Peter Mulholland’s post BELOW about the tragic story of Peter Tyrrell who was a victim of the Christian Brothers who I know are different to the De La Salles, but have much in common.

I witnessed extreme violence at St Joseph’s, Ipswich, and also at my primary school St Mary’s, Ipswich, where an eleven year old boy was caned across the face by a lay teacher, Mr Crowley (the deputy headmaster).

I’m hoping Peter Mulholland’s book (Love’s Betrayal) may shed some light on why Catholic teachers were so vile. It predates the war, so it’s not PTSD. Is it sexual repression? Their frustration with a religion that represses natural feelings? Ancestral karma (epigenetics) or the legacy of harsh colonialism? A belief in a vengeful Old Testament God?

Or do these orders like the De La Salles and the Christian Brothers attract a disproportionate number of perverts and sadists and always have. The powerless who want to feel powerful at children’s expense.

That’s my own theory and – in my view – they should be disbanded as organizations with a strong criminal past and possible present, with some modern evidence to bear this out. (An academic study of transgenerational abuse)

I know everyone remembers some great Brothers who are above suspicion. Me, too. The one or two good apples on the whole rotten tree. But their legacy is too dark, too evil, their current silence and obfuscation too strong, their international activities too confirming, to take a chance when children’s lives are at stake. Better not to let them near children anymore.

Anyway, here’s Peter Mulholland:

  Senator Sheehy Skeffington’s thinking was now being informed by letters from Peter Tyrrell, an ex-inmate of a Christian Brother industrial school near Letterfrack.   Tyrrell wrote to Skeffington on 22 July 1958, telling the Senator that he had been detained in Letterfrack from 1924 to 1932, because of family poverty, and that he had ‘witnessed and suffered torture and severe beatings’ at the hands of the Christian Brothers who ran that institution.     He said the beatings were ‘not for committing any offence against the school rules, but were normal routine’. Skeffington urged Tyrrell to write a detailed account of his time in the industrial school and that account was published posthumously four decades after Tyrrell’s burned body was found on London’s Hampstead Heath. He is believed to have committed suicide by setting himself on fire.   In a piece that the editor of Tyrrell’s manuscript, Diarmuid Whelan, used as a foreword to the book, Tyrrell said he had started writing to the Christian Brothers in 1953 and then to government Ministers and Church authorities but had not received a single reply to letters describing the ‘criminal brutality, which in many cases reaches a degree of torture’.   Describing education and training in Catholic schools as being ‘founded on fear, the fear of corporal punishment, and the fear of hell’, he warned ‘society against the child who has been hurt’ (Whelan 2006: xxix, xxxv, 1, 172–4).

2 thoughts on “FOUNDED ON FEAR

  1. Pat, I’m concerned about a minor detail in your posts here, primarily semantic in nature: your regular use of the term “transgenerational” in describing the breadth of these crimes. I think you might have adopted it from a recent academic study, which concluded that the abuse continues so as to affect successive generations of students, making victims from multiple generations, overall, until it is stopped (if ever). Different generations of abusers are also involved, with members of earlier ones recruiting, guiding, and – if necessary – grooming members of those that come after. Bearing in mind that a generation typically spans anywhere from ten to twenty years, wouldn’t this instead be more properly classified as “Intergenerational,” meaning “from one generation to another,” as opposed to just “transgenerational” (across an entire single generation)? It seems as though the study author(s) conflated the two terms, leaving a well-meaning and vigilant activist such as yourself to perpetuate their error.

    Perhaps you have a different angle on this notion. If so, I’d appreciate your elaboration for clarity’s sake.

    • Thanks, Steve. You’re right. I think ‘intergenerational’ or ‘across the generations’ is much clearer. As you doubtless know ‘transgenerational’ came from Dark Network IIRC. Could be important to get the term right in the coming months because if organized intergenerational abuse was/is going on in Oz, then it’s most likely to be happening in UK too.

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