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.’

Nazir Afzal & The Poisoned Chalice

GUEST BLOG. Anon and other survivors, myself included, are increasingly frustrated by the lack of progress and answers to outstanding issues, like Cardinal Nichols’ promise at IICSA which has not been acted upon. My own view is that the Church is not investing in its Safeguarding Officers. Two important figures who we’ve interacted with only work three days a month. Nazir Afzal, also, is only working part time as Chair.  Also three days a month, So I see these part time jobs, albeit by well meaning, genuine and sincere people, as window dressing by the Church, obscuring the serious lack of action and investment.

I, like other activists, must spend far more than three days a month collating, responding to, and publishing important testimonies, which I’m very happy to do. I need to do it.  But that puts it in perspective. The task of Safeguarding surely requires more full time staff.

So here’s Anon’s view below which I wholeheartedly agree with.

Nazir Afzal & The Poisoned Chalice

The Reality behind the Rhetoric of Roman Catholic Safeguarding Today

Nazir Afzal’s acceptance of the post of Chair of The Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency inspired a heartfelt sigh of relief from Roman Catholic parishioners, clergy, victims and survivors of abuse and their allies.

The potential was, that after forty years of unmet promises, avoidance, victim blaming & cruel indifference – the Catholic church in England & Wales would stop mistreating the human beings that their clergy sexually abused in childhood. Here was a leader that could be trusted. Sadly, that hope turned out to be a *disappointingly damp* squib. While, Nazir Afzal OBE is indeed now the (3 days a month) chair, he seems to have minimal autonomous authority. He is required to offer up recommendations to Cardinal Nichols for decision making, who arguably should have resigned years ago for his own mishandling of survivors.   

Within the last 3 months, the *brand new* CSSA “doing things differently” have done a lot of things “exactly the same.” Survivors have been exhausted by the agency’s avoidance to provide answers to simple questions and disrespected by unprofessional reception and insulting incompetency. Asked to prove his authenticity by releasing all victims of Roman Catholic abuse silenced by non-disclosure agreements, Nazir is unresponsive.  The Unfinished business of the Catholics are not being addressed by Nazir. Cardinal Nichols promised under oath at IICSA to find out who leaked a survivor’s intimate, confidential information. Neither Nichols nor Nazir have said anything.

When such integral issues are being swept under the carpet, and so much evidence is accumulating about current avoidance – let’s face it – the safety of Roman Catholic children and vulnerable adults is likely to be dangerously compromised. If the regulatory body cannot lead by example, those they advise will just pick up bad habits.

Professor Davis of the Cadbury Centre for Public Understanding of Religion in his letter to the Tablet warned of the The Maze of Pain that survivors experienced recently in their contact with safeguarding personnel.

One admirable, determined survivor recently won a settlement for the way she was mistreated by Catholic safeguarding. A subject access request revealed Safeguarding personnel bitching behind her back, essentially, describing her as needy & manipulative with whom they were “playing the good practice card.”

Those individuals still hold posts in Catholic Safeguarding – so human resources standards are evidently so low they are in the gutter.  

3000 victims of abuse by Roman Catholic clergy et al contacted IICSA. Each and every one will have their story of mistreatment by Catholic Safeguarding and files of documents evidencing that. Each one is likely to be quite curious right now about what was being said behind their backs too. The full scale of the mistreatment of survivors by catholic safeguarding is colossal.

Catholic Safeguarding personnel with appalling track records are still in post across England & Wales.  If Nazir Afzal OBE does not address the barrel of bad apples, he’s going to end up with a stinky mess on his hands.

Will his reputation survive?  

Safeguarding campaigners are twittering about it.

Pat Mills, as usual sums it up with cut to the chase vigour.  

“I see Nazir as a failed symbol of hope, and the sooner we all realise we’re wasting our time in thinking he can lobby for or lead major changes, the sooner we can all move on. He has limited power and extremely limited time and he cannot come close to what abuse lawyer Richard Scorer described as a ‘fundamental reset’ being needed for the Catholic Church’s dealing with abuse.”

Amen. Anon.

AMPLEFORTH: THE IMPLICATIONS

There is still a damage limitation exercise on the media’s coverage of Ampleforth. At the time of writing, no newspapers have covered the latest important development revealed by Channel 4 yesterday:

Channel 4 has seen a letter to the government from a solicitor for victims of historic abuse at Ampleforth College, alleging it has not fully separated itself from the Abbey as it had been told to. The school denies the claims.

https://www.channel4.com/news/ampleforth-college-faces-questions-over-pupil-safeguarding

Yet, despite this media partial blackout, it’s the biggest Catholic story of 2020 and 2021:Catholic Eton may be about to close down! The one exception to this media censorship is the Catholic Tablet, which, to its credit, has followed the Ampleforth case closely and shown honesty in its reporting and true diligence. Unlike the Catholic Herald, for example, who barely covered it.

What I take away from the Channel 4 story is that the Benedictine monks must still (still!) represent a threat to the safety of children.

And it reminds me that the De La Salle brothers may also still be a similar threat to children. Today.

In the case of St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, the De La Salle brothers have long gone and I’m sure the current regime would use the classic ‘get out of responsibilities for the past’ card. Namely: ‘The college is now an entirely different legal, financial and governance entity’.

Lawyers have tried challenging the adroit use of this card elsewhere – at Sherborne, for instance – but I doubt they’ll succeed.   

So St Joseph’s can endlessly draw on the school’s proud heritage as a selling feature for today’s prospective parents. But have nothing to say about horrendous crimes which exceed the crimes of the Ampleforth monks. Any glance through past posts on this site will bear this out.

They see no need to acknowledge them and neither do the De La Salle brothers who still run many schools in the UK. I’ve read two testimonies from St Joseph’s old boys about the DLS current head, Brother Lawrence Hughes, which allege he inflicted serious physical abuse on children. One of these testimonies is featured in a past post on this site.

The crimes this order have committed outside St Joseph’s are  endless. There are the approved schools in Scotland.

http://www.irishsalem.com/religious-congregations/de-la-salle-brothers/jimmyboyle-06may01.php

Boyle states, ‘We all knew instantly who’d been inside a De La Salle school because we all carried the same deep emotional and psychological scars. In our darkest moments we’d talk about our horrific experiences there. All of us agreed, no matter how tough any prison regime, none was as brutal as De La Salle.

‘The stories were the same from all the De La Salle schools.’

There are similar accounts about the DLS schools in N. Ireland.

And there’s the infamous Brother James Carragher, head of St Williams, who ran a ‘paedophile sweet shop’ making children available for the rich laity.

And there’s further revelations about the order now coming from Australia. And so on.

But we’re led to believe that the order is totally different today.  That they really care about children and would never harm them.  That’s like saying there were once bad S.S., but now there are good, reformed S.S. No, there is only S.S. and – by definition – they are the embodiment of evil. In my view, it’s impossible to reform organizations with proven track records of organized evil.

The role of the rich Catholic laity is certainly the gorilla in the corner where St Joseph’s, Ipswich, is concerned. They were the Eminence Gris that helped create the college and saved it from scandal. See my past posts and a survivor’s testimony in  ‘The shocking truth about St Joseph’s.’

I hope and assume that the Catholic laity in the current St Joseph’s era, who have a role in governing and running the school, have no continuity or connection with these past Catholic laity who were guilty of the most serious crimes against children.

Unfortunately, there’s no way of knowing when or if the latter’s role of Eminence Gris directing the school’s affairs from the shadows ever came to an end.

Today, there is increasing evidence of this sinister role of the Catholic laity in Catholic schools elsewhere. The example of Brother James Carragher above, for instance.

And there’s this account from Germany.

https://nypost.com/2020/12/22/nuns-were-pimps-for-sick-priests-says-sex-abuse-victim/

Five years ago, when I first started writing about my experience of the Ipswich Catholic laity, I was very much a lone voice, which could be easily dismissed. Then others came forward and related similar experiences. Once again, see ‘The shocking truth’.   Five years ago, I doubt this account of what happened in Catholic Germany and the central role of the laity– which is far from unique – could never have found its way into print. So the times are changing.

Returning to Ampleforth: personally, I have my doubts it will close, despite all the predictions. I believe it’s too important to the establishment – hence the media damage limitation exercises and the support of prominent Catholics like Rees-Mogg. But that could be because I’ve seen how the Catholic Diocese, the current St Joseph’s College, the De La Salle Order, and the Ipswich Catholic laity, including the Knights of St Columba, have all ignored the  testimonies from survivors on this site.  And have not been called to account. Yet.

It was also interesting seeing how the children of Ampleforth school have supported the current regime, handing in a letter to Number Ten, asking for the ban to be lifted. I’m sure St Joseph’s, past and present, would command similar loyalty and this may explain the silence of some who know what really went on in the past. But, like Ampleforth, it is misplaced.

These crimes are far too serious to put loyalty to the school and religion above the law of the land.

And inevitably, more  St Joseph’s survivors will come forward and at some point – as it dovetails with the endless new revelations of the crimes of the Catholic Church emerging every day  – there will be a new enquiry and all concerned will be fetched to give an account of themselves, just as happened at Ampleforth.

I watched Father Jamison, Abbot President, give evidence to IICSA and he was very smooth and convincing. But this was marred by what a survivor had told me about Jamison which painted a very different picture of him.

Similarly, I watched Cardinal Nichols – after being given a damning IICSA report – offer a very smooth and convincing apology to survivors. But this, too, was marred by how he reminded me so much of the three clerical abusers I knew as a child: Canon Burrows and Father Wace (St Pancras, Ipswich) and Father Jolly (Chaplain to St Joseph’s).  Nichols reminded me how smooth and convincing these abusers were under very different circumstances. It was also marred by knowing Nichols had covered up the infamous case of Father Quigley which comes under the category of current, not historic abuse.

I’m sure at an enquiry, representatives of the De La Salle order, the Diocese, the laity, and the current St Joseph’s will be equally convincing and wring their hands and plead so convincingly, ‘We never knew’.

I think I’d have more respect for them all if, instead of their pious and heartfelt lamentations, they told the truth, and admitted what they really think and say behind closed doors. Their view of me and fellow survivors, aka ‘troublemakers’, for exposing the truth about them. Namely: ‘Pat – shut the fuck up.’

Or, to put it in their establishment language, ’We all need to be singing from the same hymn sheet.’

No chance, I’m afraid. There’s more to come.