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Stephen Ashley, CEO of the CSSA, has admitted to me that the Laity has been overlooked thus far. Now it looks like more Catholic Laity escape scrutiny.
The Laity – in the form of Knights of St Columba – was/is intimately connected with the De La Salles. And a Colchester Knight’s current and horrifying abuse of children was provably concealed from the national press. So his fellow Knights really need auditing to ensure he acted alone.
They haven’t been.
The CEO’s response was rather relaxed to this real and present danger to children. He said:
I agree with you over this issue around abuse by the laity does seem to be largely ignored and certainly has given me some pause for thought. I think that in our future audit and review processes we need to give this more consideration.
How do the Laity get away with it? Well, the Knights organized a cover-up of priest abuse (one insider source), as well as De La Salles abuse (a second insider source). And I’m sure it’s widespread, so I guess the Church owes the Knights for their protection.
I believe that’s why they’re off limits to the CSSA.
But it’s not just the Knights of St Columba and similar organisations who are let loose on children with no audits and no DBS checks.
An insider has just advised me:
‘Those confraternities, sodalities, orders to venerate saints and so on obviously are significant financially plus many of them are international and so offer support systems to people who relocate from one jurisdiction to another, but they haven’t featured in audits of how the Church has handled concerns and allegations about abuse.’
So children are at risk from these organizations, apart from the fact they are also mentally abusing kids. I looked one sodality up and was horrified to see its current ‘humility’ message to girls. My wife Lisa described it as ‘toxic, sinister and intrusive.’
Another female source noted the Virgin Mary ‘meekness and subservience’ role model promoted by such sodalities was problematic. ‘It creates a lot of repressed anger and aggression that gets taken out on children and other women who don’t fit the mould.’
I know that from first hand as a kid.
It’s this female Catholic obsession with obedience (‘humility’) and purity that led to my being abused by intelligent and sophisticated Catholic women – probably from a similar sodality and/or the Catholic Women’s League – obsessed with a neurotic hatred of the body and sexuality.
Such women don’t just screw up girls, they needed to work out their perverted, Church-approved neuroses on boys in the form of criminal aversion therapy I’ve described previously.
So it’s alarming to think that similar Catholic women – with an identical dangerous mindset and identical language I remember from my childhood – are still unleashed on today’s children.
Someone needs to monitor these individuals and thus far they seem to have slipped under the radar, just like the Knights of St Columba.
I know from first hand experience the unpaid diocese safeguarders are a joke, and they don’t care what abusive poison the sodalities inject into children’s minds as their brainwashing has been approved by the Church. So it’s okay. In fact, many diocese safeguarders could well be members.
But I suspect these sodalities – who have the authority to teach children Catholic ‘values’ – have also not had DBS checks and they clearly have not been audited.
In short, the entire Catholic Laity can currently do what they like to children with no audits, no supervision, and no dbs checks, to prevent current sexual assaults.
Never mind their mental assaults on children’s minds – which are intimately connected, the one leading to the other – and which the CSSA will say is none of their business.
I can assure the CEO of CSSA that one day soon this is going to come out and his lack of action – when children are in danger now – within his remit – is noted and will be added to the charges against the Church and Safeguarding.
It’s a pity there is no forum for Catholic Survivors to air their grievances and get a response.
The Tablet, the Catholic Herald and the two Catholic Safeguarding agencies ensure they are carefully cloistered from the reality of survivors anguish.
Consequently, we use social media and we are making some progress – not least in advising each other when we’ve been duped by the Church. Sooner or later we’ll find a national media to highlight the shame of the Catholic Church of which your organisation is part.
The RLSS responded:
I would like to hear your ideas on how such a forum might work to see if there is anything I can take forward with this
Thank you for all you are doing to hold the Church to account.
I found that positive, so I thought I would share my ideas for a Forum here which Survivors can add to. It’s a discussion document and I’m thinking off the top of my head, but of course it’s possible. What do others think?
1)Naturally legally ongoing or potentially pending cases couldn’t be discussed, but there’s still potential for general debate.
The Catholic Church has cruelly and willfully shut itself off from survivors and that has to stop.
I’d guess if the RLSS set it up, it would need two or three moderators and very open access.
The moderators can say something like ‘The views expressed by moderators or others on this forum do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Catholic Church’
So moderators are protected and can say what they want – good or bad.
The cost is peanuts. If the Catholic Church can’t fund that, then it really is beyond words. I’ve spent thousands of pounds in therapy and I’m sure other Survivors are the same.
Don’t tell me they can’t afford it.
And limiting the Forum to just religious orders subject would be impossible. There’s too much overlap. Survivors would find it too frustrating.
2) The biggest concern for Survivors is PR exercises. Avoiding being love-bombed with platitudes or photo opportunities. Thus the Church has a cruel, cynical and BAD track record like smiling and shaking hands with a Survivor, promising results, then effing off and never seen again. That was a con trick in which the Tablet played a dubious role.
We won’t be fooled again.
So a forum needs to demonstrate its credibility in the knowledge that Survivors are now very cynical.
That’s inevitable after past confidence tricks.
3) A discussion subject that should be talked about is one I brought up with Zollner ( Vatican Safeguarding) yesterday:
In Britain, as you may be aware, there is now no coverage of survivors of past Catholic and clerical abuse. The various agencies either don’t cover past abuse, or have reneged on promises in writing, or pass it to police who can do nothing. Comment?
I suspect he’ll ignore me as he usually does.
This can all be talked about openly without legal constraints because it’s general. It’s not specific.
4) It needs interaction to give it appeal – so a moderator might say, ‘We reached out to Nazir Afzal for comment and he said xyz…’
Even if we don’t like what Nazir says, at least he’s communicating in a forum.
Currently Nazir throws a grenade over the parapet – mitigating child sexual abuse in a shocking tweet which will eventually lead to his resignation – and then is heard of no more.
5) I’d personally like to see Catholic Herald, The Tablet, Knights of St Columba, Catenians, & other leading Catholics respond to Survivors. Even the Brit equivalent of Bill Donahue (An aggressive Irish American, head of the Catholic League).
Currently, to me, they are all the enemy. And I’m darn sure leading Catholics see Survivors like me as the enemy,too. In their arrogance they want us to be meek and mild or broken alcoholics or drug addicts.
They’re not used to people standing up to them which is happening more and more post IICSA which we all know was a waste of time (another valuable forum subject).
6) Catholics may choose to pass on really valuable information which currently I’m having to play detective to discover. E.G. Clarifying the complex role of Safeguarding and ADMITTING the diocese Safeguarding is useless. Or prove me wrong with some of the latest figures.
I’d love to know they were getting results. But I doubt it.
Many Survivors are completely baffled by the confusing dimensions of Safeguarding and if the RLSS are different we’ll start worrying, ‘When are the Catholic Church going to dump the RLSS and replace it by a new bs organization?’
That’s a genuine fear for many of us.
The RLSS could PROVE its credibility now by telling us all why the SCOE shut down. I know it was sort of in response to IICSA, but I think we’d all appreciate a bit more detail.
Currently it feels a bit odd to me.
We are starved of information which has resulted in many of us becoming detectives and gathering important info for ourselves and other Survivors.
That’s unfair, it’s not our job, and the Church must provide hard information. I know they’ve been secret for 2K years, but they can’t go on like that.
7) There’s a strong theory which blackens every aspect of the Catholic Church seeing it as a sinister organization like the Mafia or a religious cult or far worse. There’s considerable evidence to support this theory. For example, the first fifteen years of my life I experienced organized Catholic male AND female abuse which I can prove to my satisfaction.
Other commentators have similar evidence of organized Catholic crime.
Thus I believe the principle of ‘double effect’ – embedded in Catholic theology via Aquinas – allowed Catholic abusers to do anything they wanted in the past.
‘The end justifies the means.’
I fear that’s still the case.
That could be aired on a forum and Catholics could respond with counter-arguments and show me if I’m wrong.That’s fine with me. The Truth can take it.
Or, alternatively, acknowledge the Church’s crimes.
But Catholics usually just retreat into their hidey-holes and NEVER engage in open debate with their critics.
8) I would hope that debate if the Church is genuine ( and that’s a huge IF) will lead to remorse and understanding.
For instance, I talked to a leading Catholic theologian about my childhood, in a very casual way, and I was startled to see the tears streaming down his face.
Unlike Cardinal Nichols who had the most transparently fake expression of remorse on his face after IICSA. I’m a lousy actor, but I could have done better.
Or Pell with his hulking aggressive response to accusations.
Neither of them looked remotely holy.
But if priests are following in the footsteps of Jesus, they should surely welcome this ‘humiliation’ which their founder embraced.
As Survivors we want to see penance/remorse/call it what you like. Not ‘Here’s some money,we don’t admit anything, now can you eff off.’
Zollner (Vatican Safeguarding) is a good current example. He exuded passive aggression. He quoted in a clumsy tweet how some Survivor was pleased that dealing with his abuse would help the wounds of Mother Church.
Survivors, understandably, said that Survivor was in a minority – what about OUR wounds? There was a pile-on on Twitter.
Zollner just kept repeating the same message several times and we wondered if he was actually employing AI which is now feasible.
It’s noteworthy that, despite the pile on, NO Survivor was abusive and Jeez, have we got reason to be! An irony there, given we are Survivors of abuse.
This is the kind of thing that could be handled so well in a Forum but it means Zollner would need to leave his obvious contempt for his critics at the door.
9) Those are my opening thoughts.
I think the Catholic Church won’t allow the RLSS to proceed with a Forum – because it’s a cowardly organization. Cowardly because it’s guilty of past and ongoing current crimes.
And it’s desperately afraid of what might happen. Because it’s not following the Truth.
It’s also suffering from the arrogance of clericalism – Zollner being a good example – and doesn’t want to lose its status.
I would appeal to them ‘The Truth will set you free’ – even though I know their reaction (from observing priests close up in recent years) will be ‘How dare you tell me what to do? I am a Man of God with a divine mission. And you are nothing.’
That dynamic of clericalism needs reversing. The Church needs to come to us as penitents.
If the Apartheid regime and N.Ireland factions can respond to Truth and Reconciliation, who knows?
In the case of the Catholic Church it would be more like a denazification process after WW2.
A Forum would be an important step in that direction. AFAIK there is no such arena of honest debate at the moment.
That also speaks volumes.
Maybe if the RLSS had a twitter account and responded to Survivors there it would be a positive small first step.
I was prompted by a recent letter from a St Joseph’s Old Boy to take another look at Catholic Knights and their Dirty Money, specifically the Ipswich province of the Knights of St Columba.
The Old Boy advised me:
I was at St Joseph’s in Ipswich from 12 to 16, funded by the church to then go on to a minor seminary to train to become a priest.
The mysterious phrase ‘The Church’ is often used to explain funding. No one seems to know how that actually works in practice and I doubt the Old Boy in question knew. When I asked my aunt, she said the same thing to me: ‘The Church paid your school fees.’ When I asked what that meant and why the Church would do that, she didn’t know and quickly changed the subject. But I know the answer now. In Ipswich ‘the Church’ was the Knights of St Columba and they were the writers of the cheques. This is proved by my own recollections and those of another Survivor whose testimony has been previously covered on this site. Elsewhere, it might be the Catenians, Catholic Women’s League and so forth.
The source of the Knights’ money I would assume comes from a number of sources: fund raising, donations by wealthy Knights, and, I would guess, a significant allocation from the diocese itself. So it can rightly be called the Church’s money.
The diocese would need considerable confidence in these Knights to leave them to manage their affairs. It’s a confidence that would be misplaced were the diocese not equally culpable for the actions I’m about to relate.
It’s what that money is spent on by the Knights that is relevant both in the past and today. And that’s what makes it dirty money.
1)Paying St Joseph’s school fees for children to go on to be priests as in the example above. As I know from my own experience, it can bring strong psychological pressure on a child to fulfill the demands and agendas of adults, but I would assume that did not apply in the case above.
2) Paying St Joseph’s school fees as a reward for silence on a serious sexual assault by De La Salle Brother James Ryan.
I’ve related the details previously. That account, by another Old Boy, proves the Knights of St Columba were guilty of corruption and covering up a violent paedophile crime.
And not for the first time.
Something similar also happened to me.
3)Paying St Joseph’s school fees for my brother and I for a total of nine years.
For two of those nine years the fees were paid by the Knights to prepare me for the priesthood. They intended to send me to that same junior seminary at age 15. It was also to silence me. Instead, I bailed.
But that still leaves seven years unaccounted for. What possible reason would the Knights pay two boys’ school fees for seven years? My explanation is below. If you, or a Knight reading this, can shed any further or alternative light, I’d love to hear from you.
But I believe there’s more than enough evidence to back my explanation.
THE KNIGHTS’ MOTIVES
All organizations need to recruit for their next generation and that’s particularly true for the Knights.
My family consisted of my devout Irish Catholic widowed mother and her two sons. She had great aspirations for her sons but no financial resources, no job and serious mental health problems. The Church was her whole life and could do no wrong.
There is no way she could afford to send her children to an expensive grammar school for seven years.
Her vulnerability made my brother and I a prime target for the Knights, under their benign guise of caring for and taking a special, charitable interest in widows and children.
We were perfect assets for the Knights.
In effect, my mother abdicated her authority and passed it over to these ‘protectors of children’. I doubt there were other recruiting opportunities quite this good.
Also, a paternity DNA test I took recently strongly indicates that a Knight was probably my biological father, rather than my legal father. Bearing this out, the Knights also acted ‘in loco parentis’ assuming a paternal role over me which – because they were sick abusers – I rejected.
But, even without that DNA connection, I think the Knights had enough incentive.
So what did recruiting involve? Today we would call it grooming and the form it took varied amongst the four to seven Knights involved over my childhood. Some were pleasant, some were aggressive and one was life threatening.
So my brother was given a brand new bike by a Knight who was also a Catholic priest (Canon Burrows). I was similarly given a brand new bike to silence me about abuse by Brother James.
I was present at several of their misogynistic ceremonies which were closer to a rugby club night or a frat initiation than Eyes Wide Shut. They seemed designed to be rites of passage experiences, presumably conditioning me to be a future Knight. Pedophilia was an important element at these events.
I assume pedophilia was part of some twisted bonding process and also the price for admission. At the same time, they were instilling conservative Catholic values in me. It’s a contradiction in behavior that’s commonplace in the Catholic religion.
So, in summary, the Knights of St Columba (aka ‘The Church’) used their money, power and psycho-coercion to recruit children to the priesthood, to buy the silence of victims, and to corrupt, sexually abuse and recruit future members.
THE KNIGHTS TODAY
If even half of what I’m alleging is correct, these individuals and their successors should never be allowed near children. Because the Knights are provably transgenerational.
Consider the following:
In 2016, in Colchester, Ronald Smith, a Knight of St Columba, was found guilty of sexual abuse crimes on eight children, some under ten years old, carried out while he was taking advantage of his position as a Knight, ‘organizing parish family events’. He 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/ That’s an incredibly long sentence, yet, astonishingly, the story never made the national press. The Knights killed it. So no one knew Smith was already a convicted sex offender in 1973. Or that there were three reports to the police about him since 1973 which were never acted upon.
I also know from an insider and from the Ronald Smith case that some Knights, at least, have not had DBS checks. Otherwise Smith would never have been allowed near children. Yet they have sworn an oath to ‘develop young people in their journey of faith’.
Catholic Safeguarding were not interested when I brought this current danger to children to their attention numerous times.
There are two Catholic safeguarding organizations and both are relevant. The CSSA which are mainly part timers and are only interested in current cases, no more than two years old, and auditing unpaid diocesan safeguarders. They supposedly investigate but I know from personal experience they don’t. They simply dump cases on the police. The CSSA replaced COPCA
And there’s the RLSS – hired by religious orders, like the De La Salles, to protect them from Survivors. It’s meant to be a sub-division of the CSSA, but it seems autonomous and the CSSA have never shown any interest in religious orders abuse. The RLSS has some supposed investigative powers and recently replaced the SCOE. Why the SCOE became mysteriously defunct has never been explained. Important records from the SCOE where the DLS were concerned were never passed onto their successors the RLSS. Instead, I had to brief the RLSS. The DLS didn’t seem able to or chose not to help, even though they were central to the issues and had all the information.
Then there are the De La Salles own safeguarding officers who only speak to the press when they are cornered after many phone calls.
There is also a different Catholic Safeguarding set-up for Scotland.
If you’re wondering about the confusing and frequently changing names, you are right to be concerned. It’s an ingenious technique used by the Church as noted here:
I suspect in a few years, as Catholic scandals grow as usual, the CSSA and RLSS will mysteriously become defunct and be replaced by ‘dynamic new organisations’ to reassure the Catholic faithful that something is being done, even though it’s not.
So the situation is now worse than before IICSA.
Consider the laconic response of the CEO of the CSSA to my concerns about the Knights:
I agree with you over this issue around abuse by the laity does seem to be largely ignored and certainly has given me some pause for thought. I think that in our future audit and review processes we need to give this more consideration.
He seems quite relaxed about it, doesn’t he? He didn’t know about it before? Until I told him? It took me about two years to confirm – with hard evidence – that the Catholic laity was involved in organized sexual abuse. Yet safeguarders have access to far more information on this subject than myself and they don’t know?! And they don’t want to consider the past to identify the pattern of a Catholic laity pedophile ring as run by the Knights?
Whatever else you may agree or disagree with my analysis, I think you’d have to recognize all this shows a shocking lack of transparency. This is classic Catholic ‘smoke and mirrors’ at its worst.
Both the heads of the CSSA and RLSS are ex-cops but I do not find that impressive or reassuring, despite their protestations that this surely proves their sincere characters and their supposed value to Survivors. In practice, both are provably useless but some Survivors have drawn a more sinister conclusion. Namely that their policing skills are being used to effectively block the truth getting out.
Given the way the Knights have behaved (and there’s much more to relate on these gentlemen) I think anything is possible.
But the RLSS have a responsibility to look at the connection between the abuser Knights and their paymasters the De La Salles.
As a survivor of this joint abuse by Knights and De La Salles, I have a right to know when their criminal relationship ended. If it did.
It’s there on the long list of things the RLSS have done absolutely nothing about, despite their promises to the contrary.
An ex-FBI agent said that if you found paedophiles in an organisation and it didn’t deal with them then it was effectively a paedophile network.
The RLSS has not dealt with the issue it was supposedly set up for. The RLSS have admitted to me that their paymasters, the De La Salles, have the final say and their hands are tied and this is confirmed by the RLSS broken promises.
In my view this amounts to worse than negligence.
Fortunately, this site is read by national journalists and the leader of at least one most relevant organization. So the head of the RLSS might want to reflect on this and how he will eventually be called upon to explain his actions.
Or his lack of action.
Hopefully before the next enquiry and before he’s had a chance to escape responsibility for his betrayal of De La Salle Survivors.
Possible new information on Brother Kieran (Brother Kiern). There’s a link below to the original allegation which described Brother K as ‘The worst abuser’.Many De La Salle Brothers could be described in this way, but this man does seem particularly monstrous.
Looking at the dates, if he came to Oak Hill in the mid 80s that would fit.
But he was described as much younger, ‘perhaps 30 in the mid 80’s.’ That doesn’t fit.
The younger Brother K interested me because it meant he could still be alive. Memories can be hazy and in other respects the character below fits. However, it won’t be the first time that two De La Salle abusers have the same name. Brother James, for example.
So I rather feel there are two brother K’s – the Oz Brother K and the younger Brother K.
Certainly the Oz Brother K returned to the UK and died in London in 1997 and, given his Oz cv, children would have been at risk from him, too.
If the younger Brother K is still out there, this criminal needs bringing to book.
No help from the De La Salles or their Safeguarding protectors, of course, even though I have brought it to their attention.
It’s a very blurred photo of Kieran on the first page of the newspaper link below. But enough to recognise him perhaps.
Also, worthy of note: His death detailed on the first link. There is a painting at the top of two De La Salle Brothers holding up Jesus at the crucifixion while other DLS urge children towards the scene.
I have to say I found it the most arrogant and bad taste image of the crucifixion I have ever come across.. It’s quite sick.
Anyway – here’s the update and many thanks to my source for bringing this to our attention.
Your Br Keirn is almost certainly Kieran Rush, who spent nearly his whole career here in Australia, but was originally from Antrim. He passed away in 1997 as detailed here:
He came to Australia after graduating the novitiate in the mid 50s. He was one of the founding brothers of DLS Revesby in 1960. There are legal firms currently investigating his conduct there amid abuse allegations.
Kieran left after a year to co-found Boystown in Queensland. This was by far the worst DLS school anywhere for abuse. The stories are endless. Brothers are still being nabbed for their crimes at the place. For example:
Victim Impact Statements are relatively new and have made a difference to victims of crime. I can see a way they could apply to Survivors of the De La Salles.
I must have over a hundred testimonies of terrible physical and sexual abuse against children by the De La Salles, and I’m aware of so many more from their schools and children’s homes in Ireland, Scotland and elsewhere in the UK.
Currently, the DLS have not confirmed their promised apology for the behaviour of their head Brother Laurence Hughes, now demoted because of his physical cruelty to children, as highlighted on this site. Neither have they carried out their promised enquiry into the ‘unheard of’ complaints on this site. That was over a year ago and clearly isn’t going to happen.
And the new RLSS seem like a busted flush where the DLS are concerned, they are actually worse than their predecessor the SCOE. They are tethered by their paymasters, the DLS, and are endlessly in meetings with them, promising me conclusions which are never reached.
So I want to put forward the idea that a Victim of child sex abuse or violence at the hands of the De La Salles, has the opportunity to make a Victim Impact Statement in a thirty minute Zoom call with a member of the De La Salle Order.
A brother wearing the De La Salle robes we all remember as children.
So that DLS brother listens to the harm that his order did to that person in the past.
It’s impact only. It doesn’t have to be added to a complaint file that makes it legally binding or bureaucratically impossible. That would cause endless delays.
It’s pure catharsis.
No promise to investigate – tempting as that is – because the DLS would be overwhelmed with hundreds of cases and use it as a reason to decline.
At this early stage, at least, just the impact statement, to get it off the ground.
All it really needs is the RLSS to send the DLS a list of interested survivors and agreed times. Then the DLS or RLSS sends the survivor a Zoom link.
It could have a mediator like the RLSS if the DLS are worried. No swearing or verbal abuse would be allowed. It may or may not be recorded. Perhaps it’s optional. No NDAs that restrict Survivors because that still makes the DLS an authority figure.
And for me personally, I would insist the DLS do not conclude with ‘I will pray for you’ or similar patronising statements. Because that is giving them an authority over me that they have forfeited by their predecessors’ crimes.
They are here to listen to us.
But all the above are details that can easily be refined and agreed upon later.
Legally, it’s not impossible, even though a lawyer will try to claim it can’t happen, because lawyers don’t care about reconciliation, only making money.
But if Truth and Reconciliation can work for countries, is it too much to suggest the same for the De Salles and the Children they have harmed?
It can be ‘without prejudice’ – without admission of guilt – and there are any number of responses the DLS can make which would not be prejudicial. Ranging from ‘I hear what you’re saying’ to ‘I’m so sorry to hear how much pain this has caused you.’ Or ‘I’m so sorry that is your recollection of your school days.’
No guilt is admitted.
Immediately, I can see the DLS, or its lawyers, or the RLS saying ‘But but but but but but but but but but, can’t, can’t can’t can’t.’ Or, even worse, ‘That’s a really great idea, Pat. We’ll talk about it and get back to you in three years time.’
The time to do it is NOW.
Keep it simple. No need to get bogged down with endless but but buts.
Test it out on a Survivor NOW.
See if it works. There must be some Survivor the DLS feel safe talking to. If they don’t know anyone – most unlikely – test it out on me.
At least they will have tried.
And they would be starting a GENUINE engagement with survivors, rather than the current farcical and meaningless hand-wringing the RLSS does on behalf of its paymasters, where we never get to see the men from the order who committed unspeakable crimes.
What are the benefits?
From the DLS point of view, they are considerable. Apart from being their Christian duty to deal with evil and help victims of evil, it would give them great public support.
For the first time, a Catholic religious order has the courage to face up to the crimes of past members without admitting liability and without paying out huge sums of money.
That would earn them a considerable number of brownie points with zero cost.
And I, for one, would respect their courage in finally facing Survivors.
From the Survivor’s point of view, it’s a great catharsis. I get to speak to a man wearing DLS robes who listens to what his order did to me in the past.
Even if a Survivor wins a court case against the DLS, all he is currently going to get is a payment and a curt accompanying note from the DLS’s solicitors. He’s not interacting with the cause of his complaint: a human being.
At the moment, the RLSS – the DLS’s Safeguarder – is acting as a punch bag for their paymasters the De La Salles.
They have to listen to all the anger and the pain of survivors and they respond well and with sympathy, but so what? It doesn’t get us anywhere – as I’ve previously described – because they are not the DLS.
Meanwhile, the DLS are not even in the boxing ring.
The perception amongst Survivors is that the RLSS are being paid to take the heat for the crimes of the De La Salles.
That is surely wrong and Survivors see this as cowardly or arrogant behaviour by the DLS.
The RLSS must know it’s wrong, but they’re in financial thrall to the DLS so they keep their mouths shut. Thus, for all their good intentions, they are perpetuating an unjust system.
And repeating a previous injustice we suffered as children where we also had to keep our mouths shut.
Here’s the view of two DLS survivors
*Seriously, good idea though. If #delasalle turn down an opportunity to deal with their past and help ALL of us put it to bed, it will forever be a stain on their reputation. They can’t see in front of their noses that survivors are trying to bring closure. Don’t they want that???
*I’m up for it, Pat, they have to listen to survivors at one point. I can’t see them doing it, though.
*When I put a complaint in about the horrifying crime’s at St GILBERT’S their reply was we were only employees and denied any allegations and it was the Home Office problem. The De La SALLE abused us not the Home Office.
To respond to this last point:
As this is about the cruel impact a man wearing the robes of a DLS brother had on a child, it doesn’t matter here whether it’s the legal responsibility of the Home Office or the DLS.
It would be ridiculous to get bogged down in such bureaucracy, which the RLSS are currently attempting.
Whatever the legal status, the Survivor still gets it off his chest and is heard.
Pros and cons
This is just a discussion document and everyone’s views are welcome. Maybe there’s something better or different. I figured 30 minutes, but up to 45 minutes might be better?
One shrewd observer commented that:
*They pay media advisors and drama coaches to train them, if they need to keep up their facade…
We need to see a genuine human being, a De La Salle brother on the screen, not a crisis actor or a professionally trained puppet. I would hope they would not be foolish enough to abuse our trust.
My feeling is that by making the DLS feel safe they may just face up to the crimes of their predecessors.
We didn’t feel safe when we were in their hands, and it’s ironic – but also empowering for us as survivors – that we have the power now.
Seeing how a DLS brother actually feels today may actually help us Survivors.
There’s an important shift of power dynamics here which will help us with the healing process.
I suspect for many survivors it will be healing just to talk to a DLS brother for 30 minutes. And bring them closure.
For others, it may open a can of worms. But the Truth must run where it will.
We can’t be afraid of the Truth.
It’s cost Survivors like myself thousands of pounds in therapy dealing with DLS crimes against me, so I really don’t want to hear them say it’s uneconomic. Or they haven’t got the time. That they have better things to do.
Make the time.
Someone has to be proactive and find a way out of the current deadlock. As no initiative has come from the DLS and their Safeguarders, it’s up to us to take the initiative.
An olive branch is being offered them: a way of getting at least some of the poison out for some Survivors, and I would recommend they take it.
If they don’t want to, IMHO it will be because they are just too afraid of what might happen, what might come out. So they will carry on as before but – with increasing media and social media pressure – sooner or later their full history will be revealed to the public.
Bear in mind there are survivors in their 50s whose memories of abuse at De La Salle schools (I have their testimonies) are only emerging now. So this problem is not going to go away for decades to come.
I’ve sent a copy of this post to the RLSS because I do not have contact details for the DLS. Which tells us a great deal.
I’m also sending a copy of this post to a journalist who writes for the Tablet in the hope that they will see the benefits for the De La Salles and the Catholic Church, and cover it in their newspaper.
Here’s an update regarding the RLSS and the De La Salles.
The RLSS invited me to a (Zoom) meeting. Here is my reply to their head of Safeguarding:
Thanks so much , Stephen.
I was impressed by the work you did on child protection re Caldey Island.
When the equivalent happens where the De La Salles are concerned I will be sure to sing your praises.
But currently my view from the outside – not being present at your meetings with the De La Salles – is that you are dealing with a very determined and cunning organisation that will not admit its crimes, even though it promised to.
And so far you are losing and the De La Salles are winning.
As you know, that’s also the view of other survivors of the De La Salles so there’s no point in having a meeting at this stage.
When you can prove you have made progress regarding the De La Salles admitting their crimes, then I would be very happy to talk and understand your point of view.
But, currently, I see your organisation – no matter what its good intentions – as part of the problem, rather than the solution.
So I will continue to expose how RLSS Safeguarding is there to safeguard the De La Salles, not survivors of their terrible crimes.
In my view, because you are ‘tethered’ by your paymasters, you should remove the De La Salles from your list of clients because their current immoral behaviour – in line with their criminal past – is giving your RLSS a very bad name.
Once the De La Salles are ’expelled’ and can no longer hide behind you, it will be easier for Survivors to deal with them. I would submit that this is the right and moral thing for you to do. Otherwise you are in collusion with them.
As always, I will feature this response on social media because I believe in full transparency and we Survivors need to protect and support each other against a formidable and uncaring enemy. Your organisation seems incapable.
As you probably know the RLSS (Religious Life Safeguarding Service) is the new ‘go to’ Safeguarding organisation for religious orders, including the De La Salles. They promised to be different – a new broom. But nothing’s changed and their time is up.
Unlike the CSSA, the RLSS does actually have investigative powers.
(So, too, do the unpaid Diocesan Safeguarding officers who I know from past experience in the Copca era were a waste of my time. But the RLSS seem different)
The RLSS promised an outcome to De La Salle issues of ORGANISED PAEDOPHILE RINGS in their schools. That promise was well before Christmas and we’re now in Feb.
So their time is up.
I believe what is delaying them is the De La Salles trying to wriggle out of their agreed apology for Brother Laurence and their promised investigation.
All over a year old.
My guess is it’s the Catholic insurance company who are saying, ‘Don’t say anything. Don’t admit anything. Maybe Mills will get tired and go away. Survivors often do. We just have to hang on in there.’
Mills is not going away.
The RLSS does seem to have some genuine people, but that’s part of the problem. They’re tethered, as they admit themselves, their powers are limited, so they are as much of the problem as the criminal De La Salles who are hiding behind them.
To me that’s COLLUSION.
And just in case someone challenges me on ‘criminal’ DLS, I’d say an organisation that allows over a hundred cases of child sex abuse by De La Salles and their lay teachers to go without investigation is a criminal organisation.
Especially when there is evidence it’s organised sexual abuse. Not odd rotten apples.
We survivors are not collateral damage, much as I think some Catholics would like us to be and just shut up and leave these “”””holy””””” men alone.
Here’s my TWEETS on the subject of the RLSS.
I’m sure I’ll be returning to this matter again soon.
My twitter handle is
So if you were able to find those tweets and retweet them, they would reach a wider audience and show the Catholic Church and its organisations for the shameful entities they really are.
I have many happy memories of St Pancras Church in Ipswich (Saint Pancras is the patron saint of children). It was my local church until I was ten (1959) when we moved to Chantry Estate and Saint Marks.
I was an altar boy, a proud member of the Guild of St Stephen and was thrilled when my red lanyard was replaced with a black one. And my red cassock replaced with a black cassock. Even if older altar boys called themselves ‘The Rhubarb Club’ (after the Goon Show), I had no such cynicism, nothing could match the excitement of carrying a lit torch or the incense ‘boat’ or swinging the thurifer.
The old Georgian presbytery next to the church was a most enthralling building. In the cellars it had a smuggler’s tunnel leading to the nearby River Orwell. The first tunnel section could still be explored, but then it was blocked off, to my great disappointment. It was such a shame the presbytery was knocked down and replaced with a faux Georgian building.
The priests Canon Burrows and his curate Father Wace were very warm and friendly. Canon Burrows was always round our house in Stoke, dressed in his boiler suit, doing handyman jobs for my mother. Father Wace presented me with a copy of ‘A Little Hero’ by Mrs Musgrave which had a cover of a boy wearing a school uniform remarkably like a St Joseph’s College blazer. He told me I would go there one day and he was right.
Father Wace was the Akela in charge of the cubs and I was always baffled why I was a cub for just one week. Then I stopped going and no-one would talk about the reason why. It seemed to be because I had told a friend of my mother’s about ‘something that happened at cubs’ and this friend had stern words with Father Wace.
The Catholic laity – the Legion of Mary; the Knights of St Columba and the Catholic Women’s League – were also an important part of my life. My mother was a vulnerable, devout Irish Catholic widow and these organisations did their best to help her. They introduced her to another Catholic widow, Mrs Czech, and her two daughters and we went on a pilgrimage to Walsingham together.
But writing about the laity at St Pancras is still difficult for me and this short article below by Doctor Philippa Martyr for The Catholic Weekly explains the reason why.
Doctor Martyr concludes:
‘This is the ugly underside of our local vibrant Catholic community. Covering-up goes on all the time, for all sorts of things – and yes, lay people enable it. We just haven’t been brave enough to face this about ourselves yet.’
But before coming back to the laity, I have to say there was also another side to both Canon Burrows and Father Wace which was a real shock to me when the memories came flooding back to me in mid-life.
My mother worked as a housekeeper at St Pancras presbytery. Her vulnerability meant her children were prime targets for clerical abusers.
Canon Burrows – a listed Knight of St Columba – was a sexual abuser. It took a lot of therapy for me to get my recollections of his behaviour out of my system. His particular technique was magic and conjuring tricks. ‘Now you see it, now you don’t.’ At age six, I wanted to be a magician like the Canon and spent all my pocket money on jokes.
Father Wace is not listed as a Knight, but, given his wealthy background, it seems likely he, too, was a member.
He also was a sexual abuser. My mother smiled at my thrilled expression when I saw Wace’s pyjamas casually thrown across his bed. Because his pyjama jacket was weighed down with maybe twenty fantastic metal collectors’ badges – which would make it impossible for him to sleep in. But they were really cool badges that any eight-year-old boy would do anything for.
MALE CATHOLIC LAITY AT ST PANCRAS
I’ve previously covered the Knights of St Columba on this site. There are statements from myself and other survivors that prove there was a ring of sexual abusers in the Ipswich Knights.
The Knights were also the Eminence Gris for the Church, which meant they controlled my school fees and they exacted a price in return. The similar Knights of Columbus describe themselves as ‘The strong right arm of the Catholic Church.’
The only thing relevant here is their use of psycho-coercive ‘double bind’ techniques. These are recorded in their theatrical ceremonies which I have previously featured on this site. Such ceremonies stopped – supposedly – in the late 60’s. Too late for me, unfortunately.
It’s relevant because female laity abusers used similar ‘double binds’.
A double bind is a dilemma in communication in which an individual receives two or more reciprocally conflicting messages. It’s a mind-twister and shows a deep knowledge of psychology and how to manipulate people.
When – or if – the Knights stopped abusing children I have no way of knowing and no one today cares. Catholic Safeguarding ignored a recent newspaper report of a Knight of St. Columba sentenced to a long prison sentence for child abuse. The Knight was provably not given a police check, which would have shown he had a previous conviction for child abuse.
FEMALE CATHOLIC LAITY AT ST PANCRAS
When I looked at all my bills for therapy, I was startled to see that a good 50% of my recent therapy – over the last three years – related to female Catholic laity at St Pancras.
And that it took emotional priority over male clerical abuse. You might conclude it’s because female abuse is a far greater betrayal to a child, but, actually, I think it’s because of the bizarre but very effective nature of the abuse.
I believe the women were members of the Catholic Women’s League: the female equivalent of the Knights of St Columba, and it’s acknowledged they work closely together to this day.
The CWL doesn’t list deceased members, but I’ll happily supply the five names of the female parishioners concerned for the CWL to check against their records. I would, of course, also need sight of those records. I’d say ‘Deceased Ipswich members 1956 through to the millennium.’
If I’m wrong, I will write a retraction.
If I’m correct, their names will be listed here as child abusers, alongside Burrows and Wace.
Some may have also been members of the Legion of Mary at St Pancras. My eight-year-old self didn’t fully understand the difference between the two organisations.
But I have focused on the CWL because the five women concerned were all middle-class high achievers, which seems to be the hallmark of this organisation. Two of them were spinsters. There is also the CWL’s close connection to the Knights who were provably abusers. But principally because one of the key female abusers was a close friend of the famous Barbara Ward, Baroness Jackson of Lodsworth – Wikipedia.
Barbara Ward went to St Mary’s Convent Grammar school in Ipswich (I went to the adjacent St Mary’s primary school). She then went on to be President of the Catholic Women’s League in the 1940s and introduced my abuser to her husband who was almost certainly a Knight. This was long before my time. And I’ve absolutely no reason to think Ward was an abuser.
But Ward shows just how intellectual, well-connected and powerful the Catholic Women’s League were when I had the misfortune to come across some of their members, including her close friend.
Exactly like the powerful Catholic laity described in the link above.
Although their abuse was as perverted as any abuse, it had a certain ‘logic’, which perhaps helped them with their justification for their obscene gratification.
I won’t go into graphic details here, but it was a physical form of aversion therapy (not like today’s conversion therapy as fair as I know), an attempt to thwart puberty using psycho-coercive double binds.
It would have had different names in the past, but various forms of aversion therapy – some quite barbaric – were commonplace from Victorian times through to the 1950s. It was still very scary.
Why did they do it?
Because of the abuse I suffered at the hands of Burrows and Wace, I was definitely ‘acting out’ as so many children do. For instance, I recall drawing and talking openly about what the priests did to me. So it may have been an attempt to physically put a stop to a child’s ‘play’.
But it actually feels rather more ambitious and organised. There were several of them involved, for instance. Even though I was earmarked for the priesthood from an early age (I was signed up for the seminary at age thirteen) I don’t believe that fully explains their behaviour.
It was certainly a ‘procedure’ they were used to.
However, it’s not my responsibility to understand their sick mindset. Or explain how it all worked in detail. I bear the psychological scars and that’s enough.
If your cognitive dissonance is kicking in at this point, and you find it hard to believe that respectable, middle-class Catholic women could behave in such a manner, let me tell you that in the same decade, a number of Dutch boys were castrated on the orders of the Catholic Church because they had shown gay tendencies. In the 1970s, on the orders of his British Catholic school, a young teenager was given hospital electric-shock treatment to similarly erase his gay character. There are other examples.
Aversion therapy seems designed to suppress, reduce or redirect a child’s sexuality. In practical terms, it limits your power over your own body. Instead, these women had control over my body. I’m pretty certain they saw their abuse as ‘holy work’. I’d love to tell you they failed miserably, but, annoyingly, its effects actually lasted until I was aged sixteen.
These fanatical women knew what they were doing.
If you’re a Catholic Safeguarder, or a member of the priesthood, the Knights or the CWL, you may well be thinking, with some relief, as you read this, ‘Ah. But it’s impossible for him to prove.’
Well, it’s true it’s hard to prove. Most survivors must have either accepted their programming, maybe they even thought it was good for them, or are too embarrassed or ashamed to talk about it.
The best proof I have is the fortune I spent on recent weekly therapy, over the last three years, deprogramming the abusive program these women had instilled into my psyche.
And also the evidence of my therapist who has previously given evidence to the Ipswich police. This resulted in an abusive Ipswich Catholic teacher recently being arrested.
So I wouldn’t be too relieved if I were you.
Needless to say, I would be delighted if the CWL decide to challenge my account.
I know Catholics practice secrecy from the Pope downwards, but this really needs to be brought out into the open.
You might suggest that Catholic Safeguarding could help me with this matter.
Not a chance, I’m afraid, so I should explain why.
You may believe Catholic Safeguarding are there to help past survivors and investigate past clerical and laity abuse
Catholic Safeguarding is actually in a terrible state today, the worst it’s ever been. And, in case you think that’s just my negative opinion, there is already media concern and research on this aspect.
The CEO of the CSSA (Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency) admitted the following to me:
‘IICSA was obviously put in place with the intention of dealing with this but quite honestly I think they were overwhelmed and in the end they presented their final report and it is difficult to know what it all achieved.’
All IICSA’S recommendations (The Elliott report etc) have been ignored by the Church, even though the Bishops claimed otherwise.
As the Daily Telegraph reported: ‘Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse had previously concluded Cardinal Nichols was more concerned with protecting Church’s reputation.’
Today, the CSSA only deals with current issues up to two years old.
‘This of course leaves those that have been subject of abuse over two years ago have very little redress.’
The CEO confirmed my own experience that the police (Operation Hydrant) will only deal with cases where the abusers are still alive.
‘Our remit does not include an investigative branch. The process is that the diocese or religious life group (through the Religious Life Safeguarding Service (RLSS) investigate concerns when raised.’
So where St Pancras is concerned this means that the diocese will investigate.
I’ve been here before during Eileen Shearer’s COPCA era when I first raised Canon Burrows with the diocese. I learnt that Catholic Safeguarding diocese members are unpaid, they do nothing (e.g. they didn’t even look up records) they simply dump complaints onto the police, who can do nothing (see above). The diocese Safeguarders know this and – under the convenient excuse of ‘we have a mandatory reporting duty’ – they are wilfully and knowingly wasting valuable police time.
The diocese Safeguarding officer also reassured me personally everything would be ‘so much better’ with Shearer’s recent appointment because she was a protestant. So nothing would be covered up anymore.
I was briefly impressed.
Shearer resigned shortly afterwards.
But it’s worse. The investigating officer is from the diocese where the crime took place, so he or she is still part of that Catholic community: they will certainly know the organisations concerned at the very least, they may even be members of it, and they are thus not independent.
This has put off many survivors from reporting abuse and that’s no accident. It’s exactly what the Church intended.
Returning to the laity.
The CEO of the CSSA said to me:
‘I agree with you over this issue around abuse by the laity does seem to be largely ignored and certainly has given me some pause for thought.’
Most of my claims against the Catholic laity can be deemed historic (over two years old) and therefore will be ignored, which is, of course, outrageous as we survivors have to live our entire lives with the results of their crimes committed against us in childhood. But two cases are actually current and one relates to the East Anglian diocese. The other to an adjoining diocese.
In both cases there was a lack of police checks and thus vulnerable people and children may be in danger.
There was no response from the CSSA and Police Operation Hydrant when I raised this with them both.
THE LIKELY RESPONSE FROM ST PANCRAS, THE CWL AND THE KNIGHTS OF ST COLUMBA
From past experience with the Knights and the evidence presented about them on this site, I fully expect the parish priest of St Pancras today, the Catholic Women’s League and the Knights of St Columba to do nothing.
They don’t seem to see it as their duty to children past and present to look into this most serious matter.
They will prefer to keep their heads down and hope it will all go away.
Or at best, to write back to me with some dismissive hand-wringing, ‘We’re sorry what happened to you, but there’s nothing we can do. We have no records and thus no way of looking at your allegations.’
But in 2023 silence – or such a dismissive lack of interest – is not a good look.
Even if the Catholic insurance company has advised or even ordered them, ‘Say nothing. Admit nothing.’
(It’s sad when a Christian religion is controlled by an insurance company.)
Today, not responding to hard evidence of abuse means only one thing.
If you have been made aware of crimes past and current, and you choose to respond with silence or in some Pontius Pilate manner, it means you are colluding with the original child abusers to keep these crimes hidden from public view.
SO WHAT CAN BE DONE?
If you’re a Survivor you might feel nothing can be done. That – post IICSA – the Church has managed, with its own admitted poor Safeguarding (see above) to still successfully silence its critics.
That’s not the case.
‘Naming and Shaming’ abusers at my Catholic school on this site has worked very well in the past and has led to positive results which I’ve described in previous posts. With both local media (EADT) and national media (Sunday Times and the Tablet) covering and investigating the accounts I have brought to light.
It’s only now that I’ve been able to focus on the parish I grew up in, and the clerical and laity abusers, male and female, who harmed me as a child.
So I would hope for similar results here. I’m sure it will be of equal interest to the media.
Particularly local media.
And if you are a survivor of abuse by any of these people I’ve described here, and would like to share your experience, please get in touch. As always, your anonymity is guaranteed.
However, if you are a member of the congregation at St Pancras and are rightly shocked by what you have read, I would appeal to you to raise some or all of these issues with your parish priest.
It is clearly his personal duty to act.
Diocesan Safeguarding is not an alternative. It is provably flawed for the reasons I’ve given and I strongly believe is deliberately designed to waste everyone’s time.
Even if you discount some of the allegations I’ve made, there is still a great deal left that should be looked at, discussed, and which you would hope would be of great concern to your parish priest.
Based on the past, I fear your parish priest will not take responsibility, but I would love to be proved wrong.
Furthermore, my experience is that – even today, despite the Church being called out for its crimes at IICSA – Catholic congregations will not respond to allegations of child abuse within the Church. They will look the other way at clerical and laity crimes.
This is because of the Oath of Allegiance they took and similar ties that bind.
However, I would hope that there are some exceptions who are not sheep and have the courage to challenge their shepherds.
In any event, at some point in the near future, there will be further investigations into the Catholic Church and this post and others will be useful in providing evidence.
Meantime, no one in the parish of St. Pancras can now say ‘We didn’t know. We had absolutely no idea these terrible things went on.’
You’ve been told.
And anyone curiously searching the web for nostalgic memories of St Pancras will come across this post.
They will be appalled to see the Church’s dark history in which the crimes of priests such as Canon Burrows and Father Wace and Ipswich female and male Catholic laity are laid bare for all to read.
That is the legacy of shame for all the world to now see that St Pancras, its current parish priest, as the representative of the Church, the CWL and the Knights of St Columba will have to live with from now on.
Unless they choose to take a path of light and look at the truth.
Otherwise, it’s a dark cross all of them rightly have to bear.
As you may have seen on my previous blog, the RLSS – Religious Life Safeguarding Service – have successfully arranged for DBS police checks on Cistercian monks on Caldey Island.
So it’s a great step forward for Caldey Island Survivors and the RLSS are to be congratulated for their supportive work.
It suggests that, despite, IMO, the questionable nature of all Safeguarding organizations as ‘fronts’ to protect religious orders and priests, that individuals can still work within the system and create real change. Even though independent agencies are the real answer.
But this still leaves the serious matter of the De La Salles and the RLSS long outstanding.
Currently there is a missing apology and a missing investigation.
Both are of considerable current importance to survivors of the De La Salles.
I’ve got a little tired recently of reading in posts here how wonderful the DLS were with barely a grudging nod to survivors, and often with the qualification, ‘But I never saw the brothers do anything wrong myself.’
Well, of course you didn’t because you weren’t at risk!
It’s like we survivors are necessary collateral damage to fulfill the perverted desires of the De La Salles, while you high achievers got on with your splendid careers, thanks to these wonderful and ‘holy’ brothers you admire so much.
Such high achievers should reflect that, in my era, at least 10% of every class were physically and sexually abused by the DLS. (I can break that down for skeptics.) That makes the DLS a criminal organization and it’s impossible to identify, with any certainty, who was good and who was evil. Only the blatant ones, a very few of whom were caught. Please reflect on that before you continue to sing the praises of a questionable organization that is still operating today and still has its hand out for more funding to continue its ‘holy work’ in the Global South.
So onto the missing apology and investigation.
I’ve been holding off for some time on both the foregoing, not least because the SCOE, the Safeguarding organization for religious orders of which the De La Salles was a client, was disbanded earlier last year and replaced by the RLSS, a new safeguarding organization.
Before it disappeared, the SCOE didn’t pass any information about these two matters above onto the RLSS.
But of course the SCOE was directed by the DLS who could have easily updated the RLSS.
In both instances, the Safeguarding organizations are limited by their client, the DLS, who actually have the real power as the RLSS have indicated to me.
To reprise, when it existed, the SCOE/DLS assured me there would be a public apology for the horrific corporal punishments delivered by Brother Laurence Hughes previously head of the DLS. He has been ‘reduced to the ranks’ following an investigation which is now complete without criminal charges being made.
I’ve been told that it’s almost impossible to bring criminal charges for physical abuse after such a long time period.
The important issue of how Laurence Hughes dismissed abuse complaints while he was head of the DLS has never been addressed.
Given that he has been reduced to the ranks, it should be. It means that those complaining of child abuse received a hearing from a man who committed savage physical abuse on children.
Here’s what the SCOE actually said to me on 15th July last year.
I have been waiting for confirmation on the outcome to the investigation following receipt of allegations made against Bro Laurence Hughes (LH). De La Salle (DLS) in the near future will be making a statement about of the outcome of the investigation and I understand this statement will contain an apology to victims and will be published. I will ask DLS to make the statement easily accessible, through their website or to others if/as requested (* see note below). I understand that LH no longer holds any leadership or safeguarding role within DLS.
AFAIK the DLS did not make a statement in the ‘near future’ as promised.
It was also stated, as you can see, that it would be a prominent apology, rather than the earlier example of a DLS apology on a separate and general matter. That was a vague and general apology to all survivors of DLS abuse. Such a cursory ‘sorry’ was buried on the DLS website only after I’d shown the announced apology was actually missing. Even the Tablet had to acknowledge this was untoward.
And the DLS also said in a newspaper interview last year that there would be a thorough investigation of all the allegations about the DLS in Ipswich and elsewhere in the South of England which it suggested were ‘unheard of’.
As I’ve told the RLSS the cases against Brothers James, Kevin and Solomon in particular are overwhelming and need public acknowledgement by the De La Salles. They also involve the Catholic laity who helped cover up the crimes of James and Solomon.
Since then, there has been nothing about this ‘investigation’ which I do not believe even exists.
There have been meetings between the RLSS and DLS with no outcome and emails from the RLSS assuring me of their best and genuine intentions.
Because they are a new organization I believed I should give them the benefit of the doubt and also in the interests of due diligence.
So – after an extended delay on the apology and the investigation – we are no further forward.
The DLS have done an excellent job of stalling for most of last year and their RLSS has played a role in this.
The DLS – according to the RLSS – have not been very communicative with them either. Whilst I have some sympathy with them and the frustration they must feel, my priority is we survivors who have been harmed by the DLS.
The comments below relating to the CSSA (the ‘general’ Catholic Safeguarding agency) apply equally to the RLSS.
I think both commentators on twitter put it very well.
Every ‘respectable’ persons engaged as the face of #CSSA must be responsible for their use by church leaders as a ‘smokescreen’ of safeguarding to disguise, facilitate false trust & add more layers to leaderships cover up and concealment of clerical sex crimes.
Those ‘respectable’ persons are dangerous accomplices, as they create a smokescreen & illusion of safeguarding to disguise & facilitate cover ups & ongoing crimes. All inquiries have shown that the churches can’t be trusted & safeguards are PR stunts. https://twitter.com/Smartcairns11/status/1590654903328051200
Despite the positive result at Caldey Island, after my personal experience with the SCOE, the RLSS and the DLS, I see nothing to disagree with here, not least because Safeguarding organizations have very limited power.
Of course the real culprits are the De La Salles who would seem to be more formidable opponents than the Cistercians and who are treating survivors with absolute contempt.
Something is clearly badly wrong with the CSSA:two key members have mysteriously resigned and in the wake of the shaming IICSA report Nazir Afzul was surprisingly upbeat.
Let me remind what the IICSA final report had to say: The investigation into the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales revealed a sorry history of child sexual abuse where abusive priests and members of religious orders and institutions preyed on children for prolonged periods of time. Between 1970 and 2015, the Church received more than 3,000 complaints against more than 900 individuals connected to the Church. In the same period, there were 177 prosecutions, resulting in 133 convictions. Millions of pounds have been paid to victims and survivors in civil proceedings. Since 2016, there have been more than 100 reported allegations of recent and non-recent child sexual abuse every year. The true scale of abuse over a 50-year period is likely to be much greater.
Responses to disclosures about child sexual abuse have been characterised by a failure to support victims and survivors – in stark contrast to the positive action often taken to protect perpetrators and the reputation of the Church.
The reactions of Church leaders over time were marked by delay in implementing change, as well as reluctance to hold individuals to account or to make sincere apologies. On occasions, they conveyed a grudging and unsympathetic attitude to victims and survivors. In order to shake off the failures of the past, real and lasting changes to attitudes are needed.
Although there have been some improvements to current safeguarding arrangements, more recent audits have identified weaknesses. The culture and attitudes in the Roman Catholic Church have been resistant to change.
Nazir Afzal. Chair of Safeguarding, shows no signs of regret or contrition or apology on behalf of the Church he represents. In fact, his tone is onwards and upwards, business as usual. Here he is:
But in another interview with the Tablet he goes further. He notes the importance of Canon Law which – if it defies the Law of the Land – is a criminal offence. That’s what de facto he is supporting even though IICSA have recommended the confessional be unsealed and it is the law in Australia. He didn’t know about the law in Oz! Here’s how I covered it in a tweet
When @nazirafzal talks about sanctity of ‘canon law’ in context of the confessional he is de facto placing it over Law of the Land. He has previous – obliquely defending categories of paedophilia and showing that organisations like the Church are not as bad abusers as families.
I would refer you to a past post where he actually comes out with a tweet in support of those who would mitigate the crimes of paedophiles by categorising them in different age groups. A classic device by the Catholic Church and also by paedophiles themselves.
It gets worse!
In the other interview with the Tablet he is dismissive of IICSA’s recommendations where the confessional is concerned. That’s a very serious matter.
Here’s how I tweeted about it:
@nazirafzal claims predators’ confessions to abuse in the confessional are ‘extremely rare’. Academic Marie Keenan proves him wrong : 8 out of 9 clergy abusers she spoke to ‘disclosed their abuse during confession.’ When is someone going to hold this Fraud to account?
Marie Keenan’s information is in the same article! Keenan is Ireland’s leading academic on abuse and is highly respected. Nazir is clearly and knowingly guilty of spreading disinformation. That’s appalling when you are head of the CCSA.
A group of Catholic survivors were so disturbed by his behaviour we recently wrote a letter with a great deal of thought, detail and restraint.
Concerns re CSSA
Following the publication of the IICSA report and the Elliott review (Elliott, 2020), which was accepted in full by the Catholic Bishops’ conference, survivors were hopeful that finally change was going to take place within the RC church in its dealings with safeguarding matters.
We welcomed the appointment of Nazir Afzal as the first Chairperson of the new Safeguarding structure, trusting that he and the new board would work to drive through the very necessary changes that were so badly needed.
Over the last year, while there have been some small signs of progress, the spirit of optimism, which survivors had, has steadily waned away as we have witnessed what is happening at grassroots level.
Our experience over the last year is that survivor engagement is generally not following Ian Elliot’s recommendations.
Instead, survivors’ experiences have included
-being redirected to the body within the Church who was responsible for their original abuse and then re abused them when they summoned up the courage to come forward to disclose that abuse.
There was an attempt to set up of a new survivor reference panel last autumn. Survivors known to Catholic Safeguarding were not made aware but stumbled across an advertisement on CSSA website by chance. Immediately, they could see many flaws in what was being proposed. Additionally, it was not advertised in a way that was likely to be seen by survivors.
Survivors wrote collectively to the new board raising their queries. It was only after a considerable amount of chasing that a date was set for a meeting. The way it had been proposed that a new panel would be set up, and then the difficulties in trying to engage with the board to voice concerns began to seriously undermine trust in CSSA.
At the meeting they were told that the board “had got it wrong” regarding the way it proposed to set up the new survivor panel.
The board met with them on 2 further occasions. They were told that until a new panel was formed that they would be used as an “informal panel” and that the board would send an invitation to meet with them in April, to introduce them to a Communications officer who CSSA had appointed and would be the point of liaison with survivors.
Survivors have never received the promised invitation. One survivor chased with regard to it and has now met with Board members. The onus should not lie with survivors to have to keep chasing and no attempt has been made to offer survivors the opportunity of an introduction to the Communications officer.
It has become clear that there is lack of understanding among the board members that clerical abuse carries with it additional and very far-reaching impacts on survivors, because of the spiritual dynamics inherent in it. This issue demonstrates the need for CSSA to engage with survivors in the way Ian Elliot has described, but at present that engagement is not happening (except perhaps in a very limited way with a very small number of survivors)
There is little or no evidence of an interest or willingness to engage with or listen to survivors to try to understand the reality of our abuse, or of trying to live with it since it happened, and the way in which that has been compounded by the church’s unwillingness to provide any meaningful help or support. Many live with a sense that they are not even believed, others are left with the sense that they are troublemakers.
There have been inappropriate and extremely insensitive comments about paedophilia on social media by a board member. When challenged no attempt was made to either apologise or withdraw the comments.
We were told by one board member
“One thing it is important to say is that the CSSA is formed to implement robust standards for safeguarding in the Church going forward from 2021. We will not be able to right the wrongs of the past but to look forward to make sure things are done well in the future.”
A representative for a survivor spoke to Nazir Afzal recently and relayed back that she was told
“CSSA will not be providing support for any survivors.
Any disclosures re matters that occurred prior to CSSA forming would need to be taken to the police for investigating.
When CSSA starts auditing it will not look at anything which has happened prior to June 2021
CSSA is not independent as actions will have to get clearance from Rome”
These comments suggest that CSSA intends working in a way that is a far cry from the sort of survivor engagement Ian Elliott recommended.
Over the last year survivors have experienced a repetition of the ignoring and marginalising tactics which the Church has used for so long with survivors. If this continues nothing will change in the way the Church responds to survivors and their suffering and pain will continue to be lifelong.
In the Elliot Review it was recommended that a formal case consultation service would be set up to manage allegations and concerns and that this entity would be a ‘critical friend’, able to support and encourage but with a major change of emphasis from it being advisory, to being empowered to challenge and uphold professional standards, holding the constituent(s) to account.
We cannot find evidence of this being implemented.
The complaints procedure which we have had sight of falls far short of that described in Elliott review. It permits recommendations on the part of CSSA, but does not seem to have powers of enforcement and will also only become involved in a complaint when every other avenue has been exhausted-thus leaving survivors with no option but to continue re engaging with a body who has been harming them.
Nazir Afzal publicly encouraged survivors to contact him saying he wants to hear from them (Tablet article-24th March 2022). Our lived experience is somewhat different and is endorsed by Danny Sullivan, a former Chair of NCSC in the same article.
“It is welcome that at last after some almost nine months in post Nazir Afzal is making public comments about his role”.
Citing a “thoroughly disheartening” recent experience with the safeguarding process, Sullivan, speaking to The Tablet, criticised the Church’s continued intent to “self-police” regarding abuse allegations. “Nazir Afzal talks about protecting children but so far there seems no urgency about supporting current victims of abuse who are not apologised to for their abuse or worse still not treated with the care and sensitivity due to them according to CSSA’s current protocols. They are certainly not treated as the priority bishops said they would be after the IICSA report.”
Can CSSA answer the following questions so survivors have full clarity on how it proposes operating.
1.If CSSA is not going to provide support for survivors how does it envisage that things will “be done well in the future”?
2.Why is CSSA saying that it will not to provide support for survivors, given that it was recommended so strongly in the Elliott review ( which was accepted in full by the Catholic Bishops’ conference?
3.Survivors generally take many years to summon up sufficient courage to disclose their abuse, meaning that almost all disclosures are historical. Can CCSA confirm whether they perceive that it is an important part of Catholic Safeguarding’s role to support survivors when they disclose their abuse, to then pass it to the police?
Survivors who have disclosed their abuse to Catholic Safeguarding prior to CSSA being formed have very frequently been revictimised. Can you describe the service you are going to offer to these survivors? This is not a matter where the police will become involved. However, it is imperative that CSSA addresses the serious trauma that survivors have experienced to enable them to begin to recover from it. If CSSA is not going to provide this service, can they explain the reason for this decision?
4.Why is CSSA not going to look at anything which happened prior to 2021? This will cover up a great deal of the Church’s catastrophic failings possibly forever. It is extremely protective of the body who has abused a great many very vulnerable people and will serve only to help those who are responsible for abusing. Does CSSA believe this is acceptable?
5.What steps is CSSA going to take now to put right the serious breakdown in trust with survivors which has occurred since it was formed in 2021?
6. When is CSSA going to actively engage with a wide number of survivors, including all those who indicated interest in working with CSSA in autumn 2021?
7.Does CSSA intend to rewrite the present complaints procedure so it is in line with Ian Elliot’s recommendations and protects the interests of survivors. When will this be done?
8.If CSSA needs clearance from Rome for its actions how does it justify describing itself as being a regulator?
Thank you for your open letter ‘Concerns re CSSA’ this week.
On behalf of Nazir Afzal (Chair) and the Board we were very saddened to read it. Thank you for stating your concerns clearly for us to consider.
In the first instance we will table your letter for discussion with our new Survivor Reference Panel at our next meeting which is likely to be in November to seek their advice and guidance.
We welcome your input; we may not be able to answer all of your queries in detail at this time but again assure you of our wish to engage with survivors on an ongoing basis
With our very best wishes,
This is typical of the prevarication and dismissive tone of the CSSA of which Nazir is Chair. As we have chronicled in the past, the CSSA have endlessly stalled in the manner above. And will go on doing so.
The CSSA needs investigating as a matter of urgency and Nazir needs to resign.
He said to me that he received a standing ovation from the Bishops when he took the job.
He will not get a standing ovation from survivors.
Let me state the obvious to Nazir:
In your interview you are remarkably upbeat after the IICSA report summarised the disgusting crimes of the Church you are safeguarding.
IT’S FOR SURVIVORS TO SAY IFYOU ARE DOING A GOOD JOB . NOT YOU. AND NOT YOUR PAYMASTERS, THE PRINCES OF THE CHURCH.
THE ANSWER IS : NO. YOU ARE DOING A TERRIBLE JOB AND SPREADING DISINFORMATION AND IGNORING SURVIVORS IS UNACCEPTABLE.
YOU DO NOT HAVE THE CONFIDENCE OF SURVIVORS. YOU HAVE ENDLESSLY PREVARICATED. YOOU HAVE PROVIDED DISINFORMATION. YOU HAVE NOT FULLY ENGAGED WITH US. YOU HAVE BEHAVED LIKE A SPIN DOCTOR. YOU HAVE SAFEGUARDED THE PRINCES OF THE CHURCH, NOT SURVIVORS OF ITS CRIMES.