MIKE KEARNEY (1): RECOVERING MEMORIES

I’ve been prompted to write again about Mike Kearney, the lay Irish chemistry teacher at St Joseph’s College, Ipswich. For anyone not familiar with this man, he taught from the late 1950s to the 1980s. There’s plenty of accounts of his brutality on this blog, seen by apologists as ‘normal’ for the time, and one account by an Old Boy of his racism. Whether this is connected to Kearney having spent some time in apartheid South Africa, I have no way of knowing.  It has been challenged by a white Old Boy as ‘not true’. Several Old Boys also thought he was a poor chemistry teacher. Personally, I thought he was ‘okay’, but then I was a poor chemistry pupil. I think Old Boys generally are divided between seeing him as ‘stern but fair’, ‘his bark worse than his bite’ and others regarding him as a violent, cruel sadist. Given that he punched a boy in the face and had to apologise to him, I subscribe to the latter camp.

i don’t accept these were ‘different times’. Punching a child in the face, then and now, is a criminal offence.

St Joseph’s today, although it claims to have no connection with its dubious and  criminal De La Salle past, where organised sexual abuse in the 1960s and beyond is now a matter of record, had a Mike Kearney Memorial Chemistry prize. I think this has now been withdrawn, I certainly hope so because this individual does not deserve to be remembered in a positive light.

But my concern has always been about a much darker side to him which resulted in my spending considerable time and money in therapy trying to make sense of really terrible memories about him. The more I looked into them, the worse they got.  Daymares, nightmares, PTSD flashbacks, you name it. I tried blocking my memories of him, but it  didn’t work.  My experience of recovered memories was similar to the account below.

Where other St Joseph’s abusers are concerned, I’ve pretty much laid them to rest. Although, I’m touching wood here, of course.  Kearney was more problematic and there’s a reason for this. The awful events concerning him happened outside the school, so there were not the usual witnesses to validate my recovered memories.

 Nearly all survivors who write into this site are boarders and I used to thank my lucky stars I was a day boy.  In fact, it’s an illusion I used in order to survive. Day boys could also be in danger and I’m sure I wasn’t alone.  My mother was a devout, Irish Catholic widow with no income, no job and recurring mental health problems, probably worsened by medication both legal and illegal. Father Jolly, our parish priest and St Jo’s chaplain, whose crimes have been detailed on this blog by at least one other Old Boy, was a drug supplier which may sound unlikely but I can assure you is true. He was not the only one. Leaving aside for now the question of how my mother could afford to send her two sons to a posh Catholic grammar school (neither of us had passed the eleven-plus), it meant we were a prime target for Catholic predators.

These predators, from my primary school days through to secondary school, were sometimes given the right to act  ‘in loco parentis’. It was felt boys needed ‘a strong fatherly hand’, especially in 1950s Britain and –if they had been genuine – I would possibly agree.  It’s also the supposed norm in Catholic communities that the poor and the widowed are supported and so a series of predators used this to their advantage. In our tightly knit Catholic community, Catholic widows were also considered ‘fair game’ and a better alternative to having affairs with Protestants or not ‘sullying’ unmarried Catholic women. I’m pretty certain it also had some pseudo-religious rationalisation.   

I’ve been able to prove the conduct of a number of these predators to my satisfaction: Canon Burrows (Knight of St Columba), Father Wace (probably KOSC), Father Jolly (KOSC, St Joseph’s chaplain and our local parish priest), two or more lay Knights of St Columba, and… a couple of lay teachers from St Joseph’s. That sounds like an awful lot, but we’re talking over a fifteen year childhood and some of these characters may have only had brief involvement as ‘do-gooders’ or rather ‘do-badders’.

Kearney had such a ‘loco parentis’ role.

The predators’ exact terms of reference and their relationships with my mother must have varied considerably.  Some may have been interested in my mother, others her sons, yet others in both. Certainly widows – then and now – are prime targets for predators and it’s a well-known technique for abusers to relate romantically towards the mother in order to get at the kids.  Canon Burrows, the first, typically always around our house doing ‘little jobs’ and mysteriously paying for school extras,  was a truly vile sexual abuser. So were most of the other ‘father figures’ that  I’ve listed that followed him, although not necessarily all. Some may well have just been interested in my mother and not her children.  It’s not easy to be sure every time. In some cases I’ve had to speculate about the real nature of the relationships and, of course, it’s impossible to know with absolute certainty. Much of the time everyone was very ‘discreet’.

The dynamics of just how Catholic predators exploit Catholic widows like my mother and the way she would have been groomed to fulfil a certain role in her Catholic community, I would only have been dimly aware of as a kid.  It’s a role Catholics will, of course, deny then and now.  Like they’ve denied so much abuse that’s subsequently been proven.

Here’s a brief example. She was ‘put in charge’ of a young French Father Gonnet who, mysteriously, was having an extended ‘holiday’ in our industrial town. She was told to ‘look after him’, so he was always round our house having tea when I came home from school. They got on extremely well and he was always making a fuss of me, too. We would also go on picnics to Stratford St Mary, a couple of miles down the road from East Bergholt where Gonnet was staying with the local Franciscans . Their place was a very convenient location for him to abuse.  Gonnet and these far from holy Franciscans left a deep trauma scar on me, which I still resent, because my abiding recollection of this particular predator is ‘The bastard was only staying in Ipswich for a few weeks.’  A few weeks is all it takes.

 I knew my mother had a kind of exalted status in the parish and this was certainly her own perception of herself, but I knew also there was something ‘not right’, something ‘odd’, ‘evasive’ and ‘mysterious’ about her. Trying to make sense of her behaviour, her constant absences for instance, I was a latch-key kid yet she had no job, I read everything I could about fictional women like her and that helped considerably. As an adult, I can  fill in the blanks from my life experience and examples such as Gonnet. Doubtless you can do the same. I’ve had to outline the role of my mother because it’s most relevant to Kearney as he, too, had this loco parentis role which will be more defined in later posts.

Kearney was a particular threat because I was older when we clashed and starting to make sense of the world.  And, unlike the previous men, he didn’t have a  typical ‘cover story’ for his involvement with my mother AFAIK,  e.g. he wasn’t in the church choir. In fact his cover story was to go boot camp on me, to ‘bring me to my senses’, to stop being a rebellious teenager. But there was much more to him than this.

As you can imagine, in such a world, everything is ‘smoke and mirrors’, everything is deliberately mysterious, vague and hard to pin down in order to keep victims off balance.  

My agenda in writing about Kearney is firstly as a catharsis. Secondly, because it may help other survivors dealing with recovered memories and highlight how predators work. Thirdly, it’s to name and shame him.

Finally, because it may resonate with other Old Boys who may have other information about Kearney that dovetails with my account, although – as I’ve said – because this happened outside the school, it’s far less likely. But do get in touch if you can shed any light.

And this account, of course, bears out that I have no financial agenda. The De La Salles can’t be held responsible for or be financially liable for what this creep got up to outside school hours.  And so it adds to the validity of my case. Why would I spend so much time and energy on Kearney, when I have far better things to do with my life?

I’ll write more about Kearney in subsequent blogs.

This woman’s experience below of recovered memories (she’s not a Catholic AFAIK) pretty much dovetails with mine and I’m sure with many survivors of the De La Salles.

I realise all this may be upsetting or triggering to read for some, so I’d like to end with a cheerful anecdote to show how, despite everything, we survivors can beat these scum.

I was sixteen. I would leave home a few months later and Kearney’s connection with my family was over, as short-lived as all the previous predators.  My brother and I were drinking beer in a pub by the Old Cattle Market –I think it was the Plough.  I was excitedly talking to my brother about a gig we were going to at the Assembly Rooms next door. I believe it was Murray and the Mints,  they were St Jo’s boys who had a real ‘Animals’ sound, mouth organ etc, and I’m a huge fan of the Animals. ‘We’ve got to get out of the place’ wasn’t just an anthem for Vietnam soldiers, it was my anthem to escape the Catholic Church.

Then Kearney came in, ordered a pint and sat at a table on his own. We both recognised each other but said nothing.  There’s a look lonely men who drink alone in pubs have, which we all recognise, and Kearney had that look big-time. His shoulders were rounded, drooping with depression, as he stared down into his pint. I think his first-wife had died some years earlier, but that was something I’d been told on the playground grapevine, so I may well be wrong.  Whatever the reason, he was definitely down in the dumps.

Then he looked across and I could see he was weighing up whether or how to rain on my parade. As he had done until recently. In those days, there was no ID and anyway, like any self-respecting 16 year old, I’d have lied. And bar tenders don’t care. So he knew his options were limited.

I knew he was going to do something, because he always had to win, but I was ready for him. I’d taken more than enough shit from him and I was a very feisty teenager.

He finished his pint and came over. He looked sternly down at me, hoping to intimidate me.

‘Does your mother know you’re here?’

‘Yes,’ I lied defiantly, ready for him to use physical force on me.  Again.

The expression on my face was clearly saying, to paraphrase the Animals, “It’s my life and I‘ll do what I want. Drink what I want. I’ve left school, you’ve got no power over me anymore.’

There was an awkward pause. Then Kearney nodded, defeated, impotent to do anything other than show his disapproval. He stumbled off into the night. A sad, lonely loser.

That was the last time I ever saw Kearney and I can still remember the feeling of exhilaration that I’d defeated him.

Then I got back to talking about much more important matters than this odious prat – like that forthcoming gig watching Murray and the Mints.

I was finally free.

Below is a survivor’s account on Instagram which I found incredibly useful and sums up how recovered memories work.

GUEST BLOG   CALDEY ISLAND – CISTERCIAN MONKS

I was talking to fellow survivor Kevin O’Connell yesterday about Caldey Island  and abuse by the Cistercian monks which he outlines in his guest blog, SEE BELOW.

Poor and deprived Catholic children – many from the Birmingham diocese – were sent on holiday to Caldey Island where the monks were waiting for them… It’s a familiar story.

Kevin is a vigorous campaigner, with plans to go to Rome in pursuit of his cause. His story has been covered on BBC Wales https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-59479131, but needs wider coverage.

Apart from Caldey Island, Kevin has also related the Catholic trafficking of  children in Southern England.

His story is relevant to this site because, alongside the story of systemic De La Salle abuse at St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, and that of Stephen Smith  (‘The Boy in the Cellar’ book where Stephen recounts St William’s organized De La Salle abuse), it means there are now THREE proven examples of organized, systemic Catholic abuse in the UK.

Organised abuse – Catholic paedophile rings –  in the laity, the Knights of St Columba, and amongst cleric and religious orders like the De La Salles and the Cistercians – has yet to be acknowledged by the Church.

Officially it never happened and all concerned have shown no interest in following up proven cases.

So it’s fallen to survivors to present the evidence that organized abuse was endemic in Catholic society and may still be. These crimes don’t go away in one or two generations – much as they’d like us to believe it.

Three examples should be more than enough. Possibly we will have to wait until there are six or more examples before the Church will admit it contained and maybe still contains organized paedophile rings.

It may take a public enquiry, as Kevin suggests, or some other independent means to expose the truth.  Certainly it won’t come from Catholic organizations themselves.

The slowness and indifference of the De La Salles and the Knights of St Columba in dealing with these crimes is certainly noted.

They clearly don’t care if children may still be at risk.

Let’s hope the Cistercians are different.

On 21 Jun 2022, at 19:46, KEVIN O’CONNELL <kevinoconnellandco@hotmail.com> wrote:

Hi.

Thanks for your interest in our campaign Caldey Island survivors.

I suffered 50 years because of the horrible abuse from monks and priests.

I came out about it in late 2018 and since then with the help of Dinah Mulholland and others have campaigned for a public inquiry and to bring the Monks on Caldey into the UK laws and provide a independent safeguarding for children from Catholic Churches and schools still retreat on Caldey Island.

The abbot stated that they retain the right to oversee past present and future child abuse.

The whole story of Caldey and priests from Sussex/Surrey has not been told, this is why we need a public enquiry.

The police failure is unforgivable.

What I witnessed while on retreats on Caldey is industrial abuse of hundreds and possibly thousands of children, the poor, the weak and vulnerable children. Taken to the caves ,ruins, sand dunes and the monks cells in the ruins. Abusers would travel by boat daily as Caldey was well known for paedophiles

As a safe haven for them. Also the abbey hid paedophiles from the police.

But please have a look at our Facebook page Caldey  Island survivors campaign.

Web site caldeyislandsurvivors.org.

It would be lovely if you could help us .

I often ask people what do they see when they  close their eyes  at night, because what I see is the eyes of the children being dragged away to be abused.

INVESTIGATION INTO DE LA SALLE ABUSE 

CURRENT POSITION

desbill.scoe@gmail.com

SCOE  – Safeguarding

Dear Des Bill

I wanted to see what the latest situation was regarding the numerous allegations of abuse by old boys, including myself, at the hands of the De La Salles. Not only at St Joseph’s Ipswich, but also Beulah Hill and elsewhere. As you know, they are all recorded on this website and have also been available in summary for an investigator’s convenience.

I’m aware that they have been sent to police Operation Hydrant, via yourself and Catholic Safeguarding, and I look forward to their response in due course. 

The DLS have also contacted Suffolk police  – see below – and this may be part of the Hydrant investigation or separate. It’s not been made clear and it would be useful to know.

It was also stated by the DLS spokesperson that an independent investigator would be commissioned to look into these allegations which he said were  ‘unheard of’.

‘ most of the accusations made on Mr Mills blog were “completely unheard of”, he (Hudd) said. 

See EADT December 11 2021

https://www.ipswichstar.co.uk/news/st-josephs-ipswich-abuse-monks-ask-police-8553626

“With regards to St Joseph’s, we’ve put the ball in Suffolk Constabulary’s court”, Mr Hudd said. “It’s up to them to work out what happened and if the abuse truly was systemic. 

“We’ve also hired our own independent and experienced child abuse investigator to assist the police. 

In fact ‘most’ allegations were ‘heard of’ and were  familiar to the DLS as survivors of Brother Kevin’s abuse prove on this site. And the Beulah Hill survivors who have made numerous allegations on line about Brother Solomon. 

For the DLS to claim they were unaware of these allegations and more is unconvincing.

The DLS own records will confirm that ‘most’ were ‘heard of’ as I’m sure Hudd knows only too well.

Moving onto the investigation, I have not had any contact from an investigator. But how else are they to reach the authors of the various allegations on my site?

We have been waiting these many months and nothing has happened. Who the investigator is has not been revealed to us.

I have the strong feeling that the investigator – six months later – has done nothing.

Is that the case?

You will recall that when the DLS provincial Laurence Hughes was being similarly investigated for allegations of his violent abuse of children, I put your independent investigator’s details on my site. Consequently, several Old Boys got in touch with the investigator.

As a system, it worked well and I have no complaints.

Surely that is the way to go here?

On which subject, I’m sure survivors of Hughes’s alleged violence would like to know what is happening. I understand that police action against Hughes is not proceeding? Is this correct? But I believe you said that – whatever the legal outcome – there would then be an internal inquiry? 

Is Hughes now reinstated as head of the DLS or has he ‘retired’ ? I think the survivors of his alleged assaults would like to know. 

I’m putting this letter up on my blog so survivors can be kept in the loop. I look forward to hearing from you.

Pat Mills

SONIA POULTON SHOW : RISE WITH BNT

I was on the show on Friday talking about organised Catholic abuse involving the De La Salles and the Knights of St Columba. Past AND present. I managed to give an over-view of their crimes. Hope to go into detail in specific areas of their systemic abuse on a future occasion.

It was recorded, so you can see it here:

https://brandnewtube.com/v/jLXO9f

My piece starts just after 1:04 

GUEST ON BREAKFAST SHOW – RISE WITH BNT

I’ve been invited on Sonia Poulton’s Breakfast show, Rise with BNT. (Brand New Tube) It’s twice a week, Monday and Friday. Very varied guests – but with a common theme of sticking head above parapets – speak live on Zoom for about 15 minutes. The date is Friday June, 10 at 8.30am.

I’ll be talking about Organised Catholic Abuse as manifested by the De La Salle Brothers and the Catholic Laity in the form of the Knights of St Columba. Objective? Apart from naming and shaming, as I’ve done on this blog, and making more people aware of the true criminal nature of the Catholic Church, I hope it will encourage other survivors to come forward.

i shall not only stick my head over the parapet, but go out into No Man’s Land where our compromised mainstream media have never gone – even though they know that these terrible crimes committed by the Catholic Church happened and are still happening.

ST JOSEPH’S IPSWICH TEACHER REMEMBERED & THE OPUS DEI CONNECTION

Francis Carolan has died just before facing four charges of abuse in April.

Below are some recollections from one Old Boy about this teacher from the early 1990s.

The Opus Dei recollection I find interesting.  So a few thoughts on that organisation first.

In my own and other’s experience, St Joseph’s teachers had (have?) connections with neo-masonic Catholic organisations. In my era, the St Joseph’s teacher abusers  I encountered were members of, or connected with, the Knights of St Columba whose crimes I have featured on this site and are currently being looked at by Operation Hydrant. In another notorious case (late 1950s), an ex-St Joseph’s teacher, known from his violence, ran away with a young boy, promising that he would become the youthful leader of an exciting new order of Catholic Knights.

It would be almost reassuring if one was to conclude they’re just patriarchal organisations and Catholic women were never involved. But, of course, it’s well known that women can be members of Opus Dei, too. There was Ruth Kelly who was a practising member of Opus Dei and a minister for education. Given their warped ‘mortification of the flesh’ practises, I find that singularly unhealthy. In my era, leading Catholic women in Ipswich were members of or connected with the Catholic Women’s League, which is closely associated with the Knights of St Columba.  My experience of these ladies and their practises was very unpleasant.

Beyond St Joseph’s, there are other unhealthy stories of Catholic Knights that I’ve come across: Papal Knight, and probable member of the Knights of St Columba, Jimmy Savile being the prime example which no one has ever investigated.  I doubt it will be featured in the forthcoming Netflix drama.

The inescapable conclusion is that if you’re a member of these various secretive Catholic organisations, there’s a good chance you’ll get away with your abusive crimes. As an academic study has shown (previously featured on this site), there is a strong transgenerational element which suggests it’s still going on today. 

 RECOLLECTIONS OF CAROLAN

Carolan boasted to us that he’d sign off letters to parents with the letters FOAD. If questioned he would say it was “for our almighty deity”, but it was actually fuck off and die. He was apparently a member of Opus Dei, and had met the Pope.

Frank Carolan was a scary man. Hitting us on the back of the head with bibles, but mostly he was a psychological bully. Incredibly nice on one hand (I had a band in the 4th/5th year and he allowed us to rehearse in his classroom after school, and store our instruments), and then he’d turn on you and reduce you to nothing. 

He was my housemaster in birkfield before he disappeared one night in spring 1993. Never did anything physical to me, but we were all terrified of him and there were allegations at the time. 

THE CATHOLIC INDEX

Yesterday, I had an unpleasant but cathartic flashback experience involving the Catholic Index, so I wondered if anyone else had come across this ludicrous but lethal and fascistic form of mind control? Do let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

I know it was dissolved in 1966, but too late for me – the Knights of St Columba were still using it up to that date and almost certainly beyond.

Anyway, what triggered it was some of my (comic) readers recently started sending me angry, finger-wagging and moralizing tweets about my interest in the block chain (an irrelevant subject for this blog).  Whatever its rights or wrongs, they were in essence saying I shouldn’t even think about cryptocurrency and NFTs, they were intrinsically evil etc. They were acting as self-appointed spiritual advisers.

I just shrugged it off as part of my job. They’re entitled to their opinion and I am to mine and it’s hardly a big deal. My readers often feel passionately about any changes in publishing and good luck to them.  My wife Lisa – who knows more about NFTS than I do – wrote a very calm and reasoned reply and I really thought that was the end of it. https://www.millsverse.com/response-to-our-little-twitter-storm-about-nfts/

But my psyche felt very differently and you will see how it triggered my childhood recollections of the Catholic Index.

Before I knew it, I had the most powerful ptsd flashback I’ve had in years.

I was around 14, very much under the control of the Knights, still lined up for the seminary, and as rebellious then as I am today, when I was discovered reading a forbidden book. It would be fair enough it was Lady Chatterley – although I doubt it’s on the index – and it would be far too readable anyway.  No, it’s dreary and boring books that challenge the Church’s core teaching that were on the Index – although I know there are some novels, too, like Dumas and Hugo. Anyway, it was one of those books I’d gotten hold of.  

As a form of resistance, I was hanging out with an esoteric group opposed to Catholics. Pretty stupid, and going out of the frying pan into the fire, but when you’re 14, you do what you have to do to survive. I needed some artillery on my side against the Knights, otherwise they might have crushed my spirit. This was the Knights’ clear intention, although they would have used more flattering words to describe their form of mind control.

As far as I can recall, the group, who called themselves the Cathars (‘Pure Ones’), gave me a book by Swedenborg: History of the Devil aka Heaven and Hell. In their own way they were grooming me, too, just like the Knights. I found it a bit tedious to read today, but I bet I loved it as a kid because – apart from its click-bait title –  I knew it was against the Catholic Church. It was a symbol of defiance. Being on the Index, Swedenborg’s tome was regarded as a work of evil and anyone who read it would be excommunicated and go to Hell. The usual Catholic attempt to bully their followers into submission.

The Catholic Knight in charge of my spiritual welfare – and my fake stepdad –  absolutely freaked!  He went totally nuts!  (Just like my comic readers did when I talked about NFTs). I don’t know exactly how I responded, but it was definitely with the kind of defiance that any 14 year old kid does up when they come up against a bullying and violent ‘stepdad’.  I probably didn’t swear like I do today, but the gist of my response was undoubtedly ‘fuck off’.

He wouldn’t calm down or back down and neither would I, but  there was a limit to how violent he could be in front of my mum. In any event, I was probably egging him on– the way kids do. ‘Go on. Hit me. Let’s see what a bastard you really are.’ Controlling himself with some difficulty, he found another punishment for my dreadful crime: He locked me out in the garden so I had to spend the night in the coal shed.

Hence the flashback. Although my office is warm, and I live in Spain, yesterday I suddenly found myself wearing three heavy jumpers, gloves, hugging an electric fire and a hot water bottle with a thick blanket thrown over me.   And I still couldn’t get warm!

Only when I relived the original event did my temperature return to normal.

So what happened at the end of my punishment? The next morning, when this typically noble Catholic Knight let me in from the garden? Was I suitably subdued? Did I say, ‘I’m sorry, sir. I won’t do it again. I’ve learnt my lesson.’

I think you know the answer.  

It’s a useful reminder to me that the Knights of St Columba are currently under investigation by Operation Hydrant – two prime examples of their crimes against children have been forwarded to the police by Catholic Safeguarding. And, I’m pleased to say, it is regularly being progressed. So, whatever the final outcome, it’s being taken very seriously. And let’s bear in mind that the Knights’ corruption of children didn’t stop in my era. As is well documented, there are current Knights that need further investigation.

This organization really needs thorough investigation, not just by the police but by investigative reporters. It has a lot to answer for and to explain.

And the Knights also need to pay compound interest on their organisation’s crimes from the time of the Catholic Index.

Perhaps a night in the coal shed might do them some good.

 NAZIR AT BOOT HILL

A survivors response panel, including myself, met with Nazir Afzal, chair of Catholic Safeguarding, and other safeguarding officers last Thursday. So I really should write down my recollections for the record. I won’t go into great detail because I glazed over a bit as I heard Nazir’s endless excuses for inaction. But it could be relevant in future months, because my fellow survivors and I were – for the most part –  further disappointed and disillusioned by his response.

On a personal level, ironically, it was actually valuable to me because it triggered lots of useful recollections of being groomed as a kid by Catholic predators.  Although the motives and circumstances are clearly very different here, the end result is similar. The 15 year old boy inside me – desperate for a hero – really wanted to believe the CSSA was going to make a difference.  And that Nazir genuinely stood for change. Because that’s how those predators spun it, too. My  adult self wisely said to him, ‘Don’t be so bloody stupid. Can’t you see this is nonsense?’

That has some relevance to survivors as a whole because being given false hopes and expectations is injurious to our emotional well-being if we’re taken in by it. Most survivors are not. But that 15 year old boy inside me bought it, certainly at the previous meeting, and I’ve had to have a stern word with him.  At least  two of the predators,  Catholic Knights who abused me as a 15 year old,  were highly-esteemed lawyers and they were damn good at their grooming techniques. So I can understand why my inner child might eagerly respond to another lawyer such as Nazir. It may seem like an unpalatable connection, but every survivor will understand about this kind of triggering. And so should the CSSA.

But firstly, the background context. The CSSA, with Nazir at its head, presents itself as a dynamic new organisation wedded to change and putting a stop to Catholic abuse and this is what everyone believed. It’s certainly what the general public believe With his impressive CV how could it be otherwise? Nazir’s powerful tweets on other matters only add to this illusion. Not to mention Nazir’s warning to the Bishops at their conference that real change has to come and they are in ‘Last Chance Saloon’. For which, Nazir proudly told us, he received a standing ovation from the Bishops.

He’s unlikely to receive a standing ovation from Survivors.  

I was going to leave it to the Spring before writing something like this. That kid inside me said, ‘Come on, Pat. Give him a chance. Give him another month or two Be patient.’ But after Thursday’s meeting the responsible adult in me says his time is up. Nazir himself  has gone through the Last Chance Saloon,  and – as one survivor put it to me – he and Catholic Safeguarding are now in Boot Hill.  The cemetery.  It’s over.

I’ll get into a little of the detail below, but let’s look at the bottom line first. No matter how convincing the excuses – and Nazir is a lawyer, remember, and they have a talent for validating themselves that no other profession can possibly aspire to – the hard facts are the CSSA started in May 2021. 

Ten months have gone by during which Nazir has not spoken out on Catholic  abuse matters.

And there’s always a valid reason why it’s manana.  

Currently, manana may be the Spring. May be the Summer. He has a host of reasons why this is so, which a survivor described to me as ‘the most feeble of excuses’. Other survivors used rather more colourful language.

So at least a year will have gone by before major change – IF it happens.

The harsh facts are these – survivors are getting older, abusers are getting older. The Catholic Church has always relied on just waiting it out until everyone gets fed-up, ill, or dies. And, inadvertently or otherwise, Nazir is  part of that process.

These matters are too serious to be put on ice for one year. It needs action.

Now.

Perhaps in the Summer some change will come, but it will be largely cosmetic. It’s what I originally feared – that the dynamic new CSSA – will be just window dressing and no profound changes will have happened or serious concerns addressed.

So what are the changes needed? And the concerns raised?

Gosh! Where do we start?

I and two other survivors  actually spent over an hour preparing three questions on just three isssues between us because of the limitations of time when we had our hour-long Zoom with the CCSA. It’s crazy, time consuming and wrong  squeezing three important questions into an hour. In the future it’s likely to be worse. They will probably then be filtered through a soon-to-be-appointed comms officer, who will take more time – manana – to get up to speed. How much time? It’s personally taken me a lifetime to make authoritative sense of the crimes of the Catholic Church.

In fact, each of these changes and concerns requires extensive debate, explanation and progress reports by experts – not just through the regular media but through Catholic media, too, who – to the best of my knowledge – have little recorded interest in them. Like the CSSA.

It’s unfortunate that survivors seem to be doing their job and are the only major critics of the Church. With the great exception of Richard Scorer – thankfully, one lawyer at least genuinely on the side of survivors – and similar professionals.  But most media and academics – with a few honorable exceptions – seem to shamefully keep their mouths shut on the Church’s endless crimes. So we have to do their work for them.

This list is far from complete, but these are the issues that come to mind:

*Mandatory reporting.

*Repudiation of Non-Disclosure Agreements.  A subject Nazir has been specifically asked about  by a survivor and given a lawyer’s response to, which I take as ‘nothing doing’.

*The role of the Catholic laity as sexual abusers. I’m pleased to say the police are actively looking at this, but meanwhile the CSSA ain’t doing anything. Let me make it very clear : Catholic laity predators are still out there. Provably from one very serious current abuse case.  I thus raised the issue of DBS checks on laity involved with kids. Because I know from an inside source that DBS checks are missing where some of the Catholic laity are concerned. No response. But it’s much wider and worse than that and the CSSA are just sitting on it all until the cops make their report.  Meanwhile, kids are at risk every day.

*Is Catholic abuse still going on as in past decades? Most of us, myself included until recently, buy into the Catholic-spread myth that the abuse era is over due to the more aware times we now live in. Not true. IICSA firmly acknowledges it is still happening in its report. Some Catholic abuse is also transgenerational – which the CSSA has never looked at, despite a highly praised academic report from Oz. And now, Catholic priests have ingeniously adapted today’s technologies to abuse a new generation of kids. Be careful, this link is a long and deeply disturbing read. https://www.pillarcatholic.com/p/cleveland-priest-gets-life-victims?utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web  Don’t tell me this techno-priest is just one rotten apple. No.  He’s just the only techno-priest who got caught. The whole orchard is rotten and there’s just a few good apples out there.

*Acknowledging the organised nature of Catholic paedophile rings, past and present. These filth do NOT act in isolation as the media likes to present it. I’ve proved it endlessly on this site. And academic studies have also proved it.Are the CSSA interested? No.

*Canon Law. I only knew recently that it’s still active and directly challenges and subverts the Law of the Land.  Catholic laity still quote it in public in defence of their actions.  I dread to think how they endorse it behind closed doors. It has to be publicly repudiated where it contravenes the law as a matter of urgency. Many survivors put that as ‘numero uno’, alongside Mandatory Reporting.

*Catholic Insurance. One survivor brought this up on Thursday – how the Catholic Church runs its own insurance company and its insurers dictate replies. This is hardly in line with the Elliott review that insists on a heartfelt response. I think the CSSA said they’d look into this subject.

* Also on Thursday:  Abuse being dealt with at a local diocese or parish level where those investigating may be partisan to the perpetrator 

*There was also no acknowledgement of the European and global dimension to Catholic abuse.  As one survivor put it to me, it was like the CSSA was acting without reference to the wider picture. Rather useful if you want to dismiss American and Australian research. Not to mention the horrific and often organised Catholic abuse in France, Spain and Germany now being revealed.

*The abusive links between RC and C of E.  Bishop Ball is one example, but I know from my childhood there is a wider, organised dimension.

*Why the CSSA doesn’t have an ongoing open forum on social media to respond to survivors concerns – like this post –  so a genuine  dialogue can be established. Maybe manana, Nazir told me. I told him how hurtful it was for survivors to read his tweets that highlight his commendable stand on any number of important social issues, but never regarding  the job for which he is Chair. He insisted he kept his two roles separate and he only tweeted about matters on which he had a personal perspective. Never in his capacity as Chair of CSSA.  His reasoning for this separation is questionable but it is also not true.

Here is a recent ‘personal’ tweet by him.

nazir afzal@nazirafzal·Feb 12Lesson

Technically a “Paedophile” is abusing pre-pubescent children

A “Hebophile” abuses those in early stages of puberty, 11-14

A ‘Ephebephile” abuses those in later stages, 15+

The reason why you don’t hear that

Because making that distinction makes you sound like a Paedophile

…………………………………..

Catholic websites are notorious for trying to excuse much abuse by claiming much vile and criminal abuse is actually Ephebephiia. With the clear but unspoken subtext: “It’s not so bad”. As survivor of Ephebephilia, I can assure them it is just as bad. If not worse. So I would say that tweet is very relevant to Nazir’s role as Chair.  It is clearly NOT a personal tweet on an unrelated matter.  He is not making the distinctions/boundaries that are vital to survivors. To me, he appears to be taking a similar position to those injurious and defensive Catholic websites. As a survivor of all three categories, and the damage all three cause, I find that very offensive.

*Female Catholic laity abuse. Officially it doesn’t exist and no one’s interested.  In very recent years, the  organized and sexually abusive role of nuns as pimps is now confirmed in Germany and elsewhere so there’s progress. But the female Catholic laity have successfully avoided attention thus far. It’s most unlikely to be just historic abuse. They’re just better at not being caught.

Very little items on this list above will ever be looked at by the CSSA.

On a purely practical level, everyone including Nazir is a part-timer- and I’d say that’s a deliberate and clever plan by the Church to create the illusion but not the substance of change. No amount of unpaid overtime they undertake can possibly deal with these weighty issues.

At best, on these concerns, there will be a damage limitation exercise because that’s actually the true function of the CSSA. A PR exercise, just like the appointment of Pope Francis – provably guilty of serious abuse cover-ups in Argentina. If  Nazir and co. don’t know that, then they’ve been duped and groomed by the Bishops as artfully as I was groomed by Catholic abusers as a kid. Believe me, Catholic abusers are darn good at manipulating the young and vulnerable.  And, perhaps, the middle-aged and professionals, too. For the seminaries where Catholic abusers learn their dark arts  – as a matter of record – are also where the Bishops learnt their skills.  That’s where all concerned develop those horrible, fake, pious expressions which always puts me on red alert. Watch Cardinal Nichols on youtube fake-apologising for the Church’s crimes and you’ll see just what I mean. He deserves an Oscar for that performance. Maybe, at best, some cosmetic changes will happen with Nazir and be trumpeted from the roof tops as great achievements.  But children deserve  far more and far better – whether it’s we  survivors – or children today, facing the new dangers of the techno-priests.  

The CSSA simply can’t hack it. And the sooner we recognise this, the sooner it will help us heal because we’re not distracted or confused by false hopes and waste our precious time and energy on them. I don’t think Nazir and co. are aware of just  how serious and injurious  it is for survivors when he and his organisation make promises they can’t keep.

 I got taken in back in around 2005 when Eileen Shearer, a non-Catholic, was appointed to run Safeguarding. Back then, too, I was promised real and dynamic change. She lasted a couple of years and left, apparently because she tried to do her job, and fell out with the Bishops.  Maybe that’s what will happen in Nazir’s case. Then we have to rewind the clock  and start all over again. That smells to me like a Church scam, a clever technique that British politicians use all the time. A way of treading water and letting the years roll on by. The Catholic Church is so good at this. Thus they seem to have already successfully outmanoeuvred the recent IICSA  report and the Elliot Review.  And this should have been predicted because it’s what criminals do and – in this context – the Church is a criminal organisation. Thus the CSSA are protecting a criminal hierarchy. The Church has even  been named and confirmed as a criminal organisation in a highly respected academic study (see my Dark Network post). In that respect, it’s no different to the Mafia. No one would expect the Mafia to reform itself. The Church has forfeited its right to do so by its ongoing crimes.

For all these reasons, Nazir and his CSSA and the hopes of real change are long past the Last Chance Saloon. They’re in Boot Hill. The cemetery. It’s all over.

What should be done?  In my view, like breaking up any criminal organisation, the Catholic Church needs to be supervised by an external Occupying Power. It needs the external authority to impose change, break the rules of omerta, and re-educate at every level. It’s what some survivors have already called for.

Perhaps after a couple more major scandals, which will inevitably happen, the public, sick of hearing of the Catholic Church’s endless crimes, will demand genuine rather than cosmetic change and insist on a true external agency, not one funded by the Bishops with a group of  well-meaning but obedient part-timers at the helm.

In the meantime, Nazir and co. are a distraction from the genuine work that lies ahead.

Meanwhile, for the 15 year old kid inside me, desperate for justice, who was once hoodwinked by a succession of highly respectable and devout Catholic paedophiles in Ipswich, the confirmed  paedophile capital of the UK,  I’d say this to him: ‘Don’t listen to the CSSA’s nonsense anymore. I’ll keep any eye on you, kid. You won’t be fooled again.’

KNIGHTS OF ST COLUMBA CURRENT CONCERNS

Some serious allegations against the Ipswich Knights I have already forwarded to Catholic Safeguarding who have forwarded them to the police at Operation Hydrant.

Some of these allegations are historic, relating to the close relationship of the Knights and St Joseph’s College, Ipswich. But I realize that current safeguarding issues naturally take priority.

So I have taken another look at an account about the Colchester Knights. The newspaper accounts below took a little ‘unpacking’ to realize the full seriousness of what was involved.

And its current implications. This is happening in OUR era, after all.

In 2016, in Colchester, a half hour drive from Ipswich, Ronald Smith, a Knight of St Columba,whose sexual abuse crimes on eight children, some under ten years old, carried out while he taking advantage of his position as a Knight, ‘organizing parish family events’, was given a 19 – 25 years prison sentence: https://www.gazette-news.co.uk/news/14650497.churchgoer-finally-jailed-after-40-years-of-child-abuse/  

The account related that Smith and his fellow Knights had sworn an oath to “develop young people in their journey of faith” and “help the development of young people”.

Just as the Ipswich Knights did in my childhood with injurious results.

When Ronald Smith was sentenced, all references to the Knights were removed.  https://www.gazette-news.co.uk/news/14723144.prolific-paedophile-who-abused-eight-young-boys-jailed-for-19-years/

The case never made the national press.

It’s an example of how the Knights would seem able to successfully ‘kill’ a news story. 

By comparison, when Laurence Soper, Abbot of Ealing Abbey, was given an 18 year prison sentence for child abuse, his case was reported by the BBC, The Guardian,The Tablet, The Times, The Sun,  Express, numerous websites and also covered by IICSA. 

And yet Ronald Smith’s case was an equally big news story.

He had spent more than 40 years abusing young boys between 1972 and 2014.

There were three reports to the police about him during those years which were never prosecuted! 

The account relates that:

‘Despite already being a convicted sex offender (in1973), allegations against the Catholic member of Colchester’s St James the Less and St Helen Catholic Church in Priory Street in 1994, 2000 and 2011 did not end in prosecution.’

Why not?

And was a DBS check run on Smith? It would also seem not.

In summary, why was a convicted sex offender, an uneducated, semi-unemployed man, with no DBS check, organizing children’s events – associated with or run by the Knights –  at a Catholic church up to 2014?

And why was the story minimized with no further reference to the  Knights connection to the crimes?

Are all today’s UK Knights who deal with children or parishioners  given a DBS check?  Given that Smith was probably not DBS checked and another source tells me that current Knights of St Columba – in a different diocese – aren’t DBS checked, it seems unlikely.

I’ve raised these concerns with Catholic Safeguarding who have passed this post onto Operation Hydrant. Personally, I think, with today’s children possibly at risk, as I’ve exampled, that the Knights should set up an Independent Investigator to look into this and other allegations about them on this site. Just as the De La Salles have done. If the Knights are as concerned about child safety, past and present, as they claim, It should be a priority.

It concerns me that the response of all Catholic Safeguarding agencies to any allegations is to just pass them onto Hydrant or the regular police without comment or interaction. It does feel to me that they’re dumping everything onto Hydrant but without the intermediary which Hydrant tell me they require. And that they are not looking at important issues that this and previous examples on this site raise. For instance – do the Knights of St Columba have DBS checks? NOT according to my source. That’s not so relevant to Hydrant who are primarily concerned with actual offences, but has everything to do with Catholic Safeguarding and protecting children and preventing offences ever taking place. Thus far, I’ve had no response to this issue by Catholic Safeguarding.

So I have to assume they’re ignoring it.

THE DE LA SALLES – WHAT’S THE NEXT STEP?

I’ve just sent SCOE and DLS Safeguarding – the two relevant Catholic Safeguarding organizations –  the summaries of evidence on Brothers Kevin, James, Solomon, Father Jolly the DLS school chaplain, and a summary of other DLS abusers.

These summaries will greatly facilitate the work of the investigations detailed below. It’s hard trawling through the numerous testimonies posted on this site over several years and my summaries are designed to make life easy for DLS Safeguarding and SCOE.

Here’s my understanding of what is currently happening:  There are THREE strands of investigation into the DLS which is encouraging.   However, they appear to overlap which – hopefully – won’t be a problem.

The three strands are:

1.The DLS Safeguarding Inquiry. 

Here’s the newspaper account revealing the inquiry.

https://www.ipswichstar.co.uk/news/st-josephs-ipswich-abuse-monks-ask-police-8553626

But to quote from it:

Barry Hudd, head of safeguarding at the De La Salle Brothers, said the order wanted to “clear the whole thing up”. 

He added that while there have been more than 200 abuse claims made against the order from across the UK, until now only a handful have come from St Joseph’s. 

One of these, he said, was settled recently outside of court, but most of the accusations made on Mr Mills blog were “completely unheard of”, he said.

“With regards to St Joseph’s, we’ve put the ball in Suffolk Constabulary’s court”, Mr Hudd said. “It’s up to them to work out what happened and if the abuse truly was systemic. 

“We’ve also hired our own independent and experienced child abuse investigator to assist the police. 

Previously, DLS Safeguarding had set up an Independent Investigator to look at De La Salle Brother ‘A’  which may still be ongoing, so I won’t comment on that matter. Other than to say their Investigator was Jo Norman whom I found tremendously helpful to talk to. Other Survivors have said the same thing.

However, no one from DLS Safeguarding has been in touch with me thus far regarding this new investigation, even though I understand it’s based entirely on the testimonies on this site.

And one survivor  recently wrote direct to DLS Safeguarding with his well documented account of abuse and was disappointed by their brief response.

So I have a question for the DLS:

Has the DLS independent Investigator been appointed? 

Because we were told by SCOE when Jo Norman was appointed. I think we should be similarly told by DLS Safeguarding what is going on and who the Investigator is.

2. The SCOE. Safeguarding Commission for Orders in Education (SCOE). 

Its Independent Chair is Rev Dcn  Des Bill.   He informed me:

“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 SCOE themselves have also already been dealing with complaints of DLS abuse. Des Bill has  been forwarding the testimonies on this site to the police of Operation Hydrant (see below).

Possibly DLS Safeguarding will do the same separately via their Investigator or will co-ordinate with SCOE?

Des Bill was also involved in the investigation into De La Salle Brother ‘A’.  In fact, I thought it was SCOE who had initiated it.  But a reporter told me that De La Salle Safeguarding had advised her that they initiated it not SCOE. 

So I assume that SCOE acted at the original  ‘front person’  for DLS Safeguarding and that they liaised behind the scenes.

However, here’s what Jo Norman said herself:

I am an Independent safeguarding consultant who has been commissioned to provide management of all complaints against  Brother ‘A’ and to support the SCOE (Safeguarding Commission for Orders in Education) in making decisions regarding these complaints. 

Catholic Safeguarding (Chair: Nazir Afzal ) are NOT involved.  Their full name is Catholic Standards Agency: CSSA. They are a completely new and separate organization.  They deal with abuser priests and are not involved with religious orders like the DLS.

3. Ipswich police

If an abuser is still alive, it’s relatively simple for a Survivor of the abuse to get a response without going through this complex system.  Ipswich police will  deal with you direct. I found them helpful and pro-active.

But if the abuser is dead, the complaint goes to Operation Hydrant. This is an umbrella police organization dealing with historic and systemic abuse.

It is still handled from Ipswich, but the police tell me they require an authorised intermediary   – like Jo Norman – to  present the information to Hydrant.

That sounds simple enough, but there are inconsistencies. Thus Des Bill has been sending testimonies from my site to Hydrant without such an intermediary.

Maybe this happened because the information was already summarized which would usually be the job of an intermediary.

And at least two DLS Survivors have reported historic abuse – where the DLS abuser is dead – to Ipswich police who have responded direct to them.  Maybe they didn’t need an intermediary because they were ‘one off’ cases.

                                                         ……………………..

The three strands are confusing, a little contradictory, and there is a noticeable lack of detail.   

But I’m hoping these two Catholic Safeguarding organizations will make things clearer for us all in the future.

We need full transparency to avoid going round in circles and in line with the recent Elliott Report which said Safeguarding Officers should adopt a more compassionate, communicative and respectful attitude to Survivors.

The lack of communication I’ve described is certainly not in line with the Elliott Report.

WHAT DOES A SURVIVOR OF DLS ABUSE DO NEXT?

I’m asking both DLS Safeguarding and the SCOE for some guidance here and I think we all need some answers from them to the questions and my suggestions below.

Here is an example of a key case.

Survivor Z has written a detailed and important testimony about a  dead DLS sexual and physical abuser. It’s been backed up by supporting evidence by other Survivors.  It’s in the evidence posts I’ve sent the Safeguarding agencies.

And it should be backed up by further evidence in the DLS files. There is no way this DLS abuser’s sexual and physical abuse crimes could have been unknown by Oxford (The DLS HQ). There would be many complaints about him.

As with all the evidence I have presented, I strongly dispute that they are ‘completely unheard of’ as the cases themselves make clear.

So what happens next? 

1)Does Z wait until Hydrant gets in touch with him ?

Or will the DLS Safeguarding independent Investigator seek to also get in touch with him before passing the same evidence to Hydrant?

2)The Investigator  or Hydrant can get in touch with Z by contacting me and I will pass on their request.

And the Investigator can ask me – from looking at the evidence summaries I’ve provided – who else they would particularly like to get in touch with. I will happily act as facilitator for them.

 If that is not acceptable, we need to know why. 

 3) An alternative would be for the Investigator to place a request for information on my blog, asking survivors to come forward.  This has been done before and I believe it worked well. 

But a few important testimonies will need addressing separately. For example, if a Survivor who made a key testimony rarely reads my blog, so he’s not going to know about the Investigator’s request.  Then I would need to contact them.

4) Or should Z write to the DLS Investigator or DLS Safeguarding?  Bearing in mind his testimony has already gone to SCOE and thus onto Hydrant.

5)Can SCOE and DLS Safeguarding tell us how they avoid this possible duplication and a Survivor like Z telling his story twice to two overlapping organizations?

6) The DLS files in Oxford will be bulging with information on the most notorious DLS abusers:  Solomon, Kevin and James.  If an Investigator goes to those files FIRST, it should confirm many of their crimes.

So how necessary is it for all Survivors to be contacted and repeat their allegations which are painful to recount?

Bearing in mind the Elliott Report asks Catholic Safeguarding agencies to have a more compassionate and kindly approach in future.  

For example, the DLS Investigator should be able to confirm from the DLS  files alone that Brother James was a violent abuser who had psychotic episodes.

There must also be a dozen accounts of  Brother James’ violence on my blog which bear this out. Contacting all survivors would be laborious and may be unnecessary when the DLS already know he is guilty.

In my opinion, the DLS  acknowledging that James was guilty of psychotic  violence should be a relatively simple matter, irrespective of Hydrant. Then it’s up to individual Survivors to decide what to do with that DLS acknowledgement next.

In fact, it hardly needs to go through Hydrant, taking up valuable police time, especially when they seem overloaded with work which may mean it could take some considerable time before they respond – this is according to Barry Hudd, the DLS Safeguarding Officer.

If that proves to be the case, I will have to look at the implications. Namely : are the DLS being obstructive and against the recommendations of the Elliott Report?

There is a simpler solution if the DLS genuinely want to get to the bottom of all this.

 A simple but specific admission of James’ guilt by the DLS would suffice.

The position is similar where Brothers Solomon and Kevin are concerned.

Their cases are provably and emphatically NOT ‘completely unheard of ‘.

7) DLS lay teachers are the responsibility of the DLS, as confirmed by DLS Safeguarding saying that they are looking into Mike Mercado. But I think we want to be sure.

So here’s another key question to DLS Safeguarding:

Will you please confirm that DLS lay teachers detailed in the relevant evidence summary are included in your investigation?

8)DLS Safeguarding started off on ‘the wrong foot’ with Survivors as I’ve previously exampled. (e.g their not-so-public ‘public’ apology). It would be good if we can put that behind us now. 

I’m prepared to do so, if I see there’s a change of attitude from now on.

Bearing in mind  the sensitivity of the issues, the opening of old wounds, the huge emotional toll to Survivors of DLS crimes, and the recommendations of the Elliott Report for Catholic Safeguarding agencies to do much better:

Is there anything DLS Safeguarding and/or the Investigator would like to say to help Survivors just now?  I will happily post it on my blog without comment.

9) Finally, there’s the whole issue of proper DLS apologies and proper DLS acknowledgement of crimes, but I think that’s worth addressing in a later, separate post, possibly as the investigation proceeds.