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)

BROTHER LAURENCE HUGHES: REQUEST FROM CATHOLIC SAFEGUARDING

Update from a St Jo’s Old Boy below. My emphasis on his post.

Jules Gooch commented on BROTHER LAURENCE HUGHES: NEWS UPDATE

Update – Had a good conversation with Jo Norman today who is looking into this matter. I recounted my memory of the swimming pool assult and she would like to hear from anyone else who had experience of or witnessed the kind of behaviour that we are discussing here. We also briefly discussed a number of other individuals who were involved in similar matters. I think this is possibly a good opportunity to see some kind of consequence / justice for what these people got up to. If you feel you can and want to I recommend you in the first instance contact Des Bill with details. Des Bill deacondesb@gmail.com

BROTHER LAURENCE HUGHES – CATHOLIC SAFEGUARDING INFO.

The posts below from St Jo’s Old Boys reminded me I should have given details of Catholic Safeguarding as they are a complex organization https://www.csas.uk.net/links/

The relevant department for the De La Salle Order is the Safeguarding Commission for Orders in Education (SCOE).

The St Jo’s Old Boy who heard from SCOE that Brother Laurence has been suspended was officially informed by:

Rev Dcn  Des Bill

Independent Chair,

SCOE

desbill.SCOE@gmail.com

He advised that an independent safeguarding professional has been commissioned to manage the case.

So I would suggest that Old Boys who want to share information about Brother Laurence contact  Rev Dcn Des Bill direct at the above email address.

……………………………..

James commented on BROTHER LAURENCE HUGHES   Brother Laurence Hughes , He should leave the order and retire . I am a old boy from St Joseph’s Ipswich. He beat a boy around the head at the swimming pool & gave him six of the best with the slipper. He is a sadist. I know the boys name , I watched what happened to him . This is 43 years later. 

I received this post today:

My attention has been drawn to this by another old boy who reached out to me. I am the boy at the swimming pool and want to share the story. I can confirm directly that BLH was a bully and a savage. What is the best way to proceed?

BROTHER LAWRENCE HUGHES JULY 1 2021 UPDATE

Feedback below from a De La Salle Old Boy regarding Brother Lawrence Hughes who is the head of the De La Salle Order in the UK.

The Old Boy’s concerns relate to physical violence by the De La Salles during the 1960s. 

He tried talking to the Diocese of Southwark and got a similar reaction to me when I tried talking to the Diocese for Ipswich some years ago. It’s why I gave up on Catholic Safeguarding.

There are currently four allegations by Old Boys against Brother Hughes of extreme physical violence against children during a later era : the 1980s. This is significantly more than standard corporal punishment which would be considered lawful for the times.

It seems to me entirely inappropriate that an alleged DLS physical abuser is investigating or responding to allegations of physical abuse by the DLS.   

And as a result being ‘less than helpful’.

Not to mention all the endless testimonies of  DLS survivors – see my recent summary page.  Testimonies which Hughes has not responded to.

This site is now read not just by various related Catholic organizations   but also by the new look, fresh start Catholic Safeguarding headed by Nazir Afzal

So my question is this:

What are you waiting for? How many allegations do we need  for you to take action?  If you are part of the solution, this matter needs your urgent attention. Today.

Or are you still part of the problem?

OLD BOY’S TESTIMONY:

 I went to St Joseph’s Blackheath and am of the same generation as you. I also experienced most of what you did and I can tell you more if need be.

I wrote to the Diocese of Southwark about 5 years ago to make them aware of my experiences at the school. Initially they ignored me but I persisted and eventually one of the staff took me seriously and advised me to contact the police. I did not want to do that as most of the staff would now no longer be alive. They put me in touch with the head of the De La Salle order in the UK and we corresponded via email during the pandemic. He was not very helpful and he did not reply to my emails for ages and ages.

His name is Brother Lawrence Hughes! Our correspondence was less than helpful!

I then saw your WordPress article and then saw the name of the Head of the school, Brother Lawrence Hughes and then everything fell into place.