FOUNDED ON FEAR

Peter Mulholland’s post BELOW about the tragic story of Peter Tyrrell who was a victim of the Christian Brothers who I know are different to the De La Salles, but have much in common.

I witnessed extreme violence at St Joseph’s, Ipswich, and also at my primary school St Mary’s, Ipswich, where an eleven year old boy was caned across the face by a lay teacher, Mr Crowley (the deputy headmaster).

I’m hoping Peter Mulholland’s book (Love’s Betrayal) may shed some light on why Catholic teachers were so vile. It predates the war, so it’s not PTSD. Is it sexual repression? Their frustration with a religion that represses natural feelings? Ancestral karma (epigenetics) or the legacy of harsh colonialism? A belief in a vengeful Old Testament God?

Or do these orders like the De La Salles and the Christian Brothers attract a disproportionate number of perverts and sadists and always have. The powerless who want to feel powerful at children’s expense.

That’s my own theory and – in my view – they should be disbanded as organizations with a strong criminal past and possible present, with some modern evidence to bear this out. (An academic study of transgenerational abuse)

I know everyone remembers some great Brothers who are above suspicion. Me, too. The one or two good apples on the whole rotten tree. But their legacy is too dark, too evil, their current silence and obfuscation too strong, their international activities too confirming, to take a chance when children’s lives are at stake. Better not to let them near children anymore.

Anyway, here’s Peter Mulholland:

  Senator Sheehy Skeffington’s thinking was now being informed by letters from Peter Tyrrell, an ex-inmate of a Christian Brother industrial school near Letterfrack.   Tyrrell wrote to Skeffington on 22 July 1958, telling the Senator that he had been detained in Letterfrack from 1924 to 1932, because of family poverty, and that he had ‘witnessed and suffered torture and severe beatings’ at the hands of the Christian Brothers who ran that institution.     He said the beatings were ‘not for committing any offence against the school rules, but were normal routine’. Skeffington urged Tyrrell to write a detailed account of his time in the industrial school and that account was published posthumously four decades after Tyrrell’s burned body was found on London’s Hampstead Heath. He is believed to have committed suicide by setting himself on fire.   In a piece that the editor of Tyrrell’s manuscript, Diarmuid Whelan, used as a foreword to the book, Tyrrell said he had started writing to the Christian Brothers in 1953 and then to government Ministers and Church authorities but had not received a single reply to letters describing the ‘criminal brutality, which in many cases reaches a degree of torture’.   Describing education and training in Catholic schools as being ‘founded on fear, the fear of corporal punishment, and the fear of hell’, he warned ‘society against the child who has been hurt’ (Whelan 2006: xxix, xxxv, 1, 172–4). https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=3ik9ffv6dZ4C