Sending these ‘Survivors Forum – concluding thoughts’ on to the RLSS.

Currently, Survivors have no voice. We are treated like lepers or liars or unfortunate collateral damage who should ‘move on’ and forget what happened to them.

Thus it would be impossible for me or another Survivor to currently interview the Catholic Herald editor and ask why our views are never heard in that publication. They would not respond.

The Tablet is exactly the same. I tried.

But an official Forum, backed by the RLSS, could, in time, be listened to by such powerful Catholic entities. I realise that won’t happen overnight, that many of these entities are scared and suspicious of Survivors and will be reluctant to be interviewed (which does not reflect well on them) but with positive examples of successful interviews, they could be persuaded.

This is just one example where the RLSS could be pro-active in the spirit of the Elliott report.  



I do a video interview with a member of the RLSS. Preferably the CEO so it shows we’re being taken seriously. 45 minutes, preferably one hour.  I have interviewed many people professionally and been interviewed countless times.

If the interview gets a positive response from Survivors, we do more interviews.

As we all know, a clipped text reply to painful questions can be misinterpreted. If we’re feeling fragile, a curt text response can be destructive. So that applies to questions and answers on the Forum, too. It’s a danger we have to overcome as far as possible.

But video is different. We can judge the warmth and sincerity of the interviewee and cut them some slack that’s just not possible with text replies.

AFAIK, this has never been done before, so that’s why I feel it has full transparency potential which traditional private phone calls or meetings behind closed doors don’t have.

I can gather questions from Survivors and submit them in advance. This first interview is likely to be ‘general’ and answer the most pressing issues Survivors have – like what happens to historic abuse claims when the abuser is dead? Why there needs to be an alternative to litigation for survivors: e.g. religious orders launch their own investigations and acknowledge the past. They must be pro-active. Why better role models and solutions outside the UK – as in Ireland – could be implemented. How the RLSS could help by supporting and highlighting Survivor concerns in the media.

The RLSS does the interview recording, the tech uploading, and has the opportunity to edit in the most unlikely event that either of us says something untoward or that could be taken out of context.

The resulting podcast video interview is posted prominently on the RLSS site and is also available on a youtube link – so it can be viewed via social media.

As the RLSS CEO has said to me, this would be a good small first step towards a forum.

The subsequent Survivor feedback to the Interview – positive and negative – should also go on the RLSS website. 

It thus forms a proto-Forum.


Subsequent ‘specialised’ interviews, I feel should have the following objectives as far as feasible: Getting the Catholic entity to acknowledge there is an issue that needs wider discussion. Providing Survivors with information. While Survivors recognize that the entity cannot talk about individual cases – because I fear Catholic Insurance would veto the interview. But we can still get around that by talking generally.

I can think of four experienced interviewers (2 female, 2 male) – with specialist Catholic  knowledge -who could be interested. And the RLSS may know some Survivors who would be good interviewers. And I’m keen to do many of the interviews myself initially to get the process underway as quickly as possible.


CEO of CSSA The CEO of the CSSA has admitted to me that the Laity has been overlooked thus far. I know that Laity organizations – with no DBS checks – are still in control of children!! See also Sodalities below.

CHAIR OF CSSA Nazir Afzal. He has turned down at least one interview with a Survivor on an excellent social media Survivors platform and he remains incommunicado. This is unacceptable. He must talk to Survivors on our terms, not his. We are the injured party. Otherwise he is just another example of Clericalism that is rampant in the Catholic Church

FATHER SMALL – Head of Vatican Safeguarding who has expressed a wish to get in touch with myself and De La Salle survivors as part of a conciliation process. So I assume he would agree. I guess I’d do that one.  

A CHURCH REPRESENTATIVE ON CANON LAW – I’d like to do this one, because I’ve collected a series of disturbing aspects of Canon Law that need answering. I would consult a Catholic theologian, so I am fully primed. Canon Law IMHO is  at the heart of Catholic child sex abuse and clericalism. For example: Canon Law is used as mitigation in defiance of the law of the land, there’s the principle of  double effect (‘end justifies the means’) enshrined in Catholic theology via Aquinas, the legitimacy of lying to protect the Church (‘the greater good’) and the various Oaths of Allegiance which prevent Catholics speaking out. These negative elements need public questioning and acknowledgement.

EDITOR CATHOLIC HERALD –  Survivors have to talk to this person who seems to exclude the concerns of  Survivors and the negative aspects of Canon Law from their publication.  We are the elephant in the room. Given that this is the biggest issue for the Catholic Church that has to change.

I can think of six other key interviews with Catholic entities which would be important to me and other Survivors, but I figure let’s see what happens with the above suggestions first.


Other issues:

One concern that came up is Survivors fearing being retraumatised by engaging in a Forum. That’s understandable and the answer is simple – for their own sake, they should stay away from the Forum. Thus I won’t enter a Catholic Church because it always makes me feel angry. So I stay away. But I don’t object to other Survivors entering a Church.

The Beulah Hill Crystal Palace Forum thread is worthy of study to show how it works and if a Survivors’ Forum should be similar.  Crystal Palace is the Forum that the De La Salles claim not to know about – some of the numerous DLS abuse allegations ‘unheard of’ were on this Crystal Palace Forum. 

The Irish solution to Catholic abuse is well worth study. I have three examples I want to look at. They still have problems in Ireland, but they are far ahead of the UK in responding to Survivors.

One area that would benefit from a video airing with someone suitable is Recovered Memory. It’s something I’ve become a reluctant authority on having attended two False Memory UK meetings. ‘False Memory’ has been provably debunked everywhere in the world – with one exception: the UK where powerful lobbies promote it as truth with the active support and questionable connivance of the Guardian and other UK media provably withholding evidence (Father James Porter case). For Survivors to know – apart from a few mentally ill fantasists or charlatans –  FM is a lie would be very reassuring and help their healing process.

SODALITIES. An insider has recently 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.’


The RLSS responded positively to the idea of a Catholic Survivors Forum. Catholics generally, not just religious orders. So I recently tweeted about it as below. My own feeling is that, handled right, it could be an opportunity to video interview key Catholic figures about the issues raised by Survivors And put up the videos on the Forum. I can think of several people who could do these interviews  and I’d certainly like the chance. It would be better and more general and useful than a video Victim Impact Statement.

We might even prsuade the De La Salles to come out of their cave and talk to Survivors.

 I’ll get into it on a later blog, but wanted to see what everyone felt.

I know the Crystal Palace site was brilliant for highlighting  De La Salle abuse at St J’s Beulah Hill. It was also very measured, not abusive, and didn’t fall into any of the traps some forums do.

The De La Salles claimed the many abuse claims on the Crystal Palace site were unheard of. That’s why I feel it need a video interview slot on a Forum so they can hear us. It’s ludicrous that they are currently only communicating through the intermediary of the RLSS

Do let me know your thoughts and feedback. That’s what the RLSS need to go forward.


RLSS (religious order Safeguarding) have asked for feedback on a forum. I’m going to do a blog post covering it in detail, but I thought I’d pass on RLSS info here and my personal opinion in a series of tweets.

My first thought is it shouldn’t just be an echo chamber of Survivors letting off steam, useful as that can be. It lays itself open to the valid criticism here that it would just be a waste of time and could wrongly raise Survivors hopes and retraumatise some.

That said, on Twitter, AFAIK, we are largely ignored by Safeguarding and people like De La Salles, Zollner and Nazir. On a forum, we would be read by Safeguarding and – if it’s handled right – by the media. And some may respond.

I know an experienced and trusted Moderator volunteer who could represent Survivor’s side. It should not be one sided. And it should be wider than just religious orders. ALL Catholic abuse issues, priests etc.

But the biggest challenge is for the RLSS to be pro-active. e.g. If we raise a concern about Zollner or Nazir, if the RLSS goes to him for comment that’s pro-active. If he chooses to ignore it will be exposed on a forum seen by the media. So Nazir will talk!

Anyway- here’s what the RLSS said to me: ‘My key question for the forum is what you would like it to achieve. Is it a place where Survivors can feel heard could you pose the question … to see if we can find some consensus and then we can take it forward from there.’

‘My key concern is ensuring the power imbalance which is inherent when dealing with the Church has been thought about and addressed so this forum isn’t another structure which Survivors are retraumatised by their interaction with it from the lack of power they feel.’

‘This is also the reason I want to agree its purpose and be really transparent about it so Survivors do not think the forum can deliver something which it fundamentally can’t and once again feel like they aren’t being taken seriously.’

‘More is needed but this is a good first step & getting structure right is key. If you wouldn’t mind asking that question to those who commented & I will also pose it to other Survivor groups … let’s see if we can agree a basic structure & purpose so we can take it forward

So that’s the gist of RLSS view. If I can persuade them to be pro-active in the way I’ve described I’d be for it. If the RLSS inform the media we could get some interaction – e.g. Catholic Herald, Guardian etc. Anyway, welcome everyone’s thoughts – good & bad – I’ll pass on!


The Chair of the CSSA – Catholic Safeguarding

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

Dear Sirs,

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?

We look forward to your responses.

With many thanks,

A group of Catholic Survivors


Elliott, I. (2020, September 21). Independent Review of Safeguarding Structures and Arrangements in the Catholic Church in England and Wales. Retrieved from The Catholic Church Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales:

This is the reply we received

14th October 2022

Dear Survivors,

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,

Jenny Holmes,

Board Member

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.






Nazir Afzal, the Chair of Catholic Safeguarding, sent this tweet a few days ago:

nazir afzal@nazirafzal·Feb 12Lesson

Technically a “Paedophile” is abusing pre-pubescent children

A “Hebophile” abuses those in early stages of puberty, 11-14

A ‘Ephebephile” abuses those in later stages, 15+

The reason why you don’t hear that

Because making that distinction makes you sound like a Paedophile

I asked him to explain it, because such definitions are commonly used by people to excuse and defend sexual abusers of older children. His tweet came out of the blue, without a previous or a follow up tweet. Why he would also introduce it as ‘Lesson’, I don’t know.

 I’ll ask him again here:


I would also note again that – only a few days earlier –  he had, for the second time, insisted to me personally in a Zoom meeting that he only tweeted his personal opinions. He never tweeted about matters that related to his work as Chair of  Catholic Safeguarding.

This tweet clearly has everything to do with Catholic Safeguarding.

And it’s not just a matter of semantics. Of ‘technical clinical distinctions’ (see the Guardian article below). As Chair, Nazir’s words carry great weight and his words are read by thousands of his followers.

So it’s serious.

As another survivor gave their view of Nazir’s tweet, ‘It’s very offensive’.

Here’s how Nazir’s distinctions have been used by others to defend Epstein:

‘Correcting Wootton calling him a paedophile, Lady C  (Lady Colin Campbell) said that it is a ‘medical term’ and that actually that Epstein was an ephebophile – an adult who is sexually attracted to adolescents, usually between the ages of 15 to 19’

And it’s also relevant to Virginia Giuffre. Daily Mail readers have largely condemned her because she was  abused at 17. Ignoring the fact that she was originally abused at 14 through to 17. So it was part of an ongoing continuum of abuse.  

I can understand how that works  because it was a similar continuum for me  up to the age of 16 when I finally escaped my middle class Catholic abusers by leaving home. 

Nazir’s definitions thus gloss over continuums of abuse and that’s one of the definitions’ purposes for defenders of abuse.

Nazir’s reply was

nazir afzal@nazirafzal·15hReplying to @jebrittan2 and @PatrickEMillsJoanna, Patrick

I don’t use any term other than “child sex abuser”

None of the other terms have any legal status

I’m merely noting that there are 3 terms used by professionals but they are all child sex abusers as far as the law is concerned

If you look at his first tweet above you’ll see that his second tweet doesn’t make complete sense and is an inadequate response.

He’s simply side-stepped the issue, as you might expect from a lawyer.

My tweet on this issue make it clear why it’s inadequate:

It’s wrong when the Chair of Catholic Safeguarding @nazirafzal tweets about unpronounceable, irrelevant,(and inaccurate)  academic terms that no one cares about. Except the Catholic Church which has used these terms to mitigate such crimes against older kids

Inaccurate because the Vatican itself extends the term of paedophilia for longer than Nazir’s definition. 

So where’s the proof that the Catholic Church itself  weaponizes these very same words to defend Catholic abusers?

Okay, here we go.

I’ll stick to examples of Bill Donahue head of the powerful American Catholic League. But don’t dismiss Bill as a unique, aggressive, middle-class Irish Catholic thug. (He once wanted to physically attack Christopher Hitchens. )He’s playing to his Catholic American audience and he knows exactly what he’s doing There are other examples I can find if I dig deep enough. I remember reading them five years ago and being incensed.  Currently, there’s Philip Jenkins, for example, who’s a prominent writer on an authoritative Catholic website, except he chooses his words rather more carefully than Bill. But his sub-text has much in common..

And what Bill says is what the Catholic Church really says and thinks behind closed doors.

I know this with absolute certainty, because, when I was 15, middle class Catholics back then – lawyers, teachers and other professionals – talked to me in similar terms. Which is why I have to write this post. Because the 15 year old inside me is furious with Nazir for providing such characters with fuel. 

I also recall my Catholic mother commenting on a notoriously violent St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, Catholic lay teacher.  This man later ran off with an eleven or twelve year old boy to Europe. IIRC, it took a year for them to be found. It’s on my site. The teacher had promised that the boy would become head of a children’s order of Catholic Knights like the Knights of St Columba. My mother smiled as she read the newspaper account: ‘What a silly man to be taken in by that boy.’ It was the Lolita-like boy’s fault for seducing a foolish and weak man.  My mother’s attitude was – and is – commonplace amongst Catholics. I’ve personally heard other Catholics similarly condemn ‘wicked children’. The Magdalene Laundries were filled with these ‘harpies’ who led poor, weak Catholic men on. They deserved their punishment at the hands of the good nuns.

So this technical jargon of Nazir’s is a godsend to Catholics. It’s ammunition.

 Nazir, by using the same terms, and as Chair of Catholic Safeguarding, is aligning himself  beside these apologists for the most vile of crimes.

Here’s the Washington Examiner (my emphasis)

But Donohue says unto you: “This is an obscene lie. Most of the alleged victims were not raped: they were groped or otherwise abused, but not penetrated, which is what the word ‘rape’ means.”

You have heard that it was said, “The abusive priests were pedophiles.”

But Donohue says unto you: “This is the greatest lie of them all.” Earlier studies of priestly sex abuse have shown that, church-wide, “81 percent of the victims were male, 78 percent of whom were postpubescent.”


So it’s okay? Right. Bill?

Here’s the Guardian (my emphasis)

“Roberts” here is former CNN anchor Thomas Roberts, a former Catholic abuse victim himselfThe transcript:

Roberts: Bill is good but you cannot link homosexuality to a paedophilia crisis in the Catholic church.
Bill Donohue: It’s not a paedophilia … most of the victims were post-pubescent …
Roberts: You know …
Donohue: You’ve got to get your facts straight. I’m sorry. If I’m the only one that’s going to deal with facts tonight so be it. The vast majority of the victims are post-pubescent. That’s not paedophilia, buddy. That’s homosexuality.

In a technical and clinical sense, a case can be made for the way Donohue defines paedophilia, which (technically and clinically) is meant to refer to abuse of pre-pubescent boys. Historically, “paederasty” is more associated with teenage boys. Whatever. The important thing is that when it comes to the law, both are illegal, as Donohue surely knows.

But it’s when he says “that’s homosexuality” that he begins his stroll into the quicksand. It seems obvious that “consensual” is his implied adjective there. He seems clearly to be saying that once a young male attains puberty, he is making a choice.

O’Connor: Sorry Larry, at what age does somebody become, you know, post-pubescent in America as a matter of ages?
King: What is the age?
Thomas: Ah… I don’t know. Let’s ask Bill. He seems to be the authority on post-pubescency.
Donohue: 12, 13 years of age.

But it’s that “12, 13” that I hope made you gasp. Again, the man is so out of it that it’s hard to pin down exactly what he meant. He might have meant that by that age, some boys become volitionally gay, and so having sex with priests is something they choose to do (“that’s not paedophilia, buddy. That’s homosexuality”).

He might have meant that gay priests can’t help but be enticed by post-pubescent boys, because that’s just how homosexuals are. Whatever he meant, what came out was that he was leaning on a technical clinical distinction about the definition of paedophilia and asserting that the abuse of boys once they’ve grown pubic hair is in some sense not a problem.


And here’s Queerty. Bill had run a full page ad in the New York Times which Queerty quotes (my emphasis). As a 100% heterosexual survivor of Catholic abusers myself, I can confirm that Queerty are absolutely right in repudiating Bill’s nonsense and I sympathise with their anger.


This is from Bill’s ad:

The refrain that child rape is a reality in the Church is twice wrong: let’s get it straight—they weren’t children and they weren’t raped. We know from the John Jay study that most of the victims have been adolescents, and that the most common abuse has been inappropriate touching (inexcusable though this is, it is not rape). The Boston Globe correctly said of the John Jay report that “more than three-quarters of the victims were post pubescent, meaning the abuse did not meet the clinical definition of pedophilia.” In other words, the issue is homosexuality, not pedophilia.

Queerty comments (with commendable restraint): I can think of few people doing more damage to innocent children than the child molesting clergy victimizing them. But Bill Donohue is a close second.


The English  Catholic Church has distanced themselves from Donahue’s view. But this only adds to the mixed messages and smoke and mirrors for which the Catholic Church is infamous.

So why on Earth is Nazir tweeting  such dangerous and toxic definitions now? I don’t believe it just happened. I want to know why.

Look at people like Donahue, Lady Colin Campbell and Daily Mail readers who also make these very same ‘technical clinical’ distinctions. They all have one thing in common:

They are defending and making excuses for sexual predators of older children.

Yet Nazir’s organisation is meant to protect kids from sexual predators of older children.

Nazir makes the worrying conclusion.

‘Because making that distinction makes you sound like a Paedophile’

He is clearly suggesting that distinction is an unfair over-reaction and is unjust.

For the Chair of the CSSA to reach that conclusion is inappropriate. To put it mildly.

Nazir has come off the fence and shown who he really is and what he really stands for. He is shoulder to shoulder with the Catholic Church as it tries to minimise its crimes.

He is not on the side of survivors.

Perhaps he doesn’t really understand the complexities and vileness of abusive Catholic culture. When I’ve tried explaining Catholics to outsiders they look at me in absolute horror and disbelief, so it’s a concern. How much homework do you need to do? I’ve spent a lifetime and I’m still coming to grips with its evil and criminal nature.

And should any apologist dismiss this as a silly debate about semantics, I’d refer you to Catholic Canon Law which has provably subverted and defied the Law of the Land by provably advocating leniency towards priest abusers. See my earlier post on Canon Law. The definitions in Nazir’s tweet are an integral component in such leniency.

If there is no real explanation forthcoming for Nazir’s tweet and it was just a thoughtless message, he needs to withdraw it, now, without qualification.

As a survivor of all three of the  categories Nazir is highlighting for our ‘lesson’,  I’m offended by the message that he’s sending out.

So whom do I complain to?

To the CSSA? But Nazir is the Chair.

Or his boss maybe? Cardinal Nichols, who has resisted endless calls on him to resign for his failure to handle clerical sex abuse.

So I will find other ways.   

It’s important because – to quote another survivor – people may wrongly assume that, after decades of appalling responses, Catholic Safeguarding is now doing a good job under new management.  And therefore Catholic children are safe and all is well.

Not so.

See my previous post.

We survivors will be there to challenge Nazir’s inevitable window-dressing PR and damage limitation exercise when it finally comes.

The CSSA needs disbanding and replaced by a genuinely independent body with executive power to cut down the whole orchard of rotten apples.


Don’t expect a standing ovation from survivors, Nazir.

Only from your paymasters, the Bishops.


A survivors response panel, including myself, met with Nazir Afzal, chair of Catholic Safeguarding, and other safeguarding officers last Thursday. So I really should write down my recollections for the record. I won’t go into great detail because I glazed over a bit as I heard Nazir’s endless excuses for inaction. But it could be relevant in future months, because my fellow survivors and I were – for the most part –  further disappointed and disillusioned by his response.

On a personal level, ironically, it was actually valuable to me because it triggered lots of useful recollections of being groomed as a kid by Catholic predators.  Although the motives and circumstances are clearly very different here, the end result is similar. The 15 year old boy inside me – desperate for a hero – really wanted to believe the CSSA was going to make a difference.  And that Nazir genuinely stood for change. Because that’s how those predators spun it, too. My  adult self wisely said to him, ‘Don’t be so bloody stupid. Can’t you see this is nonsense?’

That has some relevance to survivors as a whole because being given false hopes and expectations is injurious to our emotional well-being if we’re taken in by it. Most survivors are not. But that 15 year old boy inside me bought it, certainly at the previous meeting, and I’ve had to have a stern word with him.  At least  two of the predators,  Catholic Knights who abused me as a 15 year old,  were highly-esteemed lawyers and they were damn good at their grooming techniques. So I can understand why my inner child might eagerly respond to another lawyer such as Nazir. It may seem like an unpalatable connection, but every survivor will understand about this kind of triggering. And so should the CSSA.

But firstly, the background context. The CSSA, with Nazir at its head, presents itself as a dynamic new organisation wedded to change and putting a stop to Catholic abuse and this is what everyone believed. It’s certainly what the general public believe With his impressive CV how could it be otherwise? Nazir’s powerful tweets on other matters only add to this illusion. Not to mention Nazir’s warning to the Bishops at their conference that real change has to come and they are in ‘Last Chance Saloon’. For which, Nazir proudly told us, he received a standing ovation from the Bishops.

He’s unlikely to receive a standing ovation from Survivors.  

I was going to leave it to the Spring before writing something like this. That kid inside me said, ‘Come on, Pat. Give him a chance. Give him another month or two Be patient.’ But after Thursday’s meeting the responsible adult in me says his time is up. Nazir himself  has gone through the Last Chance Saloon,  and – as one survivor put it to me – he and Catholic Safeguarding are now in Boot Hill.  The cemetery.  It’s over.

I’ll get into a little of the detail below, but let’s look at the bottom line first. No matter how convincing the excuses – and Nazir is a lawyer, remember, and they have a talent for validating themselves that no other profession can possibly aspire to – the hard facts are the CSSA started in May 2021. 

Ten months have gone by during which Nazir has not spoken out on Catholic  abuse matters.

And there’s always a valid reason why it’s manana.  

Currently, manana may be the Spring. May be the Summer. He has a host of reasons why this is so, which a survivor described to me as ‘the most feeble of excuses’. Other survivors used rather more colourful language.

So at least a year will have gone by before major change – IF it happens.

The harsh facts are these – survivors are getting older, abusers are getting older. The Catholic Church has always relied on just waiting it out until everyone gets fed-up, ill, or dies. And, inadvertently or otherwise, Nazir is  part of that process.

These matters are too serious to be put on ice for one year. It needs action.


Perhaps in the Summer some change will come, but it will be largely cosmetic. It’s what I originally feared – that the dynamic new CSSA – will be just window dressing and no profound changes will have happened or serious concerns addressed.

So what are the changes needed? And the concerns raised?

Gosh! Where do we start?

I and two other survivors  actually spent over an hour preparing three questions on just three isssues between us because of the limitations of time when we had our hour-long Zoom with the CCSA. It’s crazy, time consuming and wrong  squeezing three important questions into an hour. In the future it’s likely to be worse. They will probably then be filtered through a soon-to-be-appointed comms officer, who will take more time – manana – to get up to speed. How much time? It’s personally taken me a lifetime to make authoritative sense of the crimes of the Catholic Church.

In fact, each of these changes and concerns requires extensive debate, explanation and progress reports by experts – not just through the regular media but through Catholic media, too, who – to the best of my knowledge – have little recorded interest in them. Like the CSSA.

It’s unfortunate that survivors seem to be doing their job and are the only major critics of the Church. With the great exception of Richard Scorer – thankfully, one lawyer at least genuinely on the side of survivors – and similar professionals.  But most media and academics – with a few honorable exceptions – seem to shamefully keep their mouths shut on the Church’s endless crimes. So we have to do their work for them.

This list is far from complete, but these are the issues that come to mind:

*Mandatory reporting.

*Repudiation of Non-Disclosure Agreements.  A subject Nazir has been specifically asked about  by a survivor and given a lawyer’s response to, which I take as ‘nothing doing’.

*The role of the Catholic laity as sexual abusers. I’m pleased to say the police are actively looking at this, but meanwhile the CSSA ain’t doing anything. Let me make it very clear : Catholic laity predators are still out there. Provably from one very serious current abuse case.  I thus raised the issue of DBS checks on laity involved with kids. Because I know from an inside source that DBS checks are missing where some of the Catholic laity are concerned. No response. But it’s much wider and worse than that and the CSSA are just sitting on it all until the cops make their report.  Meanwhile, kids are at risk every day.

*Is Catholic abuse still going on as in past decades? Most of us, myself included until recently, buy into the Catholic-spread myth that the abuse era is over due to the more aware times we now live in. Not true. IICSA firmly acknowledges it is still happening in its report. Some Catholic abuse is also transgenerational – which the CSSA has never looked at, despite a highly praised academic report from Oz. And now, Catholic priests have ingeniously adapted today’s technologies to abuse a new generation of kids. Be careful, this link is a long and deeply disturbing read.  Don’t tell me this techno-priest is just one rotten apple. No.  He’s just the only techno-priest who got caught. The whole orchard is rotten and there’s just a few good apples out there.

*Acknowledging the organised nature of Catholic paedophile rings, past and present. These filth do NOT act in isolation as the media likes to present it. I’ve proved it endlessly on this site. And academic studies have also proved it.Are the CSSA interested? No.

*Canon Law. I only knew recently that it’s still active and directly challenges and subverts the Law of the Land.  Catholic laity still quote it in public in defence of their actions.  I dread to think how they endorse it behind closed doors. It has to be publicly repudiated where it contravenes the law as a matter of urgency. Many survivors put that as ‘numero uno’, alongside Mandatory Reporting.

*Catholic Insurance. One survivor brought this up on Thursday – how the Catholic Church runs its own insurance company and its insurers dictate replies. This is hardly in line with the Elliott review that insists on a heartfelt response. I think the CSSA said they’d look into this subject.

* Also on Thursday:  Abuse being dealt with at a local diocese or parish level where those investigating may be partisan to the perpetrator 

*There was also no acknowledgement of the European and global dimension to Catholic abuse.  As one survivor put it to me, it was like the CSSA was acting without reference to the wider picture. Rather useful if you want to dismiss American and Australian research. Not to mention the horrific and often organised Catholic abuse in France, Spain and Germany now being revealed.

*The abusive links between RC and C of E.  Bishop Ball is one example, but I know from my childhood there is a wider, organised dimension.

*Why the CSSA doesn’t have an ongoing open forum on social media to respond to survivors concerns – like this post –  so a genuine  dialogue can be established. Maybe manana, Nazir told me. I told him how hurtful it was for survivors to read his tweets that highlight his commendable stand on any number of important social issues, but never regarding  the job for which he is Chair. He insisted he kept his two roles separate and he only tweeted about matters on which he had a personal perspective. Never in his capacity as Chair of CSSA.  His reasoning for this separation is questionable but it is also not true.

Here is a recent ‘personal’ tweet by him.

nazir afzal@nazirafzal·Feb 12Lesson

Technically a “Paedophile” is abusing pre-pubescent children

A “Hebophile” abuses those in early stages of puberty, 11-14

A ‘Ephebephile” abuses those in later stages, 15+

The reason why you don’t hear that

Because making that distinction makes you sound like a Paedophile


Catholic websites are notorious for trying to excuse much abuse by claiming much vile and criminal abuse is actually Ephebephiia. With the clear but unspoken subtext: “It’s not so bad”. As survivor of Ephebephilia, I can assure them it is just as bad. If not worse. So I would say that tweet is very relevant to Nazir’s role as Chair.  It is clearly NOT a personal tweet on an unrelated matter.  He is not making the distinctions/boundaries that are vital to survivors. To me, he appears to be taking a similar position to those injurious and defensive Catholic websites. As a survivor of all three categories, and the damage all three cause, I find that very offensive.

*Female Catholic laity abuse. Officially it doesn’t exist and no one’s interested.  In very recent years, the  organized and sexually abusive role of nuns as pimps is now confirmed in Germany and elsewhere so there’s progress. But the female Catholic laity have successfully avoided attention thus far. It’s most unlikely to be just historic abuse. They’re just better at not being caught.

Very little items on this list above will ever be looked at by the CSSA.

On a purely practical level, everyone including Nazir is a part-timer- and I’d say that’s a deliberate and clever plan by the Church to create the illusion but not the substance of change. No amount of unpaid overtime they undertake can possibly deal with these weighty issues.

At best, on these concerns, there will be a damage limitation exercise because that’s actually the true function of the CSSA. A PR exercise, just like the appointment of Pope Francis – provably guilty of serious abuse cover-ups in Argentina. If  Nazir and co. don’t know that, then they’ve been duped and groomed by the Bishops as artfully as I was groomed by Catholic abusers as a kid. Believe me, Catholic abusers are darn good at manipulating the young and vulnerable.  And, perhaps, the middle-aged and professionals, too. For the seminaries where Catholic abusers learn their dark arts  – as a matter of record – are also where the Bishops learnt their skills.  That’s where all concerned develop those horrible, fake, pious expressions which always puts me on red alert. Watch Cardinal Nichols on youtube fake-apologising for the Church’s crimes and you’ll see just what I mean. He deserves an Oscar for that performance. Maybe, at best, some cosmetic changes will happen with Nazir and be trumpeted from the roof tops as great achievements.  But children deserve  far more and far better – whether it’s we  survivors – or children today, facing the new dangers of the techno-priests.  

The CSSA simply can’t hack it. And the sooner we recognise this, the sooner it will help us heal because we’re not distracted or confused by false hopes and waste our precious time and energy on them. I don’t think Nazir and co. are aware of just  how serious and injurious  it is for survivors when he and his organisation make promises they can’t keep.

 I got taken in back in around 2005 when Eileen Shearer, a non-Catholic, was appointed to run Safeguarding. Back then, too, I was promised real and dynamic change. She lasted a couple of years and left, apparently because she tried to do her job, and fell out with the Bishops.  Maybe that’s what will happen in Nazir’s case. Then we have to rewind the clock  and start all over again. That smells to me like a Church scam, a clever technique that British politicians use all the time. A way of treading water and letting the years roll on by. The Catholic Church is so good at this. Thus they seem to have already successfully outmanoeuvred the recent IICSA  report and the Elliot Review.  And this should have been predicted because it’s what criminals do and – in this context – the Church is a criminal organisation. Thus the CSSA are protecting a criminal hierarchy. The Church has even  been named and confirmed as a criminal organisation in a highly respected academic study (see my Dark Network post). In that respect, it’s no different to the Mafia. No one would expect the Mafia to reform itself. The Church has forfeited its right to do so by its ongoing crimes.

For all these reasons, Nazir and his CSSA and the hopes of real change are long past the Last Chance Saloon. They’re in Boot Hill. The cemetery. It’s all over.

What should be done?  In my view, like breaking up any criminal organisation, the Catholic Church needs to be supervised by an external Occupying Power. It needs the external authority to impose change, break the rules of omerta, and re-educate at every level. It’s what some survivors have already called for.

Perhaps after a couple more major scandals, which will inevitably happen, the public, sick of hearing of the Catholic Church’s endless crimes, will demand genuine rather than cosmetic change and insist on a true external agency, not one funded by the Bishops with a group of  well-meaning but obedient part-timers at the helm.

In the meantime, Nazir and co. are a distraction from the genuine work that lies ahead.

Meanwhile, for the 15 year old kid inside me, desperate for justice, who was once hoodwinked by a succession of highly respectable and devout Catholic paedophiles in Ipswich, the confirmed  paedophile capital of the UK,  I’d say this to him: ‘Don’t listen to the CSSA’s nonsense anymore. I’ll keep any eye on you, kid. You won’t be fooled again.’

Meeting with Nazir and the CSSA – Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency

With a number of other Survivors, we had a positive meeting this week with Nazir and his colleagues.

Previously, I had regarded the CSSA and Nazir with some concern. That concern is still there, but, in some areas at least, I was reassured and enlightened by Nazir and his colleagues.

The particular concern of Survivors was regarding the Church’s negative track record and how far it could inhibit and delay change as it has done in the past. That is still a major issue today.

The CSSA is a new agency, with elements of its predecessor, formed in May last year, with the promise of real change as laid down by IICSA.

Yet, after seven months, there has been no sign of change.

It emerged from the meeting that this is because they are running well behind schedule –  the teething problems of a new organisation –  but those promised changes will start manifesting themselves this year, notably from the Spring.

As we’ve waited some seven months already, it seems reasonable to wait a few more months and we’ve agreed to meet in early February to learn more about how matters are progressing.

The CSSA valued and thanked us for our input on various concerns which we appreciated.  They recognised they were on a learning curve and that Survivors can help them on their journey.  Equally, we’ve recognised the CSSA do genuinely intend to make a difference, which is encouraging.

And so to the detail:


A real concern for me and other Survivors was the fact that Nazir was contracted for 16 hours a month and the two key colleagues in attendance were working 3 days a month each.

It seemed impossible to me that they could deal with the complex matters of  Catholic abuse in such a limited time frame.

IIRC, Nazir told me he has now doubled his hours, his two colleagues have added an extra day to their timetables, and they all work beyond their contracted hours. Plus new staff will be taken on in the Spring that will, apparently, make a difference.

I believe there would then be a total of nine people in the CSSA.

Here’s what the CCSA (aka CSA)  say in their record of the minutes:

Patrick asked whether the hours the CSA have are enough to effect change. Nazir said he has a day a week, other Board members 3 days a month.

Nazir feels that more resources are needed and is pushing for this. Hopes in March 2022 plan is to present a business case to expand the staffing of the CSA to allow rigorous and regular scrutiny.

Recognise we need long term financial and work plans to make this work

The minutes are doubtless more precise than my recollection, although the time problem is clearly still there.  However, it would be churlish not to recognise the CSSA’s commitment and enthusiasm to overcome this. Even so, the minutes emphasise this important question:

Why is the Catholic Church keeping the CSSA on such a tight budget , resulting in such short-staffing?


The CSSA, if I’ve understood it correctly, is a ‘new broom’, an umbrella organisation – with power –  that will audit 22 dioceses, religious groups (maybe the Knights of St Columba who are a religious group of sorts), and effect real change in the Church.

Here’s what the CCSA (aka CSA) say in their record of the minutes:

Nazir said that we are a Regulator and from October 2021 will be holding the Church to account for standards set by the Board.

Everything we do in the future will be informed by what has happened in the past. Live investigations and complaints pre October 2021 will be handled by CSA as they arise but we cannot hold the Church to standards set by us pre Oct 2021.

We will audit Dioceses and Religious Groups and publish the results publicly

Every diocese/RL is contracted to us. CSA powers come from the contractual relationship and will be able to enforce/escalate issues via the Church. Powers will grow as credibility grows and work plan progresses.

And the CSSA is also going to have a high profile in the media, reaching out to more Survivors.

That hasn’t happened so far but, if it’s imminent, that’s good news. Especially as the tabloids  are being considered as a platform. There’s an audience there that really needs to be reached. (My thanks to Raphael for previously emphasising this need.) Nazir talked about an article that he’s currently writing that will appear in the press and where he will lay out the CSSA stall.

He also said, ‘We want Survivors to come to us.’

All this is to be welcomed.

I guess we have to wait before commenting further on the CSSA’s agenda and exactly what ‘auditing’ entails.


Nazir also said that the CSSA had experienced I.T. difficulties and this was why their website was not interactive thus far.  For example, with regular announcements, a blog, or a forum.

With public bodies, when there are problems with I.T., these are invariably down to underfunding. They don’t have the budget to fund the latest tech properly.

That may or may not be the case here, but underfunding is certainly emerging as a potential underlying problem with the CSSA.

If confirmed, it raises concerns about the true motives and objectives of the Bishops, whatever they may say in public. They must know you cannot possibly address these complex issues on a shoestring.  So there’s a real danger they could, once again, provide only the illusion of change, just as they have done in the past.  As a Survivor, I regard them with considerable suspicion.


The  CSSA is dealing with the Comboni Brothers and other religious groups in future, it says.

But – thus far at least –  it does not deal with the De La Salles religious order.

The DLS Safeguarding is handled by the SCOE (Safeguarding Commission for Orders in Education) and also by the DLS themselves.

This is confusing.  In fact no one seems to have heard of the SCOE and I’m not even sure they have a website.

By comparison, whatever its faults, the CSSA feels potentially dynamic and seems potentially more interactive with Survivors than these agencies.

For instance, the De La Salle Safeguarding website is sterile and has no updates,  comments or apologies about recent court trial of an evil DLS brother who tortured children with electrodes. A Survivor of this DLS monster tells me he has received no offer of compensation from the DLS.  And I know a Survivor of another DLS school who has a similar story.  There is only the standard screed on the DLS site saying how committed they are to Safeguarding. And the DLS has yet to communicate with me, despite launching an inquiry based specifically on allegations on my blog.


I raised this previously and how the CSSA needs a twitter account like myself and other Survivors to share information and respond to issues quickly.  It doesn’t have to be adversarial if Survivors are being listened to.

Nazir had disagreed with me about using his twitter account for work, but I suggested to Jenny at CSSA that a separate CSSA twitter account could be a solution. Thus I have one account for my publishing work and another for Safeguarding issues @PatrickEMills


1) It’s a strength of the CSSA that Nazir and his two colleagues we spoke to are not Catholics. So there’s no danger of them being partisan towards the Church because of their upbringing.

However, it’s also a potential weakness, because, arguably, only Catholic Survivors have some understanding of the complexity and deviousness of the Church and its criminal track record.  Hopefully members of the CSSA will gain that knowledge in time.

2) Can the CSSA really act as a regulatory body in all areas affecting Survivors?

For example, Catholic Canon Law clearly and provably contradicts the Law of the Land. Can the CSSA revoke illegal Canon Laws that mitigate and excuse sexual abuse? And which illegal Laws clerics could be guided by, behind the scenes.  I don’t see how.

3) Communication and therapy is also a concern. Such as the need for:

 A Samaritan-style hotline for Survivors.  AFAIK that doesn’t exist.  And a gateway to offer therapy for Survivors. AFAIK that doesn’t exist. I know other agencies may provide this, but it should surely be a part of the CSSA.

A communications officer is also needed whom we can raise relevant underlying issues with – like how successfully Operation Hydrant is dealing with Catholic systemic abuse referred to them by the CSSA and the SCOE.

That one is uppermost in my mind  as detailed allegations against the De La Salles and the Catholic Laity (the Knights of St Columba) are currently with Hydrant.

I want to ensure these allegations are not disappearing into a humungous  ‘slush pile’ which isn’t actioned by the police for many months.

And a communication system is also needed to provide regular updates to Survivors.

All the above involve a number of specialised staff. Some of these duties, currently, will fall on part-timers or other existing  CSSA staff members who, presumably, have a full work load already

 Once again, it looks like funding is the real issue here.


 I’m encouraged by Nazir’s hard-hitting words to the Bishops at a conference he attended with them.  He warned them:

 ‘This is the Last Chance Saloon.  Then that’s it.’

Nazir believes the Bishops ‘get it’.  They recognise it’s a ‘different landscape’ now and will respond more positively in future.

We’ll see.

I wish him luck.

NAZIR AFZAL. Talking to the public about Catholic abuse?

Here is a tweet I received from Nazir:

No Patrick.

Catholic safeguarding is my job, not a subject for Twitter

I do not tweet about anything over which I have any direct control – none of my roles

I’m meeting survivors next week where I will outline the progress we have made & answer their questions.

Never on Twitter

I’m at that meeting next week, with just a handful of us, hardly the public at large, but in the meantime here’s my thoughts:

Nazir gave an interview about his role as Chair of Catholic Safeguarding to Ed Stourton on BBC R4 Sunday.May 23rd  last year

At 5.49:

“I want to talk to the media more frequently, the public more frequently about what’s happening.”

So he is saying here he DOES want to talk publicly about his job as Chair.  

But over seven months later that has not happened. So his statement is in  contradiction of his rebuttal that he will not use twitter like politicians and everyone else in a similar role (or similar social media AFAIK) to talk to the public about what’s happening in Catholic Safeguarding.

Nazir has not spoken out in the tabloids either AFAIK which is another way of telling the public more frequently what’s happening.

As he uses Twitter frequently to discuss other issues (like Maxwell)  it’s not that he has some objection to it as a social media form

As a lawyer, I’m sure Nazir will find an explanation for this contradiction but it’s too subtle for me.

On the positive side, he says some good things on that interview which I was pleased to hear. Like Mandatory reporting. And that he has ‘Regulator’ rather than advisor powers.  But working just a few days a month?! To change the Catholic Church’s clericalism and associated crimes is a full time job.

Here’s my message to Nazir:

Whatever your  intentions, and I’m sure you are well meaning, the truth is lots of Catholic survivors are disappointed in you and your lack of public statements.

You must take that on board.

And please don’t say Twitter is unsuitable for such weighty matters. Putting aside your frequent use of Twitter on other weighty subjects…

You could easily say for example without compromising anyone, “I’m listening to survivors. I can’t go into details, but I’m looking at how Catholic Canon Law is jeopardising the Law of our Land (I can send you examples, Nazir, if you’re interested?). Change will happen.”

That would tell us you’re on the case without compromising survivor privacy and other excuses.

After seven months it looks to us survivors that you are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

It’s important Survivors know this so they are not wasting their energy on false hopes and window dressing.  I believe you were appointed as ‘a safe pair of hands’.  But that isn’t going to create the ‘fundamental reset’ needed.

There are other ways to bring the Catholic Church to account for its crimes, but I don’t believe you are one of them.

Nazir Afzal & The Poisoned Chalice

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

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

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

Nazir Afzal & The Poisoned Chalice

The Reality behind the Rhetoric of Roman Catholic Safeguarding Today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will his reputation survive?  

Safeguarding campaigners are twittering about it.

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

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

Amen. Anon.


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!


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.


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.


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’.


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.