There were seven key points on the interview. So if you don’t want to watch the whole thing, you may find them useful. They’re listed below.

Some came as a complete surprise to me and I don’t believe are generally known.

They’re all certainly relevant to Survivors of the De La Salles and they’ve ALREADY made an important difference to me.

If you watch the interview afterwards, we used CLOSED CAPTIONS which we would recommend viewers switch on. As there were a few minor sound variations in the interview.  The captions couldn’t handle IICSA or Carmelites (‘Karmalise’) but otherwise it was fine.

1.Any Survivor can go to ANY of the RC Safeguarding agencies and a Safeguarding Officer will find them the relevant department and person.

(Note from Pat: I put this to the test straight away on my complicated case and it proved correct)

2.There are OTHER options beside civil lawsuits which may be useful for historic cases.  They’re discussed in the interview.

3. Abuse CAN be acknowledged by a religious group WITHOUT the issue of legal liability restricting them.

4. If a religious group is blocking progress, the RLSS can ‘escalate’ to a relevant body – e.g. the Mother House, Rome, a Bishop, the CSSA.

5. The RLSS is trying to bring out the best in the religious group and get them to do the right thing.

6. The RLSS CAN arrange face-to-face meetings between a Survivor and the Religious Group in a safe and appropriate way. ‘When it works, it’s fantastic. It can be really healing.’

(Note from Pat: This feels similar to a victim impact statement.  I would assume that a video interview would be even easier)

7. With the support of the RLSS, religious groups CAN and DO sometimes go against their legal team’s advice in order to do the right thing.


‘Denying our collective history does not just ignore our past, it weakens our present and cauterizes our future potential’

Bettany Hughes

Dear Pat, I was a boarder at St Joseph’s College, Ipswich from 1964 to 1968. I remember those days fairly well. Some memories are pleasant, like contact and continuing friendship with a great friend from all those years ago, some are disturbing.

One thing I’m sure of, our families entrusted the De La Salle Brothers to safely and kindly look after, protect and educate their children. Some Brothers failed this duty of care.

I find it difficult to imagine other Brothers who weren’t involved in the physical and sexual abuse of the students being completely oblivious to the events that were taking place. Surely some of the lay teachers and the school nurse must also have been aware. If they did, then they as adults, are as complicit.

My story is certainly not as harrowing as your account or others on your blog, far from it, as I emerged relatively unscathed. I was never personally sexually abused. However, I write to you in case it could provide a reference point, a timeline to help you and others in any way.

As a British Army family based in Germany my Mum and Dad thought it would be best for me to go to boarding school to finish my last few years of schooling. I started mid term in 1964 dressed in a dull grey suit that completely enveloped me. I felt awkward and apprehensive.

That night in the refectory I met and dined with boys the same age. Once dinner was over we all went outside and straight away, first night, a boy had a go at me. In a moment a cheering crowd of boys encircled us. Having been in a number of Army schools I was capable of looking after myself and after a few seconds punched the other boy in the nose, we wrestled around, and it was all over and the crowd dispersed. I was never picked on again by fellow students at St Joseph’s and to be honest wasn’t aware of too much conflict between students.

However, I was desperately unhappy being parted from my family and friends at home and remember sometimes at recess and lunchtimes sitting hiding in a cubicle in the toilet block feeling so sad. It took many months to get over the separation from my family. I felt very lost and alone.

I started off sleeping in the large dormitory by the main building. After lights out I used to lay quietly alone with my thoughts and prayers for a long while. I longed to be back home.

It was during these times when I found sleep difficult that I became aware of Brother Leo wandering around the dormitory in the dark by the beds of certain boys. I was a reasonably aware teenager with my upbringing. I had a strong sense that what he was up to was wrong and vowed that if he came anywhere near me I would lash out and scream the place down.

However, it was always the much younger, quieter, vulnerable boys he targeted.

Dare I say something? Should I say something? Best keep my head down was my first instinct. Isn’t that the way perpetrators get away with these offences.

Early in my first year I remember being given six strokes of the cane. I think it was for something trivial like running up the stairs in the main building. Each cut of the cane left severe bruising and broke the skin. It was a real beating and my bottom was achingly numb and sore. For a few days there was blood on my underpants. It probably took a week before it started to heal and the discomfort eased.

I had never been hit by anyone with such force and certainly not by any of the Army teachers who had taught me at the schools on the bases. They tended to be kindly, good natured and well meaning, so this absolutely shocked me.

I remember the distorted, flushed look on the Brother Director’s face when it was finished. I felt humiliated and certainly the punishment did not fit the crime. That was the first but not the last time I was caned, being caught smoking numerous times and other misdemeanours.

When I moved into the older grades I opted for a gardening punishment, for the whole weekend if necessary.

The following year, despite being a year younger than most, I was placed over in the GoldRood dormitories which was a blessing. I enjoyed being there. In the grounds you could play ‘headers’ soccer and simple things like watching the life cycle of the frogs in the large tank half way along the path. Also there was the TV room where we all watched ‘Top of the Pops’ hosted by Jimmy Saville. How apt.

The smaller dorms at GoldRood had a quieter feel to them and as we grew older we had more latitude. It was here I made a close circle of really good mates who looked out for and helped one another.

I never told my parents about these early events and canings. I felt I was being protective of them, but in hindsight I believe I was ashamed and didn’t want to expose my Mum and Dad to the fact they had placed me in an abusive situation. They seemed so proud that their son was going to St Jo’s.

In fact I have never discussed these days with anyone apart from my wife and a counsellor whilst undergoing recent treatment for anxiety.

I wonder how many students kept quiet? Many.

How many remained stoic? Many.

How many accepted events as ‘normal’?

This is the essence of systemic abuse, secrecy.

I remember Louis M well. He was a very stocky type with a shock of dark hair and a fellow smoker. It came as no surprise that he took Brother James apart.

I believe Brother James was suffering from PTSD, perhaps from the war. Some said he had been a fighter pilot, others a POW. With his psychotic temper and uncontrolled violence he should never have been allowed near children, ever. He was sadistic and a man to keep well clear of as he was capable of flying into a rage and lashing out with a flurry of fists, sometimes at the nearest student.

I recall in our lessons at the top of each page of the exercise book we used to write ‘JMJ’ and I often wondered how writing what amounted to a small prayer for guidance reconciled with boys being educated by teachers like Brother James.

During a time with my family in Germany my parents took me on a visit to the site of Belsen Concentration Camp. My Dad had been there the day after it had been liberated in WW2 and the visit had a profound effect on me. As a reminder I sticky taped a small B&W picture of Adolf Hitler on the underside of my wooden desk lid to remind me of the horrible events surrounding the monster.

Soon after, when I was at another lesson, Brother James was alerted to the picture. Apparently he flung open the wooden desk lid with fury. The other boys present thought he was going to have a severe fit as he was literally purple in the face as he tore the picture to shreds. He had lost all control and had to be helped as he was apoplectic. Luckily, I wasn’t there as I believe I would have been beaten senseless. Most surprisingly, I never heard any more about this incident.

As I grew older I became really very good at athletics and represented the school in the AAA County Championships and inter-school competitions. I won a number of county cups and medals. I believe this athletic ability, like the students who played senior rugby, gave me a certain profile and helped protect me from some of the harm meted out to others.

This is where dates and years fail me, but one memory that has stayed with me was an incident with Father Jolly.

As teenagers most of us were in the habit of smoking. Weekends were fine as we could go into Ipswich and go to the dark of a movie or a park and smoke our heads off. Later it was the pub at the bottom of the hill where the publican turned a blind eye. During the week was a different story and we were all hanging out for Saturday.

One day a friend and myself decided to go into Father Jolly’s unit and help ourselves to some of his cigarettes.

This was wrong, and we both knew it.

He lived in a small cottage just on the edge of the school boundary. We knew he had a cigarette box as we had visited his living room during one of his ‘getting to know you, group chats’

Seeing his car was gone we crept into the lounge and just before rifling some of the cigarettes we heard the crunch of the car wheels on the gravel outside. We were trapped and so just sat there. Jolly came in and asked what we were doing and to this day I don’t know how but we said we were waiting for him as we had a matter of abuse to report. My hands were shaking but I went into detail about the history of what I had previously witnessed in the large dormitory. Jolly started writing all this down. Pretty soon after the Brother departed the school.

In my mind I can to this day feel the panic as Jolly entered the room and my face flushing as we spoke about the sexual abuse we had witnessed. Of course for many years I saw Jolly as protecting the students and getting rid of the abuser, whereas in actual fact I now know he was giving the bastard the heads up to move on before the evidence was mounted and he was charged.

Naturally I never confessed the sin of attempting to steal cigarettes to Jolly.

I have seen another boy’s statement on your web-page about reporting abuse to Jolly. The date and timing is somehow out of kilter with my memory and it cannot be the same incident.

There were good teachers at the school and two lay teachers stand out in my mind. My English Literature teacher during sixth form gave me a love of poetry which has stayed with me all my life. My Economics teacher, a family man from Doncaster, Yorkshire was easy to relate to and kindly.

I loved travelling back to Germany to see my family. It entailed travelling by train to Harwich, then ferry over to the Hook of Holland and then catching the Moscow night express to Celle in central Germany. I hated the journey back to Ipswich.

As I grew older I enjoyed the company of my friends at St Joseph’s. Close friends meant emotional security and a clubbing together.

I know when I look back at this period I found the Brothers as a group to be a vulnerable, raw, clumsy group of men, out of touch with a rapidly changing society. Not all were bad, but most could not relate. I wonder now what early experiences they themselves had been through.

Certainly the ones meting out physical punishment and abusing the younger children in their care must have had awful upbringings to carry out some of the harrowing events described in your blog.

This in no way condones their awful, terrible behavior.

All of this is nearly sixty years ago now but parts I remember as if it were yesterday. Through it all I’m reminded of Philip Larkin’s poem, ‘This Be The Verse’ which is worth reading in it’s entirety.

‘Man hands on misery to man

It deepens like a coastal shelf’

Best wishes,

Stephen Parker

Not a few bad apples—the barrel is rotten: Tom Doyle on clerical child abuse

Here’s a link to an excellent interview with expert Tom Doyle.


To quote the intro:

Tom Doyle brings a wealth of knowledge, experience of both research and litigation, and a solid integrity to the examination of the abuse of children by clergymen in the Roman Catholic Church.

He speaks on this subject with an honesty, and courage that is peerless. His testimony is precise without being sensational. The analysis he outlines explains the role of church history, church government and church theology in creating this catastrophe.

The response from the bishops and cardinals is one of denial, cover-up, control and outright lies, often under oath. Despite all that has been revealed, they still refuse to address the horror of what has been done to the most vulnerable in society—little children. They do not grasp the lifelong suffering of the victims. Instead spending more time, care and resources on the abusers.


I recently wrote about Father Small visiting the beautiful palace he and his Safeguarding staff – the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors –  are taking over – and to which Survivors of Catholic sexual abuse will also have access to in some as yet unclear way. Vatican Safeguarding, it seems, is currently going through a difficult period with the resignation of two Survivors who were on its staff and now the resignation of its leading member Hans Zollner.

Zollner’s comments at a press conference included:

“One thing is certain, several members have left the Pontifical Commission before me and there has been no shortage of criticisms recently expressed publicly by past members, some quite strong”. 

“If there is a lack of transparency, complaints and accountability, the doors are open to cover-ups”

Certainly no progress has been made on the De La Salle child sexual abuse scandal which I understood Father Small was hoping to resolve, following the example of the Comboni Brothers. He was going to write to me and I intimated that I welcomed his letter.

Perhaps he’s too busy. Because it transpires that Father Small is not only the head of the Pontifical Commission, but also the Founder and CEO of Missio Invest ‘blending faith and finance’ : an ambitious developmental aid project in the Global South. ‘In Africa alone,’ Missio says, ‘ there are over 74,000 religious sisters, 46,421 priests, and 8,779  brothers.’ This link takes you to their site and tells you about the impressive work they are doing in Africa and elsewhere. This includes  agriculture, hospitals, old people’s homes and… schools.

Hence my interest.

Because my Catholic education was conditional on my becoming a seminarian. When, aware of the terrifying sexual abuse in seminaries, I declined, I was thrown out of my school at the tender age of 15. Altogether, my brother and I had 9 years of ‘free’ expensive education at St Joseph’s College, Ipswich. But, of course, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. There were other criminal strings attached, specifically being abused by the Catholic Knights of St Columba whose paedophile Knights included Canon Burrows of St Pancras Church, Ipswich.

This conditional Catholic education was commonplace in the past. Parents, like my Irish mother, even dedicated their children to the Church, with all it implied in that past era. A national journalist has expressed an interest in looking into this disturbing subject.

And there’s the example of John McDonnell MP who wrote to 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.’

A fairly recent article about St J’s had a spokesperson denying there was any such thing as St J’s ‘facilitating’ vocations as John described. Despite there being a De La Salle vocations teacher on the circuit of the DLS schools and despite my own clear recollections of being taught Latin one-to-one by Brother Kevin.

I would hate to think that Father Small’s educational work  in the Global South includes a similar covert, easily deniable, conditional requirement as I’ve described. So that children there are still at risk – through desperate poverty – of being pressurized into seminaries, religious orders or at the mercy of clerical abusers or Catholic laity abusers, just as I was. Given that the Church has never acknowledged and expressed regret for its past ‘strings attached’ policy, not to mention the sexual abuse that so often went with it, of course it’s still going on and, of course, children are still in danger, even though it’s now obscured with a modern PR gloss, an obfuscation that is the familiar hallmark of the Church. Plus ça change

But where does the Church’s money come from for its ‘free’ education for suitably spiritual, obedient or poor and desperate children its clerical predators can take advantage of?

In my case, was it from some investment fund the Knights ran for the Church? Or from a diocese fund?  My old school, St Joseph’s, when it began, was mysteriously funded by the Knights and its current finances are still equally mysterious so  that a lawyer and a reporter who looked into them both found the current financial set-up ‘very strange.’

John McDonnell, like myself and others, says his education was ‘funded by the Church’ – but no knows where the money comes from, who it’s funnelled through –except in my case it was the Knights – and how else it’s used.

It’s time we found out.

If  Survivors and ordinary concerned people are ever going to make sense of the the Catholic Church, its current potential for abusing and corrupting new generations of poor children in the Global South – where it’s acknowledged by the Church the safeguarding protocols are not as strong as in affluent countries – then it’s important to follow the money.

So this view, sent to me by an insider, knowledgeable in the workings of the Catholic Church, is important. I had no idea about Missio Invest before I read this.

I’ll comment further after their analysis.

I poked around a bit on the internet after reading your blog post about the palazzo – I was intrigued by Fr. Small talking about fundraising to do up the place, I thought, “Surely the Vatican funds the Commission and accepts that it has to throw resources at problems to resolve the crisis for the Church.”

Small’s background is that he’s a commercial lawyer cum entrepreneur. He’s involved in Missio Invest, a Church fund for start-ups by Church entities in the 3rd/developing worlds which got $20m from the World Bank in recent years. The idea is to put Church assets and the assets of Catholic lay organisations to work.

As you know, the De La Salles set up an investment fund in 2009. CBIS Global (Christian Brothers Investment Services) is an offshore fund that’s managed from Dublin. I don’t know how to find out for sure, but what’s the betting that CBIS and Missio Invest don’t have dealings with each other somewhere? What’s CBIS investing in if not the kind of thing that Missio Invest encourages?

Who would pay to do up a palazzo for the Vatican? Especially when that should come way behind redress for victims, an issue on which the Church clearly doesn’t impose universal rules? My mind is boggled 

It said somewhere in the articles I read that to get a loan from Missio Invest an organisation has to adhere to the guidelines for safeguarding laid down from Rome. So which comes first in Small’s world: safeguarding and justice for victims, or getting the organisations that want loans from Missio Invest to sign up to safeguarding so that he can spread money around and build his reputation as an entrepreneur?

This kind of thing may be what Zollner was hinting at when he said that concerns about financial transparency were involved in his decision to resign from the Commission.


Investors acknowledged by Missio Invest include the Jesuits  and the Sisters of Saint Louis. But it’s quite possible the De La Salles are involved, given that ‘CBIS manages assets of $3 billion (€2 billion) in 10 funds based in the US through which “socially responsible” investments are made on behalf of more than 1,000 Catholic organisations. The Dublin-based fund will mirror the investments made by the firm in the US and will initially target Catholic organisations in Ireland, France, Italy and Spain.’

I’ll return to the subject of the actual value of  Missio’s developmental aid another time. It’s a subject I know a fair amount about having written a two year semi-documentary series Third World War that concluded in 1990. It exposed numerous scandals in the Third World such as the Nestle Baby Food Scandal, the human cost of monoculture exports, and the IMF ferocious policies leading to suicides but also heroic resistance by indigenous people.

Today, it’s far worse. Nestle try to control water supplies and seeds are patented so farmers are at the mercy of transnationals. Given that Missio Invest is linked to the World Bank, I fail to see how it’s following a different and more noble path.  

Common criticisms of the World Bank

  • Creating a climate where high levels of lending are deemed to be good.
  • Advocating disability adjusted life years as a health measure.
  • Disregard for the environment and indigenous populations.
  • Evaluating health projects by looking at economic outcome measures.

And, if you imagine Father Small’s Church would have respect for indigenous populations today, then I need to tell you about the Jesuits who threw the Apache Indians off their sacred mountain so they could build a Vatican-controlled and financed observatory on the top. It has the most powerful telescope in the world called Lucifer (Truly!) which searches for alien life. According to Father Chris Corbally, the project’s deputy director, ‘If civilisations were to be found on other planets and if it were feasible to communicate, then we would want to send  missionaries to save them.” The Jesuits wanted to name the observatory ‘Columbus’ which the Apaches objected to for obvious reasons.

Some of the information I discovered is on these links : (quoting the London Sunday Times)

The Apaches now need a prayer permit to ascend their sacred mountain. Their claim to it is disputed by the Jesuits because they don’t have written records.

 Father Coyne, director of the Observatory, further declared that Apache beliefs were “a kind of religiosity to which I cannot subscribe and which must be suppressed with all the force we can muster.”

Plus ça change


There was a surprising article in the New York Times by Jason Horowitz

‘In moving from cramped offices to a palazzo, the organization is aiming for more visibility, and to be better able to welcome victims.

‘That property hunt ended last month, when the commission took control of rent-free offices in a stately 16th-century palazzo controlled by the church in the middle of Rome.

‘Father Small  (the leader) characterized the move as an expansion to a global headquarters in Rome that can serve as a monument to “the silent massacre of people’s childhoods” and make clear to survivors that they “have a right to be somewhere beautiful.”’

I can see how the Safeguarders will be working in a beautiful place. Not so sure about how Survivors benefit from it, though.

I read about it this morning, tried shrugging it off, then realised it was triggering memories of Catholic childhood abuse and I just couldn’t get rid of them. Catholic self-congratulation and Catholic abuse of power were the triggers – both of which I encountered big time as a kid.  In such cases what I normally do is write a blog or tweet about it to get the poison, the Catholic mental abuse, out of my system, so here goes.

It was the self-congratulation that is so typical of all Catholic organisations that first got under my skin. And secondly the dubious use of power – the Commission intends to invite presumably selected and approved Survivors to their offices? Not ‘troublemakers’. But who would not be overawed by entering such a magnificent building?  It’s intended to impress.

A more equable meeting would be on Zoom or Skype where Survivors are less likely to be visually impressed. Or intimidated.

The article is fuzzy on details, but if the Commission was intending to invite Survivors of Catholic Abuse in off the street – then I would ask them to make that clear. I very much doubt it. I’ll try reaching Father Small for clarification. Like so many Safeguarders he doesn’t appear to have a twitter account or an accessible email. But I understand he has read my blog about the De La Salles.  It’s hardly likely that British Survivors would fly to Rome on the off chance. Based on the past, it seems most likely that Survivors would go through a careful vetting and filtering process  so the Vatican finds  suitably cooperative Survivors thus providing a valuable PR photo opportunity for the Church.

It’s happened before to a Survivor of De La Salles and nuns and as he rightly, bitterly and passionately puts it, ‘We won’t be fooled again.’

And that’s all this article is. It has no news value whatsoever and the reporter is clearly writing a puff piece for his friends in the Vatican.  What do we Survivors care if they’ve moved offices? We want to know what they’re actually doing about the crimes of the Catholic Church. 

There’s not a word of criticism or any reaction from Survivors on what they think about the Church’s investigators of the Church’s crimes working in a palace.

Do the British police or Social Services work out of stately homes?  That’s a fair comparison.

A fellow St Joseph’s College Ipswich Survivor put it very well

Talk about not being capable of reading the room! What makes them think survivors want to go anywhere near an opulent church property, let alone a church? I wouldn’t go there if they paid me. Which they won’t.

My wife Lisa had this to say on twitter

Lisa Mills (Gerrard)


A failure of journalism. Many unasked questions. Is this what


was resigning over when he reference questionable financial dealings?

Other comments on twitter included ‘glorified marketing’ and ‘scam city’.

 But because the reporter is so partisan towards the Vatican he has  inadvertently revealed some insights into just what Vatican elites really think. If he had been more critical, then Father Small and co. might have been more on their guard.  Instead there are some disturbing and revealing admissions in the article, so it’s not all bad.

Firstly, there’s the office politics – the rival factions within the Vatican. Countess Sigrid Von Galen has been observing and writing about this for some time and it’s clear from this that she is absolutely spot on. The resignation of Zollner is just part of it and reading the Commission’s failed attempt to smooth over the cracks in this article is quite revealing.

‘Asked if he thought Father Zollner, whom some commission staff suspected of trying to establish a competing child protection center at a Roman pontifical university, was trying to sabotage the commission, the Cardinal said, “At this point, I don’t know what he thinks.” (Father Zollner did not return a request for comment.)’

Something is clearly going on there

As a Survivor I try not to be bothered with all this nonsense, which is why I attempted to shrug it off. But it reminded me of the Church’s lack of transparency, and attempting to pull the wool over my eyes as a boy intended for the seminary – so it pressed a lot of buttons for me. And the Countess is absolutely right to draw our attention to it, because it underpins what is really going on in the Vatican which affects us as Survivors.

Secondly, the article quote how Father Small hunted for suitable headquarters:

 ‘Often, he (Small)  said, he ran into a “NIMBY” (Not in my back yard) attitude, where church landlords looked at the commission “like a methadone clinic.”

“No one wants it in their backyard,” he said.’

This suggests that the Church generally views Survivors like drug addicts. That’s bad enough and its implications are disturbing. Not to mention insulting to drug addicts – of whom a high percentage are survivors of sexual abuse. It’s perhaps naïve of me to think the Church might show them rather more compassion and not use them for a negative comparison.

But it’s not just the Church generally, but Father Small himself who is actually making a disrespectful and insulting comparison. Just as if I quoted someone using a racist term, I would be guilty of such disrespect.

The appropriate thing to say to the reporter should have been, ‘church landlords looked at the commission in a very negative way.’

That’s not offending anyone and it’s still making an important point.  I don’t care to be described as like a patient from a methadone clinic.

I hope Father Small is free of the clericalism that usually pervades his religion and can accept criticism from a Survivor.

That is what the Elliott report recommended, after all.

Father Small, I’m told, was planning to get in touch with me to see if a rapprochement could be made between Survivors and the De La Salles – a monumental task, given that the relevant agency, the RLSS, is now four months overdue in the action it clearly promised.

So I made it clear that I would welcome an intervention by the Commission if it made a difference to Survivors of the De La Salle scandals. I’m always open to the possibility that there are some individuals working for the Church who want genuine change and, if so, they need encouraging.

Even though nearly every survivor I’ve been in touch with has told me, ‘You’re wasting your time, Pat. Safeguarding is all window-dressing just to make the Church look good with no substance.’

Over to you, Father Small.


What I take away from reading the account below is how important the De La Salles were to the Establishment in the 1950s. They were so well connected back then, any child speaking out about abuse by a DLS brother would never have been believed. The order had the total backing of the Establishment.

I doubt it would get quite the same backing today, but it still remains a powerful and global entity.

It helps explain why the DLS has still not responded to the most serious charges of child sexual abuse laid against it, as well as the promised investigation and apology which is still not forthcoming.

Maybe they still use their connections to their advantage. Or they are affected by clericalism – the elitism that is still present in the Catholic Church – and have nothing but disdain for Survivors. Disdain because they either regard us as liars or think we should keep our mouths shut about the horrific crimes the Brothers committed.

With all this in mind, one observer raised a most pertinent and important question:

The founder of the De La Salles wasn’t just canonized, he was declared patron saint of ALL teachers. So why aren’t the De La Salles leading the way for teaching orders to make amends for abuse, instead of being grudging laggards?

DE LA SALLE REFORMATORIES: Better in the 17th century!

Another excerpt from an official history of the De La Salles. Everyone knows how appalling De La Salle approved schools and reformatories were in recent times. St Gilberts School was particularly vile and there have been graphic accounts on this site. The latest development is that the De La Salles say they were acting on behalf of the Home Office, so they are not responsible for their own criminal actions!

Their hypocrisy is beyond words. They have absolutely no shame.

Money, it seems, totally dominates their lives.

Compare their current behaviour with how they behaved in the 17th century. See below. ‘Birds in cages’ and ‘cultivating flowers’ were allowed for inmates.

I doubt that was the case in the 20th century!

A survivor of the De La Salles made this comment about the current hypocrisy contrasting with the founder’s admirable ideals. ‘Cardinal Wolsley (associated with Ipswich) said much the same thing (about behaving correctly to boys). These DLS blokes never read their contract again after they signed it. Or maybe they were just bloody evil.’


Here’s the De La Salle founder on how De La Salle brothers should behave.

‘…Never allowing themselves to descend to anything base…This seriousness does not consist in a severe or austere aspect, in anger or in harsh words… The teachers will above all never become familiar with their pupils…’

It angers me and many other Survivors that the De La Salles endlessly present themselves and preen themselves today with self-congratulation and not a word of self-criticism, always awarding themselves ten out of ten for their holy and most excellent behaviour..

They seem so ruled by the arrogance of clericalism that it would never occur to them to say, ‘We got it so wrong in recent years. We strayed far from the path of righteousness. From the words of our holy founder. We are truly and profoundly sorry that we grievously and irrevocably harmed so many thousands of children and we hang our heads in shame and humbly ask for their forgiveness.’

Yet if they did make a genuine apology along these lines (as opposed to their curt, fake apology buried deep within their website and criticised even by the partisan Tablet) they would earn the respect and forgiveness of some survivors, at least.

So it actually makes good sense. Insurers – or whoever really runs the DLS order – please note. But perhaps you simply can’t help yourselves? Arrogance is now your way of life? And not acknowledging that your Order screwed up – big-time?

I pity you.


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.’


Feedback coming in now on a proposed official Catholic Abuse Survivors Forum – mainly a VERY cautious positive response and, thus far, two survivors who said specifically it was a waste of time. One of them has been through the wringer many times with the Catholic Church so I can understand his exasperation. I think that goes for all of us.

My initial tweet thread was too dry, got a very limited response, so my thanks to my wife Lisa for suggesting a follow-up more ‘tabloid’ tweet which got far more engagement. Given that I write popular culture for a living, you’d really think I’d have realised that!

And the responses, in themselves, amount to important material for a forum and how such a forum would look and the likely responses. Nothing problematic that I could see..

I looked at both the RLSS and CSSA sites and couldn’t find ANY Survivor feedback!

It was all Chiefs and No Indians.

That HAS to change. It’s against everything the Elliott Report stands for. Perhaps Elliott was also at fault for not spelling out how Safeguarding can be pro-active.  Even though to me, and many Survivors, it’s so obvious. 

I think I’ve demonstrated below that there is cautious interest in a Forum. So it’s over to Safgeguarding now.

I’ve also demonstrated it does require social media skills to engage everyone concerned and get Survivors interested.That’s something the Safeguarders must take on board. As I said to Nazir Afzal, the Safeguarding approach is very ‘Daily Telegraph’. It needs to be tabloid to reach and interact with people.

I’ll blog my conclusions separately.

The alternative of doing nothing and endlessly raising concerns for decade after decade, while the Safeguarders and the abusive organisations they’re protecting remain heavily entrenched behind their official positions and are not pro-active is against the spirit of the Elliott report.

We have to move forward.

Anyway, here was the social-media savvy tweet


If you had the chance to speak direct to Catholic Safeguarding and leaders of the Church on an official survivors’ forum, what would you say? That possibility now seems to be on the table. Good idea? Or a waste of time? #CatholicTwitter #CatholicAbuse@CatholicHerald

And this was my follow up tweet:

The burning question I want to ask on a forum is – what happens to Survivors’ claims when they’re not ‘current’ & they don’t want the hassle of legal action. It’s no good saying ‘we don’t know’. I have several sensible pro-active solutions I’d like to share on a forum.

Here were the replies, plus a few replies from my earlier tweets

1)Marilyn Hawes


WASTE OF TIME @RCsurvivors…

its simple don’t listen they don’t change worse still nor do they wish to but they purport to be religious its a joke ! do they read the bible ? I support many victims of abuse I’m sick of the catholic church too many have been harmed even forced adoption Nazareth house sickening

Pat:Thanks, Marilyn. In a couple of weeks time I may well be saying something similar to yourself. Right now, I have to give them the opportunity for ‘due diligence’. I’ve heard harrowing stories about adoption which amounts to trafficking.

2) Rafael Viola

  1. rafael1viola on March 23, 2023 at 2:04 pm said:Edit

Count me in Pat if that’s ok then they can hear our voices


Replying to @PatrickEMills and @CatholicHerald

This is the last chance saloon for me I’ve heard it all before fake apologies broken promises this is my last attempt and that I do promise


Thanks, Rafael. They are running on borrowed time


We need answers and actions right from the start and proper media attention let’s get this out in the open no more bull shit let both parties put their card’s on the table

3) Catholic Survivors England

Think it’s worth a go but wouldn’t enter into it with any expectations so you’re not too disappointed if it doesn’t work out.

Thanks. Good advice! What I’m personally hoping for is video interview to go on a Forum. All those questions Nazir ducked and was’ too busy’ to talk to Andy. It’ll be harder – but not impossible – for them to say ‘no’ to an official forum.

Catholic Survivors:

Sounds like a really good idea – there has to be something to hold them to account. Please continue to share any updates.

4) Survivorstrong

That this is not all about policy & is a lot about culture, that the belief any ill in the church is of demonic influence leads to demonizing those reporting that harm. That continuing to point to LGBTQ+ as the problem is hiding the entitlement granted via toxic theologies.

Pat:Good point. I’m sure priests would see me as demon influenced! Issues around LGBTQ+ should be aired on a forum about RCC’s failings. If it happens, I hope you’d get into that. I know RCC was keen on conversion therapy until it was banned.


That theologies that teach men are naturally violent & women are here for containing male sexual violence, for providing domestic comfort, for reproducing is creating great suffering & harming their stated mission of creating a just & peaceful world connected to the Divine.

Pat:Yeah, I’m personally aware as a survivor of the misogynistic nature of RCC. Specifically by their denigrating Mary Magdalene and promoting passive Virgin Mary. Your similar view needs wide airing.

5)  Jane Chevous

I always think that having honest conversations are a good idea. Have a look at our Charter as a basis for safe working

Thanks, Jane. That charter could well provide a structure where everyone feels safe in airing and receiving views

Jane:Recently they did a survivor survey about engagement. I’ll let you know when it’s published

So the Church of England doesn’t have a survivor forum as such, although there are a significant number of survivors working with them on consultations about policy, practice & training, & some co-production.
Survivor feedback is a good idea. At the moment I suspect most of the feedback comes in the form of complaints

Pat:Yep! And rightly so. But when the RLSS did get DBS checks on Cistercian monks on@caldeyabuse1970 did make a point of saying so. They need encouraging to do the right thing.

Jane: Also, I and 2 other survivor reps sit on their National Safeguarding Panel, which provides independent advice and scrutiny on safeguarding practice. There is a lot to do, but I wouldn’t stay if I didn’t think it made a difference.

6) StJoesCSASurvivor

I would ask why it was suggested there may be a route to access some funding for counselling from DLS and when I asked about that it, wasn’t an option any more or at best was a ‘last resort’ that was never followed up without my jumping through certain hoops first.

Pat:That’s exactly the kind of thing that should be responded to positively on a forum. We’ve both been misled in similar ways in the past. The forum itself needs to be easy access. Crystal Palace (Beulah Hill) site is good xample although I flunked the football question!

St J’s survivor:
I feel that as long as there are church lawyers protecting church interests (as I’m sure the early church had. Not), a forum is just going to be a handy resource for them, isn’t it? Am certain they’re all over our tweets and such.


I’ve been there loads of times. WASTE OF TIME.…

Pat:Thanks, Denis. That’s valuable to know. As I’ve said to RLSS (and they acknowledge) they have to prove themselves before anyone will take them seriously.

Dennis: I would like to meet Zollner face to face,i don’t think he realises what survivors go through on a daily basis.

8)Survivors Hall:

What will it accomplish that the Vatican Abuse summit was supposed to spark? They have more than enough information and data by now and they are not stupid people.

Pat:A forum could raise general media awareness of Survivors. And i have a raft of questions I want to ask various RCC bodies that I and other Survivors need answers to. It could also put Survivors in touch with each other and exchange info and support.

9) Joanna

Video is where it’s at.

10)Insider’s View (an expert on Catholic Religious Order child sex abuse)

Seriously, I think that a survivors’ forum would be good. The Church needs to stop pretending that “audits” of dioceses and religious orders are enough. It needs to recognize the role of the laity, both in covering up for abuse in the past and in preventing it in the present.


Hand over Vatican records to the police.‬

12) Raven

I get too strong and emotional at meetings to speak it’s probably best with my level of rage to do a loud protest somewhere. But my level of emotion and strength could show to people How deeply wounded you are by Catholic sex abuse.