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i discovered that I’d safely downloaded it, although the De La Salles have broken the on-line link. It is interesting to read because it gives a chronology of this man’s life. Note that after a serious sexual assault on a boy in 1965 in Ipswich, he is then transferred to Beulah Hill where he is there initially in 1966. There is nothing to indicate he paid for his terrible crimes. On the contrary, he appears to have been rewarded by the De La Salle order by being made a student at Birbeck.
The Eulogy includes statements like James was ‘the gentlest and most lovely of men’, ‘timid and shy by nature’, ‘kind and considerate gentleman’
The De La Salle Brothers and all those people who got taken in by him clearly believe – or they pretend to believe – in a Ladybird book version of reality. There are not two sides to his character. Just a fake facade of holiness and the darkness within him. There is no true good side to a man who is a serial sex abuser of children and has a terrifying, psychopathic temper as recorded by at least nine pupils. Evil is evil and should not be diluted by excuses, which survivors do not want to hear, unless you happen to have been on the receiving end of his abuse yourself.
Here’s what a Survivor of one of his ferocious beatings thought of him (Damian Moss):
“Brother James in all honesty was a figure of tragic pity. He was inadequate, unloved, deeply frustrated and a raging sado-masochist. Apart from that, he was you’re standard issue christian brother.”
I recently came across a fascinating website called catholicrejects.com. On it, various members or ex-members of the Catholic Church, that have been rejected by that institution for a number of reasons, tell their story.
As I read it, I realized that I, too, was a Catholic Reject – rejected by the Knights of St Columba for resisting their abuse and attempting to control my life. I don’t feel any sense of loss for leaving the Catholic Church far behind me, only a great sense of relief that I escaped, but I know it may be different for other survivors or just members of that faith who were rejected for other reasons. They may well feel a huge sense of loss.
So the founder of the website, Peter Biddlecombe, is keen to hear from anyone else who feels they, too, are Catholic Rejects. ‘It regularly publishes stories by people who have been kicked out. Dumped. Given the boot. Ditched. Stabbed in the back. Whatever. ‘
Peter Biddlecombe has published over 20 books including 11 travel books covering more than 200 countries he has visited. Most of them, many times over. He is now busy completing the final chapters of his autobiography, My Struggle to Follow Thomas Merton: 60 years of Turmoil.
Here is Peter’s personal story:
I’ve just been kicked out. Dumped. Given the boot. Ditched. Stabbed in the back. Whatever. By the ecclesiastical equivalent of Judge Dredd, the very reverend, holy Dom Michael, Abbot of Bolton Abbey, Co Kildare.
“Sufficient to the day is the evil in it,” says The Imitation of Christ, which for over 600-years has been the second most popular book for Christians after the Bible.
Trouble is I didn’t expect the evil to be created in the monastery itself.
What’s more, never in a million years did I expect that I would be the one to suffer because of it. Especially at the hands of a holy, very reverend Abbot.
Not, I hasten to add, because of something I did or did not do. But because of what the previous Abbot did.
How logical is that? Let alone, fair or even – Dare I say it? – Christian.
What makes it worse, is that for over 60-years, I have been trying to become a Cistercian monk. And I’m still trying.
“Despise earthly things and love heavenly, forsake the world and long for Heaven,” says the Imitation. Not if Dom Michael is around, I wouldn’t bother. You haven’t got a chance. He’ll make you wish you had gone of rawdogging it with the Prodigal son when you had the chance.
I didn’t come from a particularly religious family. But I always wanted to be a priest. At 11/12-years old when other altar boys were going off to the junior seminary, I wanted to go with them. My father had just died. The priests told me, No. Stay at home and look after your mother. I did as the priests said. At 16 when other altar boys were going off to the senior seminary, I wanted to go with them. The priests said, No. Go out to work. Earn some money. Help support your mother. I did as the priests said. Which is when I first discovered Thomas Merton, the world’s most famous Cistercian monk.
I was 16-years-old. I had just left school. I got a job as a reporter on a local newspaper in South London called The Merton and Morden News. The first morning I was there, the lady chief reporter said to me, “You’re useless to me unless you know something about Merton and Morden. Go to the local library. Read everything you can about the area.”
I went to the local library. I went to the filing cabinets. Remember filing cabinets? I flicked through the cards until I came to Merton. Not Merton and Morden. But Merton, Thomas – Autobiography. Elected Silence. I got the book and spent all day reading it. I was hooked. I wanted to become a Cistercian monk. Like Thomas Merton.
The following morning, I went back to the office. The lady chief reporter asked me if I had read everything about Merton. “Yes,” I told her. “Fascinating. Like to read more.” She sent me back to the library. I spent the rest of the day reading and re-reading the book. I was convinced. Silence. Solitude. Simplicity. Prayer. It was what I wanted.
During weekends and holidays, I hitchhiked to Cistercian monasteries all over the country. When I first went to Mount St Bernard, the big Cistercian monastery in England, they wouldn’t let me in. Even to the guesthouse. They said I was too young. Instead, I spent the week living in the telephone box in the lane outside, going in and out to all the services.
I bought all the Thomas Merton books as they were published. I not only read and studied the books, I read and studied all the books Merton kept referring to. The Salesians taught me the basics. How to read, write and make wooden toothbrush holders. Merton introduced me to the world. This one and the next.
As I got older and travelled the world – I’ve been to over 200 countries. Most of them, many times over – I visited and stayed in monasteries whenever I had the chance. Gethsemani. Merton’s monastery in Kentucky. Solesmes, the famous Benedictine monastery in France. Abbaye de Keur Moussa, just outside Dakar, Senegal. I even drove 4,000 kms from Paris to Tammanrasset in the middle of the Sahara to visit the hermitage of the ex-Trappist just-canonised monk, Charles de Foucauld.
Three years ago, I was suddenly free. No relatives. No ties. Nothing. Apart from the fact I had more money than I could spend. What to do? Spend the rest of my life whooping it up at the St Tropez Polo Club? Drag out my days in a penthouse suite at the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin? Instead I thought I’d try once again to become a Cistercian monk. Spend the rest of my life in silence and solitude, praying, as Cassian says, with “ruthless self-disciplined determination, without ceasing, in preparation for that first direct encounter with God.”
It wasn’t easy. I had been staying at Mount Melleray Abbey on the Knockmealdown Mountains in Co Waterford off and on for over 30-years. I’ve spent some of the happiest days of my life there. But it took a year of near constant letter writing and e-mails before I even got a reply. I went and spent a month with them for, what they called, monastic experience. It took almost another year of also near non-stop letter-writing and e-mails before I got another reply. I drove over 600 miles there and back in two days from Eastbourne in the south of England to Mount Melleray for a brief 15-20 minute meeting with the Abbot. But it was worth it. He said, Yes. You can come and join the community. Again, it took almost another year to agree the date. The Abbot, obviously, had other things on his mind.
Finally, last May, after over 60-years of turmoil, I joined the community. I did as the Good Lord says. I sold everything I had and gave everything I could to the poor. Most of the stuff they gave back to me saying it wasn’t the right size, shape, colour etc. I even lost a fortune unscrambling book contracts in various countries because the Abbot lectured me – Oh. The irony – on the purity of monastic life and told me to do so. Which I did because, as I get further and further up the queue outside the cemetery gates, I wanted to spend the rest of my life there. And still do
But it was not to be. In a brief, icy, totally non-Christian 10-15 minute meeting, I was kicked out. Thrown out. Booted out. Dumped. Fired. Made Redundant. Told to pack my bags and go. Not because, again I hasten to add, of anything I did or did not do. Everybody there said I was no trouble. I fitted in well. I counted as a member of the community. Especially on Monday mornings when I counted the Sunday collections. Largely, I think, because of my knowledge of foreign coins. But that’s not all. I performed all my monastic duties. I swept floors. I did the washing up. I emptied the rubbish. I even got the Prodigal Son job and looked after their two enormous pigs. In hail. In snow. In rain. Even in the occasional day of sunshine. I only wish now that I had been more prodigal and deserved the honour.
But I’m being kicked out because the Abbot was – How shall I say? – XXXXXXX the XXXXXX XXXXXXXX XXX of a XXXXX XXXXXXXXXX in the XXXX XXXXXXX of the XXXXXXXXXX of his XXX XXXXXXXXX
The logic seems to be:
– First. The Abbot was xxxxxxxx xxx xxxxxxx xx x XXXXX xxxxxarian in the xxx xxxxxxxxxx of his XXX xxxxxxxxx
– Second. The Abbot resigns. Is whisked away. In secret. Into the sun. In Australia. Where, no doubt, he will indulge his interest in things down under. But he still remains a priest. He even had time to up-date his CV on LinkedIn, which describes itself as “an American business and employment orientated online service for professional networking and career development”, where, incidentally, he says he has two jobs. Although why a religious, an Abbot, even a resigned ex-Abbot should feel he needs to be listed on such an on-line web-site, let alone claim he has two jobs, I have no idea.
– Third. Biddlecombe is dumped. Rejected. Thrown out. In the cold. In Ireland. With nothing. Not even one job.
No. I don’t understand it either. All I know is I met the very reverend, holy Dom Michael just once. He was straight to the point. Brutal. Ruthless. Because the Abbot has resigned, the community is now too weak to support me. I’ve got to go.
But why should I be the one to suffer? I wasn’t the one XXXXXX XXXXXXXX with XXX XXXXX XXXXXXX in the XXXXXXXXXX XX XXXX XXX XXXXXXXXX.
I pleaded. I explained. I kept saying.
He didn’t bat a bionic eyelid. He was ice cold. Skeletal. I kept asking him, How can you possibly, as St Paul says, strengthen a community by making it weaker still? Surely, if you don’t let people in, with or without formation, you’re never going to increase the numbers.
But he kept repeating. Coldly. His eyes blinking at half the normal rate. Like a monastic “street judge” endowed with heavenly powers to summarily arrest, convict, sentence, and execute all those who dare to disagree with him. The community is too weak to support me.
But, I kept telling him, I haven’t had any support since I’ve been here? Why do I suddenly need support now?
Formation, he said. Formation.
But, I told him, I know about Formation. I wrote a book about Formation and about every book Thomas Merton ever read during his own Formation. But the previous Abbot told me not to publish it. I did as the Abbot said.
He still said NO. NO. NO.
In desperation, I contacted the big boss of all Cistercian monks worldwide, Dom Eamon Fitzgerald, who used to be Abbot of Mount Melleray and his successor, Dom Bernardus Peeters, who used to be Abbot of Tilburg in the Netherlands. Both of whom I’ve met. Both of whom I’ve spoken to in the past. They didn’t want to know. They didn’t even bother to acknowledge my e-mails.
I haven’t come close to kicking in a stained glass window. Yet. Nearly did, when I heard that the ex-Abbot was telling people he was bored sitting in the sunshine in Australia with nothing to do and wanted his post sent on to him EXPRESS.
I was always taught that the Church exists to help people “know, love and serve God in this world and be happy with Him forever in the next.” Not kick them out in the street without a penny because of something they didn’t do.
Obviously not. Especially not where the ecclesiastical equivalent of Judge Dredd, the very reverend, holy Dom Michael, Abbot of Bolton Abbey, Co Kildare, is concerned.
More information on that missing boy. The original post is below, but here is the update:
Brother Paul should have been investigated about mark Garvey ! He is a convicted peadofile and did frequently take young school boys to the house he lived in on the school grounds ! I have friends who he abused as a teacher by smacking them
Over his lap with his bare hands ! Yes this doesn’t make him a killer but in my optic makes him a suspect !
Hello, i just want to mention i too went to a De La Salle school in Liverpool although it was not a boarding school their were Brothers, of worst sort you could imagine. They were brutal sadistic pedophiles in which One of them was convicted twice of sexual assault named brother Paul. In no way im i exaggerating when i say i was strapped easily Fifty times for the slightest infractions, they would get off on it. There was also a brother who would try to proposition you by sidling up next to you an sing under his breath the Pet Shop Boys i got the brains you got the looks lets make lots of money ?. This took place for me in the 1980s. One thing all ways comes to my mind and that is the disappearance of a young man called Mark Garvey who apparently would frequent the brothers house that was attached to the school i dont know if that was looked into it should be.
I’ve known the De La Salles were systemic abusers in Australia and there have been other troubling accounts about them elsewhere in the world. Their possible past connection to Boys Town, India, for instance. And a disturbing story about one brother in South America. The DLS were systemic abusers in the UK, God knows what they were like in ‘The Missions’.
Here is an inquiry from South Africa about a De La Salle headmaster there. I can pass on any information to ‘X’ or you can reply to him in the Comments.
I am writing from South Africa. Read your blog. I too am an ‘X’
I have a particular interest in “Augustine” Murphy.
He was in South Africa 1971-1975 ( Principal, De la Salle College,Junior School,Victory Park, Johannesburg, South Africa)
He then went on to St Lawrence Finglas.
I am on my own crusade in South Africa and would like to know if there is anyone your side that is a victim of sexual abuse by him.
Catholic safeguarding is my job, not a subject for Twitter
I do not tweet about anything over which I have any direct control – none of my roles
I’m meeting survivors next week where I will outline the progress we have made & answer their questions.
Never on Twitter
I’m at that meeting next week, with just a handful of us, hardly the public at large, but in the meantime here’s my thoughts:
Nazir gave an interview about his role as Chair of Catholic Safeguarding to Ed Stourton on BBC R4 Sunday.May 23rd last year
“I want to talk to the media more frequently, the public more frequently about what’s happening.”
So he is saying here he DOES want to talk publicly about his job as Chair.
But over seven months later that has not happened. So his statement is in contradiction of his rebuttal that he will not use twitter like politicians and everyone else in a similar role (or similar social media AFAIK) to talk to the public about what’s happening in Catholic Safeguarding.
Nazir has not spoken out in the tabloids either AFAIK which is another way of telling the public more frequently what’s happening.
As he uses Twitter frequently to discuss other issues (like Maxwell) it’s not that he has some objection to it as a social media form
As a lawyer, I’m sure Nazir will find an explanation for this contradiction but it’s too subtle for me.
On the positive side, he says some good things on that interview which I was pleased to hear. Like Mandatory reporting. And that he has ‘Regulator’ rather than advisor powers. But working just a few days a month?! To change the Catholic Church’s clericalism and associated crimes is a full time job.
Here’s my message to Nazir:
Whatever your intentions, and I’m sure you are well meaning, the truth is lots of Catholic survivors are disappointed in you and your lack of public statements.
You must take that on board.
And please don’t say Twitter is unsuitable for such weighty matters. Putting aside your frequent use of Twitter on other weighty subjects…
You could easily say for example without compromising anyone, “I’m listening to survivors. I can’t go into details, but I’m looking at how Catholic Canon Law is jeopardising the Law of our Land (I can send you examples, Nazir, if you’re interested?). Change will happen.”
That would tell us you’re on the case without compromising survivor privacy and other excuses.
After seven months it looks to us survivors that you are part of the problem, not part of the solution.
It’s important Survivors know this so they are not wasting their energy on false hopes and window dressing. I believe you were appointed as ‘a safe pair of hands’. But that isn’t going to create the ‘fundamental reset’ needed.
There are other ways to bring the Catholic Church to account for its crimes, but I don’t believe you are one of them.
The De La Salle Safeguarding issues are now in hand; they are being looked at by Operation Hydrant and at the order’s request, too. As I reported Safeguarding’s update: “De La Salle have now written to the police asking them to investigate all allegations and concerns made about the order and any members of it.”
The Knights of St Columba, Ipswich, are very much part of these historic allegations so they will be investigated, too.
Here’s what the CEO of Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency had to say:
‘The KSC is a lay organisation and isn’t therefore aligned to a diocese or a body such as SCOE for safeguarding services. The police can liaise directly with me as necessary.’
So it’s now time for me to turn my main attention to them.
Firstly, I would say to the Knights: ‘There’s still time, gentlemen, for you to respond like the De La Salles and ask the police to investigate the allegations and concerns made about your historic organisation. And to carry out your own internal investigation because I am well aware you keep records back to this era.’
‘For example, publish a full list of past members, which could save everyone a great deal of time. That would be extremely helpful and be evidence of your cooperation.’
After all, today’s Knights must share everyone’s concern at the shocking events related concerning their organisation, which are confirmed by more than one witness and have been on my site since March 2020!
However, they show no sign of responding, which I find disturbing.
Their silence speaks volumes.
In fact, on two occasions two leading Knights from Glasgow, the organization’s city of origin, and possibly its HQ, rather flippantly I felt, asked if I’d like to come along to one of their meetings, presumably to see all the good work I’m sure they do today.
Here’s what one Grand Knight had to say to me:
My name is Dominic I’m the grand Knight of Co 22 Partick wee meet every 2nd Wednesday of the month please come and join us I will show you how the council works.
These leading Knights had no comment on all the serious allegations made on this site.
I declined, not least because I was present at meetings of the Knights as a child and it was a dark experience. An experience that has cost me a considerable amount of time and money and is emotionally draining to this day.
I’ve found the best palliative is to pursue this matter to a satisfactory conclusion.
To that end, I’ve summarised key individuals and information as an aide memoir in preparation for Hydrant and to pass onto them.
If you’re wondering why religious orders throughout the UK are now firmly in the investigative spotlight but never – until now – the Knights when they are intimately connected with the Church and its wrong-doings, I believe there are two reasons.
Firstly it’s down to the proven neo-masonic, ritualistic, coercive and secretive nature of the Knights in the 1960s which continues to some extent to this day, with media control and black-outs of negative news about them as I’ve previously exampled.
And secondly because the Ipswich province, historically, was made up of upwardly mobile blue collar workers and professionals, like the profiles below. So lawyers, accountants, doctors, coroners, special constabulary etc, are in a better position to cover their tracks than the DLS whose crimes all of us school children were often aware of. The Knights were – and perhaps still are – powerful and important pillars of the community. As I’ve previously related, the parents of some St Jo’s Old Boys saw them as weird and dangerous characters, ‘not to be messed with’.
The list of deceased Knights of St Columba I am referring to below is their official list, but it is by no means complete.
I have not named all the Knights while I look for further evidence.
My key source for several of my Profiles is ‘The Shocking Truth About St Joseph’s – my old school.’
This is backed up by other survivors including myself. In particular the sexual violence of Brother James is confirmed. I also have further accounts about the Knights activities in this historical era, sent to me personally. These expand on the details in this public account.
Then and now the Knights have an acknowledged interventionist role in the Church helping parishioners in trouble. Even today, I have been told they are seen in some quarters at least as the priest’s ‘assistants’ and this helps explain how their organised historic abuse occurred: ‘Helping’ became a cover for their criminal activities.
1.Canon Burrows. St Pancras. Listed as a Knight of St Columba. Abuser. The abuse took place in the 1950s, my primary school years. When I talked about it, I was physically silenced by the nun headmistress. There’s some indirect corroboration from a fellow pupil. The Canon was always visiting our home, helping my widowed mother, doing repair jobs and bought my brother and I expensive presents. I ran away from his car parked at Browns timber yard at age 8 and found my way to the police station and reported him. To no avail, but it was a positive experience because the police were sympathetic. It left me with a life-long impression of the value of ‘whistle-blowing’.
2. Father Wace. St Pancras. Not listed as a Knight, but likely to be one, coming from an upper class Catholic family. Abuser. 1950s. His pyjama jacket was covered in metal collectors’ badges, completely impractical to sleep in. When, as a child, I saw it casually laid out on his bed in the presbytery, I was in awe which was, of course, the intention. One assault took place when I was a cub and he was the cub master. My time in the cubs then came to an abrupt halt following a confrontation between Wace and a family friend I complained to.
3. Father William Jolly. St Joseph’s College chaplain. Parish priest St Marks. Abuser. Late 1950s to 1960s. His father, also William Jolly, is listed as a Knight and played a key role in the Church at that time.
I’ve been told by an insider that Knights were transgenerational, so some of today’s Ipswich Knights may have fathers or grandfathers who were Knights in the historic era in question. This has some relevance in an investigation.
Father Jolly drove me to Knights’ events in his Hillman Minx car. He took me out on his yacht and I recall some fairly obvious grooming. Another event at a Knights ‘event’ was more fearful and graphic. He was a heavy drinker and I believe supplied my widowed mother with tranquilizers, probably valium.
A St Joseph’s Old Boy has related how Jolly was taping boys confessions on their ‘impure’ experiences, either for his own gratification or to alert the DLS if boys were complaining about abuse. Possibly both.
That same Old Boy has related how Jolly paid a key role in the Knights cover-up of Brother James’s extremely violent sexual assault on him. Namely, Jolly visited the private London clinic where the boy was recovering to see how much he remembered of his traumatic experience.
4. Un-named Knights. The individuals who arranged the London clinic. This was an ongoing facility indicating that abuse was endemic and London Knights were involved as well as Ipswich Knights, suggesting wider UK organised crime.
The boy’s school fees were paid as compensation, further validating my own experience. See below.
Knight A, a lawyer, seems to have been in charge of the transaction. Although un-named, he was a ‘sporty’ character who I have been given a vivid description of, and I’m sure could be identified by anyone from that era.
5. Knight B. Listed as a Knight. Abuser. 1950s – 60s. Born in Glasgow. He was an upwardly mobile blue collar worker. Although not married to my mother, he was probably my biological father. This is born out by a recent DNA test which shows my biological father had a strong Scottish/Glasgow connection. My legal father’s family has no Scottish connection.
This would partly explain why my own and my brother’s expensive school fees to St Joseph’s College were paid for. But I believe it was to also indenture me to the Knights and their organised abuse, rather than because of his supposed paternalism. It’s a kind of trafficking, to use a modern term.
Knight B also seems to have been a ‘fixer’, like Jimmy Saville who was a Papal Knight and probably a Knight of St Columba as they were in charge of his funeral.
Like Savile, Knight B ‘made things happen.’
6. Knight C. Lawyer. Early 1960s. Abuser. A highly respected, wealthy ‘traditionalist’ and pillar of the local Ipswich community, his sons went to St Joseph’s College. I believe he was a Knight, but as I’m not certain I haven’t named him here, although I have a detailed description of him.
He exercised coercive control over me at age 12 and everything that went with the Knights’ abuse (1961).
7. Further Knights. There was a later similar pattern of organised abuse and coercive control by Knights 1962 – 1964 which continued briefly after I left school at 15. Some may have been just wealthy members of the congregation or even secular individuals who interacted with the Knights. Locations and names I cannot always be certain are correct because there was a number of individuals involved with similar professions, which runs the risk of conflating two people. And there is more than one overlapping narrative. These Knights included lawyers, teachers and doctors.
Their coercive control related to school fees being paid (My mother had zero funds) and also to my remaining silent. I was, unusually, assigned to a junior seminary at age 15. At age 14 (1963) I had the medical and filled in the forms. I believe this unusual move was to ensure my silence. When I refused to go, my fees were no longer paid and I left school at 15.
There is a strong connection between St Joseph’s and the Knights as is evidenced above. The Knights are credited with financing the school; whether as brokers or financiers is not clear. Subsequently they have disappeared from the school’s history, but it is possible that Knights remain as governors of the school to this day. Their financial commitment to the school is relevant because it could explain why they acted as trouble-shooters in the Brother James cover-up.
Later events,1962 – 1964, are complex and may be hard to unravel in their entirety, but it is still a work in progress for me and I welcome anyone’s recollections of the Knights, positive or negative.
But the Brother James cover-up alone is hard evidence of organised abuse by the Ipswich Knights of St Columba and that alone requires a response from today’s Knights.
Not least because the Knights are still involved with children.
We need not only an acknowledgement of their criminal past, but when it stopped and why it stopped. And why they have ignored these most serious allegations for over a year.
On a personal level, even allowing for the truly ‘industrial’ level of their crimes, their multiple and varied attempts to silence a rebellious, ‘trouble-making’ kid seems disproportionate. We’re talking threats, bribes, guilt-tripping, violent physical intimidation, drugs and more.
And even today, an insider warned me, ‘If you piss the Knights off enough, they will bring you much pain.’ He went on to describe how.
But, where a kid is concerned, why would they bother? Who is going to listen to a child? In the 1960s, at least, the Knights held all the cards. Surely it was best to just ignore the ‘annoying brat’?
But it has to be seen in the context of Father Jolly and that clinic where clerical crimes were covered up on an organized basis. So we were far from the only resisters. Jolly certainly sounded very worried.
And my relentless whistle-blowing, the origins of my activism today, must have seemed peculiar, even pathological to the Knights, I wasn’t to be silenced as easily as other kids. My on-going resistance and ongoing disclosures to authority, family or police, clearly disturbed them, even though they were unlikely to be challenged by anyone in the 1960s. Something had to be done about this kid and so they tried a variety of methods to silence me.
So for these Knights, the great and the good of Catholic Ipswich, behind all their power, their contacts, their networking,their professional expertise, there was yet… real fear.
According to an accompanying text, ‘Closing date for expressions of interest – Sunday 5 December 2021.’ If it’s of interest to you, there’s more information available from CSSA, but this document below gives you the idea and the tone.
A fellow Survivor asked me to post this blog and his response which is also below.
The tone of the CSSA documents is problematic for both of us, despite its good intentions and despite the hope we all have that the Church has changed, will change, or is capable of change.. My guest blogger puts the reasons why eloquently and succinctly
My own reaction is less coherent and less precise. The text, along with the accompanying relevant documents l read, felt overwhelming and I found myself glazing over and also recoiling from it. Perhaps it was its superior and authoritative tone and lack of deference to those it had injured, even as it acknowledged past ‘failures’. It also made me feel sad because it reminded me of all the superior Catholic institutions I had encountered and fiercely challenged as a boy. As far as any child can challenge arrogant, abusive adult Catholics. Those Catholic individuals had a similar tone, maybe because they were professionals,too, and one at least was a lawyer, giving me a lifelong hatred of Suits. Back then, those Catholic adults in authority were too smart for me, although I fought them every damn step of the way. The official-sounding text didn’t induce a flashback to those dark days, but it came close.
I’m wary that such a panel would restrict my autonomy and could embed me in the kind of bureaucratic mesh that IICSA used to protect the various institutions of authority with its vast damage limitation exercise. I’m wary that this panel is little more than tokenism, to reassure ‘the faithful’ that all is well now. Rather than the ‘fundamental reset’ that leading activist Richard Scorer has called for.
The Church has a long tradition of dispersing, silencing and subsuming dissent through bureaucratic machinery and this document felt like a continuation of that methodology
But the ultimate reason for my concern is that the Power still lies with the Catholic Church.
The Power should lie with Survivors, not the organisation that has harmed us.
The Church has forfeited its power, its authority, its right to tell us how it is, and what the solution is, by its crimes. Not to mention by its ongoing arrogance, lack of compassion and humility.
It bears repeating that the Church’s criminals are no longer the odd rotten apple, but a whole rotten orchard. Their crimes are provably endemic and industrial in their complexity. That sentence bears repeating: Industrial. And we Survivors have not exposed to the general public the full and shocking nature of the industrial nature of their crimes.
But they, a proven criminal organisation, still have the authority in this document. We should have that authority.
And the salaried Church members of the agency are not subject to the same scrutiny and protocols that are expected of survivors on the panel who will provide their services for free. We have to take members of the Church and their impressive credentials on trust. Just as we did when we were children.
It’s surprising – or is it? – that none of these issues occurred to them when they drafted their documents.
So how could it be done better, you may ask? By Survivors – not the Church- being in the driving seat, not the associates of those who once ran us over. We should draft the paperwork and the direction, building in assurances that we retain our independence, rather than signing up to what feels like an extended NDA.
My Guest Blogger puts the case more wittily and more satirically than I can. My anger towards this perfidious organisation has blunted my sense of humour today.