De La Salle order. Within a very short time he became known nationally as ‘The Swinging Monk’; he was in the Sunday papers and on Records, TV and Radio being described as pianist ‘Mike Mercado’. Today he would have been in court, subsequently locked up, after just a couple of days in any school; he got away with it for so long by intimidation and because in those days, if you dared to say anything against this “incredible” school (in your Catholic parents view) you were immediatly set-about by your father, as I was on several occasions – including once when I phoned my father (a complete bully) from the phone box at Crown Point and described an incident that had only just occurred in Bro’ Soloman’s locked and curtained office; “Stay right there, it’ll take me an hour to get to you!” shouted my father as he slammed down his phone – some time later, as he pulled up and dived out of his car I thought to myself (I was still in the phone box) this is it, at last, this will be the downfall of this terrible man, Soloman, but alas, my father ripped open the red glass-paned door and totally laid-into ME, beating me almost unconscious; I was lying on the ground as he turned for his car, shouting at me “get back into that school and don’t you ever tell such lies about people again, or I’ll beat you to death”; and then he sped off. I was helped into a nearby sweet shop by a GPO telegram boy who had seen the beating and so was very sympathetic but terrified for me of my father, saying you’d better get cleaned up and back into school in case he comes back…. I would say I was one of probably less than a dozen boys regularly (daily) picked on by Brother Soloman but those awfull times have, on and off, affected my whole life – as a young 13 and 14 year old boy I was completely traumatised on many occasions, and left with absolutely no support from home, and that has returned to haunt me at various different stages of my life….. . Now, more optimistically, can anyone provide me with any actual evidence to confirm Brother Soloman is now deceased (an entry in death records; his place of death/buriel etc); in this respect please refer to this website: which shows he went back to his home town of Eccles in 1968; it also shows that others seek to know where he is now. With my sincerest thanks, in advance, for any assistance that can be provided.

(Solomon is, of course, dead now)

This next quote may be relevant for indicating the transgenerational nature of Dark Networks:

Re-visiting my copy of St.Joseph’s College 1855-1955 Book, Beulah Hill, by W.J.Battersby [Senior History Master].

This bit of information that may interest you:-

Appendix III [p.92]

Old Boys Who Became Brothers:

extracted from the list……

At College 1941-43:

Brother Patrick Solomon (Michael Mercado)

If you find transgenerational abuse unlikely, let me assure you that it’s a proven characteristic of Dark Networks that they like to recruit a new generation to corrupt.

(Thus I believe Brother James was a De La Salle schoolboy)

The Network tried it with me, recruiting me to be a priest, and I resisted. 

Here’s the transgenerational confirmation in the Oz academic study.

DN = Dark Network. Actors = abusers

The data chapter discusses clergy perpetrators who were placed in roles of recruiting boys into the priesthood. The importance of recruitment and mentoring to the DN is that the ability to be able to replace DN actors is crucial to DN resilience (Ayling 2009).

Back to Brother Solomon/Mercado.

I’ve been passed his letter of resignation when he was kicked out of St Joseph’s Ipswich as lay teacher Mike Mercado.

He sent this letter out to parents and it’s well written and cleverly worded to make him seem like an injured party. If we didn’t already know he was the Jimmy Saville of the De La Salle Brothers, we might even be convinced by it.

But what I found interesting was the  threats  he makes which he does not follow up on. So why not just keep your mouth shut?  This is not a stupid man. Is he really just ‘mouthing off’ because he’s angry at losing his job? In my opinion, he’s hinting and mentioning certain individuals deliberately to make a point.  There’s a code here which I can only partly decipher.

We already know Solomon is a clever and experienced paedophile. I’d say he weighed every one of his key sentences with care. With great care. Hence why he says he could write a book about it, which he mentions twice.

I’m only going to include relevant excerpts here:

‘Dear Friends,

A year ago I sent a Newsletter to all of the parents of my Boarders wishing the compliments of the season and giving a few hints and tips on the guidance of teenagers through their most difficult years…

It is not possible to explain in detail the events of the past six months. If I did so, I would have to write all of you a book!  …

My problems started with an allegation being made against me by one of my Boarders that I had touched him in an indecent manner on his bottom…I was very hurt and insulted when the Headmaster indicated that he accepted the word of the Pupil and did not give me the opportunity of giving my version of the matter. These hurtful and insulting things were said by those with the Order one would have expected to support rather than condemn.

At this juncture I should point out that I had been a Christian Brother for some thirteen years prior to 1966  AND I AM FULLY AWARE OF WHAT GOES ON WITHIN THE ORDER. (Pat’s caps)’

Mercado then quotes a supportive Brother Damian who writes to Mercado, ‘I hope you will forgive the Community their lack of support.’

Mercado then relates how the Governors – whom he does not name – accepted he was innocent, but sacked him for drunkenness instead which he also denies.  He goes on:

‘I also consider it was significant that the Chairman of the Governors Rev. Bro. Edwin, Mr Kearney  (Senior Lay-Master whom I have known since 1958) and Bro. Cuthman Francis the Clerk to the Governors were not present at the Governors meeting on the 16th September. ‘

He’s making a point here by saying it was significant.  Why was it significant?  There’s a code here which I can only speculate about.  Had they deliberately stayed away, knowing Mercado was going to be sacked?

Mercado continues that he was finally vindicated by the settlement. ‘I am not bitter but rather sad at the treatment I have received from certain Members of the De La Salle Order. 

‘I have every intention of writing my experiences with the Order in a book.  I would recommend the reading of “In God’s Name” by David Yallop which clearly indicates that even in the Vatican things are not always as Holy and as Perfect (Mercado’s capital letters) as one would expect.’

Mercado ends by wishing everyone a Happy New Year for 1986.

AMENDMENT HERE. My thanks to Rob for pointing out I had Edwin originally confused with Elwin. So I’ve removed that piece.


I suggest Mercado’s reminding Kearney of their long association with each other for nearly thirty years. Whilst there could be other explanations why he should stress their connection, I know the explanation that I take away from this.

Mercado’s letter is definitely hinting and threatening that he could say a whole lot more and he’s letting certain individuals know this loud and clear. 

He never wrote that book.

If he had blown the whistle, his own crimes would have been further exposed and he must have known that. His Dark Network of fellow abusers could also make life difficult for him.  Or ‘bring you much pain’ – as one Survivor put it to me. And they would fail to support or rehabilitate him later.

So he had no choice. He shut up and took one for the team.

It could be that, in return, judging by this letter he was partly exonerated (his crime abruptly altered from unacceptable child sexual abuse to acceptable drunkenness) and financially compensated. 

To quote him: ‘An out of Court settlement has been agreed and I have also received a glowing reference from the Headmaster… I believe that the settlement and the reference does vindicate me.’

The whole thing stinks to high heaven. The Dark Network looks after its members.

This is of personal interest to me because  I need to understand just how these Dark Networkers function. Because when I was 15 and went to the police about the Catholic Dark Network  I’d had the misfortune to be ensnared by, the cops did actually interview one Catholic Knight who I focussed most of my fury and accusing attention on.

Although he talked his way out of it, I did later see the fear and the anger in his eyes that he just might be in  trouble and be thrown to the wolves by his fellow perverts. I was a ‘troublemaker’.  (And still am, of course) And I’d singled him out as the pervert I was going after. He subsequently was very careful how he behaved in my presence.

I can still feel that buzz I had as a 15 year old when I had the power and my abuser was the victim for a change. Even if it was short-lived.

Currently I’m still gathering information on this individual. I hope to name and shame him in due course as a useful catharsis.

But in broader terms, I think it’s valuable to understand the mechanics of how Catholic Dark Networks operated and may still operate if they are – by definition – transgenerational. 

Which means today’s Catholic children are still at risk from them.

We are deliberately – and endlessly –  conditioned by Catholic influenced or Catholic funded ‘damage limitation’ academics and authors to think it’s just one rogue priest, one rogue Cardinal who acts in a moment of madness, that we find it hard to deprogram that obsolete thinking.  That’s exactly what they want and why these books keep coming out which simply tread water and say nothing new. (See my ‘Sins of Omission’)

But the Dark Network study and the Age newspaper expose have changed that forever. They will lead to other  Catholic Dark Networks, historic or current, being investigated and exposed as other academics and media follow up on the Australian groundbreaking work.   

St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, and the connected Catholic laity in Ipswich would be a good place to start.


If you’ve just discovered this site, you may not be aware that organized Catholic sexual abuse networks are now proven beyond any reasonable doubt.  They’re called Dark Networks.  Most of us would call them paedophile rings.  

An academic study (see past post ‘Dark Networks’) shows a primary example in Victoria, Oz.

Muytjens, Sally (2019) An exploration of the existence of clergy child sexual abuse dark networks within the Victorian catholic church. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.

She identified 16 Catholic child sex abuse rings in Victoria, Oz!

There was a separate investigation by the Age newspaper which covers further criminal Catholic networks in Oz, some of which may overlap with the academic study.

If you just want a quick read, here it is:

Similarly, Brother James was part of a Catholic Dark Network of De La Salle Brothers at St Joseph’s College, Ipswich.  In his case, the Knights of St Columba Ipswich Province, and almost certainly a London Province, provided the necessary protection for him that is the hallmark of a paedophile ring. 

This is born out by my testimony, the testimony of another St Joseph’s Old Boy on this site, and by a private testimony I was given by a St J’s Old Boy.

You may well be aware of James as a violent psycho, but there are three testimonies on this site which show, beyond any reasonable doubt, that he was also a violent sex criminal.

Some years ago the De La Salle Brothers wrote an eulogy about Brother James after he died. Foolishly, when I discovered it,  8 years ago,  I didn’t download it. Shortly afterwards I started writing about James and it was promptly removed from the DLS site.  Sorry about that. I’m a bit more streetwise these days.

I do remember it said words to the effect that he was a shy, quiet, even timid man, a saintly man, and that he had a peaceful death from some unspecified condition.

Here are the two broken links. Ryan Eulogy July 2011 – web edition vs3.pdf

 It’s just possible someone out there knows if a Wayback machine can access the original post. If so, I’m sure we’d all love to read exactly what the DLSB wrote about this ‘saintly man’.

In the absence of the DLSB official eulogy, below are some eulogies from Old Boys. They are from St Joseph’s BEULAH HILL.  It sounds like he went there after Ipswich and they seem to be all Beulah Hill memories from the 1970s.

Crucially, if the Knights of St Columba hadn’t covered up his crimes at St Joseph’s Ipswich, in the 1960s and he was reported to the police, his vile acts in the 1970s would never have happened.


This is why exposing these Catholic Dark Networks is so important.

 Do not assume they’ve stopped because we now live in different times.  As the academic study makes very clear, Dark Networks are transgenerational. By definition, they always recruit a new generation of abusers.

I believe they are still out there and one police detective has indicated as much to me.

These eulogies are taken from an ongoing Beulah Hill thread on a football site. It’s still current.

I’ve kept them anonymous here.

I, too, was polluted by this excuse for an educational establishment. Was there 73-78 and, I have to say, I’m shocked no-one has mentioned the monster that was Bro. James.

Brother James gave me the most savage beating I have ever had, five or six times across the face with a clenched fist, because someone had been whistling in class and he decided it was me. The experience, which still haunts me more than sixty years later, was made all the worse by the fact that he began by removing my glasses. Years later I met another pupil who was present at the time and who uttered the chilling words “You obviously didn’t know what he was like”. I also discussed the incident, a year or two ago, with a retired teacher who told me that even in the 1950’s such behaviour was illegal.

I confirm from first hand experience that he was a grade A c*nt.

A truly vicious piece of shit

Agreed. I promised myself I would pee on his grave. I had the opportunity to do so a few years ago and am glad to say I resisted the temptation. One sick evil c*nt is enough.

Brother James (Ryan) was my history teacher for two years around ’77 and we all saw his temper but after reading the above and this harrowing account he was a lot, lot worse in his earlier days

I was attacked by him in a school corridor, fists flailing in what can only be described as a bout of uncontrolled savagery and bloodlust. This was witnessed by two members of staff, neither of whom intervened. I received a black eye and a split lip. It was 1975. I was 13.

Upon seeing this when I went home, my mother merely said “well, you must have done something to deserve it”. Such were the times.

My abiding memory of this awful, awful school is the omnipresent threat of violence – not from your usual school bullies (that, I could handle) but from the staff themselves.

I’d love to know where the c*nt’s buried and, believe me, I would have no qualms about pissing on his grave to which I would add a liquid, noxious and maladorous dump.

I remember seeing Brother James assault a boy in the corridor and knock his teeth out. The psychopathic violence wasn’t even hidden.

It wasn’t just the Brothers, though.

Reading them over, these are not normal posts from Old Boys complaining about a cruel teacher.  

They are howls of rage from Survivors about a Monster, a major criminal who St Js Ipswich, St Js Beulah Hill, and the DLSB MUST acknowledge as part of their toxic past.

I’ll add my own eulogy now:

Brother James was a member of a Catholic criminal Dark Network.  In the 1960s, he was a member of an organized St Joseph’s College, Ipswich paedophile ring that included the De  La Salle Brothers and the Knights of St Columba.  

He’s filth.

And they, too, are filth for hiding his endless crimes.

And the relevant three Catholic  successor organisations today who now know about their school, their religious order, and their 1960s Knights’ disgusting past, but choose to remain silent, are little better. 

To which I’m inclined to ask, just how many more of these testimonies can their consciences take before it prompts them into doing something to acknowledge their organisations’ pasts? Or are their moral compasses so dead, so shut down, they can happily continue to look the other way? 

To which I would respond:

Knights, Brothers, and Teachers, I know your time will come, when you will be called upon to explain your  silence, but in the interim…

 Shame on all three of you.  


With the testimonies posted on this site and with the empirical evidence of the  Australian Catholic Dark Network study  proving beyond any reasonable doubt  the existence of Organised Catholic Abuse, you would expect it to be covered in recent academic and serious studies of Catholic Sexual Abuse.

So I looked at three important recent studies. One in Australia, one in Ireland, and one in Britain.

They are:

Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church:
An Interpretive Review of the Literature and Public Inquiry ReportsDesmond Cahill Peter Wilkinson

Centre for Global Research

School of Global, Urban and Social Studies RMIT University, Melbourne August 2017

Child Sexual Abuse and the Catholic Church: Gender, Power, and Organizational Culture Marie Keenan.

Betrayed: The English Catholic Church and the Sex Abuse Crisis  by Richard Scorer  

All three provide valuable insights into the crimes of the Church.

All three have significant omissions.

The Australian book is written by two academic priests, but that doesn’t stop them rightly castigating the Church.  At the same time, it’s a cleverly manicured damage limitation exercise. Here’s a typical example concerning failures in Catholic residential care:

The intentions of the religious orders were generally altruistic and well-intentioned but flawed, although many former residents in all inquiries expressed gratitude for the way they had been cared for.

Sexual, physical and emotional abuse was a feature of almost all residential institutions, although the sexual abuse was much more endemic in boys’ than girls’ institutions.

There’s endless whitewashing in their selection of material. For example:

Winship’s study is more targeted than Keenan’s, focusing on 12 priests and religious who had offended against pre-pubescent children aged 13 or under.

Winship describes her subjects as ‘romantic paedophiles’, because their lives and affections were centred on children. Their minds did not contain conscious sadistic fantasies of children, and none engaged in penile penetration so she describes them as sexual molesters, vilified by society, rather than paedophiles.

I don’t think any of the survivors on this site would agree with her definition of ‘romantic paedophiles’.

Marie Keenan’s work has an Irish background. Academics greatly admire her supposedly ground- breaking book. I don’t share their admiration.

She acknowledges her book was partly funded, at least, by the Irish Bishop’s Conference and two religious orders ‘with no conditions attached.’

Her central premise about lonely priests, the structure of the Church etc, is hardly groundbreaking. I’ve read it countless times before. She says there is no evidence that the Clergy enter religious life in order to abuse children.  She challenges the view that abusers of children are pure evil and makes various excuses for predators. She also quotes an academic study that abuse doesn’t always harm children and may even be character building.

Richard Scorer’s book I admire greatly. He’s a lawyer who has worked with Survivors and he relates how a client told him she had been warned by her local Catholic priest that to ‘rake over the past is a mortal sin.’

But Scorer reaches roughly the same conclusion as the other distinguished authors. ‘The factors which give rise to the abuse crisis – clericalism, authoritarianism, sexual immaturity the priesthood have not gone away.’

All three ignore a wide range of Catholic abuse issues for which there is hard evidence. And yet they must have been tripping over some of this evidence in the course of their investigations.

You may ask why would they ignore the truth?   After all, these are clearly good people.

If you’re familiar with how authors and academics operate, as I am, you’ll already know the answer. You may already know there are subjects in every walk of life that are strictly off limits in a world where there’s now only a handful of key controlling publishers.

Academics cannot and dare not explore certain topics.  Their livelihoods and their contracts are at stake, so they simply keep their mouths shut. I’ve already done a study of how important truths are censored at a lecture I gave at Liverpool university in 2014.

In the area of child abuse – as in other sensitive areas –authors and academics are provably not telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Instead, they are selecting their truths and their omissions are disturbing.

 Consciously or unconsciously, they are acting as damage limitation, distraction (‘don’t look over there – look over here’),  officially approved opposition, call it what you will.

 By doing so, although they claim to be part of the solution, they are actually part of the problem.

                        THE CHECKLIST

Here are the areas of clerical abuse they are ignoring for which there is empirical evidence.  Evidence that is worthy of study and analysis. They will have come across some of these areas at least. I’ll try to keep them brief so you can get an over-view.

1.Catholic priests  were – and possibly still are – Knights of St Columba. There are three priests on a KOSC obituary list I have (It’s since been removed from the web, but I have retained a copy).  Two of these priests abused me.  Such membership means the line between laity and the priesthood  is blurred.  That has  worrying implications worthy of study.

2.None of the books I’ve referred to suggest the laity-  the congregation – were ever involved with or supported clerical abuse. Similarly, I only found one account on the web that indicates the laity were involved. Yet it’s highly unlikely that the congregation were always passive and unknowing and never participated.

3. The role of all Catholic Knights is to protect the good name of the Church. What does that mean in practise?  My testimony and the testimony of another survivor, plus a further account I have, would suggest it was used to cover up in the context of Ipswich Province. The Dark Network study indicates something similar.  The Knights worldwide play an important role in the Church. Why isn’t this studied?

3. Finance and control. The Knights controlled and paid my school fees. They paid compensation to Survivors, including me (see my last post about Brother James).  They also in the past helped finance schools like St Joseph’s and possibly the building of new churches.   As they have a tradition of being secret organisations, how is that monitored and why is it never studied?

4. The Knights rituals, a form of psychological brainwashing and for which there are transcripts, stopped in the late 1960s. Why? And did those traditions continue in some truncated form?

5. Papal Knight Jimmy Savile was almost certainly a Knight of St Columba from the photos at his funeral where the KOSC act as ushers.  See Google images. There are no references to this on the web. It’s been ‘combed’.  Are his connections to KOSC  off limits like his connections to Thatcher and Prince Charles.    Given the KOSC’s charitable work, it’s a relevant question.

6. Major studies often refer to the legal situation in clerical abuse. Lawyers are  involved in compensation to victims. The Dark Network study shows such an important role for Catholic  lawyers. A private testimony I have does the same with a KOSC lawyer providing support after a child has been abused.  Why is there never any reference to similar legal interventions which must have occurred elsewhere?

7. All these books I’ve referred to – and all others on the subject –   still present the abuser  as a  lone rogue priest or monk, like a clerical version of Lee Harvey Oswald, the lone gunman.

Yet any anthropological study show humans  like to work or get together in organised groups whether it’s golfers, authors, organised crime, or organised abusers.  Why haven’t academics considered this on an anthropological level alone?  Apart from all the other evidence.

 8. In one recent testimony on my site there is evidence of a private hospital that dealt with a  Catholic victim of abuse. The nurse indicates this has happened before. It’s clearly well organised and yet it would seem the academics know of no such time where it’s happened before.  Is the nurse lying? Are we all lying?

9. The Dark Network study of clerical abuse in Oz  has details which cannot be unique. The academics must have come across the same or similar details.  Why don’t they mention them?  Note the study also refers to abuse amongst leading members of the laity.

10. There is Opus Dei self harming  and also British examples of  Catholic self harming.  For instance,  John Cornwell’s Seminary Boy describes his self- flagellation at his seminary and how it was approved by priests. Surely that has some relevance, not least because  of the danger of clerical abusers flagellating victims.  I was aware of the threat of this, at least.

11. At the heart of the Church is Mother Theresa’s view of the glory of suffering (although she didn’t apply it to herself, having first class palliative care). It’s because it’s the Imitation of Christ’s suffering. Why hasn’t this driving concept been explored in the context of abuse?  As excuses for abuse?  Just how far does the Imitation of Christ’s suffering go? Quite a way, I can assure you.  

As the basis for a twisted theology with an abusive modus operandi, it is highly relevant.

It’s astonishing that academics never even consider or discuss the central premise of the Church in the context of abuse.  I will be shortly.

12. Most survivors accounts that we read are passed through the filter of academics and authors who act as gatekeepers, selecting, censoring and editing.  Is this why we are not seeing more accounts as on my site where there is no censorship?

When that doesn’t happen – as in the excellent survivor site on Oz ‘Broken Rites’ -it supplied much of the hard evidence for the Dark Network study. We surely need the equivalent in the UK .

13.  Why aren’t there more sites like Broken Rites that can finally expose the whole truth? Not a censored version.

There is a very reputable Catholic survivor site, for which I normally have the greatest respect, who invited me to talk at one of their conferences. They even offered to pay for my hotel. So I went into further detail, covering my experience of  the organized nature of Catholic sexual abuse. I told them this would be the basis of my talk.

I never heard from them again.

Where is this self-censorship coming from?

14. There is substantial evidence on this site gathered over some seven years.  And my site is now widely known. Why isn’t the evidence affirmed or repudiated?

 Instead, there’s silence which is the usual response from academics when they’re presented with uncomfortable truths that they dare not consider.  I have overwhelming evidence of academic silence in other areas, such as the real truth about World War One, which is my personal area of expertise. It looks like it’s the same here.


In conclusion, let’s hope there’s a serious author or academic out there who is courageous enough  to look at the serious issues I’ve raised in this Check List.

I’m not holding my breath.


A St Joseph’s Old Boy sent me this note about Brother James:

Do you remember at the start of the school year, one time, I think it was in the second or third form, James would ask all the Jews to stand. Then the Muslims. And then the Protestants?

He was figuring out the class and intimidating the kids because he already knew.

I remember him giving one poor kid a tongue lashing about his religion. I think his name was XXXXXXXX  but from this age I could be wrong. The kid was a Catholic anyway. What a bastard. 

Keep going with it, Pat.

 This method of humiliating kids was not unique to James. A female friend of mine who went to a Convent school told me how a nun did a similar thing to her.

The nun went round the class trying to identify girls’ ethnicity from their surnames.  My friend had Barbara Streisand looks, her surname was Rose, and she was a Catholic.

The nun looked  at her with disgust and sneered, ‘Rose… Well we all know what that means and where you come from.’

My friend felt embarrassed and humiliated.

These Brothers and nuns have much to answer for.

Brother James: Serial Sex Offender

It was the Summer of 1961, so I was twelve. At first I thought it was a year later, but no, it was definitely that Summer of 1961. Because I still wore short trousers and there was blood running down my leg.  That’s the problem with having a ‘snapshot’ memory rather than ‘total recall’. Images come up as a series of still photographs and feelings and then I have the task of making sense of them, dating them, and stringing them together. 

The images first came up at least 7 years ago and I dismissed them, because I thought it was so unlikely. Everyone  at St Joseph’s knew James was a violent psychopath – but a sexual abuser, too?  That seemed too much.  It was only in recent years I’ve learnt that psychotic violence and sexual abuse actually  go  together.

Then two St Joseph’s Old Boys- in recent times – have confirmed, with their detailed accounts, that James was indeed a serious and violent sexual abuser.  Their accounts have many striking similarities which prove this beyond reasonable doubt (See past posts).

That was a game changer. 

It meant that I wasn’t imagining it all.

I’d maybe also dismissed my memories because I was a bit coy about the whole event. Not embarrassed. Not ashamed. Not guilty. Not afraid. But coy. And the reason why I was coy, becomes clear a little later on.

But those two survivors have been remarkably courageous, so I’m going to have to step up, too, and say what happened. Because clearly James must have sexually assaulted many other children, too, and they need to know they’re not alone.

If this is likely to be triggering for you, do be careful.

Please don’t read on unless you are set up to cope with any emotions or memories that may come up. I know just what that feels like, so take care.

So it was the Summer of 1961 and my best friend, who I’m going to call ‘George’ here, were bored. We’d been swimming every day at Fore Street Baths. I taught myself to swim on my back because my Knight step-dad used to shove my head under water when he tried and failed to teach me to swim. Then we went to Ipswich Station and had a neat little racket going, carrying female passengers’ luggage for the tips, until the angry porters spotted us and rightly kicked us out. 

But we’d heard that we could do work at our school, St Joseph’s, and the Brothers would give us a reward. Hey – that sounded like a good way to pass the time. So off we went.

The Brothers were pleased to see us. I think there were two or three of them around. I don’t remember the work. Maybe shifting furniture. But then, as a reward, Brother James gave us the key to the drinks tuck shop and told us to help ourselves. To a bottle of pop each.

The drinks tuck shop was that dark, long, narrow  ‘cupboard’ in the 5th form building with a little serving hatch that looked out onto the playground. George and I  sat there guzzling endless bottles of pop (like something out of Just William by Richmal Crompton) and I recall feeling guilty about just how much we were consuming.  But no one seemed to be around and we added our bottles to the empties.

Then, suddenly, out of nowhere,  James burst in like a whirling dervish. It was classic James, obviously he had psyched himself up to do what he intended to do. He admonished us  for drinking too much.  He was very angry with us. As you can appreciate we were trapped, there was nowhere to run.  He stood between us and the exit.

I think he sent George on his way with a stern warning to stay silent. Not sure why he didn’t go after George. Maybe because George had a big, powerful, successful dad.  Maybe because James knew I hadn’t got a dad . Or maybe he lusted after ‘gingernuts’.

In retrospect, I’d say it was because George was a Protestant.  I’m pretty certain they are off limits to Catholic abusers. It’s too risky. A Protestant might talk, whereas in the Catholic community, omerta is the rule we  lived by. So abusers know they’re safe.

If I’ve got it wrong about George (see later), I will certainly correct this account.

Anyway, James raped me.

Very few details at this point.

Just shock. Massive shock.

And blank snapshots.

Like your memory vanishing during a car crash, so you have no recall, until the time you wake up in hospital. 

Some verbals from James, but I don’t want to be too graphic.

Afterwards, James is rather pleased with himself. Smiling,  he swears me to secrecy, telling me it’ll be our little secret.

Cut to me leaving the school grounds and passing another Brother who smiles at me. Then he sees the shocked, car-crash look on my face and his own face drops.  I know he’s guessed what’s happened, but he does nothing

He’s defined by today’s academics as a member of the Grey Network.  Although innocent themselves, these Catholics know what’s been going on and they look the other way.

Thus the Grey Network supports a Dark Network of criminal abusers.

Then  I have a subsequent memory of blood running down my leg.  I was still in short trousers.

I bitterly complain to my mother who fobs me off, which I’ll come back to a little later.  

Normally, James seems to have used the gym and caning as his excuse and way of getting off.  But a 12 year old boy in the school holidays – with no witnesses – must have seemed like manna from Heaven to him. All his foul fantasies come true. And, while we were busy guzzling pop, he had the time to plan his moves meticulously. You can see that from the past testimonies.

Don’t be fooled by his vile temper, he left nothing to chance.

I’ve often wondered what George and I said to each other later. I’m sure we would have discussed it because we discussed everything, including all the strange mysteries of puberty we were both experiencing.  And I wouldn’t have held back – that’s not my style.  It’s possible that his version of that day in 1961 might even differ from mine in details. Perhaps he, too, was assaulted by James – although I don’t think so.

I’ve recently found George on Facebook. His life is exactly how I guessed it would be – he’s a local parish councillor, living in an idyllic countryside, happily married, and he followed in his dad’s footsteps job-wise. I’m so pleased for him. He looks good, too.  So, although I’ve considered it, I really can’t get in touch with him and say, ‘Hey, George – remember when we had the key to the tuck shop and Brother James burst in, and…?’   It just might turn his life upside down and I’m sure his wife wouldn’t thank me. So I can’t take that chance.  I’ve noticed  spouses aren’t  keen on their St Joseph’s Old Boy partners ‘raking over the past’ and feel a need to protect them which is understandable. However, it’s just possible that George has been silently following my site for years – without comment. I know of at least two old school friends from St Joseph’s  who read my posts for several years before finally getting in touch with me. 

So if you’re listening, George,: ‘Hi, how’s it going, man?  I have such fond memories of your family – especially your mum, she was lovely. And very kind to me. Oh, and I remember Trudy, your dog, too. I’m still crazy about spaniels because of her affectionate nature. Your family probably helped keep me sane. Because you were all normal. You were an escape from the Catholic madhouse. I hope my memories are accurate, and if they’re not, please do correct me, if that’s possible. Sorry about your bike (see later). Hope you and yours are coping well with the lockdown.  All the best, Patrick.

So, let’s go back to the Aftermath. Blood running down my leg. Complaining to my mother, knowing she wouldn’t do anything about it, but also knowing she couldn’t wriggle out of this one. Not this time. I was going to whistle-blow. Damn right I was.  And I’ve got previous as a whistleblower, going all the way back to primary school, reporting  Knight of St Columba Canon Burrows to the cops when I was seven. (See an earlier post)   It’s who I am and I’d better explain why.  

In those primary school days I’d  seen one little boy – I’ll call Konrad –  have an shocking and tragic breakdown in the school playground and soon after he was killed. I blame my Catholic school for his death And my best friend, Julia, was sent away to boarding school after she talked about being sexually abused by a priest, so I never saw her again.

Those are the two inciting incidents in my life. I remember resolving at the time that, one day, I have do something about it.

For Konrad. And for Julia.

This time the bastards are not gonna get away with it.

But they did.  And here’s how.  There are more snapshots:

My part-time Step Dad and t Knight of St Columba is told and called in to troubleshoot. Along with Father Jolly, Knight and Chaplain of St Joseph’s. And another Knight who’s a legal eagle.

On behalf of the Knights, they have  to defend the Church’s good name.  That’s what the Knights – then and now – are all about. 

Now previously I’d be running backwards and forwards from George’s house every lunchtime during the holidays. Going home to have my own lunch. A twenty minute run each way. But from now on there’ll be no more running because, suddenly and mysteriously, out of nowhere, I have … a brand new bike!

Now bear in mind my mother is more skint than a church mouse. And, hey presto, I have a new bike!

A state of the art bike, no less, blue and chrome with twist gear handle-grips. A bike I somehow never really looked after subsequently.  It was never my pride and joy, my most treasured possession, which you’d expect it to be. Instead, there was something not quite right about it. Not the machine, but the circumstances under which I got it.  But hey, don’t overthink it, Patrick, it’s a brand new bike!

Snap shot of Brother James turning up at our council house on Chantry Estate to talk to me.

Now that might seem like a courageous thing to do, but he would have known my mother was a widow and there was no fireman dad waiting to give him a good or, preferably, a bad hiding.  We’re left one to one, with the adults, mum and stepdad, hovering next door. 

James apologizes to me.  Couldn’t tell you the words.  Something about the evils of the Flesh that I’ll understand when I’m older.  That’s right– blame it all on the Flesh. It was rehearsed and he didn’t seem that rattled or nervy. I guess this wasn’t his first time. 

How can I be sure he wasn’t genuine? Because he was a proven psychopath. Psychopaths don’t have a moral compass. He probably enjoyed every minute of it.

As a kid, I have to accept his apology, but by the time you’re 12, you know when adults are lying.  You bloody know! And there’s a feeling in my subconscious, my soul, call it what you will, that this guy is full of shit. And he is  damned. And whatever will ultimately happen to him in the future, or in the afterlife, it’s not gonna be good.  That somehow helps me as a little of my soul’s wisdom filters into my conscious mind.

But that doesn’t let me off the hook. I should have reported him, despite all those heroic Knights lined up against me. I swore an oath to Konrad and Julia.  

 Stepdad/the Knights supplied the bike. A  bribe, a reward for my silence,  but it did provide a certain fake closure. Fake, because it was forced on me. I had to forgive and was applauded by the adults for doing so. ‘Good boy!’ It’s the Christian and the Catholic thing to do, my admiring mother and step dad tell me.

We should ‘forgive those who trespass against us.’

And James had trespassed, big time.

I should have spoken out. So the trespasser was prosecuted.  Then all those boys he violently physically and sexually abused after me – including the two survivors  I’ve quoted – could have been safe.

Those assaults happened because the Knights of St Columba covered up James’s crime. 

And so did I.

 James was a predator.  Recent studies by numerous Catholic academics desperately  try to explain away clerical abuse because of celibacy, immaturity, dysfunctional childhood, lack of Church transparency, changes to Church hierarchy and so on. They are talking nonsense and – worse – they know it. They know they’re carrying out a damage limitation exercise. They are simply the ‘loyal opposition’ in their critique of the Church. They’re doing the same work today that the Knights of St Columba did in my era.  They’re not stupid, they’re highly trained intellectuals and they know you cannot change a predator’s nature (as the disastrous Servants of the Paraclete attempt to reform clerical abusers showed. )You cannot train a kestrel, a tiger or even a domestic cat not to kill. It’s in their nature. It’s who they are and what they do.  And James was a predator par excellence, with all a predator’s cunning and hunting skills.

So today’s Catholics academics who write about clerical abuse – many of whom are admired for their ‘courageous stand’ against the Church –  are actually  Grey Network, covering up the real truth about predators.  

I should have reported Brother James to the police. I had the physical evidence and he might have  gone to prison. Okay, it’s unlikely.  Doesn’t matter.  I should still have done the right thing.   Just as  two or three years I later reported the Knights of St Columba to the police and paid a helluva price for it by being kicked out of school.  

It still felt surprisingly good, because it was the right thing to do.

Accepting a bribe makes the victim complicit in the abuse. It’s probably a tried and tested Catholic and Knights of St Columba technique. See an earlier post where there’s a remarkable similarity in the Knights’ methodology.  The bribe, accompanied by an apology, has a veneer of morality and pseudo-justice. It’s ‘restitution’. It may explain why it doesn’t come up in testimonies of clerical abuse. Because the victim will be reluctant to tell all even today, feeling guilty for having accepted payment from the abuser. For services rendered. Well done, Knights. What clever chaps you are!

I thought I’d gotten away with accepting the bribe, but my subconscious/soul had other ideas, dammit!  So, shortly after, George and I swopped bikes, like kids do and sped away from my house on Chantry Estate. We sped down Birkfield Drive, took the  sharp  turning into Stonelodge Lane at high speed and I crashed into the street sign, wrecking George’s bike, and injuring myself.  It was nasty and very painful, but no bones were broken.

It was a good solution from the pov of my subconscious. I still had my brand new bike but I’d now beaten myself up, punished myself for taking the Catholics’ bribe.  Sorry about your bike, George.  I’ve always puzzled why I – as a generally cautious cyclist – should suddenly hurtle ,like a kamikaze pilot, slam into that street sign.

There’s more.

Now stepdad – somehow in conjunction with James – pitch a wonderful surprise for me! Because I’ve been a good Catholic and shown forgiveness, they are going to give me a wonderful surprise. Something I’ll love. A big deal! A great honour!

When that memory feeling came up, ahead of the actual details, I thought – what could it possibly be?

At first I remembered going to the London Palladium to see Frank Ifield. Maybe that was this new bribe?

However… Frank Ifield at the London Palladium meant that was the late Summer of 1962.   So it couldn’t be.

But I desperately wanted to believe the bribe, the ‘prize’, was Saturday Night at the London Palladium. That, at least, had a certain wholesome, healthy quality.

And then it came to me. The true prize was not healthy. It was not wholesome. It was sick.

That’s why I was being coy. That’s why I really didn’t want to remember it.

The Knights pitched it to me that – because I’d shown such admirable Catholic qualities of forbearance and forgiveness– they were going to elevate me in the Catholic social order.

I could join the Knights of St Columba at their private events! And if I continued to make spiritual progress, I could even, roll of drums, become a …. Squire!   

Patrick, you lucky boy!  

Presented like that, I didn’t have any choice.  I always knew it was wrong, but I was trained by Catholic conditioning to hide who I really was and how I really felt. I often didn’t know myself.  We all have do it – and pretend to be pleased -when we get an unwanted but very expensive Xmas present.

But the subtext of what James was saying was, ‘Sorry I’ve abused you. Come and join the abuser club.’

They’d cleverly solved one problem of abuse, by lining me up for further abuse, which I’ve recounted in earlier posts.  Perhaps Brother James had even, usefully, broken me in for others to follow. All of which is classic abuser technique.  

Anyway, that’s how James and my stepdad Knight sold the ‘honour’ to me. In this era, the Knights were still a secret society. They still had secret ceremonies. It’s all there in Wikipedia. They must have sounded really exciting to a 12 year old.

But let’s be clear: I’d sold out again

My soul seems to have gone along with my compliance.  At the risk of sounding esoteric, I believe it was playing a long game. It saw it as a valuable opportunity for a whistleblower to infiltrate the ranks of the enemy and gather useful information about them, which I’ve certainly used against the Church in later life. Ask my regular readers.  And/or perhaps it felt I’d already punished myself enough by wrapping George’s bike and myself around a street sign.

 Or perhaps I thought I could create change from within. Lots of adults in numerous walks of life have fallen for that one. It’s a classic confidence trick.  And, of course, it never works. People who believe they can make a difference from within are invariably corrupted by the system or they’re ejected by it. Change has to come from outside.

Personally, I don’t believe the Catholic Church will ever change unless its Dark Networks are fully exposed and its current members prosecuted and imprisoned. A Dark Network is – by definition – transgenerational, so they are still out there.   

Today’s Catholic children are still at risk.

Catholics know it and they choose to live with it. It’s why there are 75 year old altar ‘boys’ in one Catholic Church I’m aware of. It’s why the sacristy is  bizarrely crowded with mums and dads to make sure nothing happens to their little boys.  Catholics think that’s funny and have laughed nervously as they told me all about it. I don’t think it’s funny.

Today’s Catholic predators are just like Brother James. They’re smart, they’ll bide their time, until the right opportunity, inevitably, arises.  Just like that day George and I went up to the school in the summer holidays.

Justice may seem unlikely, but in the 1980s, the notion that clerical abusers would one day face long prison sentences was unheard of.  At that time the Church was still above reproach. So change is possible and it surely begins by more survivors coming forward and more genuine academics (not apologists from the Grey Network) exposing the Church’s Dark Networks.

I may have had snapshot memory on the rape and the aftermath, but my final memory is a continuous film. It’s stayed in my mind all these years and I’ve never forgotten it.

Because it was clearly important for me to have a lasting memory, an insight into the mind of a predator, a Catholic sexual abuser, a De La Salle Brother, and a teacher at St Joseph’s College, Ipswich.

A few months later in class, Brother James asked me in front of everyone, whereabouts did I live? He sounded puzzled, like it had momentarily slipped his mind. Knowing damn well where I lived!  He’d been to my house, after all.  A little coldly, I replied,  ‘On Chantry Estate.’

He was the only teacher or pupil at St Joseph’s – a college full of middle class and rich kids –  who ever made me feel awkward and uncomfortable about where I lived. And that was definitely his intention.

He was also covering his tracks. He was saying – in front of witnesses –  that he never had any inappropriate contact with me. He had never visited my home.

Then he smiled knowingly at me.

Reminding me of our shared secret.

The Dark Network

The Dark Network is a term used by academics to describe organised crime such as sex trafficking, Mafia, drug rings, youth gangs and so forth.

It is also the term used by an authoritative thesis study of organised Catholic abuse in Victoria, Australia.  It is not an isolated or maverick study; it is  further confirmed by other related sources and also independent Australian sources which state clearly that abuse in the  Australian Catholic Church was organised and endemic.

It’s remarkable that such a major study should feature on the internet – it’s only been up there since early 2020.  It has wider and serious implications for the Church in other countries, including Britain and Ireland. Therefore – if you find the study of interest – I recommend you download it, in case it mysteriously disappears.

It is relevant to the whole subject of abuse at St Joseph’s, Ipswich, the Catholic priests in Ipswich, the laity, notably the Knights of St Columba of Ipswich Province, and their wives – as I’ve detailed in past posts.  The Catholic structure in Australia and in Ipswich have enough similarities for this Dark Network to be worth looking at.  Thus I have posted the testimony of a St Joseph’s Old Boy that Father Jolly tape recorded confessions. Here is a similar account in the Australian thesis:

Searson’s sexualised conduct included having children sit on his knee inconfession, having them kneel between his knees during confession, taperecording ‘hot’ confessions, cuddling girls and having girls do handstands in front of him in their dresses.

It has always been my contention that there was organised Catholic abuse in Ipswich when I was growing up in the 1960s. Namely that it was premeditated, planned and highly organised.

It was a way of life.

 Thus all three priests I came in contact with were abusers and two, probably three, were Knights of St Columba. If it was just the odd ‘rogue priest’, as Catholics desperately still like to claim, that would be most unlikely.

Initially, my view was very much a maverick opinion which I voiced with some caution, because the prevailing view is still the ‘rotten apple’ theory of Catholic abuse. I didn’t want my evidence and the evidence of other St Joseph’s  Old Boys to be seen and dismissed as wild conspiracy theories.  But today there are now enough statements on my site to amount to empirical evidence of organised Catholic abuse.  For example,how Brother Solomon was moved around schools, and his disturbing connection with the equally disturbing Joe Homan (ex De La Salle brother) charity.  Homan (previously covered on this site) may have been ex DLS, but – as an Old Boy recently reminded me – there were still appeals in St Pancras, Ipswich, to raise money to buy him a tractor.  Everything was, and probably still is, interconnected.

 In particular, apart from my own testimony, there’s a recent detailed testimony of a survivor relating to Brother James, Father Jolly and how the Catholic authorities covered up a major crime. Plus a further private testimony I have from a survivor which describes in comprehensive and disturbing detail how organised laity cover-ups works in the Catholic Church.

In short, there was a similar Dark Network of organised Catholic crime in  Ipswich in the 1960s.

The Australian report confirms for the first time, as far as I’m aware, that such criminal Networks of organised clerical sexual abuse exist within the Catholic Church.  This should encourage survivors to speak more openly about their experiences without fear of being dismissed as fantasists. Unless family ties, tradition, and fear of the consequences still enforces the rule of omerta?

First, the other evidence from Australia which shows there was ,and probably still, is highly organised Catholic abuse.

There’s Kristina Keneally in The Guardian who highlights the response of the police to what she calls  ‘Catholic extremism’.

I posed this question on Twitter last week: should we call this Catholic extremism? One of the police officers who blew the whistle on the sexual abuse of children in the Australian Catholic church, Peter Fox, responded “I’d call it organised crime.” He’s right. But it is more than that. It is a warped, extreme and deeply flawed interpretation of the Catholic faith that led to such crimes.

I discuss this extreme interpretation of Catholicism later in this post and how it endorses and encourages abuse.

Then there’s The Conversation by Michael Salter, Lecturer in Criminology, Western Sydney University.

He asks if it’s rogue priests or a Culture of  abuse? He answers his question as follows:

The report of the South Australian Mullighan Inquiry into children in state care was published in 2008. In the report, former state wards provided detailed accounts of groups of staff sexually abusing children in institutions and taking them to what Commissioner Mullighan described as “paedophile parties”. Priests, nuns and care staff were implicated. Like so many other inquiries of this nature, the report hinted at a degree of sexual abuse that has not received full public recognition.

There’s also this statement made in Australian parliament.

Here is one person’s story which, I warn senators before I begin, is very disturbing. This particular woman told the inquiry that, as a young child and soon after her mother died, she had been placed in care at a Catholic church-run institution which held around 130 children in the mid to late 1950s. She alleges that a man, who she believes may have been a priest, started to sexually assault her soon after her arrival at the orphanage. She said that a nun took her to a room on the ground floor where the man put her face down on a table, lifted her dress, removed her undergarments and sexually assaulted her. He allegedly told her that she was worthless, that she deserved to be treated in this way and that she should never tell anyone because no-one would ever believe her. She said that she bled badly. The man returned her to the nun, who then put her to bed. This woman told the inquiry that this abuse occurred possibly twice a week over some time and would follow a similar pattern. Sometimes the nun who took her to the man would beat her and she would try to run away only to be taken back again. This woman did not tell anyone about the abuse at the time because she thought that she would not be believed. She recalled that she felt: ‘So lost, so lonely, so sad, so worthless. I cried every day. I cried myself to sleep every night. I used to go off into the toilet any time and I would just sob.’

And finally the thesis itself.  It’s backed up, of course, with further sources.

An exploration of the existence of clergy child sexual abuse Dark Networks within the Catholic Church.

Signed 17th September 2019.

By Sally Muytjens BJus(Hons). Doctor of Philosophy. School of Justice. Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology

It’s an excellent document, much of it concerned with statistics to bear out her premise that there is a Catholic Dark Network and showing its similarities to other ‘traditional’, recognised criminal organisations.

Chapter 5 introduction has a good summary.

The chapter begins by evidencing ties between clergy perpetrators of CSA (child sexual abuse)  to show that rather than committing CSA on an individual level these DN (Dark network) actors (perpetrators) are connected on an organisational level. Furthermore, qualitative data shows these ties being utilised to support and share DN resources with fellow clergy DN actors. The data chapter provides examples of clergy DN resources and how these are shared between clergy DN actors. Clergy DN resources include victims, victim information, shared knowledge for the facilitation of CSA and silencing of victims. The data reveals common patterns for committing CSA and for silencing victims.

As I was recruited for a seminary and there was a very punitive response from the Catholic authorities  when I refused to go, this next piece was significant and confirms my recollections are correct.  As a fourteen year old boy, I was aware of the criminal nature of the Catholic Network and I wanted nothing more to do with it.

Recruitment is an important aspect of maintaining network numbers… The data chapter discusses clergy perpetrators who were placed in roles of recruiting boys into the priesthood. The importance of recruitment and mentoring to the DN is that the ability to be able to replace DN actors is crucial to DN resilience (Ayling 2009).

Her thesis cannot possibly cover crimes by the Catholic laity and female Catholic abuse as well. But both are relevant in my view. Namely the Knights of St Columba and their wives whom I’ve previously written about.  Here’s what Ms Muytjens said on this subject:

These crimes were not limited to Victoria and did extend beyond Australia’s borders, but the boundaries for this research were set within Victoria. These crimes, and the crime of CSA particularly, were not limited to clergy and were also committed by nuns and Catholic laity. The scope of this research was limited by the enormity of criminal acts committed within the Catholic church as boundaries had to be set to analyse a manageable data set.

Ms Muytjens later gives an example of where  Catholic laity were involved in organised Catholic sexual abuse. It’s from a survivor’s testimony:

I would have been about 16 or 17 years old. We stayed in a hotel and I stayed in the same room as Fr Pickering and he continued to abuse me. I remember one night during this trip, we went to a local hotel for dinner where Fr Pickering met up with someone, who I think was called Fr Gavin, and three other men. I don’t remember Fr Gavin’s last name, but he was quite young, about 30 years old. I don’t know who the three other men were, they were not priests, but my impression was that they were involved in the church in some way. All the men had boys with them around the same age as me. I was made to sit on the kids’ table while the men sat on a different table (RCICA 2015g, 46).

It’s an important quote because thus far the congregation have largely managed to escape scrutiny. It needs more survivors to come forward.  Australia, of course, has its  own equivalent of the Knights of St Columba.

Later in the thesis (Page 166), there’s a record of a clerical death threat made to a survivor. I had several such threats made to me because I would not stay silent. Here’s the quote:

Br Best, the school principal, also teaching Grade 6, called Paul to his office. Paul was aware of Br Best’s fondness for belting the boys, the nervous child entered and was told by Best: “It’s all right. Just want to talk to you” (BRA 2017). Best then sexually penetrated the boy. Soon afterwards, Paul told his own class teacher, Fitzgerald, what Best had done. Fitzgerald responded by hitting him and then asked the boy again what happened and when Paul repeated the claim he was struck again. After being asked a third time, Paul replied: “Nothing happened”. (BRA 2017). Paul could not bring himself to tell his parents, so he approached a Catholic priest who responded with a “backhander” and threatened his life, saying, ‘If you tell anyone what happened I will f***ing kill you’. (BRA 2017) 

The relatively modern, rather than historic, nature of Catholic Dark Network cover-ups is demonstrated by the following incident from 2003.  The Grey Network that she refers to is the Catholic Network that doesn’t commit abuse but supports it.

Br Julian Fox was appointed as the head of the Salesian Order in Australia, supervising Salesian schools in several States (BRA ndn).  The Victorian police wanted to interview Fox, but in 2003 the church gave him a job in Rome as a web-master on the Salesians’ worldwide website (Family and Community Development Committee 2012b, 7). Fox used Rome as his base, but he travelled the world (Family and Community Development Committee 2012b, 7). This transfer of Fox to Rome by the grey network showed the grey network not only protecting this DN actor and obstructing a police investigation but placing Fox in a position which provided significant opportunities to acquire new DN resources such as victims, new DN actors, safe places to hide clergy subject to complaints and connections to other DN actors globally. The promotion of DN interests by the grey network was also apparent in the role promotion of known clergy perpetrators of CSA.

As Cardinal Pell has recently won his appeal, it’s relevant to quote this from the thesis:

I told George (Pell)  I had been abused by Gerald. His first reaction was, “Oh, right”.There was no shock. His tone then became terse relatively quickly and I could sense anger in his voice. I started to get a sense he was insinuating things about my story and I felt like I’d done something wrong. George then began totalk of my growing family and my need to take care of their needs. He mentioned things such as, I may soon have to buy a car or a house for my family. I doremember with clarity the last three lines we spoke together:

Me: ‘Excuse me, George, what the fuck are you talking about?’ George said, ‘Iwant to know what it will take to keep you quiet’. My response was, ‘Fuck youGeorge, and everything you stand for’. I hung up the phone. (RCICA 2015d, 73)

The thesis also details how important judicial members of the Catholic laity are involved in cover-ups. The private testimony I have from a St J’s Old Boy says something very similar.  And there’s my own experience, too. I was warned off by a Catholic magistrate (A Knight) and told to keep my mouth shut as I’ve related previously.  

At Gladstone Park, Fr Baker befriended a local family who had a son. Bakersexually abused this boy on trips away and in the boy’s bedroom. The victim’s father complained about Baker to the chairman of the parish school board,Brian Cosgriff, who was also a magistrate (BRA nda). Cosgriff consulted another Catholic layman, Brendan Murphy, who was a barrister. These two men of law neglected to notify the police and, instead, merely notified ArchbishopFrank Little (BRA nda). Archbishop Little’s secretary, Monsignor Peter Connors, who later became the bishop of Ballarat, visited the victim’s family and convinced them to keep the matter secret (BRA nda).

This evidence highlights the fact that the DN were also protected by certain members of the Catholic laity. It is significant that a magistrate and a barrister considered clergy CSA to be a matter for the Catholic Church to deal with rather than a legal matter.

It would be reasonable to assume the Catholic magistrate and barrister in question were Catholic Knights.  In two similar British incidents (my own and another survivor’s) they were Knights.

That’s as far as I’ve analysed the thesis. I must follow up on her sources where I can. Australians are to be congratulated for their courageous search for truth about the full extent and nature of Catholic abuse in Oz. By comparison, Catholic Britain is a long and shameful way behind and seems to have little interest in the subject.

The Dark Network that this thesis so superbly describes has numerous disturbing implications. The one that springs immediately to mind is – when did it stop?  There is no direct cut-off point in the thesis, but it starts to move out of historic abuse into current times with the example I’ve indicated and others.

Previously with historic abuse, the Catholic Church has been able to say:  the monks, brothers and priests who abused are now all dead or in their 80s, so it’s all in the past and today there are stringent protocols in place to ensure it can never happen again. So can we please just shut up, forget the whole unpleasant business, and look to the future?

But a Catholic Dark Network is different. It’s not dependant on individuals who die or retire as the thesis demonstrates.  It’s transgenerational.

You might assume that with such a spotlight on the Catholic Church today, that Networks would have disbanded in the last decade or so.  But this is not the case with other forms of organised crime, even though the spotlight is equally on them. The Mafia, sex trafficking, drugs rings and so on continue to this day, albeit more secretively, cautiously and cleverly than in previous eras.

So there is no reason to suppose that a Catholic Dark Network is any different. Yes, there are more stringent checks today but that’s never stopped criminals in the past from finding ways around checks.  And the Church’s wilful and provable delaying tactics and attempts to minimise and excuse its past crimes do not inspire me with any confidence. Its various  organisations’ silence about abuse at St Joseph’s College and in Catholic Ipswich is also a matter of concern.   Furthermore, in the current age of austerity, there will be more vulnerable children than ever before. 

They will be new targets for Catholic predators. And they will find new ways of reaching them. Doubtless they already have.

I’ve had one anecdotal confirmation from a police officer, who investigated paedophile crimes, that Catholic clerical abuse is still current rather than historic. I’ve also come across two incidents on the web that are thus already in the public domain. They also relate to the current era and I’ll refer to them in a future post. They’re not empirical evidence of Dark Networking, but they are a matter of concern.

 As several reports have shown, the Church has been riddled with sexual abuse for most of its two thousand years existence.  The underlying reason for this is because, underneath their paedophile and sadistic behaviour, there is also a belief system, a credo. That’s why it’s been tolerated. Priests, monks, brothers and laity do not form part of an organised Dark Network just to find an outlet for their depravity or sexual frustrations. There is an excuse, a rationale, a logic, a reasoning, a twisted theology behind their crimes. This ‘justifies’ their crimes. That’s something I can personally confirm from my own childhood encounters with these perverts.

It’s rather more than a depraved priest excusing his conduct with some pseudo-spiritual nonsense as he abuses a young child. And it’s rather less than some elaborate,  conspiratorial, esoteric,  masonic belief system.  Although it draws on  both and it has elements of both.

In fact it’s more down to earth and actually rather familiar to most of us. It’s a private interpretation and development of the Church’s public teaching on the weakness and evil of the Flesh, how to defeat the Flesh, and how to truly imitate Christ and his suffering. It’s all there, hiding in plain sight. I’ve covered some of the ground already – see ‘The Greatest Betrayal’ – but I’ll return to it in a future post.

The thesis also doesn’t cover what goes on in the criminal minds of Catholic Dark Networkers, it’s outside her terms of reference.

Significantly, few academics who relate and analyse the whole story of Clerical abuse go there either.  It’s like it’s off limits, even though it should be centre stage. It’s an aspect I’ll return to.

What Catholic abusers say, what they think, how they excuse their behaviour, how they explain what they are doing to their victims, is highly pertinent.  And yet, officially, all we have is a few pathetic  ‘rotten apple’ excuses and a few tawdry, pseudo-spiritual excuses which can be quickly dismissed.  Yet all organised criminals have a  sophisticated rationale for their behaviour – and putting Catholic abuse down to the frustrations of celibacy, traumatic childhood, the structure of the Church etc, as some authors claim, is deliberately going down a useful detour, a calculated cul- de-sac to distract us from the truth.  

‘If we can just get the celibacy/screening/structure right, everything will be fine in the Church in the future.’

It’s a classic, questionable academic technique which I’m very familiar with.  It uses that well-tried and successful ploy: ‘Don’t look over here – look over there.’ I need to return to this in a future post.

The authors concerned know it’s a detour, but desperately need to believe the Church can’t be all bad and so blind themselves to or filter out the truth.  That’s a gentle explanation for their conduct. There are other explanations.

Fuelling their work, consciously or unconsciously, is that ongoing premise, ‘The Church’s good name must be protected at all costs.’

These individuals are the loyal opposition whose work gives the fake impression that something is being said and something is being done. At last.

By comparison, Ms Muytjens courageously  ‘tells it like it is’ and exposes the true nature of the Catholic Dark Network.

 It’s a rare and refreshing contrast to and challenge to academia and the establishment’s calculated damage limitation exercises to protect the Catholic Church.

The Greatest Betrayal

The wives of the Knights of St Columba in Ipswich Province played an important part in the events I’ve described in Ipswich in the 1960s.  Their role challenges a stereotypical image of women in that era: that of dutiful, supportive Catholic wives waiting patiently at home for their Masonic husbands to return home from their men’s business.

The truth is rather different. On a purely practical level it had to be. On the Knights’ retreats, weekend outings and other charitable events, there were meals to be provided, beds to be made, children to be organized. And chaperoned, when there were girls. The wives therefore had to have a physical presence, at least. It’s unlikely that 1960s men would have done all those domestic tasks. But what I’m describing here is something more – a further betrayal of trust, which needs recording because my experience could hardly have been unique. It was hardly a one-off moment of madness. And it’s the greatest betrayal, because we assume that children are safe with women. That assumption has taken a hammering in recent decades, but it’s still a commonly held view and the uncomfortable reality is still largely a taboo subject.

I’m sure there were some admirable characters amongst the wives, but I can only recall one rather splendid woman.  She was the wife of my part-time Knight stepdad and she used her teacher skills to help prepare me and my brother to pass the relevant exam to get into St Joseph’s. Why she would do this does rather boggle the mind. Under duress from a domineering husband who ordered her to help the sons of his mistress? Or because she saw us as part of an extended family and wanted to help us? Who knows?

I am also aware of four Catholic ladies who had a great deal to answer for. I’ll keep them anonymous because I prefer to have a secondary source to confirm my recollections. As many survivors find the subject of female abuse embarrassing, I doubt that will be forthcoming any time soon. I don’t have that problem. I think it’s far too important that all the dark and taboo secrets of the Catholic community are finally brought to light. However, I already have confirmation from an Old Boy that my recollections about the character of one of the women was correct.

The abusers were Mrs C, Mrs W, Mrs X and – above all – Mrs Q.

Mrs C was a widow, she had two daughters who went to St Mary’s Convent school and she came from a wealthy Ipswich business family. As my mother was also a widow, the Parish Priest, Canon Burrows, a Knight of St Columba, encouraged our two families to bond and spend time with each other. We went on outings and a pilgrimage to Walsingham together. We spent time in her rather impressive apartment. She was a most attractive but very sad Mrs Robinson figure, but I was too young to be the Graduate. I was at primary school, after all.  She blamed me for what she did and said I’d go to Hell for it. She was also a member of the Legion of Mary. If you look at 1950s and 1960s photos of the Legion, you’ll see they dressed up like nuns on special occasions, and that’s just how I remember her – like Audrey Hepburn in The Nun’s Story.

Mrs W was the wife of a most important Ipswich legal figure. I remember her as a colourful and artistic character, a refugee from a troubled country. Her son described her in her obituary thus: ‘These events contributed towards her sometimes eccentric and unconventional disposition.’

Mrs X was the wife of a very successful local Catholic businessman. He is listed as a Knight of St Columba. Their son went to St Joseph’s.

Mrs Q is the woman I’m going to focus on here because she’s really the archetype that can represent the others. Her behaviour was the scariest, most abusive, most threatening, and I recall her in the greatest detail. She arouses the greatest anger in me, even after all these years. Actually, it’s not anger – it’s rage. But the other women – Mrs C, Mrs W and Mrs X – were cut from the same cloth, and they were all similar in their abusive methods.

Just as the Knights abused their positions of trust, so too did these women. Again, this account highlights the highly organized nature of Catholic abuse, which – officially – still does not exist. Instead, we are still told it’s just random acts of depravity and lone wolves who are responsible for Catholic abuse. A pack of wolves, hunting in unison, is simply an impossibility for many people, especially with the accusation that women were in the pack. And there was a ritual aspect, too. Or theological inspiration for abuse, at least. If such notions upset or disturb you, then you maybe shouldn’t read on because you will be upset and disturbed, even though I’m deliberately throttling back on the graphic details.

Mrs Q was a very powerful figure. This was confirmed recently by a fellow Old Boy who described her as a ‘Dragon’. His recollections about her personality dovetail with my own. The rest I’ll vouch for and swear to on a stack of bibles, if necessary. I remember thinking as an altar boy – as I would idly scan the congregation during the sermon – that her two nervous-looking sons were visibly afraid of their parents. It was that obvious. A glamorous lady, she wore the trousers in her family, even though her husband was an important and aggressive Knight, involved in business wheeling and dealing around construction work at St Joseph’s. She organized a regular Catholic social event; she was ‘the hostess with the mostest’, as my fellow Old Boy put it, at which Father Jolly – the Knight of St Columba who liked to tape-record adolescent boys’ confessions – was present and would get regularly drunk.

There are three relevant aspects to her character.

Firstly, her spiritual involvement with the Knights. That may seem surprising as it’s such an-all male organization, and I’ll come back to that in a moment.  I should add that there was also a scary physical aspect to her spirituality.

Secondly, how female abusers like her used the guise of controlling and protecting children’s burgeoning adolescent sexuality to abuse them. Control was something Catholics were utterly obsessed with, at least until the 1980s, in a most unhealthy way, and it provided a perfect cover to abuse children. This kind of abuse is fairly well known and so doesn’t require much elaboration.

Thirdly, ‘straightforward’, unabashed sexual involvement with minors. Once again, it’s relatively straightforward and so I’ll be brief.

And so to Mrs Q’s spirituality and its relevance to the Knights and to myself.

Of the three aspects, this was and is the most important. Because she was telling me what to think. What to believe.  And it’s this psychological abuse that’s left the strongest negative impression on me.

Strangely, her spirituality seemed to have a strong New Age flavour. Of course Catholics normally disapprove of anything New Age. My Catholic aunt thought New Age thinking was the work of the devil. And anyway, the New Age started in the 1970s, so I tried to push it all out of my mind. It couldn’t be true. But it just wouldn’t go away. I’d have dreams where Mrs Q acted like a New Age guru towards me. Well, it would certainly explain my life long dislike of New Age gurus, particularly females, which my wife gently tells me is ‘disproportionate’ and well off the Richter scale.

But if such memories are correct, then it’s likely there would be similar Catholic women like Mrs Q – and there are. There’s Bronwen, Lady Astor, daughter of a Judge, glamorous ex-model, and BBC TV presenter, who was caught up in the Profumo scandal. She had her first mystical experience in 1953, became a Roman Catholic in 1970, founded a Catholic charismatic ecumenical religious community that collapsed in 1974, lectured on religion, ran retreats, and chaired Alister Hardy Religious Experience Research Centre, which focuses on mysticism, including past-life reincarnation experiences. She was an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion and also opened her home to the homeless.

Note the words in italics. Her Ladyship is leading and telling her followers what to think. What to believe. She was clearly a guru. And she was a New Age guru.

She was a devotee of the French Jesuit priest and mystic Teilhard De Chardin. ‘Father of the New Age Movement’, whose ideas ‘had a profound influence on the New Age Movement’, according to Wikipedia. By the late 1950s, his groundbreaking books were available in English. Notably, The Phenomenon of Man (1959). His writings are based on the concept of Cosmic Theology.  Although condemned by the Vatican for his ‘dangerous’ and potentially heretical beliefs, other aspects of his works are approved of by both Pope Benedict and Pope Francis.

The Phenomenon of Man, written by a Catholic mystical priest, would undoubtedly have been read by intellectually and spiritually curious Catholic women such as Mrs Q.

‘You are not a human being in search of a spiritual experience. You are a spiritual being immersed in a human experience.’ That’s a typical Chardin quote and it’s also typically New Age.

Mrs Q was also a kind of guru. She had so much to say and people really needed to listen to her! To listen! She alone had the answers! Possibly the Knights weren’t too impressed – it was an all-male organization of hard-nosed businessmen in the 1960s, after all – and she needed an outlet, a way of discharging her cosmic effluent. Or perhaps her spiritual and physical beliefs ran in parallel with the Knights and they just let her get on with it. I just don’t know. Or maybe she preached to them, too, and they listened attentively. After all, she was ‘the hostess with the mostest’ who knew how to command an audience. Anyway, she started imposing her spiritual revelations on me. I had to listen to her inspired words of wisdom. Up front and personal. Full blast! At which point you may be asking, so what? As schoolkids, especially at St Joseph’s, we were used to fanatical and rabid teachers ‘telling us how it is’.  Brother James springs to mind, right? We knew how to nod enthusiastically in the right places and let their crap go in one ear and out the other.  So what’s the big deal?

But there was a difference.  Mrs Q reinforced her message with a stylized form of physical violence. A frightening, physical element to her spiritual bullshit, which is why I hate it and I still hate her so much. It made her verbal nonsense stick to my 14-year-old brain, which would otherwise have long forgotten all about her. And it was this: ‘Mortification of the Flesh! Because the Flesh is weak and needs mortifying! Only through Suffering can we reach out to the Hand of God! And feel his Divine Goodness! Just as Michelangelo’s Adam reached out to touch the Hand of God.  Do you understand, Patrick? Do you? Do you?!’  It clearly excited her and my lack of enthusiasm seemed to send her into guru overdrive.

I’ll spare you more of her rantings.  I’m sure you get the idea.

The Catholic Church has a long and enthusiastic history of encouraging mortifying the flesh (flagellation, etc.), which continues to the present day. It’s meant to be a way of imitating Christ’s suffering, so we suffer with him. So self-harming, encouraging others to self-harm, or physically harming children ‘to show them the way’, is what we’re talking about here. I don’t share Tory MPs enjoyment for this kind of self-violence: I find it disturbing. I don’t like it, and I really don’t want to know.

Doubtless the Knights themselves were similarly inclined to mortify the flesh, but this post is about their spouses and the impact their abuse had on me. And this particular aspect of Catholic suffering always seems to have a stronger female dimension, rather than a male one.  I hope to return to the somewhat different male dimension in a further post.

So where does Chardin fit in? I assume mortifying the flesh ‘released the spirit’, allowing it to ‘rise to a higher vibration’, and ‘get in touch with the Christ consciousness’, etc. Certainly the Gnostic flagellants whipped themselves to reach a heightened state of consciousness. I don’t have the time to read Chardin, but if anyone out there has, doubtless you may know the link. It’s in his books somewhere, I assume.

Opus Dei is the most well known example of Catholic flagellants. But this celebration of self-violence is notorious in Britain, Ireland, and everywhere else, too. It’s approaching the Heart of Catholic Darkness. It’s close to the very core of their beliefs which I hope to cover in a later post . The Catholic Church has always been about celebrating suffering and it manifests itself in numerous ways. As a child, my mother told me about the wonderful pilgrims climbing Croagh Patrick mountain in their bare feet, which were cut to ribbons, and how the pain brought them closer to Jesus. They still do so to this day and their children are still allowed to make the barefoot ascent, even though the Garda seem to be discouraging both. Health and Safety protocols have not yet won the day.

Very relevant to this British and Irish aspect of Catholic self-harming is the 15th century book by Thomas a Kempis: The Imitation of Christ. Widely read by Catholics, my mother was given a paperback copy by my ‘stepfather’, that Knight of St Columba. Today, I find it almost impossible to read its dense prose, but my mother perused it avidly and her copy was well-thumbed.  Here are some relevant excerpts:

52nd Chapter. Deserving of Chastisement. ‘I deserve only to be scourged and punished because I have offended you (Christ) open and grievously. I am deserving of all scorn and contempt. ‘  Kempis goes on to say that only scourging can wash away our ‘defilement’.

Elsewhere, in Book 3:  ‘They who mortify the flesh are known to be truly wise for they are transported from vanity to truth.’

There’s lots more where that came from. Nature is seen as the number one enemy, and that’s relevant when it comes to suppressing children’s natural sexual development, as you’ll see later below.

Then there was the Oxford Movement of Anglo-Catholics, who slavishly imitated Roman Catholics and their practices. Evelyn Waugh – breaking ranks for once – warned: ‘Beware the Anglo-Catholics, they’re all Sodomites.’  Ditto Roman Catholics, Evelyn. In the Oxford Movement, led by (later) Cardinal Newman, whom my mother hugely admired, ‘it was quite common to practice self-flagellation using a “discipline”, a whip with 7 cords symbolizing the 7 deadly sins.’

That sounds very much like the multi-corded whip a St Joseph’s lay teacher was using on a school boy in the 1980s. See an earlier testimony from a survivor on this site (about 18 months ago, I think.).

So there’s a provable and commonplace British aspect to these masochistic practices, which can only be described as Anti-Human. Sexual and physical abuse of children is thus inevitable within the Catholic Church from such activities and attitudes, which are still widespread and still encouraged by its leaders. It’s emphatically not just a few weird and obscure Catholic cults who practice self violence and ‘mortify themselves’.  It’s centre stage.  What I find remarkable is that this is rarely spoken or written about, even by the Church’s many critics. Somehow we’ve been conditioned by history and heritage to see this twisted behaviour as normal or inconsequential, when it’s neither.

So it’s hiding in plain sight, as the Church so often does. Anyone self-harming  outside the Church would be seen as needing an intervention by a doctor or social worker. Hurting yourself or others, or encouraging others to harm themselves, ‘in the name of Jesus’ doesn’t make it better or make it right.  Especially if they are fourteen years old.

But Opus Dei does provide some evidence and the clearest picture of what’s actually involved. Dan Brown readers will have some idea of Opus Dei, but to briefly add to it: Opus Dei is a secretive Spanish organisation, a very rough equivalent of the Knights of St Columba. With its wealthy members, it helped to finance the Vatican, which may be one reason Pope John Paul made its fascist founder, Escriva, a saint.  Escriva is on record as saying ‘Blessed be pain.’

Mother Theresa – of whom the respected Stern Magazine asked, ‘Where are the missing millions?’ – said much the same. I think it’s important to mention Mother Theresa at this stage, and describe her relish for pain, because she was a female church leader. Many leading Catholic women think the same way. And so did the Catholic women connected with the Ipswich Province who I had the misfortune to meet.  

Mother Theresa’s whole ethos was based on the joys of pain and suffering, which these links below make clear. It’s known that although her terminally ill patients were given only the most rudimentary care, she herself had the best care money could buy. She wasn’t so keen on suffering herself, it seems.

“There is something beautiful in seeing the poor accept their lot, to suffer it like Christ’s Passion. The world gains much from their suffering,” was her reply to criticism, cites the journalist Christopher Hitchens. Nevertheless, when Mother Teresa required palliative care, she received it in a modern American hospital.”

Her financial crimes and involvement with fascists and fraudulent businessmen seem to have been no impediment to her being made a Catholic saint.

Returning to Opus Dei, it is not uniquely Spanish. Catholic Ruth Kelly, a Labour MP and one time Education Secretary, is a member of Opus Dei. She wore a self-flagellating cilice garter in 2005.

So it’s a masochistic practice that’s known to British Catholic women.

Here’s what The Independent had to say at the time:

‘This is a religious sect which recommends regular use of “the discipline” (an instrument of flagellation applied to the back or, er, the buttocks), and of the cilice, a sort of garter inset with tiny spikes that bite into the upper thigh like sharp little teeth, or thorns, and for two hours every day.’

Here are similar accounts:

‘Opus Dei embraces corporal mortification in their program of making modern-day martyrs. The use of the cilice, a barbed-wire chain worn around the groin for two hours each day and the disciplines, a flagellation device, is well-documented by former numerary (celibate) members.’  

‘Trying to emulate the founder, I found some tiny metal safety pins and pressed them into the knots of my whip in order to inflict more pain. Feeling guilty for doubting my vocation, I whipped my back with more pain as a way to punish myself.’

‘As a member of Opus Dei, I was expected to undertake a weekly discipline of private self-flagellation 40 strokes with a waxed, corded whip. We were encouraged to ‘draw a little blood’ and frequently told how ‘the Father’ the founder of the organisation drew so much blood that he spattered the walls and ceiling with it.’

Another account by a British OD member describes how she was inspired by St Theresa flagellating herself, which led to the saint having a vision of being impaled by a fiery lance and achieving an orgasm.

The various OD accounts I’ve read all seem to notably involve Catholic female flagellants enjoying masochistic practices, apart from Escriva himself who seemed to love to thrash himself. 

The questionable nature of self-harming – especially for an Education Secretary, responsible for children – doesn’t really require further comment from me. Of course the Catholic Church would probably respond, ‘Catholics only flagellate themselves as part of their own private and personal spiritual journey. They’d never do anything like that to children. They would never encourage or introduce 13-year-old boys to mortify their flesh as part of their spiritual training.’

 You think?

With the Church’s record?

I was signed up for the seminary, so they needed to initiate me into these weird practices. I was a prime target. There must have been many others, too.  Subsequently, I guess like everyone else, I’ve tried to downplay the significance of mortification of the flesh as just a typical eccentric and ‘harmless’ Catholic practice. But I can’t. Even though the media seem to think it’s all rather amusing and kinky.

I don’t. It was a perfect opportunity for warped behaviour and Mrs Q and others took it. Inviting me to ‘share Christ’s suffering’. It’s an abuse of power. It’s sadism, carefully masquerading itself as spirituality.  

Of course, they had a perfect cover story if anyone rebellious – like me – complained or reported them. As I most certainly did – at the age of 15, as I’ve previously related. 

As Catholic self-harming practices are still enthusiastically encouraged by the Church today, I stood zero chance of being believed back then. The police just didn’t want to get involved. It didn’t stop me trying, though, not least because I had a wide range of accusations against the Knights. We’re not talking about a one off incident here. I was burning up with anger. But more so because of Mrs Q’s New Age bogus rationale, rather than her actual physical abuse.

‘Perhaps you’re not ready for this great spiritual journey, Patrick’, was Mrs Q’s response.

Let’s now turn to ways the Knights and their wives, and Mrs Q in particular, affected adolescent’s physical, sexual development. 

As I’ve said, Catholics were obsessed with controlling their adolescent children’s sexuality in the 1960s. They did so as late as the mid 1980s and an incident bears relating here because it illuminates just how their minds work and how they will go to any lengths to control children.

In the 1980s, I had some dealings with a Catholic couple – a doctor and a matron. He was almost certainly a Knight. His fellow hospital doctors were known to cover up his alcoholism, possibly a side effect of his important and stressful job.  That’s typical masonic support for a fellow Knight. The couple had inspected their rebel teenage daughter’s underwear for signs of possible sexual activity. When the girl showed signs of normal teenage rebellion, they used their fellow doctor connections to have her sectioned, even though she was not mentally ill. She was in a ward in the town mental hospital and they intended to keep her there over Christmas ‘to bring her to senses’. In the ward, she met strange and distressed characters and was given drugs that she said zombified her. She was a good friend of my daughters, and my children asked me if she could stay with our family for Christmas. I contacted the hospital, who agreed, provided I obtained the parents’ consent. So I went along to see them. They told me they had been bluffing, they had intended to have their daughter back for Christmas, but I had ‘spoilt’ their plan by my interference. So, yes, she could stay with our family at Christmas, because they didn’t want her staying with them over the festive season now. She would ruin their Christmas with her bad behaviour and nasty attitude that had hurt them so very deeply. So, instead, the girl had a great Christmas with my daughters.

This incident illustrates just how far Catholics believe in power and control at all costs and how they will not be defied. In the 1960s it was worse. Back then, Catholics’ obsession with children’s sexuality was often also a cover for sexual abuse, particularly where the Ipswich Knights of St Columba were concerned.  Catholics were desperatelytrying to suppress normal adolescent behaviour, such as masturbation, which they saw as a Mortal Sin, punishable in Hell. They still do. If you’re aware of the numerous writings of Kellogg, the famous Cornflakes inventor, you’ll know he endlessly ranted about the evils and dangers of masturbation that he warned would lead to ruin and death. It’s the sickest stuff I’ve ever read and was designed to terrify the reader. Catholics thought on exactly the same lines. I would refer you to my previous post on the Knight of St Columba, Father Jolly, and his tape-recording of boys’ ‘impure thoughts and deeds’ when they confessed their sins in his confessional.

So ‘self-abuse,’ flagellating and otherwise mortifying the flesh, is good, but ‘self-abuse’, masturbation, is evil.  Even though, for some, the end result of orgasm is the same. But as long as they claim they are groans of pain and not ecstasy, it’s okay, it seems.

Next, consider the American Catholic League of Decency. In the 1960s, they were outraged by the TV series Batman and Robin because of the bulge in Robin’s trunks. They complained to the studio which, in response, made Burt Ward (Robin) take penis-shrinking pills.

‘I took them for three days and then I decided that they can probably keep me from having children. I stopped doing that and I just used my cape to cover it.’

In a similar way, St Joseph’s school chaplain Father Jolly, who also supplied my mother with questionable tranquilizers, supplied me with bromide pills to ensure ‘my body remained a temple to the Holy Ghost’. I spat them out. Apart from the priest’s other activities, this Knight of St Columba was a Catholic ‘Candy Man’, helping his parishioners to self-medicate, and seeing that as part of his pastoral duties. Witnessing the negative effect those drugs had on my mother made me very angry as a boy – an anger that’s still there to this day.

Against this background, I don’t think it’s necessary to spell out all the various bizarre ways that Mrs Q and the other women attempted to control boys sexuality ‘for their own good’ and how they would use typical abuser’s excuses, ‘I’m doing this for health and hygiene reasons.’… ‘It’s all right if a responsible adult does it for you.’…  ‘It will take away your temptation’. Without getting too graphic, it did actually work. It put me off for a couple of years and left a permanent psychological mark. So much so that when I was sixteen, teenage girls I’d be heavy petting with would comment on my failure to ejaculate. Disappointed and puzzled, they would tell me that I was  different to other teenage boys who lacked my ‘control’ and they could easily turn on like a tap.  They’d wonder what they were doing wrong or if I wasn’t attracted to them. This wasn’t especially embarrassing to me. In fact, my teenage male friends and I would discuss the mystery openly and wonder why, too. Nevertheless the Catholic women had done a good job on me.  And I would also wonder anxiously if maybe there was something wrong with me; so I was enormously relieved when I later found out this was not the case. But paradoxically – as you might imagine – it encouraged me to go ‘all the way’, in search of sexual satisfaction. So it actually accelerated and fast-tracked my teenage sexual evolution.

This, of course, was the very thing those wives of the Knights of St Columba would have particularly disapproved of.  Probably that was another reason why I was so keen to get laid as often as possible– to get even with them. Especially because they claimed sex was not something men or women should take any pleasure in, but simply be tolerated for the purpose of  producing children, and then only within the confines of matrimony. It’s pretty much the same today.

I don’t recall all the excuses and ploys they used at these weekend retreats, only their intrusive actions, but I’m sure you can join the dots. These wretched Catholic women were definitely privately getting off on their ‘holy work’  – otherwise why on Earth would you do it? – and, once again, they had a cover story for their abuse. They were doing ‘Holy work’.

I’m sure these activities were not unique to Ipswich Province. Rather, they were widespread Catholic practices and thinking. ( Similarly, I believe the nuns had some ingenious way of sexually repressing  girls, too, from what an ex-Convent girl told me. She related with a sad sigh that ‘The nuns did a good job on me.’)

Finally, there’s direct sexual assault by Mrs Q, which seemed to lack the usual cover story. Maybe she couldn’t be bothered. Once again, I don’t think it’s necessary to go into details. My hair was bright ginger at that time and I was known generally as Ginger or Ginge. Afterwards, with a happy smile, Mrs Q referred to me as ‘my Ginger Tom’.  Hardly a spiritual way of addressing a wannabe priest. So I flew into a furious rage at the idea I was being used as some kind of junior Midnight Cowboy. This was probably a mistake because she was a scary individual. So when I later blew the whistle on the Knights, her reaction was not as circuitous as the men. They had warned me to keep my mouth shut or I would rue the day I was born. She was rather more direct.  ‘If you don’t shut up, we will kill you. You will die.’

If you’re wondering how I survived all this sick nonsense, I can tell you. It was partly down to a song that encapsulated my feelings and gave me courage. I suspect many other Catholic survivors from that era drew on the same song, because it’s an anthem against everything the Catholic Church stands for.

It was Lesley Gore’s legendary ‘You don’t own me’ which was a huge hit around the time I was 14. It had a tremendous impact on me and probably helped keep me sane. It’s a brilliant, early feminist anthem and it reached out to boys, too.

‘You don’t own me’ is surely the most powerful response to abusers. We are not your property. Because – as I’ve demonstrated clearly – Catholics thought children were their property.

That’s very different to loving, protecting and being responsible for children. As I’ve demonstrated, Catholics have knowingly and rather cleverly twisted that legitimate role into something dark, frightening and perverted that must have damaged so many children.

Catholics will recognize another word for what they have done. It’s called Evil.

Here’s my adaption of some of the lyrics that I would sing in my head when I was up against these middle-class, Catholic paedophiles, these esteemed, ‘highly respected’ pillars of the Ipswich Catholic community. I would change ‘own’ to ‘know’ – because my strongest sense of outrage was that outsiders, like Mrs Q, were interfering and controlling my life. A sense of outrage that’s never left me. Those are the kind of psychological scars that abuse leaves behind.

‘You don’t know me.  I’m not just one of your many toys. You don’t know me. And don’t tell me what to do and don’t tell me what to say. Don’t tell me what to think. Don’t tell me what to believe. Don’t try to change me in any way. Just let me be myself, that’s all I ask of you. I’m young and I love to be young. I’m free and I’m going to be free (one day), To live my life the way I want; to say and do whatever I please.’

That song of Resistance kept me going through some dark days.

But all that anger for the Greatest Betrayal needs to go back to where it belongs – to the whole sick and corrupt set-up of Catholic Knights, their wives and their close connection to my school, St Joseph’s. So here we go:

‘Here – this is your shit. It belongs to you. You deal with it. You have it back.’

Once again, I expect the usual silence from the relevant Catholic communities. To which I would respond: If you are not part of the solution, part of the necessary acknowledgement of Catholic crimes, then it means you are part of the problem.

You are part of the cover-up.


Here’s an Old Boy’s vivid account of Father Jolly’s warped behaviour in the 1960s. It substantiates my own experience of him as a serious sexual abuser.  I remember being absolutely terrified by an item of erotic paraphernalia which – with a nervous giggle – he showed me at a weekend Catholic ‘retreat’, organized by the Knights. (Father Jolly is listed in their records as a Knight.) I was terrified, because he intended to use it on me.  I tried finding the device on the internet, but gave up. He was definitely getting off on my fear. That’s what abusers do. It’s part of the hit for them.  It wasn’t just two pairs of Dutch wooden clogs that he brought back from Amsterdam for my brother and I.

There must be many other survivors of his sexual abuse and I’d invite them to post on this site or elsewhere. We need to understand the full extent of organized sexual abuse at St Joseph’s. Who else was involved and when did it stop?

It is disturbing that today’s Catholics have nothing to say on these endless testimonies of clerical and lay teachers’ sexual abuse at St Joseph’s. By your silence, in my opinion, you are part of the cover-up.  

This statement is a full account of a previous entry made on Pat’s site.

I go into great detail because it may jog someone’s memory to confirm my account. I was both cursed and blessed with a photographic memory that is a great asset for examination purposes but a nightmare for the rest of your life when you simply cannot forget the things you desperately want to get out of your head.

Father Jolly

Although I was reasonably careful not to get in any trouble at St Josephs, I suppose it was inevitable. I used to put a towel at the end of my bed each morning which was a sign that I wanted to be woken at 0530 hrs to attend early morning mass at 0600 hrs. I never did attended mass, I used to run between 10 or 12 laps of the track which was situated to the left of the main building with the first 11 cricket pitch in the centre. I would go back for a shower when I saw the others boys coming out from mass.

The grounds man had asked me very nicely the day before to refraining from using the track the next day as he had cut the grass and run new white lines in preparation for a home cricket match on Saturday. He was a nice old man and I readily agreed. Through sheer force of habit I put the towel on the end of my bed that night simply because I forgot. I went running the next day and the grounds keeper came in about 0645 hrs as normal and saw me running and was rather upset and said I thought we had an understanding or words to that effect. I apologised and tried to convince him I had completely forgotten and said I was very sorry but he was obviously quite annoyed and reported the fact.

I had an exemption from Corporal Punishment because the school did not have parental consent for me. That is something all parents of every boy attending the school was obliged to sign. I went to see one of the prefects, a big Greek lad, because he had been tasked to set my punishment if ever required. He had one of those impossible to pronounce Greek names something like Popalopadopapoposis. He had tried to teach me how to pronounce his name in vain so as a mark of respect I suggested I just call him boss.

 He strongly objected to that, so we mutually agreed I could call him Popeye as long as no one was in ear shot. Well someone must had heard me talking to him one day and for the rest of him time at the school he was known as Popeye or referred to as “the sailor man”.

The first thing he said to me was do not dare to suggest that you should go on cross country run for your punishment as he knew I liked running too much. He said he would set my punishment later. He came back later in the day with a big grin on his face and said my punishment would be to sweep out the chapel from top to bottom. The chapel was a long wooden building that had most probably seen service as an army canteen during the war. It was a difficult task because it was always in use.

I did the back half on the Thursday afternoon during the PE lessons because I was excused from attending PE (anyone that knew me would know why) and the front half on the Friday because I had a study period in the Library during RI first period. And I think the second period I skipped was Spanish or something. I knew I could get away with because Friday morning lessons were always disrupted with boys coming and going from the class to go to confession.

I was quite sure Popeye had meant for me to do my punishment on Saturday afternoon and that would be a real punishment indeed because that was the only day we were allowed to go into Ipswich. Besides he did not specify the day so I thought I could apologise afterwards if need be and get away with it.

Anyway, on the Friday Father Jolly was taking confession. I worked my way up to the altar and was busy cleaning up the altar, but I just could not help overhearing Father Jolly in the confession pumping these little boys for graphic details of their sins.

 “Impure deeds what do you mean, boy? Impure deeds? You can’t lie to God, you know, if you want my absolution” and “do you mean you’ve been playing with yourself – well do you if so you must tell me” “and how many times” and “have you been playing with any other boy” and “what is this other boys name”.

 I had heard quite enough, so I went to the back of the chapel and sat down and waited for the last boy to go in. When he had come out I opened the door of the confessional just to tell Father Jolly confession was over and ask if I could continue cleaning the altar. Before I could say anything Father Jolly just said “I see you have recovered your memory then.”

Now the fact Father Jolly could recognise me without me having said a word was rather exceptional because me and the Almighty were not on speaking terms anymore and I had not been in that Chapel for more than a year. Every Sunday I used to sit in the 56 block with a couple of boys from Thailand and one Chinese boy who were Buddhists and two Protestant boys. I usually did homework or read books. One of the boys was called Tony who was studying to become a Vicar in the Protestant faith which sort of makes him stand out quite a bit in a Catholic Boarding school. Someone should remember him surely.

Anyway – I said  “Yes,Father Jolly,  would you mind if I finished clearing up the chapel ? There are no more boys waiting.” “Carry on,” he said.

I continued my cleaning and he came past me and said , “I hope you were not here during confession.” I simply could not resist the temptation and said “I’m very sorry,  Father,I can’t hear very well in that ear anymore since the incident,” and turned my head to the right and said, “OK carry on, Father.”

I was referring to a very unfortunate incidence which had happened to me a year earlier which Father Jolly was well aware of and he was visibly shaken and said in a raised voice mouthing his words “Don’t worry, it doesn’t matter.”

 I just could not let that go, so I replied “A ‘Clatter’, Father? I’m very sorry, Father. I’ll try to be less noisy”.

I am quite sure he knew I was taking the micky but he hurried off to the sacristy to take off his mantle before coming out again and scurrying out of the chapel.

I always was very inquisitive and wondered how on Earth could he recognise me before I had even spoken a word. I thought I would clean the confessional booth as well, after all I had been told to clean the entire chapel so I could not really get into trouble for it. It was very dark but there was a switch on the back wall and I thought that it would give me more light to complete my task but instead it turned a small light on the penitence side of the confessional.

I could see very clearly into the penitents side.

I left the Confessors side and shut the door and went into the penitents side. You could not see anything at all through the grill. I suppose I forgot to close the penitents door when I left and when I went back to the confessors side there was plenty of light now.

I was absolutely flabbergasted to find one of those old cassette tape recorders the ones with the four or five piano keys on the front lying on the floor. It was open and the tape cassette had been removed but the machine was still very warm. I simply could not believe that a priest would record the confessions of children.

Even though I was a non-practising Catholic at that stage, I had always been taught the confessional seal was absolute and a fundamental cornerstone of the Catholic Religion and that priests were expected to die rather than ever break it. We had been given countless examples how Priests had been tortured or even burnt at the stake rather than break the confessional seal.

It was a terrible predicament I had found myself in. I had promised my sponsors, who paid all the fees for me to go to St Joseph’s, that I would never cause any trouble with the Brothers. Did this include a Priest who had violated his most sacred vow – how could he remain a Priest.

I just could not resolve this problem so I went back to the dorm and put on my running kit. And just began to run, even though I had two more periods scheduled that afternoon.

Confessions ended about midday. I did not go to the refectory for lunch that day and by the time I had completely exhausted myself running, they were serving evening cocoa in the ref, so I figure I must have run for at least 6 or maybe 7 hours. I went to bed. The next day I just could hardly walk because my legs were so sore, anyway it was liberation day – the day we were allowed to go into Ipswich.

I had been told Father Jolly was looking for me. I managed to avoid him all that day only because it was Saturday but on Sunday he confronted me after mass because he knew I would be in the 56 block with all the other heathens’ (as he liked to called the non-Catholics). He asked if I had cleaned the confession on Friday. I just said no, I’m sorry it was lunch time and I had lessons in the afternoon and asked if he would like me to do it now.

He asked me are you absolutely sure?  All I could think to say is, “No, I’m absolutely sure; I don’t mind if you want me to do it now.” The sigh of relief from that man was like hearing someone let the air out of a tyre.

I again insisted I didn’t mind really, but he said that he would do it himself and complimented me on a very nice job I had made of cleaning the chapel. Then he walked away.

I had my own personal problems to deal with. I just could not get involved. I convinced myself that as I was not a practising Catholic anymore, it was none of my business. A very logical argument I am sure, but that did not stop me feeling extremely guilty.

I knew I should have done something but who should I tell, who could I trust, who would have believed my word against a Priest anyway. I just had to let it go and get on with my life – until now that is, when a good man whom I have never met convinced me I have to tell my story for all those other poor boys whose lives were shattered and still suffer so much more than 50 years later.

Father Jolly, the confessor of St Joseph’s College, Birkfield, Ipswich, broke the most sacred seal of confession and was in no doubt, by doing so, according to Catholic doctrine, he had excommunicated himself from the Catholic Faith in the eyes of the same God that he proclaimed to worship and in whose name he assumed all his authority as a priest.

The recording of those boys confessions could be of no other use than to alert the Brother Director of the College – in case a victim of sexual abuse wanted desperately to be in a state of grace and obtain absolution and ease his tormented soul.

Most boys who were sexually assaulted were, because of their tender age, convinced by their abusers they themselves were in some way to blame for their own abuse.

This is not some questionable academic theory, it is overwhelmingly borne out by the multiple accounts of the survivors of those attacks.