My name is Loreto Byrne. I was a civil servant from 1975 until 1993. I was an Assistant Principal, a middle to senior management grade. Through my work in the civil service and my subsequent experiences of how the authorities behaved when I tried to get them to do something about the situation that I encountered, I can state with certainty that there has been a cover-up of how concerns about abuse in Finglas Children’s Centre were dealt with by the state. I came across the cover-up in 1988 but it began before then. Finglas is not the only institution that has been protected from scrutiny and thereby accountability and there are connections between a number of these places. I can testify that the cover-up for Finglas has compromised the system of government in Ireland so I believe that there needs to be an independent investigation.


Finglas Children’s Centre opened in 1972 and was run by the de la Salles until 1994. It was closed in 2010. The state owned and funded the facility; when the de la Salles ran it, there was an agreement between the state and the order that gave the state control over how the centre was run. It comprised a remand and assessment centre, St. Michael’s, and an industrial school, St. Laurence’s, and catered for both boys in trouble with the courts and boys referred to it by the Health Boards, the state’s child protection service. I dealt with Finglas when I worked in the Department of Education (I was on loan from the Department of Finance) for six months from September 1987 until March 1988. I was told from the start that Finglas was a problem because it didn’t run at full capacity even though it was funded to do so. I represented the Department on the centre’s Board of Management, and that was how I became aware of a cover-up of allegations and concerns about physical and sexual abuse and financial mismanagement.

Before I became aware of the cover-up, I promised in December 1987, at a meeting with some of the lay staff in the Centre, to see to it that any concerns, allegations or complaints about abuse that were brought to my attention were investigated. I remember that the Director of the Centre, Br. Augustine Murphy of the de la Salles, went red and started twisting his hands, and the Chairman of the Board, Mr. Nick Rice, took out a handkerchief and mopped his brow. Rice was a retired inspector of special schools from the Department of Education and his brother had been an auxiliary provincial of the de la Salles.

The next day, my boss in Education, George Barry, told me that Rice had asked for responsibility for Finglas to be removed from me and returned to a woman on my staff, Margaret Farrell, who had dealt with Finglas for years before I arrived in Education and who had “protected the brothers” in some unspecified way, flouted the authority of her superiors when they tried to make her maintain a professional distance from the Centre and disobeyed orders not to visit the place at night (this is what I was told by the first person whom I met on my first day in Education, Mr. Jack O’Brien in Personnel Section).

The next time I was in Finglas, in January 1988, the Assistant Director and Principal of St. Laurence’s, a Br. Francis (there was another Br. Francis on the staff, he worked in St. Michael’s) said, when he met me in the corridor, “Have you not been moved yet? Oh well, I suppose it’ll take a while longer.”

The following month, February, the Director, Br. Murphy, told a Board meeting that the Wages and Accounts Clerk, Ms. Ita Rudden, was constantly complaining about how the Centre was run. The Board nominated three members, including me, to interview her. There was a general agreement that she should be threatened with dismissal. I said that I wanted to know the substance of her complaints and Br. Murphy put together a dossier of letters – he didn’t have it to hand, he fished letters out of a drawer in a cabinet where they were lying on top of each other, not in a file, so I may not have received each and every letter that Ms. Rudden had sent to Br. Murphy or his predecessors.

Rice gave me and Ms. Farrell (she had been invited to the meeting so that the Board could wish her well in her retirement) a lift back to work after the Board meeting. They both made disparaging remarks about Ms. Rudden on the journey, implying that she was mentally incompetent.

I started to deal with the dossier immediately. The first thing on it was something obscene that, according to Ms. Rudden, she had found waiting for her on her desk one morning, i.e. it hadn’t arrived in the post but came from within the Centre. Br. Murphy had done nothing about it. I was appalled: my attitude was that someone with a sick mind was involved with Finglas so the boys there needed to be protected from such an influence, and unless Ms. Rudden had faked the material to draw attention to herself in a perverted way, her work situation was intolerable. Whatever lay behind it, it was gross dereliction of duty for Br. Murphy simply to put the letter in a drawer and ignore the situation. I wrote a memo for George Barry in those terms and asked for and was given authority to investigate the dossier of complaints.

I didn’t have time that afternoon to read everything in the dossier so I brought it home with me. That night, I realised there were mentions of physical and sexual abuse in two of Ms. Rudden’s letters. I rang someone who worked with me in Education (it was never entirely clear whether he answered to me or to my boss), Graham Granville, the statutory inspector of industrial and reformatory schools under the Children Act 1908. We agreed that I would go out to Finglas first thing in the morning and interview Ms. Rudden, and that I would summon Granville if I thought things needed to be taken further.

I went to Finglas in the morning, spoke to Ms. Rudden, satisfied myself that her concerns should be investigated, and summoned Granville. He too thought matters needed to be taken further so I rang the Department of Education. Barry wasn’t there so I spoke to his boss, Tomás Ó Gilín. He said that I should inform the Chairman of the Board and refer the dossier formally to the Director of the Centre for a formal response. He said that if needs be the Department would set up a tribunal to establish the truth.

I did as I was ordered. I also wrote a note of what had happened that day. I opened a file on which I placed the letters about Finglas and my letter to the Director seeking his formal response to the matters in the letters. Some days after that, I took two phone calls from a member of the lay staff in Finglas, one P. J. Leahy, and I made notes of the calls on the file copy of the letter to Br. Murphy.

Leahy said that he had heard that I was “dynamic” and could look forward to a bright future in the Department of Finance in the normal way but this wasn’t going to happen now because I was “paying attention to matters which people who’d had my job before me had chosen to ignore.” He said that he had a feeling that I was making notes of what he was saying. He said that all Ms. Rudden’s complaints could be substantiated to some degree.

Br. Murphy rang me and we arranged that he, Granville and I would meet in Finglas on Monday 21 March 1988 to discuss matters.

I was lucky to make it to that meeting. On Friday 11 March I was summoned to a meeting in Personnel Section in Education and told that I was unacceptable in Education so I was to return to Finance. The man whom I met was called Ó Broin and was O’Brien’s boss. When I told Granville about it, his take on it was that both Ó Broin and O’Brien had dealt with Finglas before me so they were moving to get rid of me and keep a lid on things. He advised me to contact Ms. Rudden and warn her of what was happening.

I did so the following morning, Saturday 12 March 1988. Her number was in the phone book so I was able to call her at home. I didn’t tell her about Leahy’s phone calls to me but she said that she knew something was afoot, he’d asked her for my work number and said he wanted to “warn” me because something terrible was going to happen to me. She said Leahy was involved in Fianna Fáil (FF), which was then in government on its own under Charles J. Haughey.

I contacted three public representatives (Michael McDowell, Mary Harney and Mary Flaherty) that weekend and alerted them to the fact that Education was moving to cover up matters amiss, including concerns about physical and sexual abuse, in the juvenile detention centres.

Monday morning, I got a phone call from Mary Butler in Personnel Section in Finance, telling me to attend a meeting there that day to discuss my return from Education. I’d been tipped off by a Garda Superintendent to a possible fraud in Trinity House reformatory school and had got permission from George Barry to investigate the matter by telling him that a serious allegation had been made to me by a confidential and trustworthy source, so I was alive to the possibility that Education was just as anxious to deter me from doing something about that as it was to protect Finglas from scrutiny – the Board of Management in Trinity House was chaired by a retired Education official, another member was a retired inspector who had previously chaired the Finglas board, and there were a few other people on the board who were longstanding cronies of the retired officials and hostile to any changes to their way of doing things. I told Finance that I had other plans for the day, I was going to Trinity House to do an audit, and that it would have to order me in writing to attend a meeting in Finance. I remember that Ms. Butler shouted at me, obviously I was being awkward by continuing to do my work regardless. In any event, Finance sent me a letter ordering me to go to a meeting there at 2.30pm the following day, Tuesday 15 March.

I did as I was ordered.

I brought with me some papers about Finglas and also the evidence I’d compiled – I’d gone out to the school and done a quick audit – of matters amiss financially in Trinity House. Even though I knew how Rice and Ms. Farrell had tried to tell me that Ms. Rudden was crazy, and even though Barry had boasted to me about how he’d dealt with a woman who complained about him and Trinity House (she was diagnosed as “a paranoid schizophrenic” and dismissed as incurably mentally ill), I genuinely thought I’d be given a fair hearing in Finance and would only have to produce the evidence to get Finance to do something about what was clearly an appalling state of affairs, the wholesale mismanagement of the juvenile justice system, indifference to the possible abuse of children in state custody and the harassment of people who voiced concerns.

I couldn’t have been more wrong: Finance went on the attack immediately, refused to listen to what I tried to tell them, and did its utmost to break me on the spot. I was told I had “considerable intellectual ability but was underachieving,” I was “aggressive” and “misperceived things,” “things happened around me for which I disclaimed responsibility,” nobody in Finance would have me on their staff, and that I was to suffer “disciplinary action up to and including dismissal” unless I could satisfy them that there was “a medical reason for my behaviour.” With this in mind they’d made an appointment for me to see the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for the civil service immediately after the meeting and they urged me to keep the appointment because he was a very busy man who might not be able to fit me in again soon!

There were two of them against me, Ms. Butler and her boss, Stephen O’Neill. He did all the talking and she sat there and nodded. It was news to him that I’d gone to her the previous November looking for a transfer from Education because my health was suffering from my working conditions (the building where I worked was condemned in the 1920s and acknowledged to be a health hazard) but it made no difference, he said nothing I could say would change anything and that the decision to remove me from Education had been taken long before I came across the concerns about Finglas and Trinity House.

When O’Neill said the CMO was waiting to see me that day, I said, “you have no business making an appointment behind my back for me to see a doctor.” I told them that I needed time to consider the request and that I would inform them of my decision by 5.30pm the next day. I said somewhere along the way that I was going to submit the evidence of wrongdoing formally to the head of the Department of Education and was told to do that, but they wanted me to see the CMO anyway (a significant detail whose importance was not immediately apparent). By the time I left the room, I was shaken to my core. I’ve often wondered what would have happened if I’d broken down at that meeting – I mean, what would Finance have told my family? I know what would have happened if I’d met the CMO, he’d have certified me as incompetent and placed me on sick leave, I’d have had to go to the High Court to challenge it, and I wouldn’t have gone to the meeting in Finglas the following Monday.

I rang the Department of Finance at 5.25pm on Wednesday 16 March 1988 and told them I would see the CMO if I were ordered to do so and given the reason why in writing. The following day was St. Patrick’s Day, a public holiday, so I couldn’t be given an answer until Friday.
That meant that I couldn’t see the CMO until Monday at the earliest, but I had arranged to meet Br. Murphy in Finglas first thing on Monday 21 March 1988, so the way I handled things meant that Education and Finance had effectively failed to stop me from pursuing the concerns about Finglas.

I contacted a friend, a retired civil servant, who prevailed on the head of the Department of Education, Declan Brennan, to meet me on Friday 18 March. It was a very short meeting. I briefed Brennan about Finglas and Trinity House and other matters. He said that he’d been told nothing about any of those things but had been informed that I was returning to the Department of Finance at my own request, another significant detail.

Granville and I met Br. Augustine Murphy in Finglas on Monday 21 March 1988. Br. Murphy acknowledged that there was substance to each and every one of Ms. Rudden’s complaints and concerns. On the question of physical abuse he accepted that an incident involving a lay member of staff had occurred on the date alleged by Ms. Rudden but disputed its categorisation as abuse. As regards sexual abuse (Ms. Rudden alleged that there were rumours in the Centre about both a de la Salle brother and a lay member of staff). Br. Murphy said, “These things happened before my time but boys still ring up to complain. What am I to do? We could have another Kincora on our hands if we looked into these things.” I told him that allegations of criminal wrongdoing should be referred to An Garda Síochána for them to investigate, and that nothing, neither sympathy for the perpetrator nor fear of scandal, should interfere with that.

Back at the office, I wrote a report of the meeting. Granville and I both signed it and I put it on the file that I’d opened to deal with the Rudden dossier.

I did something else as well: I asked Margaret Farrell if she’d known that Ms. Rudden had expressed concerns about abuse. She said that she had, that the matter had been discussed at off the record meetings in the de la Salle quarters in Finglas and that it had been decided that nothing would be done. This was significant: as I mentioned earlier the agreement under which the de la Salles ran Finglas gave the state control so when somebody from Education went to a meeting and agreed to ignore concerns about abuse this was tantamount to Education ordering the de la Salles to turn a blind eye to abuse. I can’t remember whether I interviewed Farrell the day I went out to Finglas to satisfy myself as to whether the dossier of complaints needed to be taken seriously or whether I spoke to her on Monday 21 March after the meeting with Br. Murphy but it doesn’t matter, I made a note of what she said and put it on the file.

I reported for duty in Finance a day or so later. They told me that they couldn’t order me to see the CMO but would hold it against me if I wouldn’t do as they wanted and they gave me three reasons for the request: a complaint about me in Finance before I was sent to Education, my sick leave in Education (there was a high rate of sickness in the building where I worked in

Education, Finance knew that when it sent me there, and more than half my sick leave happened after Finance refused to pay heed to my doctor’s advice that my work situation in Education was unsuitable), and Education’s decision to send me back to Finance.
This vague statement of reasons (I was entitled to names, dates and precise details including copies of written statements and notes of discussions) was another significant detail whose importance did not become apparent until later. Finance told me that I was not acceptable to anyone there so they had no placement for me, I was to go home and ring them in a week’s time. I told them that I was submitting a formal statement to the head of the Department of Education about the mismanagement that I’d uncovered and that I was submitting it to him in his capacity as Accounting Officer to the Dáil (I was familiar with public financial procedures whereby the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) interviews Accounting Officers about audit reports and so on).

The stand-off between me and Finance went on for three and a half weeks. Over that period I submitted a statement as promised to Declan Brennan in Education, sent copies to Granville and to the person in Education responsible for disbursing money to Finglas and Trinity House, and tipped off the C- & A-G, the state auditor, to the financial mismanagement in Finglas and Trinity House. I also spoke to a Garda whom I knew. I didn’t get back in contact with any of the public representatives that I’d contacted before; I recognized that if they made inquiries they would be put off the trail by smears on my competence so I believed that I had to proceed by proving that Education was in the wrong and that the way to do that was to show the Department up through an independent audit report – I was confident that anyone of integrity who looked into the things that I had seen in Education would criticise them just like I had, the mismanagement was glaringly obvious. The person to whom I spoke in the audit office said that they wouldn’t take immediate action, they would make a note of the information and take account of it in the course of their regular programme of work.

Whilst the statement for the Accounting Officer in Education was calculated to tie in with the outcome of an official audit, that doesn’t mean that the statement was confined to the financial aspects of the Rudden dossier or to the evidence of possible fraud in Trinity House. I included the material about possible abuse in Finglas on the basis that managing the facility properly in the best interests of the taxpayer required the prompt investigation of concerns about abuse. I gave Brennan the evidence that Education had been told by both the Chief State Solicitor and the Department of Finance that the state was legally liable for the operations of the industrial and reformatory schools and I told him that allowing abuse to occur or delaying investigations was creating a financial burden on the state and that a cover-up would cause a worse scandal in the long run than would dealing with things promptly and efficiently. There was also material in the statement about corporal punishment in Clonmel industrial school: again, the Chief State Solicitor had told Education that it was contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights but Education hadn’t ended the practice and so was upping the bill for the taxpayer whenever claims were lodged against the state. Basically, what I tried to do was use the mechanisms of state audits and accountability to the Dáil to bring about scrutiny of Education and thus expose its collusion in the abuse of children in state custody.

To be continued…


Another quote below from the official history where it’s claimed that the De La Salle brothers should ‘cultivate in themselves the quality of refinement in bearing, in language, and in manners’

That was certainly not my experience at St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, and neither is it the experience of many other Survivors. The abusers Brothers James, Solomon and Kevin come immediately to mind but there were many more.

It’s their endless self-congratulation and self-deification I find so abhorrent. There is never any acknowledgement of the numerous times the DLS fell far short of such standards

Not a few bad apples—the barrel is rotten: Tom Doyle on clerical child abuse

Here’s a link to an excellent interview with expert Tom Doyle.


To quote the intro:

Tom Doyle brings a wealth of knowledge, experience of both research and litigation, and a solid integrity to the examination of the abuse of children by clergymen in the Roman Catholic Church.

He speaks on this subject with an honesty, and courage that is peerless. His testimony is precise without being sensational. The analysis he outlines explains the role of church history, church government and church theology in creating this catastrophe.

The response from the bishops and cardinals is one of denial, cover-up, control and outright lies, often under oath. Despite all that has been revealed, they still refuse to address the horror of what has been done to the most vulnerable in society—little children. They do not grasp the lifelong suffering of the victims. Instead spending more time, care and resources on the abusers.


I recently wrote about Father Small visiting the beautiful palace he and his Safeguarding staff – the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors –  are taking over – and to which Survivors of Catholic sexual abuse will also have access to in some as yet unclear way. Vatican Safeguarding, it seems, is currently going through a difficult period with the resignation of two Survivors who were on its staff and now the resignation of its leading member Hans Zollner.

Zollner’s comments at a press conference included:

“One thing is certain, several members have left the Pontifical Commission before me and there has been no shortage of criticisms recently expressed publicly by past members, some quite strong”. 

“If there is a lack of transparency, complaints and accountability, the doors are open to cover-ups”

Certainly no progress has been made on the De La Salle child sexual abuse scandal which I understood Father Small was hoping to resolve, following the example of the Comboni Brothers. He was going to write to me and I intimated that I welcomed his letter.

Perhaps he’s too busy. Because it transpires that Father Small is not only the head of the Pontifical Commission, but also the Founder and CEO of Missio Invest ‘blending faith and finance’ : an ambitious developmental aid project in the Global South. ‘In Africa alone,’ Missio says, ‘ there are over 74,000 religious sisters, 46,421 priests, and 8,779  brothers.’ This link takes you to their site and tells you about the impressive work they are doing in Africa and elsewhere. This includes  agriculture, hospitals, old people’s homes and… schools.

Hence my interest.

Because my Catholic education was conditional on my becoming a seminarian. When, aware of the terrifying sexual abuse in seminaries, I declined, I was thrown out of my school at the tender age of 15. Altogether, my brother and I had 9 years of ‘free’ expensive education at St Joseph’s College, Ipswich. But, of course, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. There were other criminal strings attached, specifically being abused by the Catholic Knights of St Columba whose paedophile Knights included Canon Burrows of St Pancras Church, Ipswich.

This conditional Catholic education was commonplace in the past. Parents, like my Irish mother, even dedicated their children to the Church, with all it implied in that past era. A national journalist has expressed an interest in looking into this disturbing subject.

And there’s the example of John McDonnell MP who wrote to me:

‘I was at St Joseph’s in Ipswich from 12 to 16, funded by the church to then go on to a minor seminary to train to become a priest.’

A fairly recent article about St J’s had a spokesperson denying there was any such thing as St J’s ‘facilitating’ vocations as John described. Despite there being a De La Salle vocations teacher on the circuit of the DLS schools and despite my own clear recollections of being taught Latin one-to-one by Brother Kevin.

I would hate to think that Father Small’s educational work  in the Global South includes a similar covert, easily deniable, conditional requirement as I’ve described. So that children there are still at risk – through desperate poverty – of being pressurized into seminaries, religious orders or at the mercy of clerical abusers or Catholic laity abusers, just as I was. Given that the Church has never acknowledged and expressed regret for its past ‘strings attached’ policy, not to mention the sexual abuse that so often went with it, of course it’s still going on and, of course, children are still in danger, even though it’s now obscured with a modern PR gloss, an obfuscation that is the familiar hallmark of the Church. Plus ça change

But where does the Church’s money come from for its ‘free’ education for suitably spiritual, obedient or poor and desperate children its clerical predators can take advantage of?

In my case, was it from some investment fund the Knights ran for the Church? Or from a diocese fund?  My old school, St Joseph’s, when it began, was mysteriously funded by the Knights and its current finances are still equally mysterious so  that a lawyer and a reporter who looked into them both found the current financial set-up ‘very strange.’

John McDonnell, like myself and others, says his education was ‘funded by the Church’ – but no knows where the money comes from, who it’s funnelled through –except in my case it was the Knights – and how else it’s used.

It’s time we found out.

If  Survivors and ordinary concerned people are ever going to make sense of the the Catholic Church, its current potential for abusing and corrupting new generations of poor children in the Global South – where it’s acknowledged by the Church the safeguarding protocols are not as strong as in affluent countries – then it’s important to follow the money.

So this view, sent to me by an insider, knowledgeable in the workings of the Catholic Church, is important. I had no idea about Missio Invest before I read this.

I’ll comment further after their analysis.

I poked around a bit on the internet after reading your blog post about the palazzo – I was intrigued by Fr. Small talking about fundraising to do up the place, I thought, “Surely the Vatican funds the Commission and accepts that it has to throw resources at problems to resolve the crisis for the Church.”

Small’s background is that he’s a commercial lawyer cum entrepreneur. He’s involved in Missio Invest, a Church fund for start-ups by Church entities in the 3rd/developing worlds which got $20m from the World Bank in recent years. The idea is to put Church assets and the assets of Catholic lay organisations to work.

As you know, the De La Salles set up an investment fund in 2009. CBIS Global (Christian Brothers Investment Services) is an offshore fund that’s managed from Dublin. I don’t know how to find out for sure, but what’s the betting that CBIS and Missio Invest don’t have dealings with each other somewhere? What’s CBIS investing in if not the kind of thing that Missio Invest encourages?

Who would pay to do up a palazzo for the Vatican? Especially when that should come way behind redress for victims, an issue on which the Church clearly doesn’t impose universal rules? My mind is boggled 

It said somewhere in the articles I read that to get a loan from Missio Invest an organisation has to adhere to the guidelines for safeguarding laid down from Rome. So which comes first in Small’s world: safeguarding and justice for victims, or getting the organisations that want loans from Missio Invest to sign up to safeguarding so that he can spread money around and build his reputation as an entrepreneur?

This kind of thing may be what Zollner was hinting at when he said that concerns about financial transparency were involved in his decision to resign from the Commission.


Investors acknowledged by Missio Invest include the Jesuits  and the Sisters of Saint Louis. But it’s quite possible the De La Salles are involved, given that ‘CBIS manages assets of $3 billion (€2 billion) in 10 funds based in the US through which “socially responsible” investments are made on behalf of more than 1,000 Catholic organisations. The Dublin-based fund will mirror the investments made by the firm in the US and will initially target Catholic organisations in Ireland, France, Italy and Spain.’

I’ll return to the subject of the actual value of  Missio’s developmental aid another time. It’s a subject I know a fair amount about having written a two year semi-documentary series Third World War that concluded in 1990. It exposed numerous scandals in the Third World such as the Nestle Baby Food Scandal, the human cost of monoculture exports, and the IMF ferocious policies leading to suicides but also heroic resistance by indigenous people.

Today, it’s far worse. Nestle try to control water supplies and seeds are patented so farmers are at the mercy of transnationals. Given that Missio Invest is linked to the World Bank, I fail to see how it’s following a different and more noble path.  

Common criticisms of the World Bank

  • Creating a climate where high levels of lending are deemed to be good.
  • Advocating disability adjusted life years as a health measure.
  • Disregard for the environment and indigenous populations.
  • Evaluating health projects by looking at economic outcome measures.

And, if you imagine Father Small’s Church would have respect for indigenous populations today, then I need to tell you about the Jesuits who threw the Apache Indians off their sacred mountain so they could build a Vatican-controlled and financed observatory on the top. It has the most powerful telescope in the world called Lucifer (Truly!) which searches for alien life. According to Father Chris Corbally, the project’s deputy director, ‘If civilisations were to be found on other planets and if it were feasible to communicate, then we would want to send  missionaries to save them.” The Jesuits wanted to name the observatory ‘Columbus’ which the Apaches objected to for obvious reasons.

Some of the information I discovered is on these links : (quoting the London Sunday Times)

The Apaches now need a prayer permit to ascend their sacred mountain. Their claim to it is disputed by the Jesuits because they don’t have written records.

 Father Coyne, director of the Observatory, further declared that Apache beliefs were “a kind of religiosity to which I cannot subscribe and which must be suppressed with all the force we can muster.”

Plus ça change


There was a surprising article in the New York Times by Jason Horowitz

‘In moving from cramped offices to a palazzo, the organization is aiming for more visibility, and to be better able to welcome victims.

‘That property hunt ended last month, when the commission took control of rent-free offices in a stately 16th-century palazzo controlled by the church in the middle of Rome.

‘Father Small  (the leader) characterized the move as an expansion to a global headquarters in Rome that can serve as a monument to “the silent massacre of people’s childhoods” and make clear to survivors that they “have a right to be somewhere beautiful.”’

I can see how the Safeguarders will be working in a beautiful place. Not so sure about how Survivors benefit from it, though.

I read about it this morning, tried shrugging it off, then realised it was triggering memories of Catholic childhood abuse and I just couldn’t get rid of them. Catholic self-congratulation and Catholic abuse of power were the triggers – both of which I encountered big time as a kid.  In such cases what I normally do is write a blog or tweet about it to get the poison, the Catholic mental abuse, out of my system, so here goes.

It was the self-congratulation that is so typical of all Catholic organisations that first got under my skin. And secondly the dubious use of power – the Commission intends to invite presumably selected and approved Survivors to their offices? Not ‘troublemakers’. But who would not be overawed by entering such a magnificent building?  It’s intended to impress.

A more equable meeting would be on Zoom or Skype where Survivors are less likely to be visually impressed. Or intimidated.

The article is fuzzy on details, but if the Commission was intending to invite Survivors of Catholic Abuse in off the street – then I would ask them to make that clear. I very much doubt it. I’ll try reaching Father Small for clarification. Like so many Safeguarders he doesn’t appear to have a twitter account or an accessible email. But I understand he has read my blog about the De La Salles.  It’s hardly likely that British Survivors would fly to Rome on the off chance. Based on the past, it seems most likely that Survivors would go through a careful vetting and filtering process  so the Vatican finds  suitably cooperative Survivors thus providing a valuable PR photo opportunity for the Church.

It’s happened before to a Survivor of De La Salles and nuns and as he rightly, bitterly and passionately puts it, ‘We won’t be fooled again.’

And that’s all this article is. It has no news value whatsoever and the reporter is clearly writing a puff piece for his friends in the Vatican.  What do we Survivors care if they’ve moved offices? We want to know what they’re actually doing about the crimes of the Catholic Church. 

There’s not a word of criticism or any reaction from Survivors on what they think about the Church’s investigators of the Church’s crimes working in a palace.

Do the British police or Social Services work out of stately homes?  That’s a fair comparison.

A fellow St Joseph’s College Ipswich Survivor put it very well

Talk about not being capable of reading the room! What makes them think survivors want to go anywhere near an opulent church property, let alone a church? I wouldn’t go there if they paid me. Which they won’t.

My wife Lisa had this to say on twitter

Lisa Mills (Gerrard)


A failure of journalism. Many unasked questions. Is this what


was resigning over when he reference questionable financial dealings?

Other comments on twitter included ‘glorified marketing’ and ‘scam city’.

 But because the reporter is so partisan towards the Vatican he has  inadvertently revealed some insights into just what Vatican elites really think. If he had been more critical, then Father Small and co. might have been more on their guard.  Instead there are some disturbing and revealing admissions in the article, so it’s not all bad.

Firstly, there’s the office politics – the rival factions within the Vatican. Countess Sigrid Von Galen has been observing and writing about this for some time and it’s clear from this that she is absolutely spot on. The resignation of Zollner is just part of it and reading the Commission’s failed attempt to smooth over the cracks in this article is quite revealing.

‘Asked if he thought Father Zollner, whom some commission staff suspected of trying to establish a competing child protection center at a Roman pontifical university, was trying to sabotage the commission, the Cardinal said, “At this point, I don’t know what he thinks.” (Father Zollner did not return a request for comment.)’

Something is clearly going on there

As a Survivor I try not to be bothered with all this nonsense, which is why I attempted to shrug it off. But it reminded me of the Church’s lack of transparency, and attempting to pull the wool over my eyes as a boy intended for the seminary – so it pressed a lot of buttons for me. And the Countess is absolutely right to draw our attention to it, because it underpins what is really going on in the Vatican which affects us as Survivors.

Secondly, the article quote how Father Small hunted for suitable headquarters:

 ‘Often, he (Small)  said, he ran into a “NIMBY” (Not in my back yard) attitude, where church landlords looked at the commission “like a methadone clinic.”

“No one wants it in their backyard,” he said.’

This suggests that the Church generally views Survivors like drug addicts. That’s bad enough and its implications are disturbing. Not to mention insulting to drug addicts – of whom a high percentage are survivors of sexual abuse. It’s perhaps naïve of me to think the Church might show them rather more compassion and not use them for a negative comparison.

But it’s not just the Church generally, but Father Small himself who is actually making a disrespectful and insulting comparison. Just as if I quoted someone using a racist term, I would be guilty of such disrespect.

The appropriate thing to say to the reporter should have been, ‘church landlords looked at the commission in a very negative way.’

That’s not offending anyone and it’s still making an important point.  I don’t care to be described as like a patient from a methadone clinic.

I hope Father Small is free of the clericalism that usually pervades his religion and can accept criticism from a Survivor.

That is what the Elliott report recommended, after all.

Father Small, I’m told, was planning to get in touch with me to see if a rapprochement could be made between Survivors and the De La Salles – a monumental task, given that the relevant agency, the RLSS, is now four months overdue in the action it clearly promised.

So I made it clear that I would welcome an intervention by the Commission if it made a difference to Survivors of the De La Salle scandals. I’m always open to the possibility that there are some individuals working for the Church who want genuine change and, if so, they need encouraging.

Even though nearly every survivor I’ve been in touch with has told me, ‘You’re wasting your time, Pat. Safeguarding is all window-dressing just to make the Church look good with no substance.’

Over to you, Father Small.


What I take away from reading the account below is how important the De La Salles were to the Establishment in the 1950s. They were so well connected back then, any child speaking out about abuse by a DLS brother would never have been believed. The order had the total backing of the Establishment.

I doubt it would get quite the same backing today, but it still remains a powerful and global entity.

It helps explain why the DLS has still not responded to the most serious charges of child sexual abuse laid against it, as well as the promised investigation and apology which is still not forthcoming.

Maybe they still use their connections to their advantage. Or they are affected by clericalism – the elitism that is still present in the Catholic Church – and have nothing but disdain for Survivors. Disdain because they either regard us as liars or think we should keep our mouths shut about the horrific crimes the Brothers committed.

With all this in mind, one observer raised a most pertinent and important question:

The founder of the De La Salles wasn’t just canonized, he was declared patron saint of ALL teachers. So why aren’t the De La Salles leading the way for teaching orders to make amends for abuse, instead of being grudging laggards?

DE LA SALLE REFORMATORIES: Better in the 17th century!

Another excerpt from an official history of the De La Salles. Everyone knows how appalling De La Salle approved schools and reformatories were in recent times. St Gilberts School was particularly vile and there have been graphic accounts on this site. The latest development is that the De La Salles say they were acting on behalf of the Home Office, so they are not responsible for their own criminal actions!

Their hypocrisy is beyond words. They have absolutely no shame.

Money, it seems, totally dominates their lives.

Compare their current behaviour with how they behaved in the 17th century. See below. ‘Birds in cages’ and ‘cultivating flowers’ were allowed for inmates.

I doubt that was the case in the 20th century!

A survivor of the De La Salles made this comment about the current hypocrisy contrasting with the founder’s admirable ideals. ‘Cardinal Wolsley (associated with Ipswich) said much the same thing (about behaving correctly to boys). These DLS blokes never read their contract again after they signed it. Or maybe they were just bloody evil.’


Here’s the De La Salle founder on how De La Salle brothers should behave.

‘…Never allowing themselves to descend to anything base…This seriousness does not consist in a severe or austere aspect, in anger or in harsh words… The teachers will above all never become familiar with their pupils…’

It angers me and many other Survivors that the De La Salles endlessly present themselves and preen themselves today with self-congratulation and not a word of self-criticism, always awarding themselves ten out of ten for their holy and most excellent behaviour..

They seem so ruled by the arrogance of clericalism that it would never occur to them to say, ‘We got it so wrong in recent years. We strayed far from the path of righteousness. From the words of our holy founder. We are truly and profoundly sorry that we grievously and irrevocably harmed so many thousands of children and we hang our heads in shame and humbly ask for their forgiveness.’

Yet if they did make a genuine apology along these lines (as opposed to their curt, fake apology buried deep within their website and criticised even by the partisan Tablet) they would earn the respect and forgiveness of some survivors, at least.

So it actually makes good sense. Insurers – or whoever really runs the DLS order – please note. But perhaps you simply can’t help yourselves? Arrogance is now your way of life? And not acknowledging that your Order screwed up – big-time?

I pity you.

Caldey Island Survivors Campaign – Easter 2023


Guest Blog.

The more they try to hide from us, the harder we shall seek

The more they try to bury the truth, the deeper we will dig

The more they try to blind us, the truth we will see

The more they try to bully us, the stronger we will become.

by Kevin O’Connor, Caldey Island Survivor

Yesterday I posted a summary of the abuse by monks on Caldey Island going back decades and the refusal of the Abbot to even apologise. Caldey Island Child Abuse Summary [9s].

This current post details some actions you can take to help Caldey Island Survivors Campaign to get that apology they so desperately want and deserve.

Caldey Island Survivors Group

Survivors of abuse from Caldey Island formed a group called Caldey Island Survivors Campaign. Kevin is launching the latest part of survivors campaign tomorrow on Good Friday, to bring more attention to the decades of child abuse carried out by the monks on Caldey Island and what you can do to help. The launch will be on Sonia Poulton’s daily morning show Rise on BNT. Twitter Sonia Poulton [18] Brand New Tube Sonia Poulton [19].

On Saturday 8th April, the first boat sails to the island for the opening of the public season on Caldey Island. Children are at risk from monks and other paedophiles the island has attracted for decades.

Easter time is obviously a particularly significant time to many as the time of crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. The main part of the Caldey Island Survivors campaign is to ask people to fill in the Caldey Island Monks Prayer Request Form, to request that the monks pray for the very child victims raped and abused by the monks on Caldey Island.

We are hoping that will get their attention!

Aims of Caldey Island Survivors Campaign

  • Public Apology – There should be a full public apology from Caldey Island Abbot Daniel Van Sandvoort for the child rapes and child abuse carried out by monks on Caldey Island. Abbot Santvoort has been the Caldey Abbot for 23 years and on the island for 33 years.
  • Private Apologies to victims – The children abused by monks should also receive an individual private apology from the Abbot.
  • Child Protection – Children on the island deserve proper protection. The Monks have finally been forced to have vetting, but the DBS vetting needs to be properly supervised by the Religious Life Safeguarding Service [RLSS] [5]
  • Children’s minister for the Welsh Assembly should recognise the extent of the abuse, the imperative for an apology from Abbot and that the Welsh Assembly need to launch an inquiry into decades of abuse on the island.

Actions for Public to help the Survivors Campaign

We want to make sure that the abuse survivors are uppermost in Caldey Island Monks thoughts and prayers. Survivors desperately want recognition of their abuse and an apology before they can begin healing. We are asking people to fill in a prayer request form on the Caldey Island website to

  • ask the monks to pray for victims and survivors of child abuse at the hands of Caldey Island Monks on Caldey Island
  • ask the monks to pray that Abbot Daniel van Santvoort gives a full public apology to all the victims of child abuse on the island and at the hands of Caldey Island Monks. An apology is the only moral and Godly action for Abbot Daniel van Santvoort to take.
  • ask the monks to pray that Abbot Daniel van Santvoort gives an individual private apology to each victim

This is a screenshot of the prayer request form, and if you click on it, it will take you to the form itself…

Caldey Island Monks Prayer Request Form [2]

Plan B, should the Prayer Request Form go down for any reason, is an email address that you can send prayer requests to, or any other queries… Email

We would ask you to do which of these actions you can or feel drawn to. If you only have time to do one action, please fill in the Monks Prayer Request form for an apology for abuse survivors.

  • Fill in the Monks Prayer Request form to the monks for the victims of abuse by Caldey Island monks and an apology from Abott Daniel van Santvoort
  • Boycott Caldey Island and all products #BoycottTheBrothers
  • Support Caldey Island Survivors Campaign by buying some of their hand beaten recycled copper crosses and other items hand made by survivors.
  • Pray for the victims and survivors of Caldey Island Child Abuse
  • Sign up to the Caldey Island Survivors Campaign mailing list to keep in touch for further actions – Caldey Island Survivors [1] or here [2] Scroll down.
  • Email /Contact actions

Email / Contact Actions

Contact Rocio Cifuentes, the Welsh Assembly Children’s Commissioner for Wales. Ask for her to recognise the importance of an apology from the Abbot for the victims and survivors of child abuse on Calday Island and by monks on the Island. With recognition and an apology the victims of child abuse at the hands of monks on Caldey Island can start to achieve some closure for the first time. Survivors Campaign would like her to support the call for an investigation into the child abuse over on the Island over decades to find out what has happened.

Contact RLSS

Caldey Island survivors say there needs to be independent safeguarding checks. Police DBS vetting should now to be supervised by the Religious Life Safeguarding Service [5] [RLSS] but the Survivors Campaign want to be ensure that this will actually take place and to a high standard and that they are watching. There is some debate as to how effective RLSS are. See Pat Mills blog [17]

Please ask for confirmation of RLSS oversight of Caldey Island’s DBS vetting, what levels of DBS vetting the monks are subject to and what RLSS oversight means in practice.

  • RLSS email [6]
  • Tel 0151 5562311 Option 1 – Safeguarding
  • PO Box 878, York YO316GS
  • Religious Life Safeguarding Sevice RLSS website [5]

Copper Crosses from Survivors

The survivors group and particularly Kevin has spent much time and money trying to raise awareness of the abuse that happened, and trying to get the truth and justice and the extent of what has actually happened to children at the hands of monks on Caldey Island over the last 70 years.

The Survivors Group Campaign now raise funds by making hand beaten recycled copper crosses and other items. These crosses are hand made with love and Kevin described with passion what they represent…

“The reason I make these crosses is that I felt that through all my life, I was carrying the cross that the abusers had placed on my back. Their sins were the weight I carried for decades. The tears I shed left a trail which Jesus followed.”

Even though the weight of their sins became too heavy at times and I fell to my knees with depression and feelings of loneliness, Jesus picked me up and helped me to carry on my path. Without Jesus and my good wife Carol I not sure where I would be today. Making these crosses is done by the hands of survivors of historic child abuse. We make them with our hearts. We know their feelings and hurt. Every cross we make is a symbol for survivors past, present and future child abuse all over the world.

The copper pipe I use is reclaimed from builders who donate them to my campaign.
I clean the copper pipe and then hammer it into shape. Then I solder them. We then bless them with Holy water.

Please email for ordering crosses. The price is £25.00 including most postages. Please let me know of your address and we confirm that. With all my heart I thank you.

The hand made copper crosses are particularly stunning I think.

Email for ordering crosses and other items. The price is £25.00 for crosses including most postages. Please let me know of your address and we confirm that. With all my heart I thank you.

These QR codes pass me by, but apparently you can also help Caldey Survivors Group by donating by scanning this QR code to their GoFundMe

Caldey Island Survivors Group and campaign is on

  • Caldey Island Survivors Facebook [3]
  • Caldey Island Survivors website [4]

Boycott Caldey Island Monks

Caldey Island monks sell products that they make on the island. But they are tainted with child abuse. Please boycott the island and not buy any of their products. Not only have the hands that abused children made the products, but the products like ice cream and chocolate were used to lure children in to their abuse. The dairy is where the ice cream and chocolate are made and the room off the dairy was used to abuse children.

The Abbot, Daniel van Santvoort, who refuses to apologise to survivors of abuse by monks on the island is in the centre of the picture, surrounded by the abuse and product.

Caldey No.1 – Caldey Island perfume comes with the stench of child abuse…

Caldey Island is opening to the public on Saturday 8th April. Caldey Island, off Tenby, Pembrokeshire, SA70 7UJ, Wales. email

#BoycottTheBrothers #BoycottCaldeyIsland

Please share this post to help Caldey Island Survivors get an apology.


Other posts on Caldey Island

  • Kevins Story of Child Abuse on Caldey Island [7s]
  • Caldey Island Abuse Timeline #CaldeyIsland [8s] #CaldeyIslandAbuse #cistercian #ChurchAbuse #Monks #CistercianAbuse
  • Caldey Island Child Abuse Summary [9s] #CaldeyIsland #ChildAbuse #csa #FatherKatik #DanielVanSantvoort #Abbot

[7s] 2022 Oct 8 substack foxyfoxblog Kevins Story of Child Abuse on Caldey Island


Kevins Story of Child Abuse on Caldey Island

Introduction I saw this powerful story from Kevin on Pat Mills’ excellent blog on child abuse Pat Mills blog [4] . Caldey Island Monks have carried out child abuse on an industrial scale. At present they refuse to acknowledge or apologise for their abuse of children. Furthermore they trafficked children to other men for abuse on the island…

Read more

6 months ago · 5 likes · 2 comments · FoxyFoxSubstack

[8s] 2023 Feb 28 Substack FoxyFox Caldey Island Abuse Timeline #CaldeyIsland #CaldeyIslandAbuse #cistercian #ChurchAbuse #Monks #CistercianAbuse


Caldey Island Abuse Timeline

I have previously posted a blog by Kevin O’Connell about abuse on Caldey. Cistercian Monk Child Abuse and Trafficking on Caldey Island [141s] At the end of March there will be a campaign launched to bring attention to the abuse at Caldey, which we hope loads of people will join in…

Read more

a month ago · 9 likes · FoxyFoxSubstack

[9s] Caldey Island Child Abuse Summary #CaldeyIsland #ChildAbuse #csa #FatherKatik #DanielVanSantvoort #Abbot


Caldey Island Child Abuse Summary

The child raping Cistercian monks on Caldey Island were brought to the attention of the public in 2017 largely thanks to three brave survivors, pseudonyms Charlotte, Emily and Adele. Their story was well reported by Amanda Gearing. 2017 Nov 18 Guardian…

Read more

a day ago · 3 likes · 1 comment · FoxyFoxSubstack

Also check out Patrick Mills blog [17] who blogs mainly on De La Salles abuse but covers all religious abuse. Recently covered views on the RLSS safeguarding.

Poem by Kevin O’Connell

The more they try to hide from us, the harder we shall seek.

The more they try to bury the truth, the deeper we will dig.

The more they try to blind us, the truth we will see.

The more they try to bully us, the stronger we will become.



[1] Caldey Island Survivors Latest Developments


[3] Caldey Island Survivors Facebook

[4] Caldey Island Survivors website

[5] Religious Life Safeguarding Sevice RLSS

[6] RLSS email

[7s] 2022 Oct 8 substack foxyfoxblog Kevins Story of Child Abuse on Caldey Island formerly titled Cistercian Monk Child Abuse and Trafficking on Caldey Island

[8s] 2023 Feb 28 Substack FoxyFox Caldey Island Abuse Timeline #CaldeyIsland #CaldeyIslandAbuse #cistercian #ChurchAbuse #Monks #CistercianAbuse

[9s] Caldey Island Child Abuse Summary #CaldeyIsland #ChildAbuse #csa #FatherKatik #DanielVanSantvoort #Abbot

[14] Child Commissioner Wales website

[14a] Child Commissioner Wales

[14b] tel: 01792765600

[14c] tel: 0808 801 1000

[14d] Twitter childcomwales

[15] Caldey Island Monks Prayer Request

[16] Email Caldey Island, off Tenby, Pembrokeshire, SA70 7UJ,Wales, UK

[17] Pat Mills blog who blogs mainly on abuse by De La Salles but covers much church abuse and recently the debate on how effective the RLSS are.

[18] Twitter Sonia Poulton

[19] Brand New Tube Sonia Poulton

[52] Facebook Caldey Island

[54] Company Check Caldey Island John Cattini

[58] Our Lady of Intern Rt Revd Daniel van Santvoort OCSO, Abbot of Caldey

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1 Comment

Christa Ford12 hr agoWe are following the survivors and we are praying for them and I’ve just taken a few of the action steps that you have called us to do in your email and I’m more than glad to make those cries for God’s will to be done and for their healing to take place! I sent a prayer request to the monks to before complete repentance and a public apology and a private apology and then also sent an email to the government leader woman that you suggested. I will try to buy one of their crosses soon also! Whatever you’ve done to the least of these my brother you’ve done to me and whatever you have not done until he’s my brother and you’ve not done it to me are the words of JesusLIKE (1)REPLY


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Caldey Island Child Abuse Summary


The child raping Cistercian monks on Caldey Island were brought to the attention of the public in 2017 largely thanks to three brave survivors, pseudonyms Charlotte, Emily and Adele. Their story was well reported by Amanda Gearing. 2017 Nov 18 Guardian Revealed: monk who abused children on ‘crime free’ Caldey Island for decades. [21]

It was revealed that there had been multiple victims of child abuse by a monk, in the 1970’s and 1980’s. The serial child abuser was Father Thaddeus Kotik. Caldey Island Abbot Robert O’Brien had covered it up when it was reported to him in the late 1980’s. He did not report it to the Police. The fact that Kotik had been on the island since 1947 raised concerns of decades of further abuse.

Civil Legal Case v Abbey

Charlotte and another female victim/survivor/ [VS] Emily had reported the offences to the Principal of their school, St. Phillip’s Christian College in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia in the late 1980s. Unfortunately the Deputy Principal of the school, Richard Rule, acted as an enabler of abuse and told the girls they “didn’t need to talk of this again because God has forgiven everyone”. The article from 2017 stated that Richard Rule was running a child care centre. This obviously raises/raised safeguarding concerns for the children in his care.

Charlotte, with some research, and doing the job many think the police should be doing tracked down five other women who had been abused. In 2014 in the abscence of any public prosecution, the 6 women hired Tracey Emmott of Emmott Snell solicitors to lead the case of 6 women against Caldey Abbey for an acknowledgment, apology, and compensation.

The Abbey however was not cooperative, backflipped on various previous admissions and used various legal tricks to avoid taking responsibility. The upshot was that the case had to be settled out of court and with meagre compensation payments for the survivor/ victims abused by Caldey Monks. Very importantly there was no apology.

Child Abuse

After the 2017 publicity, more survivors came forward and more revelations followed. To date the survivors campaign say around 30 survivors have come forward. This is still expected to be only a small fraction, due to the length of time the perpetrators were abusing, the number of monks actually abusing and the number of monks who at the very least knew about the child rapes and child abuse and were thus enablers.

This is the testimony from one survivor…

When Father Thaddaeus was abusing me, while he masturbated over me, at least a dozen monks were also masturbating and ejaculated over me. They took off my T shirt as it was drenched in semen. In my view every Monk knew, even the Abbot. It was industrial abuse of children.

Abuse has now been reported on Caldey Island, since at least since the 1960’s [61]. The legal case relied on abuses in the 1980’s and 1990’s but survivors believe that child abuse is still going on, precisely because so many monks knew about it.

There were child abuser visitors who were monks, like Father Charles Jeffries, a friend of Thaddeus Katik, but there were also other child abusing men who had become used to turning up on the Island every year. It was a safe place to abuse children with no consequence, as Caldey Island had no child protection measures in place and police never patrol the island, ever. Sympathetic monks could be trusted to smooth over anything that might be dangerous to abusers.

Even when children visit the island in the summer there are no police patrols, and so Caldey has become a magnet for child rapists.

Perversely, the “first crime” official on the island was recorded in 2016 for a dad mishandling his own son. Father who manhandled his ‘misbehaving’ seven–year-old son [76]. That “first crime” report of course indicates how reality is different from perception and official record as the monks had been abusing children for years.

Whistleblowing on Abuse and Abuse Deniers

Part of the problem of perception and official record is that survivors are not believed and no action is taken. For survivors it is often like living in a parallel universe, where the normal rules that seem to apply to everyone else do not apply to you. One raped child was told by the abusive monk that if he told anyone about the abuse the following would happen

  • “God would turn his back on me
  • The devil would come and take me either from under the bed or through the mirror at night
  • A severed hand would come through the letter box, climb up the stairs onto my bed and strangle me” Cistercian Monk Child Abuse and Trafficking on Caldey Island [7s]

This would be scary enough as a child – raped by a monk, supposedly a representative of a higher power of good and then threatened that God would turn his back on them, the innocent victim of abuse. That the devil would then get him and a severed hand strangle him.

But when the child does find the courage to overcome those threats and tell about the abuse, everyone around denies or covers up the abuse. There was no help from the parents of one child as they actually pimped the child to the monks, whilst supposedly the child was under the care of the local authority. Children are told that the abuse did not happen as monks would not do that sort of thing. The children are gaslighted, ignored, told not to say such wicked things, told that God has forgiven the abusers, or even worse has forgiven everyone – as though the abused child needed to be forgiven. The innocent abused children are often even punished for telling the truth. They learn to keep it to themselves.

This scenario of people not believing that you were abused can continue even when you disclose the abuse as an adult. The survivors have already been through the hell of abuse, struggled through their childhood of not being believed most likely with PTSD and other mental health effects. Whilst a distinction is made between physical and mental health – these are physical effects – just in the brain. The neural pathways in the brain formed under abuse and stress are not the ones that ideally would be formed in a kind loving atmosphere. These pathways are further confused as the love often given by an abuser as part of the grooming process is often welcomed, is lacking in the rest of the child’s life, it is what a child yearns for. This love becomes all mixed up with the unwelcome abuse taking place. Often abuse is taking place even before sex drives have kicked in. One of our basic human drives for sex which is usually associated with pleasure is now associated with pain and suffering.

It is often the people who have had kind loving upbringings that cannot see outside of their own paradigm. They cannot empathise, they seemingly have cognitive dissonance and in their ignorance become vociferous that others are making wicked accusations against kindly people. They are blind to their own ignorance, ignorance not only of the abuse itself but of the system that allows it and hides it. Instead of taking their anger out on the perpetrator they take it out yet again on the victim.

An example of the inner conflict between yearning for love and the bad lessons learned as a victim of abuse is shown by Mark. Mark was a victim of abuse by Kotik. As Kotik was a family friend, ie had groomed the family in preparation for grooming the child, then Kotik kept seeing Mark. This continued even when Mark has left his parents. Mark even in the course of time took his own son to Caldey to see Kotik. It should be pointed out that Mark ensured that his son never left his side.

Mark now is horrified at what he did, saying he cannot forgive himself.

“Looking back, I cannot forgive myself for putting [my son] in such a vulnerable position despite me or another adult being with him all the time,” Mark said.

But what Mark did is understandable and there is no need to forgive himself. It takes time to heal from abuse. It takes time to make new neural pathways and stop using those old destructive neural pathways. It is much harder to correct or relearn new pathways as an adult, than it was to lay down defective pathways as a child, when we are like a sponge of learning, especially under conditions of high stress. To Mark’s great credit he has formed new neural pathways and understood the destructiveness of the old ones.

Anyone want to explore those issues on healing see Caylen Hartwell Mind Control Survivor [11] where there is a good interview and links. I would also recommend Joseph Chilton Pearce Magical Child [12] which gives the ideal blueprint, the correct stimulation, of what inputs a child’s brain needs over time.

As as adult, survivors courageously tell their stories and often meet even more harassment and bullying. Some people absurdly demand “concrete proof” of abuse. Concrete proof from years earlier when those being abused were children, not even comprehending what horrific things were happening to them, often by people who they trusted and even loved.

What concrete proof do these people want? No concrete proof can possibly be given in 99.9 % of cases. What the “concrete proofers” appear to mean is that they will never believe survivors, that they cannot accept that these horrors happen, they appear to not want to cross the barrier of reality and want to live in their fantasy world. In essence they take an anti survivor stance, whilst hiding behind the veneer of an excuse about proof to protect themselves.

These concrete proofers are often the ones who have had loving background and have little understanding of how others had suffered. Conversely they can also sometimes be people who are denying their own abuse, afraid that if they admit that abuse happens they then have to face up the harsh reality of their own abuse, rather than box it away and pretend it did not happen. Maybe the idea of a monk being an abuser is something people cannot comprehend, or they have cognitive dissonance at the evil that some people can perpetrate, or worse still they have an agenda so they side with the abusers.

Locations of Caldey Island Abuse

There are plenty of hidden places all over island where abuse can and did take place. Children have been abused in many places over the island including the woods, ruined buildings and isolated rocky coves near the beach.

Kevin was abused and went to Calday in 2019 to face up to and overcome his demons and to help his healing. Amongst the places he was abused were some ruins…

Below is Kevin arriving back on the island. The video of Kevin’s visit, click on pic to open video in new tab.

2019 Jun 17 Odysee S4C Caldey Island Abbey Catholic Abuse Kevin O’Connell 23min57s [oca5] #CaldeyIsland #csa #ChildAbuse #revisit #monks #cistercian #catholic #benedictine

The monastery garage was used to entice children by having a chest full of sweets in there. The room beside the dairy was used to abuse after the child was lured into the Dairy with a bribe of chocolate or ice cream made there.

Caldey Island Abbot’s Kitchen Chocolate and Caldey ice cream were made by the hands of child abusers and in a circular horrible dystopian irony the chocolate and ice cream was then used to help lure more children into more abuse.

Please boycott any products made by the monks.

As well as the monks I gather there maybe about 40 residents on the island. Resident children as well as visitor children were abused.

Caldey Island Abbey Monks, Brothers, Fathers, Abbot Responsibility For Abuse

The problem with protecting children on Caldey Island is that the Abbey / the monks and in particular the current Abbot Daniel van Santvoort, exploit every opportunity they can to hide the truth. Essentially the Abbot not to be transparent, but to obfuscate, use loopholes, use grey areas, use legal dodges and delays.

These include

  • Caldey Island is a privately owned. The Abbey either does not allow the police to patrol or the police choose to not patrol
  • Child Safeguarding checks were denied as it was claimed that the monks do not mix with children so do not need safeguarding checks. Luckily survivors had the photographic evidence that the monks do mix with children so at least now the monks are officially subject to a DBS vetting check.
  • The monks refuse to accept that child safeguarding is overseen by the local Diocese of Menevia in Swansea, who have been advised the Abbey on their safeguarding policies. I presume this is the local Catholic diocese. Caldey Abbey does not come under their responsibility but Bishop Tom Burns said that “the Abbey has insisted on retaining its oversight of any specific cases, past, present, or in the future.”
  • The Abbey claims now to have a child safeguarding officer. However the “safeguarding officer” is an ex policeman. The police have failed the children and survivors over the years, and having an ex police as safeguarding officer is not independent nor is seen as independent. Caldey Survivors group do not trust an ex member of the police, an organisation who have consistently failed for decades to protect the children. How can he be impartial and seen to be impartial?
  • The Abbot and Abbey use opaque ownership of the island to evade responsibility and culpability. Caldey Island was bought by the Cistercian Monks in 1925 to be occupied by a group of monks from Scourmont Abbey in Belgium. Scourmont denied legal liability for the abuse yet Kotik a major abuser spent time at Scourmont. Armand Veilleux, Scourmont Abbot from 1999 – 2017, claimed Caldey was an autonomous house in civil and canon law. Teresa Elwes, a devotee who has maintained a relationship with Caldey and Scourmont for 40 years and knew Kotik, said the mother house, famous for its brewery could afford to compensate victims properly. [42]

Abbey and Abbot Legal Shenanigans

The civil legal process was dragged out from 2014 – 2016 due to Abbot Daniel van Santvoort refusing to admit responsibility or even give an apology. This is an age for suffering survivors, for whom the decision to take the monks on, was supposed to help heal, help bring some resolution to their bodies and minds still suffering from the abuse by monks. [21]

They did not achieve what they wanted. The abbey

  • backflipped on its previous admissions and claimed instead it had no knowledge of the alleged sexual abuse.
  • that there was an “evidential disadvantage” in that none of the monks at the abbey during the time of the allegations were still alive. The defence therefore required the abused children prove each offence.
  • claimed it was not liable as the priest was not employed by the abbey to provide care for children
  • invoked the statute of limitations, claiming the victims were out of time to sue for damages and it was not possible now for the abbey to get a fair trial
  • asked the court to find the claim should not be allowed because the seriousness of the allegations was likely to attract attention that may threaten the continued existence of the abbey!!

“The defendant tried to avoid their responsibilities by relying on the time limit loophole claiming the abuse happened too long ago and the claims were too late,” Emmott said. “It took the issuing of court proceedings before out of court settlements were offered, and even then my clients’ request for a formal apology as part of the settlement package was never forthcoming.” Daniel van Santvoort refused even to comment when the story came out.

It should be pointed out that whilst not having achieved what they wanted, they did not fail, they achieved much. They were the Caldey Survivor pioneers. They drew a line in the sand saying that they would not accept being raped and tortured and abused and continue to keep silent. They planted the survivor flag and said we not retreating, we are not cowering in our bunkers. They climbed out of the bunkers of despair and went over the top and advanced. They went to the heart of the beast that had attacked them as innocent children. They fought the beast as best they could in a system that by accident or design favours the abusers.

They stood up to be counted. They achieved dignity and respect and an example for others to follow. They have built a bridgehead so that others can build on their achievements. I recognise your courage, your bravery and your desperation even to take this action to achieve healing from the legacy of what the monks did to you. I recognise what you will have been through in this legal battle, which is on top of the effects of the abuse. Disappointments and delays, emotional highs and lows, mental batterings and bruisings, frustration at the mindnumbing unfairness of it all, despair at the delays and further delays and machinations and procedures of a unfit justice system. Sheer disbelief that the monks who claim to be good but actually are defending evil in this topsy turvy world. Charlotte, Emily, Adele and the other 3 Calday Pioneers I salute you and your immense contribution, your achievement was huge.

Recognition must also go to Amanda Gearing whose article broke the story into public awareness. 2017 Nov 18 Guardian Revealed: monk who abused children on ‘crime free’ Caldey Island for decades [21]. This article not only exposed the Caldey Island monks but encouraged others to come forward and also exposed more and more abuse and abusers. Amanda wrote about nine excellent articles in all, sensitive articles full of information not sensationalism. They were talking truth to power, which to me is what what a journalist should do, but is now so rare in these days of mockingbird media narrative set on high with churnalists lower down carrying out their orders and taking home paycheques. I salute Amanda for her contribution to truth.

Some who came forward publicly are known to be Mark, Kevin O’Connell on behalf of himself and his dead sister Rebecca O’Connell, and Joanna Biggs who has also fought bravely and successfully to clear her sisters name, Theresa from lies told by nun Sister Sheila Singleton. Theresa died in a swimming accident off Caldey when aged 6 after having been given permission to swim by the nun who later denied it and Theresa’s good name in death, was besmirched by the nun to cover up her own culpability. They both had been abused by monks.

Mark, Kevin and Joanna I salute you too. Rare courage from extraordinary people.

Many times, “The Abbey” is referred to. The abbey is a building, whether or not it has legal standing in law I do not know, or what legal entity or construct the monks of Caldey Island hide behind, but what I do know is that the Abbot is in charge. The buck stops with him.

Abbot Daniel van Sandvoort

The current Abbot is Daniel van Santvoort. Abbot Daniel van Sandvoort went to Caldey in 1990, became Abbot in 1999 and is the current Abbot. [33]

The newspaper put it diplomatically by using the word “backflip”. I will be more direct, Abbot Daniel van Santvoort LIED when he said he did not know that there was previous abuse. As well as lying Daniel van Santvoort did everything he could to stop natural justice for the children who had been raped by Caldey Island monks. He refused to give an apology and only meagre compensation. A Godly man would surely have been contrite, and offered a generous apology and compensation commensurate with the crimes perpetrated by the Monks of Caldey Island.

Theere has been no proper apology for the abuse, there has been a limp apology that the abuse was not reported to the police when the previous Abbot was told about it. He was told about it by survivors, parents and staff.

Daniel van Santvoort was Abbot and hence in charge when

  • the Abbey lied about the Abbey not previously not knowing about Katik’s abuse, despite evidence to the contrary
  • the Abbey fought tooth and nail to deny 6 survivors even an apology for their abuse
  • Paul Ashton, a child sex offender stayed on the Island 2004-11,
  • Father John Shannon stayed 2008-9 who turned out to be a child sex offender
  • John Cronin stayed for a month in 2009, another sex offender.
  • Brother Daniel said the abbey was working with Children’s Commissioner for Wales, however Sally Holland has denied that is the case.[64]
  • many people and news organisations have asked Abbot van Santvoort for comments, but mostly he arrogantly refuses. eg Despite contacting the Brother [Santvoort] several times, he never responded. ITV [46]
  • it was stated that “the seriousness of the allegations was likely to attract attention that may threaten the continued existence of the abbey”

There is a pattern. This man, the Caldey Island Abbot Daniel van Santvoort (Gerard) has acted to cover up child abuse by Caldey Island monks.

Abbot Daniel van Sandvoort is also reported to have a very quick temper, not something that most people might associate with an Abbot.

Daniel van Santvoort has resisted adequate child protection measures on Calday Island. Why would someone do that, never mind a supposed man of God?

Brothers and Fathers at Caldey Island

Whilst Santvoort undoubtedly has responsibility for covering up the abuse and his inadequate and frankly nasty and unChristian actions towards survivors, then there is a wider responsibilty of all the monks. The brothers and fathers must question themselves as to whether they are happy to be part of an organisation that covers up child abuse and treats the survivors of abuse by monks so badly. Even if the abuse was all in the past, which survivors do not believe to be the case, monks live on the island that the abusers lived on, use the same rooms that children were abused in. They use benches, the same cutlery that abusers used, the same dairy room that abuse occurred in.

Do the brothers and fathers respect an Abbot that treats survivors of child abuse like dirt, that were abused by a monk from their establishment ?

Do they respect an Abbot that refuses to even give an apology for child abuse perpetrated by monks on the island that you live on as monks?

An apology means so much. Why does Abbot Daniel van Santvoort not give an apology?

These Cistercian monks at Caldey refuse to take responsibility for the children abused by their own on the island, over decades, not isolated occurences, and the true extent of which has not been revealed yet. Have the monks no shame?

Child Safeguarding

The Monks now are now finally “vetted” to make sure they have no previous relevant convictions. In the UK is called a Disclosure and Barring Service [DBS] check. DBS Checks[13]. It was previously denied that monks mixed with children but following photographic evidence provided by survivors, that incontrovertible fact has now been accepted. There are various levels of DBC check, and the exact level /extent applied at Calday is not clear as yet.

The survivors group say that the DBS checks need to be properly and rigorously overseen by Religious Life Safeguarding Service [RLSS] [5] an independent team of safeguarding professionals offering safeguarding services to the Religious of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. Kevin from the survivors group says it paramount that the RLSS properly oversee DBS, so that children and vulnerable adults visiting and staying on retreat on Caldey Island are safe.

ITV Wales also contacted the Diocese of Menevia in Swansea. Caldey Abbey is not under their responsibility but they have been advising the Abbey on their safeguarding policies and practices for the last 18 months.

The Bishop Tom Burns said that “however, the Abbey has insisted on retaining its oversight of any specific cases, past, present, or in the future.”


  • Dyfed Powys Police refuse to patrol the island in the season April to Sept, which is when visitors are allowed, even the high risk time in the summer holidays. This is an obvious risk to children. Why won’t the Police patrol? This is especially risky for children when Caldey Island is known to child abusers and paedosadists to be a safe place for them to abuse.
  • Dyfed Powys Police refuse to release a public facing report on the results of previous investigations of child abuse on Caldey. Why?
  • Dyfed Powys Police refuse to carry out a full investigation of child abuse that has happened on Calday Island. Why? Previously they have given an excuse that a perpetrator, preusmably Katik, is dead. What about the dozen other perpetrators?
  • Dyfed Powys Police have ignored victims, reported crimes with crime numbers have been ignored
  • Survivors of abuse have felt harassed by Dyfed Powys Police for telling their stories of abuse.

Once such previous investigation was this, Dyfed-Powys Police Temp Det Supt, Ross Evans, said the investigation into allegations of non-recent sexual abuse on the island was ongoing and the force was working with known victims “to build a picture of events” [59] Is it not it time that survivors who have given many hours of statements to the Police received that picture of events that so affected and shaped their lives?

Dyfed Powys police why are they refusing to do a full on investigation to historic child abuse on Caldey Island and why have they ignored so many victims.

Two Welsh MP’s were living or had second homes on Caldey Island during the 1970’s, is this coincidence?

Welsh Assembly

The Welsh Assembly have done nothing. The Survivors Campaign that the Asembly turned them down 3 times for a Public Enquiry, it is unclear why. New evidence is coming forward all the time.

Children’s Commissioner for Wales is Rocio Cifuentes for the next 7 years. She has shown little interest in the plight of victims of child abuse from Caldey. Why will she not press for an Inquiry into abuse on the island that lasted for decades and a Police Public Facing Report on what has happened?


Caldey Island Abbot Daniel van Santvoort refuses to apologise for abuse committed by Caldey Island monks. He refuses to get independent safeguarding, he malevolently sought out every opportunity to cover up the child abuse that occurred.

If they were really God fearing monks, then you would think there would be contrition, profuse apology, atonement and restitution.

Is this a really a pedophile cult who dress in brown robes for protection and not actually monks who are abusers?

On Good Friday Calday Island Survivors group will launch their campaign to help bring attention to the abuse perpetrated by the Cistercian monks. A post will be posted here and a survivor Kevin will be giving more details to Sonia Poulton on Rise with BNT Twitter Sonia Poulton [15] Brand New Tube Sonia Poulton [16]

Please join in the campaign to help them. More details on this blog tomorrow. Also see

  • Caldey Island Survivors Facebook [3]
  • Caldey Island Survivors website [4]
  • Join the Caldey Island Survivors Campaign email list [17] Caldey Island Survivors Latest Developments and scroll down

Other posts on Caldey Island abuse


Cistercian Monk Child Abuse and Trafficking on Caldey Island

Introduction I saw this powerful story from Kevin on Pat Mills’ excellent blog on child abuse Pat Mills blog [4] . Caldey Island Monks have carried out child abuse on an industrial scale. At present they refuse to acknowledge or apologise for their abuse of children. Furthermore they trafficked children to other men for abuse on the island…

Read more

6 months ago · 5 likes · 2 comments · FoxyFoxSubstack

[7s] 2022 Oct 8 substack foxyfoxblog Cistercian Monk Child Abuse and Trafficking on Caldey Island


Caldey Island Abuse Timeline

I have previously posted a blog by Kevin O’Connell about abuse on Caldey. Cistercian Monk Child Abuse and Trafficking on Caldey Island [141s] At the end of March there will be a campaign launched to bring attention to the abuse at Caldey, which we hope loads of people will join in…

Read more

a month ago · 9 likes · FoxyFoxSubstack

[8] 2023 Feb 28 Substack FoxyFox Caldey Island Abuse Timeline #CaldeyIsland #CaldeyIslandAbuse #cistercian #ChurchAbuse #Monks #CistercianAbuseSubscribe



[1] Caldey Island Monks Inquiries Email

[2] Caldey Island Monks Prayer Request Form

[3] Caldey Island Survivors Facebook

[4] Caldey Island Survivors website

[5] Religious Life Safeguarding Sevice RLSS

[6] RLSS email

[7s] 2022 Oct 8 substack foxyfoxblog Cistercian Monk Child Abuse and Trafficking on Caldey Island

[8] 2023 Feb 28 Substack FoxyFox Caldey Island Abuse Timeline #CaldeyIsland #CaldeyIslandAbuse #cistercian #ChurchAbuse #Monks #CistercianAbuse

[9] Wikipedia Scourmont Abbey []

[10] Scourmont

[11] Caylen Hartwell Mind Control Survivor #caylenhartwell #cathycollins #healing #childabuse #csa

[12] Joseph Chilton Pearce Magical Child

[13] DBS Checks

[14] Child Commissioner Wales website

[14a] Child Commissioner Wales

[14b] tel: 01792765600

[14c] tel: 0808 801 1000

[14c] Twitter Child Commissioner Wales

[15] Twitter Sonia Poulton

[16] Brand New Tube Sonia Poulton

[17] Caldey Island Survivors Latest Developments


[19] Caldey Island Survivors Facebook

[20] Caldey Island Survivors website

[21] 2017 Nov 18 Guardian Revealed: monk who abused children on ‘crime free’ Caldey Island for decades Father Thaddeus Kotik. Abbot Robert O’Brien knew.

[42] 2017 Dec 22 Guardian Woman abused as a child by Caldey Island monk waives right to anonymity Fr Thaddeus Kotik

[46] 2019 May 14 ITV Calls for public inquiry into historical child abuse on Caldey Island as another victim comes forward 2019 Kevin O’Connell revisited Caldey Island with S4C ITV Wales also contacted the Diocese of Menevia in Swansea. FOI WHen do you have jurisdiction, why do you refuse to patrol? Despite contacting the Brother several times, he never responded.

[64] Victim 10, V11, “Caldey Abbey has worked to ensure this can never be repeated. We now have robust child protection procedures in place on the island including a child protection coordinator.” Brother Daniel said the abbey was working with Children’s Commissioner for Wales, however Sally Holland has denied that is the case.

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