A reader wrote back in response to my post THE IMPORTANCE OF FIGHTING BACK. He asked for his reply to be kept private so I will respect that and call him Lee (not his real name).
Lee asked about evidence for organised abuse and the ‘Hidden Theology’ of the Church so I thought I’d share my thoughts and limited knowledge on the subject here.
The evidence that convinces me abuse is/was organised is still extensive but is a work in progress. If I cross-reference everything and quote sources and provide web links it will take me at least a day.
In the unlikely event that anyone is seriously interested in following this up, I will do so.
Anywhere, here is my summary of the evidence:
1) My own personal experience. IMHO it’s astonishing that the only three priests I knew during my Catholic upbringing were all abusers. That’s a helluva co-incidence. I’ve given outline details of the three priests in Fighting Back and could provide comprehensive accounts on all three should it ever become necessary.
2) I think the ‘one rotten apple in the barrel theory’ is therefore unlikely and most people have surely realised by now it’s so much bigger. The staggering clerical abuse figures bear this out.
But this also begs a question – what about the congregation? That’s the elephant in the room that’s never talked about – yet.
Some congregations – hopefully the majority – wouldn’t have known. Some would have known and kept quiet. Some would have known and dealt with the priests or reported them. (I’m aware of one such example in my era)
But some members of the congregation would have participated.
Because that’s human nature. Why would it be just the priests and monks? That really doesn’t make sense if you stop and think about it. But I’m only aware of one confirmed account of organised Catholic congregation abuse. It went to court and I have the details. Just one. I did a comprehensive Google search and couldn’t find any more.
3) Now we come to the Knights who are, of course, part of the Congregation. A brief introduction:
There are the British Knights of St Columba (KOSC), the Irish Knights of St Columbanus (KOSCB) and the American Knights of Columbus (KOC). There are variations for each country, but in over-arching terms they can be treated as the same. They all belong to the same ‘parent’ group. They all strongly deny they’re masonic but that’s how most people would describe them then and now. A comparison of masonic and Catholic Knight rituals would convince most of us.
The KOC is still very secretive. Knights and Squires – young men – still have to swear a vow of secrecy about what goes on. Still. (I can quote from their official site)
The KOSC were secretive, masonic and ritualistic when I was growing up. They also had Squires in my era. This stopped towards the end of the 60s. Too late for me, unfortunately. Their original ritual nature is confirmed on Wikipedia.
I have a copy of the KOC rituals and it can be read on line. And I have some confirming similar written details of the KOSCB. So it’s reasonable to conclude all three very roughly used the same rituals.
These rituals are very unhealthy psychologically, they’re colourful, scary and use creepy role play (‘Trick’ blood etc.) They’re also tedious to read. It’s probably why they’ve never been investigated – they’re bloody boring to go through. The Knights enthusiastically admit they’re trying to screw with the heads of new entrants. And that’s utterly wrong! It’s the kind of stuff I would associate with cults like Scientology.
And, of course, that’s just the rituals in print. It’s reasonable to assume with such secretive organisations that there would be more that will always be out of the public gaze.
One of the three priest abusers I’ve mentioned is listed on an incomplete list of dead KOSC members as a Knight. The fanatically religious father of a second priest abuser is also there as a Knight. It’s reasonable to think his son was a Knight, too. Plus there’s my recollections. The third abuser priest is not listed, but given his wealthy and elitist background it’s also fair to assume he, too, was a Knight.
I’m currently researching two other relevant Knights. I have to check the info on their death certificates to ensure I’ve found the right guys before I talk publicly about them. I have their names and the dates of their deaths. Let’s call them Knight X and Knight Y for now.
There’s also a couple of other relevant Knights, but they don’t seem as important. One of them was a convert, an ex-Anglo-Catholic, and he had long conversations with me about the gay Cardinal Newman, the Oxford Movement etc. Being a bookworm as a kid, I was very impressed. I guess that was his grooming technique: to make me feel important and perhaps to rationalise his crimes. I’m reminded of Evelyn Waugh’s famous quote – ‘Beware of Anglo-Catholics, they’re all sodomites.’
4) But ’Follow the money’ is usually the best way to get to the bottom of things. My expensive college fees, and my brother’s, were paid for ‘By the Church’. That’s a total of 8 years school fees (we both failed the eleven plus). Three sources directly or indirectly confirm our fees were paid for ‘By the Church’. Why? The Church doesn’t usually do that. Why did two boys qualify? We were a poor council house family, so there was nowhere else the money could have come from.
My belief is that the Knights were the Church agency that paid the fees. Knight X and Knight Y were close friends of the family. Knight X was a part-time stepdad. And later, Knight Y had ambitions in that direction which did not make me happy. One bullying abusive step dad was more than enough.
The KOSC may have paid all the fees or Knight X may have topped it up. He may have been the KOSC treasurer. He certainly had a lot of clout. A lot of it around my head. So when I started fighting back – as kids do around age 14 or 15, and saying ‘I want this to stop’– that’s when the money mysteriously dried up and I was out on my ear at age 15, my St Joseph’s College days suddenly at an abrupt end.
The KOSC was intimately connected with St Joseph’s. It was the Knights who helped finance the actual purchase of St J’s Birkfield. The news clippings I have state that it was the Knights’ long and difficult financial negotiations that resulted in the school building and grounds being purchased from the R and W Paul family.
Subsequently, the KOSC maintained their close link to St Js, and are mentioned in other news clippings – such as the St J’s School Sports Day.
So you can see how I came to my conclusions: Follow the money.
5) The Knights back in my era have been described to me by four Old Boys as ‘strange’, ‘weird’ and ‘sinister’.
‘They were too weird even for my dad’ was how one St J’s Old Boy put it to me.
It was because of these comments that I finally decided to look into them as my memories of these Knights had been bugging me for at least two decades.
Back then, the Knights were definitely the financial elite of the Congregation. You had to have money to join. As an altar boy, I witnessed this first-hand.
In St Marks, our newly-built council estate church, this elite group was gathered in a special reserved praying, or rather preying, group at the back, and they never mixed with us council estate-Catholics. They included a lawyer, a coroner, a magistrate, and a teacher from St J’s and his missus. With one exception (someone who had sons at St J’s), the elite never mingled amongst the other working-class worshippers.
Why were they exhibiting this very obvious apartheid? And why would the regular Congregation tolerate it? I knew that this elite group had previously attended the established St Pancras church in Ipswich town centre. So why slum it on a council estate? The obvious answer is for power. They got a kick out of lording it over the poor. They needed people to look up to them.
I’m reminded again of Evelyn Waugh, another elite Catholic who agonised over sharing his upper-class religion with Irish Catholics, and is on record as describing them as ‘Bog Catholics.’ I think the Ipswich elite felt the same way about us ‘Council House Catholics’.
We were prey. Well, I was anyway. A prime example of droit de seigneur.
Back to the Knights. I’m only aware of one ritual that I witnessed. It wasn’t Eyes Wide Shut, but it was still ritualistic, unpleasant and misogynistic. I was around 13, so I doubt I really understood the finer details. But it was certainly anti-women and there was a rationale that was explained to me. It wasn’t an orgy, and I was just an onlooker, thankfully. In fact, I recall it as a kind of pseudo-serious ceremony. It seemed to focus on sneering at a stand-in for Mary Magdalene… You can possibly fill in the dots yourself.
The rest is a bit vague at this point in time, so I’m not going to speculate or try to reconstruct it. Not least because their successors will deny it. Well, they would, wouldn’t they?
Anyway, it was an example of the Inner Theology. Sorry I can’t be more precise, it was a very long time ago. However, I do remember them clearly really banging on about the duty of Knights and how they’re all there for each other. Very masonic. And if I stayed the course, my golden future would be ensured with them. Which, if you’re a kid on a council estate, is great news. Bring on the funny handshakes!
But if I didn’t stay the course…
I just wanted the bastards to stop – especially as I got older. To hell with the rewards, I didn’t care. I really wanted to smash the bloody Hillman Minx car of that Knight priest. I still do. Because I could never hit a priest. He’s a Man of God.
Making it stop. That’s all that mattered.
I don’t think there was any formal and ritualistic vow of silence, which is surprising. Maybe they just took my silence for granted. My guess is I was never a formal Squire.
I know I was told in no uncertain terms to be silent on the subject from my mother, one of the priests, and his fellow Knights.
But that’s not me. I have a long and provable history of whistleblowing that continues to this day, and on this blog, of course. I think it was my defence mechanism so I didn’t become a victim. It was the nearest I could get to fighting back. And at the age of 14, I would have been full of teenage defiance. So their various threats to shut me up got them nowhere.
Finally, one of them – I believe it was the magistrate – looked me sternly in the eye and gravely warned me, ‘If you do not keep silent, you will rue the day you were born.’
For me, that was ‘middle-class code’ for beating the shit out of me. Or worse. That shut me up – for a while anyway. And then I tried to forget the whole vile bunch.
6) So what’s happening today? There’s a lot emerging about the KOC now: a number of disturbing cases of abuse. I have the various links. And the KOCB had their well-known masonic role in Irish government. But you won’t find anything about today’s KOSC, other than the numerous good works they do – which is excellent news.
So they must have turned over a new leaf between the 60s and today. Or maybe it was just the KOSC in Ipswich that had its own strange ‘Inner Theology’? Let’s hope so.
However, about four years ago there was a disturbing local newspaper report about a KOSC member in Colchester who had used his position to abuse children. He was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment. 18 years. That’s a pretty hefty sentence. Serious crimes were clearly involved. But what is even more disturbing is that it was not covered by the national press. Just mentioned briefly by the local papers.
Whether there is a media blackout on certain organisations is hard to prove. Certainly I’m aware of a media blackout by all the papers on Recovered Memories of abuse. Thus there was the American detective, Frank Fitzpatrick, whose recovered memory led to the legendary Father James Porter case. How Porter, a serial abuser,was caught by Fitzpatrick has never – to my knowledge – been reported by the mainstream British press. And there are 53 more American recovered memory cases where the abusers were banged up, but not covered by the British media. 53 cases. An authoritative academic study has confirmed their authenticity. But you’re not allowed to read about them in the British press, including the woke Guardian. Although they will write about similar American clerical abuse cases not involving recovered memories. Instead our media, including The Guardian, still promote the dubious False Memory theory from the British False Memory society, an organisation that has worrying links with its questionable American counterpart.
I know Rupert Murdoch, Conrad Black (ex Daily Telegraph) and Jimmy Savile were/are all Super Knights. Savile was a Knight Commander. These Super Knights are the next level above the KOSC. They are Knights of the powerful and influential Order of St Gregory the Great. At least one KOSC Supreme Knight has become a Knight of St Gregory.
I also have one particularly significant piece of evidence that would strongly suggest there is a media black-out, but I think that’s worth going into another time.
7. Lee asked me how I thought it might all work. ‘The Church’s hidden, Inner Theology.’
The examples above give you some indication, Lee, and may lay the groundwork for others to look at this.
I’m also reminded of an account I read about an abuser priest in Ireland who was sodomising a child. A woman came out of her home and surprised him in the act. He called to her, ‘Get back in the house, woman – this is Church business.’
I see genuine Catholics, many of whom I know and admire hugely, as part of an outer protective ring of truly good people. This echoes Lee’s words that there are ‘genuinely good people’ in the Church. In the UK, Ireland and elsewhere. Of course. I have huge respect for them and I’m currently reading an excellent book about family trees by a practising Irish Catholic priest. So I’m not phobic about the Church per se.
But these good people are inadvertently and unconsciously protecting an inner core of vile individuals whose moral compass is so shot to Hell they actually believe in the ‘virtue’ of their crimes. That was my strong feeling as a boy.
There’s enough awful cults out there whose similar crimes have been proven, to see how this could have come about.
And if you’re looking for proof, well surely the best place to start is at the top: with the three latest Popes.
I watched a reputable French TV documentary (It’s on Amazon, I have the link.) that looked at recent Catholic abuse. It highlighted – with details and witnesses – how Pope Francis had personally covered up serious abuse in Argentina. The journalists then confronted him in St Peter’s Square. His shifty denial and the ‘caught out’ expression on his face could probably be angrily explained away by Bill Donahue. But the rest of us would know exactly what the Pope’s response means.
There’s no point in going into Pope Benedict, because surely everyone knows by now about his numerous cover-ups.
And finally there’s Pope John Paul. He has Opus Dei and the Maciel case to answer for. And more. None of which stopped him from becoming a Saint. Maciel was the founder of the Legionaries of Christ. He was a serial sexual abuser whose crimes were covered up during JP’s era.
The Church does seem fond of Legionaries and Knights, doesn’t it? Historically, Legionaries and Knights were evil mercenaries. The Crusades were monstrous crimes. The Code of Chivalry is an offensive lie.
The Catholic faithful need to live in an Orwellian cloud cuckoo land and believe in the current, sugary, fantasy version of the Catholic Church. Or turn a blind eye to the alternative. The grim reality is just too awful to think about, so most people – very understandably – don’t.
Alas, I don’t have that luxury. My muse insists I make my research and my recollections public. Or maybe it’s the angry 13-year-old boy inside me that’s still demanding justice. Or perhaps it’s both of them.
Catharsis is not enough, my muse says. People need to know, she says. And I’m tired of arguing with her that no one gives a damn. ‘You should have published your recollections at least ten years ago,’ she tells me irritably. My excuse, ‘Sod the Knights –it was all a long time ago and they’re all dead now. Let’s just let it go,’ cuts no ice with her. Which is why I’m typing this now, rather than being curled up with my beautiful wife and a glass of wine, and watching telly. But my muse tells me the work must come first. If you’re a writer, you’ll understand. Sigh!
Of course the Vatican always insists: the Popes never knew about their army of sexual abusers. Denial. Denial. Denial. Despite an endless and ongoing avalanche of serious abuse cases. Historical and Current.
I know what my muse would say about that. And so do you.