There is still a damage limitation exercise on the media’s coverage of Ampleforth. At the time of writing, no newspapers have covered the latest important development revealed by Channel 4 yesterday:
Channel 4 has seen a letter to the government from a solicitor for victims of historic abuse at Ampleforth College, alleging it has not fully separated itself from the Abbey as it had been told to. The school denies the claims.
Yet, despite this media partial blackout, it’s the biggest Catholic story of 2020 and 2021:Catholic Eton may be about to close down! The one exception to this media censorship is the Catholic Tablet, which, to its credit, has followed the Ampleforth case closely and shown honesty in its reporting and true diligence. Unlike the Catholic Herald, for example, who barely covered it.
What I take away from the Channel 4 story is that the Benedictine monks must still (still!) represent a threat to the safety of children.
And it reminds me that the De La Salle brothers may also still be a similar threat to children. Today.
In the case of St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, the De La Salle brothers have long gone and I’m sure the current regime would use the classic ‘get out of responsibilities for the past’ card. Namely: ‘The college is now an entirely different legal, financial and governance entity’.
Lawyers have tried challenging the adroit use of this card elsewhere – at Sherborne, for instance – but I doubt they’ll succeed.
So St Joseph’s can endlessly draw on the school’s proud heritage as a selling feature for today’s prospective parents. But have nothing to say about horrendous crimes which exceed the crimes of the Ampleforth monks. Any glance through past posts on this site will bear this out.
They see no need to acknowledge them and neither do the De La Salle brothers who still run many schools in the UK. I’ve read two testimonies from St Joseph’s old boys about the DLS current head, Brother Lawrence Hughes, which allege he inflicted serious physical abuse on children. One of these testimonies is featured in a past post on this site.
The crimes this order have committed outside St Joseph’s are endless. There are the approved schools in Scotland.
Boyle states, ‘We all knew instantly who’d been inside a De La Salle school because we all carried the same deep emotional and psychological scars. In our darkest moments we’d talk about our horrific experiences there. All of us agreed, no matter how tough any prison regime, none was as brutal as De La Salle.
‘The stories were the same from all the De La Salle schools.’
There are similar accounts about the DLS schools in N. Ireland.
And there’s the infamous Brother James Carragher, head of St Williams, who ran a ‘paedophile sweet shop’ making children available for the rich laity.
And there’s further revelations about the order now coming from Australia. And so on.
But we’re led to believe that the order is totally different today. That they really care about children and would never harm them. That’s like saying there were once bad S.S., but now there are good, reformed S.S. No, there is only S.S. and – by definition – they are the embodiment of evil. In my view, it’s impossible to reform organizations with proven track records of organized evil.
The role of the rich Catholic laity is certainly the gorilla in the corner where St Joseph’s, Ipswich, is concerned. They were the Eminence Gris that helped create the college and saved it from scandal. See my past posts and a survivor’s testimony in ‘The shocking truth about St Joseph’s.’
I hope and assume that the Catholic laity in the current St Joseph’s era, who have a role in governing and running the school, have no continuity or connection with these past Catholic laity who were guilty of the most serious crimes against children.
Unfortunately, there’s no way of knowing when or if the latter’s role of Eminence Gris directing the school’s affairs from the shadows ever came to an end.
Today, there is increasing evidence of this sinister role of the Catholic laity in Catholic schools elsewhere. The example of Brother James Carragher above, for instance.
And there’s this account from Germany.
Five years ago, when I first started writing about my experience of the Ipswich Catholic laity, I was very much a lone voice, which could be easily dismissed. Then others came forward and related similar experiences. Once again, see ‘The shocking truth’. Five years ago, I doubt this account of what happened in Catholic Germany and the central role of the laity– which is far from unique – could never have found its way into print. So the times are changing.
Returning to Ampleforth: personally, I have my doubts it will close, despite all the predictions. I believe it’s too important to the establishment – hence the media damage limitation exercises and the support of prominent Catholics like Rees-Mogg. But that could be because I’ve seen how the Catholic Diocese, the current St Joseph’s College, the De La Salle Order, and the Ipswich Catholic laity, including the Knights of St Columba, have all ignored the testimonies from survivors on this site. And have not been called to account. Yet.
It was also interesting seeing how the children of Ampleforth school have supported the current regime, handing in a letter to Number Ten, asking for the ban to be lifted. I’m sure St Joseph’s, past and present, would command similar loyalty and this may explain the silence of some who know what really went on in the past. But, like Ampleforth, it is misplaced.
These crimes are far too serious to put loyalty to the school and religion above the law of the land.
And inevitably, more St Joseph’s survivors will come forward and at some point – as it dovetails with the endless new revelations of the crimes of the Catholic Church emerging every day – there will be a new enquiry and all concerned will be fetched to give an account of themselves, just as happened at Ampleforth.
I watched Father Jamison, Abbot President, give evidence to IICSA and he was very smooth and convincing. But this was marred by what a survivor had told me about Jamison which painted a very different picture of him.
Similarly, I watched Cardinal Nichols – after being given a damning IICSA report – offer a very smooth and convincing apology to survivors. But this, too, was marred by how he reminded me so much of the three clerical abusers I knew as a child: Canon Burrows and Father Wace (St Pancras, Ipswich) and Father Jolly (Chaplain to St Joseph’s). Nichols reminded me how smooth and convincing these abusers were under very different circumstances. It was also marred by knowing Nichols had covered up the infamous case of Father Quigley which comes under the category of current, not historic abuse.
I’m sure at an enquiry, representatives of the De La Salle order, the Diocese, the laity, and the current St Joseph’s will be equally convincing and wring their hands and plead so convincingly, ‘We never knew’.
I think I’d have more respect for them all if, instead of their pious and heartfelt lamentations, they told the truth, and admitted what they really think and say behind closed doors. Their view of me and fellow survivors, aka ‘troublemakers’, for exposing the truth about them. Namely: ‘Pat – shut the fuck up.’
Or, to put it in their establishment language, ’We all need to be singing from the same hymn sheet.’
No chance, I’m afraid. There’s more to come.