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.

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.

GUEST BLOG – CATHOLIC SAFEGUARDING SURVIVOR REFERENCE PANEL

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.

Yet.

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.

WORK FOR FREE FOR THE CHURCH THAT ABUSED YOU

CATHOLIC SAFEGUARDING – DIFFERENT ORGANISATIONS AND RESPONSIBILITIES

This is really a memo to self on Catholic Safeguarding because I’ve been seeing them as one organisation whereas in fact – especially from a survivor’s point of view –  they are TWO very distinct bodies with distinct points of view.

So I thought I’d make it clear for others who may well be facing similar difficulties understanding them and who to get in touch with.

It is confusing but that may just me!  I’m not used to the internal workings of large organisations and if and where they overlap. If you’ve worked for some big company like Unilever or a government ministry this is probably a walk in the park!

ONE

The Rev Des Bill, chair of the Catholic Church’s Safeguarding Commission for Orders in Education (SCOE) 

Des is the safeguarding lead person for the De La Salles and other Orders connected with education. So he is directly involved with the De La Salles.

It’s my understanding that Des Bill initiated the suspension of Brother Laurence and commissioned an investigation into the allegations, commissioning Jo Norman to look into them. For all this he is to be commended.

He also passed on my allegations about the DLS and the Knights to Operation Hydrant which I need to ask him about shortly.  

Because the way it was done did not follow the usual approved procedure, according to my own communication with Hydrant.

Although these are all valuable steps, Des appears to be negative, to put it gently, to recent progress in bringing the DLS to book. Thus, as I’ve exampled, he is partisan towards the DLS when they have distanced themselves from their crimes and seems to be involved with the DLS public apology fiasco which was not public and was not much of an apology.

And he doesn’t seem to be responding to the most recent concerns I’ve raised.

Never mind.

Whilst I am not experienced in dealing with large organizations, I have considerable experience in how to deal with people who are not being helpful.

TWO

Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency (CSSA). Colette Limbrick is the CEO.

I think the CSSA’s functions overlap with the SCOE and I guess I will find out more about how that works as things develop.

They are certainly supportive and I value that.

THREE

Nazir Afzal is the chair of the CSSA, but I understand it’s not an everyday role. Whereas I think chair is a full time post for Des Bill.

Nazir, of course, is well known and a fellow survivor thoroughly recommends his book The Prosecutor.

How Nazir responds to survivors we have yet to see. But we survivors are most definitely moving forward in his direction, too.

I will try to make everything much clearer in the future when I refer to ‘Catholic Safeguarding’.

THE DE LA SALLES –  YET MORE DISTANCING FROM THE TRUTH!

I really do not enjoy highlighting the failings of the De La Salle Brothers and Catholic Safeguarding. I have far better things to do with my time. I could be enjoying the stunning view from our garden. I could be promoting my books. I could be working on my next novel.

But this latest development can’t be ignored. Because survivors have been grievously harmed by this religious order.  And both they and Catholic Safeguarding have to do much better to put things right.

THE ‘PUBLIC’ APOLOGY

As I said previously, it was not a public apology. But there’s some news on this:

Before complaining on my blog it was not a public apology, I did a word search on Google quoting a phrase from the apology.

Nothing came up.

A national journalist looked for the apology in a similar way.

Nothing came up.

Today, if you put a phrase from the apology in Google …

Hey presto! It comes up!

This means the De La Salles have belatedly  added the apology on their website  AFTER my blog had said it was not a public apology.

Previously the only person I know who saw the apology was Catholic Safeguarding who omitted to send it to me until I asked them for it.

The intention was obviously for the apology to have zero public impact.

Such blatant manipulation of information does not put the De La Salles in a good light.

And it’s still far from public as it’s buried on the DLS website without comment.

It should go out to all media IF THEY MEAN THEY ARE SORRY.  Of course it’s obvious they do not mean it.

I’ve also been made aware by others of yet further media obfuscation by the DLS.

Conclusion? The De La Salles haven’t changed at all from the bad old days of cover-up and denial.

THE DE LA SALLE WEBSITE

I had a look at it. https://www.lasalleigbm.org/

Three paragraphs stood out for me:

‘The De La Salle Brothers are fully committed to protecting children, young people and adults at risk from neglect and from all forms of abuse. ‘

‘We will be open, transparent and accountable.’

‘We will respond to those affected by abuse with sensitivity, respect and compassion and endeavour to support them in whatever way is appropriate.’

None of this rings true.

Thus there is no mention of the De La Salle brothers who have been found guilty of abuse.

There is nothing in the News section of their website, either – even though a De La Salle brother who liked to electrocute children’s genitals is being sentenced today.

And no mention of DLS proven abusers who definitely run into double figures and may run into triple figures.

It’s like none of it ever happened.

That is not normal. Something is very wrong here.

Therefore from all the foregoing I put it to the Reverend Des Bill at  Catholic Safeguarding once again that – contrary to what he is claiming –  it is therefore provable that the DLS are distancing themselves from their criminal past.

A GENUINE APOLOGY FROM THE DE LA SALLES?

Perhaps naively, I actually think this is still possible!

I see two possible alternative paths ahead:

1)The De La Salles and Des Bill continue with a defensive pattern of behaviour – with obfuscation and denial  – which alienates survivors and is the very opposite of Christian beliefs.  I guess they’re both hoping that an annoying survivor like me will eventually get fed-up and go away. That’s unlikely – I’ve too much emotional investment in this matter to let it go. But I do seek closure.

2) To enter into a proper dialogue with the DLS and Safeguarding about them creating a true, sincere and meaningful apology.  I think it’s possible, after consultation with the numerous survivors I’m in touch with, to present a draft of what most survivors expect from the DLS. 

And to listen to DLS alternative and improved suggestions for a genuine apology.

It’s clear that the previous apology was just one small step in the right direction.

I’m happy to cut through these necessary but acrimonious posts and talk on the phone or Skype with the DLS and Des Bill. And try to find a solution.

Although it’s my understanding that it’s even a challenge communicating with the DLS who are very difficult to make contact with on these matters. Perhaps that’s down to their lawyers who may have advised them not to speak to survivors?

Whatever else, it’s clear that the DLS and the Reverend Des Bill are in denial about the horrifying and widespread extent of the DLS crimes. I realise it’s shaking the very ground they’re walking on and there must be a devastating price they are now paying in cognitive dissonance by blocking out the truth.  And I know what that feels like, because we survivors similarly had the ground shaking beneath our feet because of DLS abuse. And which many of us similarly tried to deny and block from our minds.

So embracing the truth could actually be truly healing for the DLS and Safeguarding as well as for us.

I realise this second option will probably be dismissed or ignored by the DLS but it will happen eventually, whether they like it or not.   And it’s my understanding that Catholic Safeguarding actually have the power to ensure a true dialogue is opened.

Now.

Over to both of them.

My offer of negotiations with the DLS and Safeguarding for a genuine apology to help heal survivors has been made here today, November 3 2021,  for the record.

ALL SURVIVORS DAY NOVEMBER 3.  REMEMBERING THE CRIMES OF THE DE LA SALLES

It seems appropriate on November 3 to remember the appalling crimes of the De La Salle brothers which both they and their defender, the Rev. Des Bill at Catholic Safeguarding, seem to be unconcerned by.

And my old school St Joseph’s College,Ipswich which is still listed as a DLS school and still competes for the rugby De La Salle Cup.

Below is an eloquent and moving account by Jimmy Boyle of DLS crimes.


He revealed: “The violence at St John’s was the worst I’ve ever witnessed, either on the streets or in the toughest jails.


“Today, I’m still haunted by the sound of breaking bones as a monk deliberately smashed a child’s leg to smithereens.  or the footsteps in the night that heralded yet another horrific rape of a terrified crying child.”

“Scotland’s prisons were littered with the casualties of the De La Salle regime. Inside prison, we De La Salle boys were like a secret brotherhood. We all recognised the signs.”

On Nov 3 I shall be remembering is his school mates who didn’t survive the rapes, torture and beatings of the De La Salle brothers.

Lest we forget.

He made a heartfelt plea to the Catholic Church: “Drop this conspiracy of silence and open your hearts to the suffering of these men.”

You will see the report is dated 2001. How much has changed in 20 years?

Not much. The De La Salles continue to pay only lip service to acknowledging their crimes.

Doubtless they may think that they ‘rode out the storm’ of Jimmy Boyle’s charges against them and – behind closed doors – congratulate themselves on sitting tight and  it all went away.

But not this time.

Because today social media enables us to expose their crimes to a wider public in a way that was just not possible twenty years ago. 

And their crimes are better known today, more so than 20 years ago.

I intend to make them more well known.

They are running out of time.

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

JIMMY BOYLE; EXCLUSIVE. Sunday Mail, (Glasgow, Scotland) 6 May 2001 Byline: Marion Scott

IT’S hard to believe now that society once labelled him the most feared and violent man in the country.

But, vicious as he was in his youth, one thing struck terror in the heart of former hardman Jimmy Boyle…

The De La Salle Brothers, the Catholic order of monks which ran List D Schools throughout Scotland with a sickening regime so brutal, it brought hard cases like Boyle to their knees.

Breaking a 43-year silence over the “sadistic beatings” at St John’s List D School, Glasgow, Jimmy Boyle told the Sunday Mail of the horrific catalogue of abuse.


He revealed: “The violence at St John’s was the worst I’ve ever witnessed, either on the streets or in the toughest jails.

“It was terrifying   and vicious because the violence and abuse was directed at innocent, vulnerable children.

“Today, I’m still haunted by the sound of breaking bones as a monk deliberately smashed a child’s leg to smithereens.  or the footsteps in the night that heralded yet another horrific rape of a terrifiedcrying child.”

Boyle, 57, now a sculptor, was moved to come out of seclusion seclusion in the South of France  to support hundreds of other victims of De La Salle brutality.

He made a heartfelt plea to the Catholic Church: “Drop this conspiracy of silence and open your hearts to the suffering of these men.

“We are all living testament to what happened in these schools. You know we are telling the truth.

“This is a weeping sore that will not go away until they are given justice.”

Born in 1944 to a poor family in Glasgow’s Gorbals, Boyle was hardly out of short trousers before he’d started on a life of crime, with shoplifting and petty thefts.

, tough and street-wise as he was, nothing prepared young Boyle for life inside St John’s List D School in Springboig.

Barely 14, Boyle had stolen a cash box containing pounds 7 from a stall at a fun fair, a crime which was to earn him 14 nightmare months under the care of the De La Salle Brothers. [See NOTE 1]

At St John’s, he was soon to learn that, inside that building, brutality and gratuitous violence were as much a way of life as breathing.

He said: “As I stood in the school corridor, scared and thinking of my mum crying at the court, I was met by a De La Salle brother, his black robes flying around him as he walked towards me.

“He neither looked directly at me, nor said a single word. As he passed, he lifted his hand and smashed it down on my head.

“He was carrying a red snooker ball and I hit the deck like a pack of cards, as stunned by the blow as I was that a monk could do such a thing.

“It was the first taste of many beatings and tortures to come. Although some of us, like me, had already been in trouble with the law for petty offences, many boys had been placed there under care and protection orders.

“They were the most vulnerable and the easiest targets for paedophile paedophile  monks, for the psychopaths and for the brutal monsters who stalked the corridors of the De La Salle schools
“Every single one of us who went through that regime still bear scars on our hearts and souls. There was rampant child abuse, rape and paedophilia

“Children were passed around like parcels of meat for the satisfaction of paedophile monks who ruled by terror and hid behind a conspiracy of silence.

“We’d lie in our dorm beds, night after night, and listen to kids being taken away to be raped and abused.

“I can still hear the sound of those footsteps walking across the dorm, stopping at a bed, then walking off again with a sobbing child as we cowered in fear under our bedcovers.

“I was a tough street kid, brought up in the Gorbals, so I was never a target for sex abuse.

“But we saw and heard it going on all around us, and knew there was no-one we could turn to or tell about it.

“We’d already earned the label of ‘bad boys’, so nobody cared or wanted to believe Catholic monks were paedophile monsters.

“It was unthinkable in those days to accuse a monk or a priest of sex abuse or of beating a child. My mother was a devout Catholic. Even she wouldn’t have believed me if I’d told her what was going on.

“I was luckier than many of the other boys. I was subjected only to their brutality. I was never sexually abused. But the fear that you could be victim to sexual abuse was always there. We’d do anything to stay safe and keep the paedophiles at bay.

“One brother, nicknamed ‘Bounce’ because he was so fat, liked pornographic magazines as well as young boys. Whenever we got a weekend pass home, we’d bring him back some porn, so he’d pick on other boys for sex.

“It was like a survival game, but we were all casualties. What happened to me at that school still affects me deeply. Talking about it now, all these years later, is still very hard.

“I’m not making excuses for what I did in my life. But I, and most other De La Salle boys, went on to a life of crime, or to destroy ourselves through drink or drugs.

“Scotland’s prisons were littered with the casualties of the De La Salle regime. Inside prison, we De La Salle boys were like a secret brotherhood. We all recognised the signs.

“We 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 – St Mary’s, Bishopbriggs, St John’s, St Ninian’s, Gartmore, and St Joseph’s, Tranent.

“We found many monks moved around from school to school, abusing boys at will.

“Many of us had learned to fight against authority before we arrived at these schools. But we still trusted, respected and feared the Catholic Church.

“What hurt the most was these so-called men of God, the last men on Earth we expected to betray us, turning into abusers, and taking our last bastion of hope away.”

After 14 months of brutality, Boyle was finally released from St John’s. But the experiences had changed him. Long before he arrived at St John’s, he had lost any respect and fear of authority figures. After St John’s, he couldn’t even trust the very Church his mother Bessie had lived her life and her family around.

It was the ultimate betrayal. Afterwards, Boyle was in and out of jail for most of his young adult life. He became a notorious knife man, involved in gang fights, slashings, bottle attacks and money lending.

He earned the nickname Babyface Boyle. But there was nothing cute or cuddly.  about Boyle in those days. In 1967, he was found guilty of murdering a rival gang member, William ‘Babs’ Rooney, and was jailed for life.

Railing against prison authorities led Boyle to years of dirty protests and extra jail time for violent outbursts against warders. Locked away like an animal inside the solitary segregation cages now banned in Scotland’s jails, Boyle was the most hated and feared prisoner in the system.

He was ruthless, fearless and uncontrollable. In May 1973, as ringleader of the Porterfield prison riots. , he was sentenced to a further six years for the attempted murder of six warders.

His salvation came after he became one of the first prisoners to enter the controversial and experimental Special Unit at Barlinnie.

In the Special Unit, Boyle discovered he no longer needed a knife or a weapon to express himself or make his mark on society. He found art and sculpture a more acceptable forum, and began carving out a whole new life.

He had been in prison for 10 years when he met psychologist Sarah Trevelyan, the middle-class daughter of former film censor John.

Drawn by his book, A Sense of Freedom, Sarah met him and soon saw through the hardman image to the real Boyle. Despite all the odds, and the huge gap in cultures, they were married in 1980.

Released two years later from jail, Boyle developed a respectable career as an artist and writer, feted by television and the media. Although they recently split, Jimmy and Sarah remain extremely close, continuing to work together for their life-defining charity, The Gateway Exchange programme.

Jimmy said: “I’ve been very, very lucky. I’ve gone on to enjoy a wonderful life, success and happiness. But, I know I’m one of the lucky few. Only a tiny handful of my contemporaries have managed to break away from the past.

“Most are still traumatised and badly affected by what happened. I recently met one of my old St John’s schoolmates. He looked like a man in his 70s. I know this man was repeatedly abused. He was passed around the monks like a parcel of meat.

“He’s a shadow of a man now. He shakes all the time and looks totally defeated by life.

“Larry Winters, who was in the Special Unit with me, was also at St John’s. He wasn’t a tough city boy. Being brought up in the country, Larry didn’t have my hard edge. He was mercilessly abused by the monks.

“The De La Salle Brothers were big strong brutes of men. The sexual abuse they inflicted made the boys feel dirty and worthless inside.

“These victims have found it virtually impossible to have normal, happy relationships for the rest of their lives.

“They’ve found it difficult to relate to wives and girlfriends, and even to their own children. The damage is enormous. None of us realised how badly we were affected until we left these schools, and tried to get on with life in the real world.”

Visibly moved by the plight of the hundreds of men who have come forward and accused the De La Salle Brothers of the most horrific acts of abuse, Boyle went on: “I share their pain.

“I’m dismayed and disappointed that Cardinal Winning has allowed this situation to drag on without intervening. As a man with a good heart, he cannot stay silent any longer.

“I’m disgusted by the Church’s response to this scandal. The evidence of systematic abuse is overwhelming.

“How can they say the De La Salle order weren’t responsible for running these schools?

“I was there for 14 months and, apart from a couple of civilian workers, I saw no-one other than De La Salle Brothers. I never saw any Board of Governors, or any other civilians. The head of St John’s when I was there was a Brother Peter. He was a wonderful man who did nothing but inspire me.

“I believe I was protected from the full horror of the abuse because he was a benign influence. But it didn’t stop the rest of the monks destroying other children in their care.

“The Nolan Report sets out guidelines which are supposed to stop anything like this ever happening again. But it also calls for past abuses to be investigated.

“I call on the Church to do that now, and end the suffering of these men and their families. This isn’t about compensation, because no amount of money can ease such suffering. This is about justice.

“For 40 years, men have been suffering in silence, battling to come to terms with this horror. The Church can make a start towards the healing process by at least saying sorry.

“My wife Sarah was extremely supportive and helped me get over the traumas I suffered. She understood the effects of such abuse.

“She and our two children have given me their full backing to support the Sunday Mail campaign and to talk of my own experiences in the hope it will help others.

“If families in difficulty need support or counselling, we will try to help through our Gateway Exchange Opportunities Trust.

“I will be calling on First Minister Henry McLeish to ensure this issue is brought into the public arena, and I’m willing to give testimony to what happened in these schools.”

Applicants for counselling and support can write to: Gateway Exchange Opportunities Trust, 13 Inverleith Place Lane, Edinburgh, EH3 5QJ.

Life and crimes of Jimmy Boyle

1944: Born in Glasgow’s Gorbals. Is thieving while still at school.

1954: Sent to St John’s De La Salle List D School for stealing pounds 7 from a fun fair cash box, and later describes the regime as the most brutal he’s ever witnessed.

1956: Leaves St John’s after 14 months. Soon joins the Glasgow street gang scene and earns a reputation as a hardman with a knife in the feared Gorbals ‘Cumbie’ gang.

1967: After various knife fights, sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of rival gang member William ‘Babs’ Rooney.

1968: Begins a campaign of violence against prison authorities at Invernessand Peterhead and after being sent to the solitary block, begins a dirty protest in the notorious “cages”. Another four years added to his sentence for assaulting officers at Peterhead.

1973: Described as ringleader of the Porterfield prison riots, and sentenced to a further six years. Categorised as most dangerous, violent prisoner in the country. Out of the blue, is invited to join Barlinnie Prison Special Unit.

1977: An art teacher gives Boyle a lump of clay, and a dam of creativity bursts forth. He writes his autobiography, A Sense of Freedom, in just six weeks, and it is published to critical acclaim.

1978: Beautiful middle-class psycho-therapist Sarah Trevelyan reads his book, and decides to meet Boyle. She quickly sees through the hardman image and their friendship blossoms.

1979: Second half of his autobiography, The Pain of Confinement, is published. A Sense of Freedom, with actor David Hayman’s portrayal of Boyle, becomes a celebrated TV movie.

1980: He marries Sarah while still in prison and creates a media frenzy.

1982: Finally released from prison, Boyle is by now a sculptor, writer, artist, and totally transformed human being.

1984: Uses the proceeds from A Sense of Freedom to launch a trust for underprivileged kids.

1985: Daughter Suzi is born.

1988: Son, Kydd, follows.

1994: Murder of son James, from first marriage, aged 28, in Glasgow.

1999: First novel, Hero of the Underworld is published.

2000: He and Sarah part.

2001: Quits for the South of France to protect children from his past, but pledges to continue his work with Sarah for their Gateway Trust project.

Life and crimes of De La Salle

1680: De La Salle Brothers are founded in France by John Baptist de La Salle. Not ordained monks in the true sense, but men with a vocation to teach.

1949: Recognised when the Pope proclaims St John Baptist de La Salle the “Patron Saint of All Teachers”.

1950s: De La Salle Brothers take in thousands of Scottish Catholic children placed at their four List D schools under care and protection orders, or for minor petty offences such as truancy. Four schools – St John’s, Springboig, St Mary’s, Bishopbriggs, St Ninian’s, Gartmore, and St Joseph’s, Tranent – all have the motto: ” To touch the hearts of your pupils is the greatest miracle you can perform.”

1954: Jimmy Boyle is sent to St John’s, Springboig for stealing pounds 7.

1982: With the costs of keeping each child at a De La Salle School reaching pounds 2000 a week at today’s prices, the Scottish Office decide to change tack and the schools close.

1999: The Irish government is forced to apologise to thousands of victims of orphanages and schools, including De La Salle, after reports of widespread abuse. A commission investigating child abuse is launched, Legal Aid made available, and a compensation tribunal established. Over pounds 4million a year is pledged to provide counselling for the many victims.

2000: James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan reveals he was a victim of De La Salle brutality, repeatedly physically abused at school in Navan in the 1960s.

2000: In Belfast, suspected “pervert” monk, Joseph Scallyknown as Brother Flo, is sued after abuse allegations from a former De La Salle pupil. Brother Flo, 64, was head of the De La Salle Boys’ Home at Rubane, Kircubbin, County Down, from 1977 until the mid 80s.

2000: In Queensland, Australia, the De La Salle Brothers are among religious orders at the centre of horrific child abuse allegations. After the Catholic Church denies the allegations, the Australian government launch an on-going Commission of Inquiry into a catalogue of abuse at orphanages and detention schools dating from 1911 until the present day.

2001: The Sunday Mail reveals monks and civilian teachers are the subject of reports to the Procurator Fiscal after allegations of torture, sexual abuse and brutality at De La Salle Schools in Scotland between the 50s and the 80s.

Hundreds of alleged victims come forward, but the Scottish Legal Aid Board turn down their applications, claiming there is no evidence of “systematic abuse”. http://www.thefreelibrary.com/JIMMY+BOYLE%3B+EXCLUSIVE.%28News%29-a074329190 NOTES: [1] Extract from article in The Herald Scotland on 2 June 2001 by Jean West – “She Taught Me How To Love”: He had already tasted years in punitive institutions – including a draconian spell at St John’s List D Catholic school in Glasgow, run by De La Salle monks and now subject of a childcare scandal – for petty theft and significant violence. http://www.heraldscotland.com/sport/spl/aberdeen/she-taught-me-how-to-love-she-absolutely-taught-me-how-to-love-jimmy-boyle-faces-life-after-marriage-1.185430

 RESPONSES TO THE DE LA SALLES ‘APOLOGY’ TO SURVIVORS

Below are the responses I’ve had so far to the De La Salle’s (DLS)  ‘public’ – but actually rather private – apology to all survivors.  I agree with all these responses below.  And in particular that ‘it is a chink in their armour’. It’s clearly going to be a long battle, one in which Catholic Safeguarding can be more supportive and pro-active. Telling me that they are ‘disappointed’ if survivors do not accept the DLS apology is NOT a neutral position. It is protecting the DLS against survivors.

One observer tweeted me:

Its a clerical apology i.e. designed to deflect criticism of abusers rather than give closure to survivors.

A St Joseph’s College Ipswich survivor had this comment:

” (It’s) a mediocre stalemate. This apology is a cluster of words that has no audience, a statement with no backbone or authority of compassion. ‘But it is a step forward’.”

A survivor of the De La Salle St Gilbert’s School direct messaged me:

I think you’re right about the Catholic safeguarding standard I’ve been asking them have there been any changes and if so what are they I’m still waiting for answer’s they arranged a meeting with the papal nuncio in June where I met him still waiting for his response. I can feel another let down

A survivor of the Benedictines emailed me :

The public / private statement nonsense comes across as subtle gaslighting.

Another St Jo’s survivor emailed me:

It is getting somewhere but where they are is a long way away from what has to be done. 

They really stuffed my ability to think straight and therefore  most of my life.

A survivor of the Comboni religious order tweeted:
Disgusting response that’s been written by their lawyers. It’s the type of response that many orders churn out. It’s standard. Full of “ifs” and “buts”. It’s blaming the victims, once again. Words like “disappointing” “for not seeing” take the pressure off them & put it on others.

He went on to say regarding the Combonis, with words that could apply to the De La Salles both now and in the future:

In my experience of the Comboni Missionary Order-they are more concerned in listening to their lawyers & insurance companies than listening to the men abused as children at the Order’s child seminary. Once they acknowledge abuse happened they have to change & they don’t want to. Their statements in response to abuse have all been written by their lawyers. They contain lots of “ifs” and “buts” “this is purely a commercial transaction & in no way an admission of liability.”

A friend – who is not a Catholic – gave me his view:

I think you are dead on about that apology.Its about as sincere as a used car salesman. I mean we are talking about the worst forms of behaviour our species are capable of….electric shocks on children!!!!! That makes my blood boil! No, it has to be only action, transparency, genuine self reflection on the part of the organisation,and harsh sentencing in the courts.

Sorry’s no good, sorry’s too late and sorry wont help. But a genuine and genuinely public apology would be a good start.

An acknowledgement that this is way more sinister than a few bad apples.

Who wants to be associated in any way with those that organise and protect these groups?

The normal reaction would be to stamp it out with ruthless efficiency.

Reading that actually made me really angry, but it is a chink in their armour.

At the end of the day we, the public are not apt to forget or forgive and I’m just an observer not a victim. It disgusts me on behalf of the survivors. You deserve so much more and nothing less than justice done.

NAZIR AFZAL

I am delighted with the symbolism for change that Nazir Afzal’s appointment as Chair of Catholic Safeguarding  means and his clear sincerity. As Chair his is by no means a full time role, but I guess it’s quality rather than quantity that matters.

Neverthless, like other survivors, I’m afraid I simply do not believe ‘The Catholic Church has recognised the failures of the past and the need to put things right’.

Recent events – like the De La Salle inadequate ‘apology’  to survivors would bear this out.

I’ve pointed out to Catholic Safeguarding that they need to be pro-active, rather than reactive and given examples of the real difference this would make. This is in line with lawyer and activist Richard Scorer’s call for a ‘fundamental reset’ in the Church’s approach to dealing with abuse.

I received no response from Safeguarding to my suggestion.

I still recall my original experience with Catholic Safeguarding. I think it was around 2003 when I was told that a protestant woman was being put in charge. I was impressed! I really thought it would make a difference. It didn’t. Think she lasted two years and came up against considerable resistance from the Catholic hierarchy.

As a result, I chose to forget about Safeguarding and find other ways to expose the truth about St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, the De La Salles, the Knights of St Columba and abusive Catholic priests.

I’d be interested to know what other people think.

  Nazir Afzal OBE on his appointment

 I am delighted that the Catholic Church has taken what some might consider a brave and bold decision in appointing me as the first ever independent Chair of the CSSA board. I’ve spent three decades responding to harms in every community and institution. I learnt that victims have been failed by every institution who were responsible for safeguarding them. I also understood how reputation was thought more important than exposing those who abuse. Nowhere was safe. Victims were not only abused by perpetrators but then again by those who should have protected them and acted to stop it. The effects of abuse are lifelong and often undetected with victims beset by feelings of shame, guilt and fear. That had to change. The Catholic Church has recognised the failures of the past and the need to put things right. This is what attracted me to the role. To make a difference, you have to act differently. It usually takes great courage to do so. When I helped deliver justice to thousands of victims of abuse, I realised that they were the most courageous of all.  

STATEMENT FROM THE CATHOLIC SAFEGUARDING STANDARDS AGENCY

I’ve received the statement below from Catholic Safeguarding which I see as a positive and encouraging step forward.

“The information contained within some posts is deeply troubling.  We urge all victims and survivors of Catholic Church related abuse to come forward so that we can offer support and ensure that individuals accused of abuse can be referred to the statutory authorities for investigation.  We will take all necessary steps to ensure that those coming forward are listened to and supported, and that regardless of action by statutory authorities, risks posed by people who currently have roles within the Church are addressed. 

Please contact me at the Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency (CSSA) via Colette.limbrick@catholicsafeguarding.org.uk or refer directly to the Police so that the appropriate action can be taken”.

Colette Limbrick, CEO, Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency (CSSA)