Creator and first editor of 2000AD, champion of girls' and political comics. Spacewarp, Requiem Vampire Knight, Marshal Law, Accident Man, Nemesis, Charley's War and more. Get in touch: patmillswriter (@) gmail.com. Go to millsverse.com for comics stuff.
I believe this is an excellent role model for the De La Salles and their safeguarders – the RLSS – who protect the DLS from us annoying survivors. It shows what survivors are looking for and how it can be done.
In Ireland, a Terenure College rugby coach was sentenced today. The college is run by the Carmelites. This is the statement his order put out. I think it’s a model of its kind and worth bringing to the attention of DLS. This man has been convicted of abusing more children than anybody else in Ireland.
There were similar monsters amongst the De La Salles – notably Brothers Solomon, Kevin and James.
Statement: Carmelite Order, which runs Terenure College
It was a grave failure that he was not stopped, and for this, we are truly sorry. Through the civil legal process, as far as possible, we swiftly offer financial compensation to minimise further stress to those abused
It’s well worth reading the link above. It’s a full statement by the Carmelites
Irrespective of its legal status, what is noteworthy is the HUMANITY the Carmelites are showing. Maybe late in the day, but it’s still humanity.
And it’s more than words, it’s deeds, too
I see no such humanity in the DLS or the RLSS.. Passive aggression – yes. Humanity – no.
Meanwhile, the DLS relates its self-proclaimed holiness and humanity in this video below and its concern for children etc. Yet its actions – as related on this site and elsewhere – are the polar opposite. Warning: Its hypocrisy may be triggering for some survivors.
Victim Impact Statements are relatively new and have made a difference to victims of crime. I can see a way they could apply to Survivors of the De La Salles.
I must have over a hundred testimonies of terrible physical and sexual abuse against children by the De La Salles, and I’m aware of so many more from their schools and children’s homes in Ireland, Scotland and elsewhere in the UK.
Currently, the DLS have not confirmed their promised apology for the behaviour of their head Brother Laurence Hughes, now demoted because of his physical cruelty to children, as highlighted on this site. Neither have they carried out their promised enquiry into the ‘unheard of’ complaints on this site. That was over a year ago and clearly isn’t going to happen.
And the new RLSS seem like a busted flush where the DLS are concerned, they are actually worse than their predecessor the SCOE. They are tethered by their paymasters, the DLS, and are endlessly in meetings with them, promising me conclusions which are never reached.
So I want to put forward the idea that a Victim of child sex abuse or violence at the hands of the De La Salles, has the opportunity to make a Victim Impact Statement in a thirty minute Zoom call with a member of the De La Salle Order.
A brother wearing the De La Salle robes we all remember as children.
So that DLS brother listens to the harm that his order did to that person in the past.
It’s impact only. It doesn’t have to be added to a complaint file that makes it legally binding or bureaucratically impossible. That would cause endless delays.
It’s pure catharsis.
No promise to investigate – tempting as that is – because the DLS would be overwhelmed with hundreds of cases and use it as a reason to decline.
At this early stage, at least, just the impact statement, to get it off the ground.
All it really needs is the RLSS to send the DLS a list of interested survivors and agreed times. Then the DLS or RLSS sends the survivor a Zoom link.
It could have a mediator like the RLSS if the DLS are worried. No swearing or verbal abuse would be allowed. It may or may not be recorded. Perhaps it’s optional. No NDAs that restrict Survivors because that still makes the DLS an authority figure.
And for me personally, I would insist the DLS do not conclude with ‘I will pray for you’ or similar patronising statements. Because that is giving them an authority over me that they have forfeited by their predecessors’ crimes.
They are here to listen to us.
But all the above are details that can easily be refined and agreed upon later.
Legally, it’s not impossible, even though a lawyer will try to claim it can’t happen, because lawyers don’t care about reconciliation, only making money.
But if Truth and Reconciliation can work for countries, is it too much to suggest the same for the De Salles and the Children they have harmed?
It can be ‘without prejudice’ – without admission of guilt – and there are any number of responses the DLS can make which would not be prejudicial. Ranging from ‘I hear what you’re saying’ to ‘I’m so sorry to hear how much pain this has caused you.’ Or ‘I’m so sorry that is your recollection of your school days.’
No guilt is admitted.
Immediately, I can see the DLS, or its lawyers, or the RLS saying ‘But but but but but but but but but but, can’t, can’t can’t can’t.’ Or, even worse, ‘That’s a really great idea, Pat. We’ll talk about it and get back to you in three years time.’
The time to do it is NOW.
Keep it simple. No need to get bogged down with endless but but buts.
Test it out on a Survivor NOW.
See if it works. There must be some Survivor the DLS feel safe talking to. If they don’t know anyone – most unlikely – test it out on me.
At least they will have tried.
And they would be starting a GENUINE engagement with survivors, rather than the current farcical and meaningless hand-wringing the RLSS does on behalf of its paymasters, where we never get to see the men from the order who committed unspeakable crimes.
What are the benefits?
From the DLS point of view, they are considerable. Apart from being their Christian duty to deal with evil and help victims of evil, it would give them great public support.
For the first time, a Catholic religious order has the courage to face up to the crimes of past members without admitting liability and without paying out huge sums of money.
That would earn them a considerable number of brownie points with zero cost.
And I, for one, would respect their courage in finally facing Survivors.
From the Survivor’s point of view, it’s a great catharsis. I get to speak to a man wearing DLS robes who listens to what his order did to me in the past.
Even if a Survivor wins a court case against the DLS, all he is currently going to get is a payment and a curt accompanying note from the DLS’s solicitors. He’s not interacting with the cause of his complaint: a human being.
At the moment, the RLSS – the DLS’s Safeguarder – is acting as a punch bag for their paymasters the De La Salles.
They have to listen to all the anger and the pain of survivors and they respond well and with sympathy, but so what? It doesn’t get us anywhere – as I’ve previously described – because they are not the DLS.
Meanwhile, the DLS are not even in the boxing ring.
The perception amongst Survivors is that the RLSS are being paid to take the heat for the crimes of the De La Salles.
That is surely wrong and Survivors see this as cowardly or arrogant behaviour by the DLS.
The RLSS must know it’s wrong, but they’re in financial thrall to the DLS so they keep their mouths shut. Thus, for all their good intentions, they are perpetuating an unjust system.
And repeating a previous injustice we suffered as children where we also had to keep our mouths shut.
Here’s the view of two DLS survivors
*Seriously, good idea though. If #delasalle turn down an opportunity to deal with their past and help ALL of us put it to bed, it will forever be a stain on their reputation. They can’t see in front of their noses that survivors are trying to bring closure. Don’t they want that???
*I’m up for it, Pat, they have to listen to survivors at one point. I can’t see them doing it, though.
*When I put a complaint in about the horrifying crime’s at St GILBERT’S their reply was we were only employees and denied any allegations and it was the Home Office problem. The De La SALLE abused us not the Home Office.
To respond to this last point:
As this is about the cruel impact a man wearing the robes of a DLS brother had on a child, it doesn’t matter here whether it’s the legal responsibility of the Home Office or the DLS.
It would be ridiculous to get bogged down in such bureaucracy, which the RLSS are currently attempting.
Whatever the legal status, the Survivor still gets it off his chest and is heard.
Pros and cons
This is just a discussion document and everyone’s views are welcome. Maybe there’s something better or different. I figured 30 minutes, but up to 45 minutes might be better?
One shrewd observer commented that:
*They pay media advisors and drama coaches to train them, if they need to keep up their facade…
We need to see a genuine human being, a De La Salle brother on the screen, not a crisis actor or a professionally trained puppet. I would hope they would not be foolish enough to abuse our trust.
My feeling is that by making the DLS feel safe they may just face up to the crimes of their predecessors.
We didn’t feel safe when we were in their hands, and it’s ironic – but also empowering for us as survivors – that we have the power now.
Seeing how a DLS brother actually feels today may actually help us Survivors.
There’s an important shift of power dynamics here which will help us with the healing process.
I suspect for many survivors it will be healing just to talk to a DLS brother for 30 minutes. And bring them closure.
For others, it may open a can of worms. But the Truth must run where it will.
We can’t be afraid of the Truth.
It’s cost Survivors like myself thousands of pounds in therapy dealing with DLS crimes against me, so I really don’t want to hear them say it’s uneconomic. Or they haven’t got the time. That they have better things to do.
Make the time.
Someone has to be proactive and find a way out of the current deadlock. As no initiative has come from the DLS and their Safeguarders, it’s up to us to take the initiative.
An olive branch is being offered them: a way of getting at least some of the poison out for some Survivors, and I would recommend they take it.
If they don’t want to, IMHO it will be because they are just too afraid of what might happen, what might come out. So they will carry on as before but – with increasing media and social media pressure – sooner or later their full history will be revealed to the public.
Bear in mind there are survivors in their 50s whose memories of abuse at De La Salle schools (I have their testimonies) are only emerging now. So this problem is not going to go away for decades to come.
I’ve sent a copy of this post to the RLSS because I do not have contact details for the DLS. Which tells us a great deal.
I’m also sending a copy of this post to a journalist who writes for the Tablet in the hope that they will see the benefits for the De La Salles and the Catholic Church, and cover it in their newspaper.
Here’s an update regarding the RLSS and the De La Salles.
The RLSS invited me to a (Zoom) meeting. Here is my reply to their head of Safeguarding:
Thanks so much , Stephen.
I was impressed by the work you did on child protection re Caldey Island.
When the equivalent happens where the De La Salles are concerned I will be sure to sing your praises.
But currently my view from the outside – not being present at your meetings with the De La Salles – is that you are dealing with a very determined and cunning organisation that will not admit its crimes, even though it promised to.
And so far you are losing and the De La Salles are winning.
As you know, that’s also the view of other survivors of the De La Salles so there’s no point in having a meeting at this stage.
When you can prove you have made progress regarding the De La Salles admitting their crimes, then I would be very happy to talk and understand your point of view.
But, currently, I see your organisation – no matter what its good intentions – as part of the problem, rather than the solution.
So I will continue to expose how RLSS Safeguarding is there to safeguard the De La Salles, not survivors of their terrible crimes.
In my view, because you are ‘tethered’ by your paymasters, you should remove the De La Salles from your list of clients because their current immoral behaviour – in line with their criminal past – is giving your RLSS a very bad name.
Once the De La Salles are ’expelled’ and can no longer hide behind you, it will be easier for Survivors to deal with them. I would submit that this is the right and moral thing for you to do. Otherwise you are in collusion with them.
As always, I will feature this response on social media because I believe in full transparency and we Survivors need to protect and support each other against a formidable and uncaring enemy. Your organisation seems incapable.
The position on Police Operation Hydrant is far from clear, so I thought I would attempt to clarify it.
I think the key to understanding it is – it’s a mess. The police are overworked – for which I have great sympathy – and there are regional variations in their responses and that adds to the confusion.
The Police Hydrant website does not make clear its scope and terms of reference.
I was told that Operation Hydrant dealt with past organised abuse, irrespective of whether the abuser was alive or dead. And I was told by Ipswich Police that any complaints to Hydrant had to go through an organised body. That isn’t always the case, but that’s the road I duly took.
I went through the CSSA – Catholic Safeguarding – who actively encouraged me to do so (I have their emails confirming this) even though their terms of reference are now revealed as current cases only and they KNEW it was a waste of my time.
So the CSSA sent on my detailed allegations to Hydrant.
The SCOE (predecessor to the RLSS) Religious Life Safeguarding also sent on my detailed allegations to Hydrant.
I believe the RLSS still talk in terms of using Hydrant today.
Although Hydrant is a national entity, it operates through local police forces. So in my case it was Ipswich.
As a precaution, I also sent my Hydrant allegations direct to Ipswich police force, because I do not trust the CSSA, the SCOE and the RLSS – all of which are so obviously designed as a shield to safeguard the Catholic Church from its crimes.
There may be some Hydrant regional variations where things are better than Ipswich. And I’ve also heard that the whole set-up is supposedly different today. But I don’t believe it and I have no evidence for this.
Survivors have pointed out that Savile was investigated after he was dead – but that was in response to a national outcry.
And there was also a police investigation into the Salesians in 2013, where the abusers were dead.
But in 2023 I believe the position is entirely negative.
It’s been over a year since my allegations were passed onto Hydrant with no response.
I believe this is because the Police will only deal with abuse when the abuser is alive.
And it has to be someone who abused the complainant personally.
Then the police WILL act.
But allegations of current abuse by organised Catholic groups (a matter of press record) have also been ignored – even though children and vulnerable people are potentially currently at risk. It is presumably classified as ‘hearsay’ and ignored.
The CSSA were not interested, even though it is actually current and thus within their remit.
Tracking down the few De La Salle and lay teacher abusers who may be alive is a monumental task. I’d say the teachers from my generation are now dead.
There ARE De La Salle Old Boys in their early 50s who have made allegations of sexual abuse by De La Salle brothers and lay teachers of their generation on this site. So there is a good chance those DLS brothers and teachers will still be alive.
But although they’ve written to me with their allegations or posted it on this site, that’s usually as far as a Survivor will go. He’s gotten it off his chest and is understandably reluctant to go to the police and rake it all up.
I would still strongly encourage them to do so. I personally find a search for justice an excellent catharsis, but we’re all different and I understand their reluctance.
So I don’t see a way forward for the allegations of organised De La Salle and Knights of St Columba through the conventional Operation Hydrant path.
However, I am looking at other paths.
Worse, I think the Catholic Safeguarding agencies knowingly encouraged – and still encourage – survivors to use Hydrant, although the success (or reply) rate is zero. (I asked the CSSA what the Hydrant success rate was and got no reply)
But the more we can expose the Catholic Safeguarding agencies – the CSSA and the RLSS – who are designed to obfuscate, to create smoke and mirrors to exhaust the survivor and make him or her give up – something good can come out of this.
The RLSS and the CSSA I think genuinely believe in themselves and that just makes them worse! Their personal integrity only adds to the confidence trick being played on survivors by the Catholic Church. The CSSA and RLSS are pawns in a cynical game knowingly being played by the Leaders of the Catholic Church.
True integrity involves stepping back and saying ‘What are we actually doing here? What are we actually achieving where the De La Salles are concerned?’
Here’s the thoughts of Steve Ashley CEO of the CSSA:
This of course leaves those that have been subject of abuse over two years ago have very little redress. I think you are right in saying that agencies, including the police, draw a line and say “we are not investigating anything before X date” and that is seen as the end of it which of course it isn’t for victims/survivors. I don’t know what the answer is. IICSA was obviously put in place with the intention of dealing with this but quite honestly I think they were overwhelmed and in the end they presented their final report and it is difficult to know what it all achieved.
If the CEO of Catholic Safeguarding thinks going to the police is a waste of time – and IICSA was a waste of time – who am I think differently?
Our energy as activists could so easily be exhausted by addressing official bodies and I feel that is the calculated intent of Safeguarding.
I would hope the RLSS and CSSA will stop misleading survivors now.
Fortunately there are other routes to justice. Namely: exposing the De La Salle and interconnected Knights Catholic child abusers, by publicly naming and shaming them, not just on this site but in the media.
And naming and shaming the truly pathetic (see Ashley’s quote above) role of the Catholic Safeguarding agencies
If they have any true integrity, the RLSS should strike the De La Salles off their client list – unless they are happy to have a religious organisation with no moral compass on their books.
As you probably know the RLSS (Religious Life Safeguarding Service) is the new ‘go to’ Safeguarding organisation for religious orders, including the De La Salles. They promised to be different – a new broom. But nothing’s changed and their time is up.
Unlike the CSSA, the RLSS does actually have investigative powers.
(So, too, do the unpaid Diocesan Safeguarding officers who I know from past experience in the Copca era were a waste of my time. But the RLSS seem different)
The RLSS promised an outcome to De La Salle issues of ORGANISED PAEDOPHILE RINGS in their schools. That promise was well before Christmas and we’re now in Feb.
So their time is up.
I believe what is delaying them is the De La Salles trying to wriggle out of their agreed apology for Brother Laurence and their promised investigation.
All over a year old.
My guess is it’s the Catholic insurance company who are saying, ‘Don’t say anything. Don’t admit anything. Maybe Mills will get tired and go away. Survivors often do. We just have to hang on in there.’
Mills is not going away.
The RLSS does seem to have some genuine people, but that’s part of the problem. They’re tethered, as they admit themselves, their powers are limited, so they are as much of the problem as the criminal De La Salles who are hiding behind them.
To me that’s COLLUSION.
And just in case someone challenges me on ‘criminal’ DLS, I’d say an organisation that allows over a hundred cases of child sex abuse by De La Salles and their lay teachers to go without investigation is a criminal organisation.
Especially when there is evidence it’s organised sexual abuse. Not odd rotten apples.
We survivors are not collateral damage, much as I think some Catholics would like us to be and just shut up and leave these “”””holy””””” men alone.
Here’s my TWEETS on the subject of the RLSS.
I’m sure I’ll be returning to this matter again soon.
My twitter handle is
So if you were able to find those tweets and retweet them, they would reach a wider audience and show the Catholic Church and its organisations for the shameful entities they really are.
Guest post from Joanna Brittan seeking information about her father’s schooling at St Peter’s Bournemouth.
Joanna told me that her dad was there in the 1930s to 1940s.
Initially it was a Jesuit school, then the De La Salles took over in the 40s.
Her dad ran away from the school several times as a very young boy and the school left a strong and negative impression on him. So anything anyone may know about the school in that era, and the Jesuits, could help her fill in the gaps.
I certainly know what the De La Salles were like, but I know nothing about the Jesuits other than what my cousin told me : that they were strict disciplinarians but good teachers. The usual.
I must admit I’m a little curious myself how or if the Jesuits differed from the De la Salles in their treatment of children.
Anything that might bring that time to life or any pointers where Joanna might seek further information would be deeply appreciated.
I know there’s the Jesuits and the De La Salles to contact directly. And the RLSS who act on their behalf. Also the Diocesan Safeguarding.
I guess they’re all worth checking out, but I don’t think there’s anything to beat personal recollections, insights, or knowledge. If it’s confidential, you can always send it to me and I’ll pass on to Joanna.
I’d particularly like to know if the Jesuits (or the De La Salles) have any records for my late father
Peter John Rokeby Rumley Brittan b October 1934
Sent in 1938 to St Peter’s Southbourne/Bournemouth (sometimes called Grassendale) he was sent there age 4 until 14 roughly so 1948. He won a scholarship to Dartmouth BRNC joined Fleet Air Arm
I just want to know how he was brutalised at that school..
He never shared it but I know his parents were returning him whenever he ran away
I want to know what happened to him as a boy because as his daughter I am familiar what the effect whatever it was had on his life. He was an extremely brave and competent, daring pilot presumably able to compartmentalise trauma successfully so he could have a successful career but imo could not hide what happened
In Qatar we had alcohol rationed once a month and for several days he’d go on a bender and lose himself in Wagner. When he was lost I’d wonder about what had happened and where he went. Then Sherborne happened (a school with a dreadful record of child abuse) and I watched him with Lindsay (the notorious abusive headmaster, a ‘fixated paedophile’) and how he entrusted my 3 brothers to his care. And I’m witnessing this thinking wtf even as a girl. HIM?!!!
My father died about 2 weeks after retiring from QEAF in 1997 and I never found the courage to ask him about this. But when you only know being sent away then you would entrust your children to someone you think will make a better job of raising them, especially when it’s happened through the generations on both sides of a family. Lindsay wasn’t banned from owning a school until 1998 so my father and the Qatar royal family never knew.
My father told me he’d “had a bellyful of religion” once and wondered what was causing my depression, whether the fact he hadn’t given me his religion had affected me negatively. I think he enjoyed the fact there were no churches in Qatar.
Once I shared my school report and someone fed back that it was a Jesuit school because of the motto. Certainly it was very religious and structured.
At first I thought this was St Joseph’s College, Ipswich. But as Old Boy Pete pointed out to me the ties and the badges seem different.
So I guess it must be St Joseph’s College, Beulah Hill?
My apologies for the mix-up.
If you’re a newcomer to this site: Solomon was at St J’s Ipswich in 1961. Then chucked out for drunken behavior and abuse. It’s what I clearly remember as a kid. After laying low in Jersey, part of the De La Salle brothers rat line- where brothers could escape to France if the police closed in on them, he was at Beulah Hill from maybe 1962. Then chucked out, he had a pop career. He returned to St J’s Ipswich in the 1980s as lay teacher Mike Mercado. He was chucked out for abuse and went on to work for an international children’s charity. There were abuse allegations against him throughout his life.
Beulah Hill has actually more allegations of Solomon being a violent animal and sexual abuser than Ipswich. At Ipswich, IIRC there are just two allegations of sexual abuse. One of them is unrepeatable in detail but was covered in summary in the Ipswich paper investigating this vile but not unique monster.
I don’t think even the most fervent defender of the DLS will say about him,’It’s not fair. He’s not alive to defend himself.’
Neither are the World War 2 nazis, but we all know they were monsters. So was this man.
Solomon looks so much older without his toupe which he adopted later when he became the Swinging Monk.He looks as scary in this photo as he really was.His faux holiness image only adds to his menace.
He certainly had a huge impact on me. I measure these things in therapy terms and he cost me around 8 sessions recently. So i certainly need his time at St J’s Ipswich to be noted. The local Ipswich paper were investigating him for a while quite recently.
St Joseph’s Ipswich Wikipedia entry has, I’m told, recently edited out the De La Salle brothers numerous crimes against children, apart from the very latest one – the lay teacher child abuser who killed himself rather than face court.
Good that there are records elsewhere, like here, of the crimes the school seeks to pretend never happened or have nothing to do with them, even though St J’s Ipswich says it is’In the La Sallian tradition’ and maintains endless links (e.g. uniforms) with the old and criminal regime. To them, we victims of De La Salle child abuse are just ‘collateral damage’ who should shut up and go away because we’re spoiling a money-making business.
There must be many parents who have chosen not to send their children to St J’s Ipswich after being made aware of its abusive history from this and other sites. And other parents who are reading about St Joseph’s Ipswich and Beulah Hill here for the first time.
In the schools’ defence it was – supposedly – only a minority of children who were raped or otherwise abused, and only a minority of De La Salle brothers who raped and sexually assaulted young boys. The rest were devout holy men and excellent teachers, according to many Old Boys who were not harmed. Lucky them. So what’s all the fuss about?
Well, Brothers Solomon, Kevin and James were just the tip of the abuser iceberg. It was organised Catholic paedophilia as my various posts and others’ testimonies confirm.
No one has taken the trouble to find out how and why or if it stopped. We just assume it stopped, some time in the 1990s. That’s how unimportant child abuse is to the Catholic authorities. Appearing to be holy is much more important.
So their crimes and other abuser brothers and lay teachers will rightly follow St Joseph’s College – Ipswich and Beulah Hill – for many years to come. It’s a cross they deserve to bear.
I have many happy memories of St Pancras Church in Ipswich (Saint Pancras is the patron saint of children). It was my local church until I was ten (1959) when we moved to Chantry Estate and Saint Marks.
I was an altar boy, a proud member of the Guild of St Stephen and was thrilled when my red lanyard was replaced with a black one. And my red cassock replaced with a black cassock. Even if older altar boys called themselves ‘The Rhubarb Club’ (after the Goon Show), I had no such cynicism, nothing could match the excitement of carrying a lit torch or the incense ‘boat’ or swinging the thurifer.
The old Georgian presbytery next to the church was a most enthralling building. In the cellars it had a smuggler’s tunnel leading to the nearby River Orwell. The first tunnel section could still be explored, but then it was blocked off, to my great disappointment. It was such a shame the presbytery was knocked down and replaced with a faux Georgian building.
The priests Canon Burrows and his curate Father Wace were very warm and friendly. Canon Burrows was always round our house in Stoke, dressed in his boiler suit, doing handyman jobs for my mother. Father Wace presented me with a copy of ‘A Little Hero’ by Mrs Musgrave which had a cover of a boy wearing a school uniform remarkably like a St Joseph’s College blazer. He told me I would go there one day and he was right.
Father Wace was the Akela in charge of the cubs and I was always baffled why I was a cub for just one week. Then I stopped going and no-one would talk about the reason why. It seemed to be because I had told a friend of my mother’s about ‘something that happened at cubs’ and this friend had stern words with Father Wace.
The Catholic laity – the Legion of Mary; the Knights of St Columba and the Catholic Women’s League – were also an important part of my life. My mother was a vulnerable, devout Irish Catholic widow and these organisations did their best to help her. They introduced her to another Catholic widow, Mrs Czech, and her two daughters and we went on a pilgrimage to Walsingham together.
But writing about the laity at St Pancras is still difficult for me and this short article below by Doctor Philippa Martyr for The Catholic Weekly explains the reason why.
Doctor Martyr concludes:
‘This is the ugly underside of our local vibrant Catholic community. Covering-up goes on all the time, for all sorts of things – and yes, lay people enable it. We just haven’t been brave enough to face this about ourselves yet.’
But before coming back to the laity, I have to say there was also another side to both Canon Burrows and Father Wace which was a real shock to me when the memories came flooding back to me in mid-life.
My mother worked as a housekeeper at St Pancras presbytery. Her vulnerability meant her children were prime targets for clerical abusers.
Canon Burrows – a listed Knight of St Columba – was a sexual abuser. It took a lot of therapy for me to get my recollections of his behaviour out of my system. His particular technique was magic and conjuring tricks. ‘Now you see it, now you don’t.’ At age six, I wanted to be a magician like the Canon and spent all my pocket money on jokes.
Father Wace is not listed as a Knight, but, given his wealthy background, it seems likely he, too, was a member.
He also was a sexual abuser. My mother smiled at my thrilled expression when I saw Wace’s pyjamas casually thrown across his bed. Because his pyjama jacket was weighed down with maybe twenty fantastic metal collectors’ badges – which would make it impossible for him to sleep in. But they were really cool badges that any eight-year-old boy would do anything for.
MALE CATHOLIC LAITY AT ST PANCRAS
I’ve previously covered the Knights of St Columba on this site. There are statements from myself and other survivors that prove there was a ring of sexual abusers in the Ipswich Knights.
The Knights were also the Eminence Gris for the Church, which meant they controlled my school fees and they exacted a price in return. The similar Knights of Columbus describe themselves as ‘The strong right arm of the Catholic Church.’
The only thing relevant here is their use of psycho-coercive ‘double bind’ techniques. These are recorded in their theatrical ceremonies which I have previously featured on this site. Such ceremonies stopped – supposedly – in the late 60’s. Too late for me, unfortunately.
It’s relevant because female laity abusers used similar ‘double binds’.
A double bind is a dilemma in communication in which an individual receives two or more reciprocally conflicting messages. It’s a mind-twister and shows a deep knowledge of psychology and how to manipulate people.
When – or if – the Knights stopped abusing children I have no way of knowing and no one today cares. Catholic Safeguarding ignored a recent newspaper report of a Knight of St. Columba sentenced to a long prison sentence for child abuse. The Knight was provably not given a police check, which would have shown he had a previous conviction for child abuse.
FEMALE CATHOLIC LAITY AT ST PANCRAS
When I looked at all my bills for therapy, I was startled to see that a good 50% of my recent therapy – over the last three years – related to female Catholic laity at St Pancras.
And that it took emotional priority over male clerical abuse. You might conclude it’s because female abuse is a far greater betrayal to a child, but, actually, I think it’s because of the bizarre but very effective nature of the abuse.
I believe the women were members of the Catholic Women’s League: the female equivalent of the Knights of St Columba, and it’s acknowledged they work closely together to this day.
The CWL doesn’t list deceased members, but I’ll happily supply the five names of the female parishioners concerned for the CWL to check against their records. I would, of course, also need sight of those records. I’d say ‘Deceased Ipswich members 1956 through to the millennium.’
If I’m wrong, I will write a retraction.
If I’m correct, their names will be listed here as child abusers, alongside Burrows and Wace.
Some may have also been members of the Legion of Mary at St Pancras. My eight-year-old self didn’t fully understand the difference between the two organisations.
But I have focused on the CWL because the five women concerned were all middle-class high achievers, which seems to be the hallmark of this organisation. Two of them were spinsters. There is also the CWL’s close connection to the Knights who were provably abusers. But principally because one of the key female abusers was a close friend of the famous Barbara Ward, Baroness Jackson of Lodsworth – Wikipedia.
Barbara Ward went to St Mary’s Convent Grammar school in Ipswich (I went to the adjacent St Mary’s primary school). She then went on to be President of the Catholic Women’s League in the 1940s and introduced my abuser to her husband who was almost certainly a Knight. This was long before my time. And I’ve absolutely no reason to think Ward was an abuser.
But Ward shows just how intellectual, well-connected and powerful the Catholic Women’s League were when I had the misfortune to come across some of their members, including her close friend.
Exactly like the powerful Catholic laity described in the link above.
Although their abuse was as perverted as any abuse, it had a certain ‘logic’, which perhaps helped them with their justification for their obscene gratification.
I won’t go into graphic details here, but it was a physical form of aversion therapy (not like today’s conversion therapy as fair as I know), an attempt to thwart puberty using psycho-coercive double binds.
It would have had different names in the past, but various forms of aversion therapy – some quite barbaric – were commonplace from Victorian times through to the 1950s. It was still very scary.
Why did they do it?
Because of the abuse I suffered at the hands of Burrows and Wace, I was definitely ‘acting out’ as so many children do. For instance, I recall drawing and talking openly about what the priests did to me. So it may have been an attempt to physically put a stop to a child’s ‘play’.
But it actually feels rather more ambitious and organised. There were several of them involved, for instance. Even though I was earmarked for the priesthood from an early age (I was signed up for the seminary at age thirteen) I don’t believe that fully explains their behaviour.
It was certainly a ‘procedure’ they were used to.
However, it’s not my responsibility to understand their sick mindset. Or explain how it all worked in detail. I bear the psychological scars and that’s enough.
If your cognitive dissonance is kicking in at this point, and you find it hard to believe that respectable, middle-class Catholic women could behave in such a manner, let me tell you that in the same decade, a number of Dutch boys were castrated on the orders of the Catholic Church because they had shown gay tendencies. In the 1970s, on the orders of his British Catholic school, a young teenager was given hospital electric-shock treatment to similarly erase his gay character. There are other examples.
Aversion therapy seems designed to suppress, reduce or redirect a child’s sexuality. In practical terms, it limits your power over your own body. Instead, these women had control over my body. I’m pretty certain they saw their abuse as ‘holy work’. I’d love to tell you they failed miserably, but, annoyingly, its effects actually lasted until I was aged sixteen.
These fanatical women knew what they were doing.
If you’re a Catholic Safeguarder, or a member of the priesthood, the Knights or the CWL, you may well be thinking, with some relief, as you read this, ‘Ah. But it’s impossible for him to prove.’
Well, it’s true it’s hard to prove. Most survivors must have either accepted their programming, maybe they even thought it was good for them, or are too embarrassed or ashamed to talk about it.
The best proof I have is the fortune I spent on recent weekly therapy, over the last three years, deprogramming the abusive program these women had instilled into my psyche.
And also the evidence of my therapist who has previously given evidence to the Ipswich police. This resulted in an abusive Ipswich Catholic teacher recently being arrested.
So I wouldn’t be too relieved if I were you.
Needless to say, I would be delighted if the CWL decide to challenge my account.
I know Catholics practice secrecy from the Pope downwards, but this really needs to be brought out into the open.
You might suggest that Catholic Safeguarding could help me with this matter.
Not a chance, I’m afraid, so I should explain why.
You may believe Catholic Safeguarding are there to help past survivors and investigate past clerical and laity abuse
Catholic Safeguarding is actually in a terrible state today, the worst it’s ever been. And, in case you think that’s just my negative opinion, there is already media concern and research on this aspect.
The CEO of the CSSA (Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency) admitted the following to me:
‘IICSA was obviously put in place with the intention of dealing with this but quite honestly I think they were overwhelmed and in the end they presented their final report and it is difficult to know what it all achieved.’
All IICSA’S recommendations (The Elliott report etc) have been ignored by the Church, even though the Bishops claimed otherwise.
As the Daily Telegraph reported: ‘Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse had previously concluded Cardinal Nichols was more concerned with protecting Church’s reputation.’
Today, the CSSA only deals with current issues up to two years old.
‘This of course leaves those that have been subject of abuse over two years ago have very little redress.’
The CEO confirmed my own experience that the police (Operation Hydrant) will only deal with cases where the abusers are still alive.
‘Our remit does not include an investigative branch. The process is that the diocese or religious life group (through the Religious Life Safeguarding Service (RLSS) investigate concerns when raised.’
So where St Pancras is concerned this means that the diocese will investigate.
I’ve been here before during Eileen Shearer’s COPCA era when I first raised Canon Burrows with the diocese. I learnt that Catholic Safeguarding diocese members are unpaid, they do nothing (e.g. they didn’t even look up records) they simply dump complaints onto the police, who can do nothing (see above). The diocese Safeguarders know this and – under the convenient excuse of ‘we have a mandatory reporting duty’ – they are wilfully and knowingly wasting valuable police time.
The diocese Safeguarding officer also reassured me personally everything would be ‘so much better’ with Shearer’s recent appointment because she was a protestant. So nothing would be covered up anymore.
I was briefly impressed.
Shearer resigned shortly afterwards.
But it’s worse. The investigating officer is from the diocese where the crime took place, so he or she is still part of that Catholic community: they will certainly know the organisations concerned at the very least, they may even be members of it, and they are thus not independent.
This has put off many survivors from reporting abuse and that’s no accident. It’s exactly what the Church intended.
Returning to the laity.
The CEO of the CSSA said to me:
‘I agree with you over this issue around abuse by the laity does seem to be largely ignored and certainly has given me some pause for thought.’
Most of my claims against the Catholic laity can be deemed historic (over two years old) and therefore will be ignored, which is, of course, outrageous as we survivors have to live our entire lives with the results of their crimes committed against us in childhood. But two cases are actually current and one relates to the East Anglian diocese. The other to an adjoining diocese.
In both cases there was a lack of police checks and thus vulnerable people and children may be in danger.
There was no response from the CSSA and Police Operation Hydrant when I raised this with them both.
THE LIKELY RESPONSE FROM ST PANCRAS, THE CWL AND THE KNIGHTS OF ST COLUMBA
From past experience with the Knights and the evidence presented about them on this site, I fully expect the parish priest of St Pancras today, the Catholic Women’s League and the Knights of St Columba to do nothing.
They don’t seem to see it as their duty to children past and present to look into this most serious matter.
They will prefer to keep their heads down and hope it will all go away.
Or at best, to write back to me with some dismissive hand-wringing, ‘We’re sorry what happened to you, but there’s nothing we can do. We have no records and thus no way of looking at your allegations.’
But in 2023 silence – or such a dismissive lack of interest – is not a good look.
Even if the Catholic insurance company has advised or even ordered them, ‘Say nothing. Admit nothing.’
(It’s sad when a Christian religion is controlled by an insurance company.)
Today, not responding to hard evidence of abuse means only one thing.
If you have been made aware of crimes past and current, and you choose to respond with silence or in some Pontius Pilate manner, it means you are colluding with the original child abusers to keep these crimes hidden from public view.
SO WHAT CAN BE DONE?
If you’re a Survivor you might feel nothing can be done. That – post IICSA – the Church has managed, with its own admitted poor Safeguarding (see above) to still successfully silence its critics.
That’s not the case.
‘Naming and Shaming’ abusers at my Catholic school on this site has worked very well in the past and has led to positive results which I’ve described in previous posts. With both local media (EADT) and national media (Sunday Times and the Tablet) covering and investigating the accounts I have brought to light.
It’s only now that I’ve been able to focus on the parish I grew up in, and the clerical and laity abusers, male and female, who harmed me as a child.
So I would hope for similar results here. I’m sure it will be of equal interest to the media.
Particularly local media.
And if you are a survivor of abuse by any of these people I’ve described here, and would like to share your experience, please get in touch. As always, your anonymity is guaranteed.
However, if you are a member of the congregation at St Pancras and are rightly shocked by what you have read, I would appeal to you to raise some or all of these issues with your parish priest.
It is clearly his personal duty to act.
Diocesan Safeguarding is not an alternative. It is provably flawed for the reasons I’ve given and I strongly believe is deliberately designed to waste everyone’s time.
Even if you discount some of the allegations I’ve made, there is still a great deal left that should be looked at, discussed, and which you would hope would be of great concern to your parish priest.
Based on the past, I fear your parish priest will not take responsibility, but I would love to be proved wrong.
Furthermore, my experience is that – even today, despite the Church being called out for its crimes at IICSA – Catholic congregations will not respond to allegations of child abuse within the Church. They will look the other way at clerical and laity crimes.
This is because of the Oath of Allegiance they took and similar ties that bind.
However, I would hope that there are some exceptions who are not sheep and have the courage to challenge their shepherds.
In any event, at some point in the near future, there will be further investigations into the Catholic Church and this post and others will be useful in providing evidence.
Meantime, no one in the parish of St. Pancras can now say ‘We didn’t know. We had absolutely no idea these terrible things went on.’
You’ve been told.
And anyone curiously searching the web for nostalgic memories of St Pancras will come across this post.
They will be appalled to see the Church’s dark history in which the crimes of priests such as Canon Burrows and Father Wace and Ipswich female and male Catholic laity are laid bare for all to read.
That is the legacy of shame for all the world to now see that St Pancras, its current parish priest, as the representative of the Church, the CWL and the Knights of St Columba will have to live with from now on.
Unless they choose to take a path of light and look at the truth.
Otherwise, it’s a dark cross all of them rightly have to bear.