The Tablet – The International Catholic news weekly

Posted by Mark Murray

Copied from the editor’s desk -The Tablet — Abuse inquiry urgently needed
18 May 2013

From the court appearances of accused TV stars to historic scandals involving priests, music teachers and care workers, to the killing of young girls, Britain’s news pages, websites and TV bulletins are awash with cases of the sexual abuse of children. This week the shocking details of the depravity of a group of men in Oxford were revealed during a court case which saw a gang of eight convicted of the rape and torture of six girls over more than a decade. The conclusion to be drawn is that in Britain sexual exploitation and predation is endemic; that it goes back decades and continues into the present. Many perpetrators have been allowed to continue their crimes unchallenged.
The Catholic Church was one of the first institutions in this country to stand accused of negligence in its dealing with the child victims of abuse and the handling of their abusers. Some critics of the Church blamed its tradition of a celibate priesthood, claiming that sexual frustration was the primary cause. But the scandals now coming to light show that celibacy is not a common denominator. Paedophilia is about power, about people in positions of authority, or who are famous, or are even ordinary but have gained power through long-term grooming of children, who target the vulnerable and defenceless.
There are other common factors. Paedophiles continue targeting young people because institutions allow them to do so. Sometimes those institutions were the ones to which the criminals belonged – the Catholic Church, the Church of England, the BBC – and which failed to act because those in charge were more concerned with the institutions’ reputations and the impact of scandal than with the pain of a child.
On other occasions, as has happened in Oxford, as well as Rochdale and other northern towns, the abusers got away with it because the police, social services and others in positions of responsibility failed to intervene, or did not do enough to protect the children from the perpetrators. There has also been speculation that some agencies failed to act in the case of the Oxford and Rochdale scandals because of racial and religious sensitivities: the victims were white; their attackers were Asian, often Pakistani Muslims. While some experts now accept that white girls have been preyed on by such men who are linked to organised crime, others point out that group grooming is a small part of the picture and that white males, operating as individuals and often through the internet, are a far bigger problem.
What is evident is that the causes of paedophilia, the incidents of it, safeguarding procedures and best practice, all merit further study. In Australia, the response has been to set up a royal commission into child sexual abuse, with a particular focus on institutional cases. A similar inquiry in Britain would enable victims to have their stories heard; it would be an opportunity to consider to what extent changes in culture are needed or whether individual culpability is what matters most. And it should also consider whether the law needs to be changed, making it a legal obligation to report suspected abuse to the police. For many victims, the worst aspects of abuse are being ignored and denied justice. A public inquiry would offer the chance to right these wrongs.

9 responses to “The Tablet – The International Catholic news weekly

  1. just read the Tablet article. It really is time that what happened in Mirfield ref the Verona Fathers ….was brought into the public arena. As far as i am concerned the abuse there can fester on and on. The first step is to work with the Press to stimulate the impetus to investigate it. The matter cries to heaven to be dealt with. Closure is so badly needed for all concerned linked with basic justice. The topic is in the arena. Now is the time to deal with and finish with it,
    from Tony Kennedy.

  2. The identity of the writer of the article above, ‘A Mirfield Boy’, manifests the necessity of anonymity required in this arena. It may not be cloak and dagger but it is inside a black box. The idea of a public enquiry expresses, to this reader, the wish for a paternal authority to step in and right these wrongs. It was a paternal authority that committed these crimes in the first place.

    The victims would have to feel strong enough in themselves to take the matter into the public arena, with or without an imaginary future public enquiry. The crimes against them militate psychologically against such action. It’s a catch-22.

    Precautions can be instituted to protect victims’ identities if the process of going public were conducted professionally. Nonetheless for many it would be an act requiring great courage.

    This catch-22 suggests that while individual events may be termed ‘historic’, in law, the effects of them are live today. The evidence would also suggest that abuse is happening to young boys today.

    The RC church has famously been outside the march of modernity, proud of its refusal to change with what it sees as the errant times. Its responses to previous abuse cases has been incredulous denial, and an aggressive protection of the mother church.

    If the conditions under which the abuse occurred have not been entirely eradicated, the abuse is likely to be a live issue now. And if that insight is accurate we can extrapolate that individual boys are suffering the same nightmare today, tonight and tomorrow.

    • ‘A Mirfield Boy’ is Mark Murray as written at the start of the article.

      When this Blog started I wanted to be anonymous and known as ‘A Mirfield Boy’ I do not want anonymity now.

      Thanks for your response.


      • Hi Mark.

        Sorry, Mark, but nothing in the article I received today identified you.

        My point is that those injured by the events are injured in such a way their sense of themselves is encrusted in shame on this issue.

        I think it imperative identities are protected for those who wish it.

        It is the abuse that needs exposure not its victims.

        I shall continue for now with my own nom-de-guerre.

        Best regards


    • Abuse needs to be acknowledged and exposed and those that have been abused need to be truly listened to.

      Until that happens, those abused in the past, continue to be abused in their present.

      Their present psychological abuse, as a result of not being listened to, to being an inconvenience, to being a threat to ‘the order’ and their name, to being portrayed as a liar, to having the offer of prayers said for you because of the way you feel, only compounds the pain and suffering that many victims have.

  3. I fully support Mark Murray’s campaign and would gladly testify in court even though I was not myself a victim of serious abuse. I was there when Fr Hicks returned from the missions to take over as Rector and was interviewed in his room about the actions of the medic. (Valmaggia?). Hicks listened in outrage about the testicle-holding/cough investigation that marked Brother V’s ministrations to a bout of cold. Other boys were called and the man was kicked out that night. As we know, that was not the end of it.

    I know of someone other than Mark who was deeply traumatised by his experience of abuse by one or more of the fathers at Mirfield and who has not yet posted his tale. I appreciate all of what RN22 has to say about anonymity in this respect.

    Tony Kennedy is right. We surely need this to come out into the open.

    best wishes to all

    • The abuse that took place will come out into the open. I hope that those who have suffered, and are still suffering today, can then find inner peace and closure.

  4. Dear MOBS (Martin Millar 68-72)7

    I want to say thank you to everyone that showed up last weekend. I enjoyed your company enormously. I was alternating between laughing like a lunatic and choking back tears as I drove down the M1 after we said our goodbyes I,m now in a calmer state and I think I understand myself a little better, as well as gaining insights into your lives from the quieter conversations we enjoyed. Thank you all for joining in the singing after dinner at the New. Inn in Roberttown. I had a hunch that it would be good, but it turned out to be splendid.

    I love you all and wish you and your families tante belle cose

    Sent from my iPad

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