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:
https://ello.co/countesssigridvongalen/post/p-opcvqmcco0gkp4bdhfrq… Safeguarding in the churches does not work, as all recruitments are done by & within the perpetrator networks that regroup in ever changing charities & positions of trust that they abuse to ensure supply chain & cover ups…
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.