THE DEAFNESS BEHIND CLOSED DOORS – THE SHOCKING TALE OF THE BEHAVIOUR OF RELIGIOUS ORDERS IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH – By Brian Mark Hennessy

THE DEAFNESS BEHIND CLOSED DOORS

THE SHOCKING TALE OF THE BEHAVIOUR OF RELIGIOUS ORDERS

IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

BY BRIAN MARK HENNESSY

Arthur David Molesworth is a highly qualified professional with years of experience in all matters related to the protection of children from sexual abuse. It fell to him to take on issues of child protection at the Benedictine Monastic School at Ampleforth Abbey. When he took over that task there was an immediate issue requiring action that was already 16 months old. Ampleforth had arranged for a survivor of clerical abuse at their Abbey school to be visited by Father Dominic, who was a previous head teacher – and Moulesworth stated clearly that he shouldn’t interfere because it could be seen as tampering with a witness. He told the Abbey, in no uncertain terms, “If you were a safe organisation, you would not allow him to do this”. His advice was ignored and it would not be the first time.

 

In his evidence to the United Kingdom’s Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, Arthur Molesworth’s testimony revealed that he was told by the Abbey, “An abbot’s first task, before all else, is the care of his monks.” Moulsworth stated that he did not have a problem with him caring for his monks, but not if it is in front of protecting children. In a sense, he stated “what we were trying to deal with was the power of the abbot, the duty of obedience to the abbot, the abbot’s will”. He continued, “Stepping further back, I find myself questioning whether the community has either the mechanisms, the understanding or even a basic willingness  to properly deal with child protection matters. I felt at that stage, you know, we have got to start shifting this”.

 

“This wasn’t as if it was an isolated experience with Ampleforth”, he said, “it was what had happened the year before. We are obviously talking about major concerns being expressed about the Catholic Church nationally, and we then had this extraordinary reaction. You know, it led me to write: ‘Child abuse is able to thrive in organisations where there is secrecy.’ I was being blocked, we were being blocked, I use rather pompous words: ‘Obfuscation, denial or downright obstruction’. If you are going to work with us, you work with us; anything less than that, it means you are blocking. I have to say, I think their lawyer was a part of this, talking about ‘Monks have rights, we need to protect them’. “That’s fine, but let’s protect the children first”, responded Moulsworth.

 

Prior to giving his evidence, Arthur Molesworth was confronted with correspondence written in 2006 by Abbot Cuthbert Madden. Moulsworth said, “I have to say, early this week, I read documents in the Ampleforth dossier written at the same time as a ‘getting to know you’ meeting which shocked me, because what was being said about social services was toxic. It was in stark contrast to their statement, ‘We are wanting to work with you’. Behind the scenes, it was something very different. My role was to provide external challenge on safeguarding matters, and I think they wanted people like me to go away, not keep on coming back and asking the hard questions”.

 

At one point in his testimony, Arthur Molesworth, detailed how the Abbey was in a rush to get their ‘own version’ of events at Ampleforth out to the press, whilst Moulsworth was trying to manage a number of issues that a press statement might inhibit and he asked them to hold fire. Moulsworth wanted a joint statement which involved co-ordination with the Police and Social Services. Nevertheless, the Abbey went ahead and in a telephone conversation with Arthur Moulsworth, a representative of the Abbey stated “Actually, I’m not concerned about you. You need to understand you’re dealing with a machine. The Catholic Church is well-organised, well-oiled, it is them who are doing this”. I was quite struck by the way he was telling me not to cross with him, just saying, “You need to understand what you are dealing with”.

 

Arthur Molesworth also discovered that whilst the social services and the police were talking with Ampleforth about significant safeguarding matters and risks to children, the Abbey had some other risk assessments that they had not divulged to the local authorities. Instead they had formed their own views on the risks and had, effectively, tampered, in one case, with a witness. This activity had excluded the police and delayed investigations – and eventually the complainant had stopped the case going any further – despite the strength and anger he had expressed previously to Moulsworth, who subsequently became convinced that the Abbey had talked him out of proceeding any further. In his view, Arthur Moulsworth also stated that in one case there were four abbots who had known about the behavior of one priest but those Abbots just “didn’t get safeguarding; they didn’t get child protection”.

 

As I write about this testimony of Arthur Moulsworth to the United Kingdom’s Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse – and having been born a Catholic and my dear parents having been devoted to Catholicism – I am dismayed and ashamed beyond belief. I visited Benedictine Abbeys with my parents when I was a teenager and I was in awe of the monks. I became a member of a Religious Order myself and took my first vows whilst at the Novitiate of the Comboni Missionary Religious Institute at Sunningdale in Berkshire, England. By then, however, I had already been abused for a period of two weeks at their seminary by one of their priests who had locked the infirmary door behind him twice a day whilst he proceeded to carry out “essential medical inspections to see if everything was working properly”. I did not then even know the word for what he did to me, but now I know it is called “masturbation”. It had taken place following my recent visit to hospital where I had undergone intrusive investgations.

 

I eventually left the Order after my further confusion, as a novice, of having to witness secret meetings between a Comboni Missionary priest and a nun of the adjacent Convent. I had to sit in a room with them whilst they held hands, played “footsie” under the table and expressed their love for each other. At the time that I left, I was unaware that long before there had been allegations throughout the period between 1958 to1967against the priest who had abused me at Mirfield when I was a seminarian. Some 10 reports to superiors of the seminary had been made between1966 to 1968 that I now know of, but they were not acted upon until 1969 – when he was moved, ultimately, to a parish in Italy. There he would have had access to more children. They told me many years later that this priest was dead – when they knew very well that he was not.

 

Another priest abused multiple seminarians at the same seminary that I had attended and was reported to priests of that Order on eight known occasions between 1965 and 1968. Again he was not moved until 1969. He was posted to Uganda where he was put in charge of the Boy Scouts.

A third priest was abusing boys at that seminary for a relatively short period in 1970. After he was discovered and reported, he was also sent to Uganda to work in a Parish – where, obviously, he had access to more children. He remained there for 27 years until, in 1997, he was recalled to Italy to answer allegations – which he then admitted. One of his Victims eventually, in adulthood, visited this priest in the Comboni Missionary Order’s Mother House at Verona in Italy to seek an understanding from this priest as to why the priest had abused him as a very young teenager. The Victim also hoped that by such understanding and by forgiving this priest, he would find peace to his lifelong torments. He did meet the priest who did apologise for the harm done – and the Victim forgave the priest.

 

It was at that point that the Vice Superior of the Mother House appeared. He called a solicitor, threatened the Victim with calling the Police – and as the Victim left – the Vice Superior shouted after him that all the Victims of the priests of the Comboni Missionary Religious Institute were “money-grabbers”. The Comboni Religious Institute, soon after, laid charges against this Victim of trespassing, stalking and interfering in the life of the Priest who had abused him when that Victim was a child. The Judge of the Criminal Court of Verona threw the charges out as unsubstantiated. The Order, in an act of callous vindictiveness, appealed to the Court. The Judge of the Appeal Court threw out the Appeal as false on the basis that the original charges had already been determined to have had no justification. The Comboni Missionary Religious Institute made no offer to the Victim to pay the very high costs of his defence at the Verona Criminal Court. Such an addition of insult to injury is what other Victims of clerics of that Order have come to expect – but the list is too long to repeat here.

 

The Comboni Missionary Religious Institute in the 21st Century pays lip service, but has complied with the spirit of none of the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child. They have not complied with the Catholic Church’s own Canon Law which requires that all acts against the 6th Commandment are reported to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. They have not complied with any recommendations of the Nolan and Cumberlege Reports in dealing with the numerous historical allegations of child sexual abuse reported to them. They refused to listen to the former Chair of the Catholic Safeguarding Commission when he tried to counsel them on a number of occasions to adopt the measures of the Catholic Hierarchies document, “Safeguarding with Confidence”. They did not, at the time of the original abuse and, nor have they subsequently, made any reports to the Civil Authorities of the United Kingdom. They have not even followed the measures concerning clerical child abuse that are written in their own Code of Conduct.  That is unsurprising to me having read that Code, for the emphasis of the Code was to avoid “Scandal” – a word which appears in that Code on 19 occasions. When dealing with the matters relating to crimes of child sexual abuse within that Code of Conduct – the words “sin” is used. Stealing sweets is a “sin” – stealing the innocence of a child is a heinous, inhumane and depraved “crime”.

 

What the Comboni Missionary Order have done subsequently is refused to meet the Victims abused by their clerics, they have issued press reports suggesting that the events took place so long ago that the truth cannot now been determined. In doing so they seek to suggest that the many victims of sexual abuse committed by their clerics are false. For my part, and I know that others who were abused would say the same, I can say to them that the abuse inflicted upon me is not a figment of my imagination – and I know that because it happened to me – and I have not forgotten the details of that abuse – and nor will I forget.

 

The perennial wall of unconscionable silence constructed by both the Benedictine Order and the Comboni Missionary Religious Institute to defend their sense of clerical superiority and to protect their establishments from critical oversight will eventually crumble. Indeed, those walls of Catholicism are crumbling around them already. The Orders of the Catholic Church will have a natural, embedded and instinctive reluctance to believe me, of course, but perhaps, instead, they will at least wish to pause for a moment. In doing so, they should look at their contribution to the enormous confusion in the Catholic Church today and the role that they have played in the alienisation of historic Catholic lay communities. Those diminishing communities’ natural distrust of clerics today has been caused by what the Catholic Church itself has done in the name of Catholicism. For their meditation I suggest that they dwell upon those few prophetic words uttered by Pope Benedict XVI, many years before he ascended the Throne of St Peter, as he envisioned the Catholic Church of the future:

 

“It will be a restructured Church – with far fewer members – that is forced to let go of many places of worship it worked so hard to build over the centuries. It will be a minority Catholic Church with little influence over political decisions, that is socially irrelevant, left humiliated and forced to “start over.” But a Church that will find itself again and be reborn a “simpler and more spiritual” entity – thanks to this “enormous confusion.””

 

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Seattle Archdiocese Settles Suit Alleging It Helped A Serial Sex Abuser Get A Public School Job – by Dan Morris-Young – with a question from Brian Mark Hennessy

Seattle Archdiocese Settles Suit Alleging It Helped A Serial Sex Abuser Get A Public School Job

 

by  Dan Morris-Young – National Catholic Reporter – 29 September 2017

 

The Seattle Archdiocese has agreed to pay $1.3 million to settle a sex-abuse lawsuit that charged that church authorities had not only neglected to report a known abuser to authorities, but helped him secure employment in the public school system. In a release on the website of the Seattle-based law firm Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala, attorney Jason P. Amala stated: “Our law firm has represented hundreds of abuse survivors, but I cannot think of another case where the defendant removed a known abuser from their private school system and then actively helped him get a job in the public school system.” Listed as “M.R.” in court documents, the plaintiff was a student at now-closed Parkland Elementary School in the Franklin Pierce School District headquartered in Tacoma. He was abused as a sixth-grader there during the 1981-82 school year by Edward Courtney, a former Christian Brother of Ireland, it was stated in a brief August 29th archdiocesan media release. According to the release, “the bankrupt Christian Brothers” were also named in the suit.

Courtney has a well-documented history of sexually abusing children, and his name was among 77 priests, brothers, deacons and a nun named in January 2016 by the Seattle Archdiocese as having been credibly accused of child sex abuse. While the settlement closes the suit by “M.R.” filed in 2015, a second suit by a former Parkland Elementary student was filed in 2016 alleging abuse by Courtney during the same period as M.R. That proceeding is ongoing, according to the law firm and other news reports. According to a February, 2016 Los Angeles Times story, Courtney, who would now be 82, “sold his Seattle-area home in 2013 and signed a sales document notarized in Honolulu. His phone number and address are listed in the Honolulu phone book.” “According to court records,” the Times reported, “the Catholic schoolteacher was a cross-country serial molester, accused of abusing at least 50 children and teens from New York to Chicago and Seattle over three decades.”

While admitting “no direct knowledge of the allegations in these lawsuits,” a Sept. 28 statement by the Seattle-area leader of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said the organization applauded “the two victims who filed suits for pursuing these claims” and underscored the importance of mandatory reporters. “Mandatory reporters are on the front lines of defending children, and when they fail to do their job, they should be held accountable to civil and criminal law,” stated SNAP’s Mary Dispenza. In the Seattle archdiocesan statement, Archbishop J. Peter Sartain said he hopes the settlement will bring closure and assist the survivor in his healing process. “The safety of children and all vulnerable populations in our care is our highest priority,” Sartain is quoted as saying.

Query by Brian Mark Hennessy of the Comboni Survivors Group:

How can Archbishop Sartain find the gall to say that “The safety of children and all vulnerable populations in our care is our highest priority,” – when his Archdiocese found a new appointment for this known serial sex offender at a school? It beggars belief!

UNITED KINGDOM INDEPENDENT INQUIRY INTO CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE. CATHOLIC CHURCH INVESTIGATION. OPENING STATEMENT BY DAVID ENRIGHT

UNITED KINGDOM INDEPENDENT INQUIRY

INTO CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE.

CATHOLIC CHURCH INVESTIGATION.

 

OPENING STATEMENT BY

DAVID ENRIGHT – HOWE & CO

I appear on behalf of F12, a Scottish survivor of the English Benedictine Congregation. I also represent 12 core participant survivors of the Comboni Missionary Order and F44, a survivor of the Christian Brothers. Together, they represent 20 per cent of the victim/survivor core participants in this latest  investigation in a very long line of investigations into the Roman Catholic Church, but of course they are not a mere percentage, they are individual humans imbued  with dignity, bravery and fortitude. They, like the other core participants in this investigation, hope and pray that this is the last time a public inquiry will have to be called into the Catholic Church. I echo counsel to the inquiry’s submissions: there are almost a million children in Britain who are educated in institutions run by or in which a church is significantly involved, and, therefore, this inquiry must determine what has been and what is the scale of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Britain; are there cultural inhibitors in the Catholic Church that prevent effective child safeguarding; are there structural inhibitors in the Catholic Church and its separate law that prevent effective child safeguarding? A line must finally be drawn, and this inquiry must answer the question: can children be safe in the care of the Catholic Church?

Those I represent are men who were, and in some cases still are, devout Catholics. It is very difficult to explain to someone not brought up in a Catholic community the power and depth of influence the Catholic Church exerts over its members. Counsel to the investigation has alluded to this, and it is a chilling aspect of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church that the abusers are not only men in positions of trust who wielded authority over children, they are also seen by the abused and their families as being spokesmen for the God they worship, men who are supposed to be the shepherds of their souls, men who hold the very keys to heaven. It is hard to imagine a greater hold that a child abuser could have over its victim.

F13 was abused at his Catholic primary school by Catholic brothers. He was abused by members of the English Benedictine Congregation at Pluscarden and Fort Augustus Abbey. We have heard of the movement of a paedophile from England to Fort Augustus this morning from counsel to the inquiry and Mr Scorer. On 8 November 2017, this November, the National Crime Agency’s Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Unit issued a conclusive grounds decision finding that F13 had been a victim of modern-day slavery. This finding by the National Crime Agency in relation to participant F13 demonstrates the seriousness of the issues before this inquiry. Two days after the National Crime Agency issued this finding, the inquiry’s first witness, Dom Richard Yeo, visited F13 at his home, along with Bishop John Keenan. We would hope that counsel to the investigation will  explore with Dom Yeo the reason for his visits to F13’s  home in the wake of this finding and the immediate  run-up to this hearing and, indeed, what the English  Benedictines hope to do for F13 to bring him comfort and closure.

F1 to F12 are 12 core participant survivors of the Comboni Missionary Order. They attended a Catholic  seminary school in Mirfield in Yorkshire run by that order, an order that specialises in missionary education  around the world. They are a striking group of men, highly educated and articulate. They include among their number  a retired senior officer of our armed forces, a retired executive of an international PLC, teachers, academics, businessmen and a highly regarded classical performer. Those men, or boys, as they were then, were   hand-selected as some of the brightest and most devout  children of their communities. They were selected also  because, as 10- and 11-year-olds, they dreamed of  becoming missionary priests. Quite a number went a long  way down the road to taking religious orders.

One, F3, became a brother of the Comboni religious order and  undertook missionary work in the most difficult circumstances of Idi Amin’s Uganda. All were abused by Catholic priests and brothers. In most cases, they were abused repeatedly over many months and, in a number of cases, years. They had led very sheltered lives in the Catholic families and communities they came from. They had no understanding of sex other than it was wrong, it was dirty, it was a sin. The culture of their school, their church and their faith was of obedience and, in particular, obedience to Holy Fathers. Over time, and as abuse continued, and as they grew, they came to have doubts. But as F6 explained his childhood dilemma to me, and he has flown a very long way to be here today, how could the hands that held the host, the body of Christ, aloft every morning in mass possibly do wrong? His words. F4 could also not bring himself to accept that the kindly Italian priest who tended to boys when they were ill could possibly do something wrong. He just couldn’t accept it. F4 described this to me, with tears in his eyes, how, as an adult, he would watch old-fashioned war films and the hero would be captured and subjected to torture and, gritting his teeth and taking his mind to another place, he would endure. F4 told me that every time he saw a scene like that, he was catapulted back in time to the infirmary at St Peter Claver Seminary College.

Other members of this group and F44 have similar accounts of how they were abused again and again and the terrible dilemmas and conflicts of their mind they suffered: how can this be happening if this holy man is doing it? These bright boys grew and so did their doubts and they began to speak up and, when they did, they did not stop speaking up. It is incredible the number of times these boys spoke up seeking support and protection, not just for themselves, but often to try to protect younger boys in the seminary college. It is incredible, also, the responses they received. After years of systematic abuse, F4 took a delegation of boys to see the college’s spiritual adviser and told him of the sexual abuse. The other boys were crying during that interview, but F4 was angry and he spoke out. The spiritual adviser stated he accepted the accounts of abuse were true. He told the boys he would look into the matter. He then swore them to secrecy and told them never to speak of it again. He did nothing. As F4 and the other boys turned to leave his room, the spiritual adviser stopped them and he reminded them that their abuser, this prolific abuser, may have availed himself of the sacrament of confession and, if he did, his sins were washed away and they, as good Catholics, must accept that.

F8 also reported the abuse he was suffering at the hands of the seminary’s vice rector to the seminary college’s spiritual adviser. The spiritual adviser told F8 to forget about the incidents and not discuss it anymore. F4 also went to a priest he trusted and admired. They went for a walk in the playground. He began to open his heart and, as soon as he did, that priest, his friend, told him, “Stop there” and would hear no more. F12 was also abused by the vice rector of St Peter Claver College. He told the father rector of the seminary about the abuse. The father rector asked no questions and took no action.

F6, who I have already mentioned, who has come a long way to be here today, attended the seminary college. Priests of the school abused him repeatedly as a young boy. Despite this, he was bright, he had a deep faith, he excelled and became the school captain, the head boy of the seminary school. When he was appointed to that position, he felt a huge sense of responsibility for the other boys, particularly the younger boys at the seminary, whom he knew were being abused just as he was being abused, and he felt, as school captain, he must act. So, once again, he led a delegation of older boys to see the spiritual adviser to tell him that the younger boys were being abused and that he felt a duty to protect them. The spiritual adviser did not take up the complaint on their behalf but he told the delegation of children that “You must go away, you must gather statements from the younger boys, you must take them to the Father Rector, but don’t tell him I told you to do this”. This priest, this spiritual adviser, sent a boy to do a man’s job, his job, but the boy he sent was up to it.

F6 gathered the statements of the abused boys and presented them to the Father Rector of the seminary. The Father Rector said that he would deal with the prolific abuser. He did not call the police. He did not launch an investigation. He did not inform the parents of the abused boys. He simply moved the abuser from the school and sent him to the oldest provincial house in London. From there, he was sent to Uganda,  where he worked as the bishop’s secretary and was then  appointed as the chaplain to secondary schools in Northern Uganda and became Scout Commissioner for Northern Uganda. The Father Rector to whom this report was made currently lives in the order’s house in Glasgow, he is in his 80s and is mentally well.

F5 was abused by a lay teacher employed at St Peter Claver Seminary College. It is believed this teacher was previously employed at Ampleforth. That teacher was removed from the school by the priest who was then the rector and who is now the financial director of a London province of the Comboni order and who lives in London.

F3 was repeatedly abused by another priest of the order. Despite this, he became a brother himself. But was always troubled by the abuse he and others had suffered. He raised it again and again with the order nationally and internationally. In legal correspondence, the order made clear admissions as to that abuse. Despite this admission, this priest was permitted to return to active ministry. When F3 challenged this fact with the Wrexham diocesan safeguarding officer and the Comboni Order’s safeguarding officer, he was assured the priest would  not be allowed access to children but remained in the order’s other house looking after the sick and dying. However, the evidence shows this priest continued to work with children until as recently as 2014.

Later in life, these 12 men repeatedly sought to engage the Catholic Church over the abuse they had suffered and feared that children might still be suffering. They contacted and spoke to the most senior members of the order, all of whom had been at St Peter Claver College with them as fellow seminarians and as teachers. On one occasion, F4 was invited to the order’s provincial mother house in London for a meeting. He was told by one of the senior order members who had been at the school at the time when they were being abused that the abusing priests had hurt the Catholic Church as much as they had hurt the children. No, they did not.

The priests at the Catholic Church abused my clients, caused them wounds that never healed. They have never healed because the Catholic Church never admitted what happened fully, never apologised truly and never atoned. Of course it must be remembered, and it has been touched on today, that the abuse of my clients along with many of the other victims of abuse by Catholic priests was widely known of because they were reporting it regularly in the confessional, as indeed were the abusers. Why, then, was no action taken by the Catholic Church in relation to regular reports of abuse that were being given in the confessional and presumably still are?

The sacrament of confession is one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church. It is fundamental to the practice of the faith. Catholic priests are also required under Canon law to undertake confession. The Australian Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse recently recommended that persons could be charged if they know, suspect or should have suspected that members — that a child is being abused. That recommendation included members of the clergy. The Archbishop of Melbourne was asked about this and if he would go to gaol rather than disclose matters disclosed to him in confession and he said, “I have said I would go to gaol. I believe this is an absolutely sacrosanct communication of a high order”. Why would the archbishop say he would go to gaol rather than reveal matters including child sexual abuse? Because, again, it is the law of the Catholic Church that he cannot. The Canon law states very clearly that a priest is wholly forbidden to use knowledge acquired in confession to the detriment of the penitent. That is to say, the sinner or the abuser. Furthermore, matters revealed in confession, including child abuse, cannot be used for the purposes of governance. Again, Canon law directs this. A person who is in authority may not in any way, for the purposes of external governance, use the knowledge about sins which has come to him during the confession. One could not think of a more serious example of a structural obstacle embedded in the law of the Catholic Church to child protection.

There have been many public inquiries here, in Australia, America, Ireland, Scotland, and it demonstrates that the Catholic Church has a modus operandi. It fails to report or record child abuse. It often shields abusers and simply moves them to another place. Often, the evidence has shown that this permits abuse to continue again. We have heard of this today in relation to Nicholas White. My clients seek truth, justice and accountability. But most importantly, they want to know that children in Catholic institutions now and in the future are safe from abuse.

So in conclusion, I return to the three questions that we and counsel to the inquiry say this inquiry must seek answers to: first, how big is the problem? Currently, we do not know, because the church has not, will not, or possibly is not capable of providing us with that information. However, in order to fulfill the terms of reference of this inquiry, the church must be compelled to produce the fullest picture possible.  Secondly, are there structural inhibitors to child protection in the church? The answer to this appears to be yes. The refusal to divulge or act upon reports of child abuse in the confessional is an obvious example of a most serious structural inhibitor to child protection. But there are others. Finally, is the Catholic Church capable of enforcing good governance and high uniform standards of child protection? The answer appears to be: no. The Catholic Church is so opaque, so disparate, so full of separate bodies which are not answerable to any central authority, it is hard to see how, without huge reform, it can provide good governance and the high uniform standards of child protection. So the question this inquiry must answer is: can the many strands of the Catholic Church, culturally, structurally and inherently, provide a safe place for children in Britain

RELIGION, POWER AND CHILD ABUSE GO HAND IN HAND By Brian Mark Hennessy

RELIGION, POWER AND CHILD ABUSE GO HAND IN HAND
By Brian Mark Hennessy

A mother named Kausar Parveen struggles through tears as she remembers the blood-soaked clothes of her 9-year-old son, raped by a religious cleric. Each time she begins to speak, she stops, swallows hard, wipes her tears and begins again. Her son had studied for a year at a nearby Islamic school in the town of Kehrore Pakka in Pakistan. In the blistering heat of late April, in the grimy two-room Islamic madrassa, he awoke one night to find his teacher lying beside him. “I didn’t move. I was afraid,” he says. The cleric lifted the boy’s long tunic-style shirt over his head, and then pulled down his baggy pants. “I was crying. He was hurting me. He shoved my shirt in my mouth,” the boy says, using his scarf to show how the cleric tried to stifle his cries. He looks over at his mother. “Did he touch you?” He nods. “Did he hurt you when he touched you?” ”Yes,” he whispers. “Did he rape you?” He buries his face in his scarf and nods yes. Parveen reaches over and grabs her son, pulling him toward her, cradling his head in her lap.

Sexual abuse is a pervasive and longstanding problem at madrassas in Pakistan, an investigation has found. It is pervasive – from the sun-baked mud villages deep in its rural areas to the heart of its teeming cities. But in a culture where clerics are powerful and sexual abuse is a taboo subject, it is seldom discussed or even acknowledged in public. It is even more seldom prosecuted. Victims’ families say that the Police are often paid off not to pursue justice against clerics and cases rarely make it past the courts, because Pakistan’s legal system allows the victim’s family to “forgive” the offender and accept “blood money.” The perpetrators of the abuse, therefore, are rarely criminalized in the Courts.

Investigations have found hundreds of cases of sexual abuse by Islamic clerics reported in the past decade, and officials suspect that there are many more within a far-reaching system that teaches at least 2 million children in Pakistan. The investigation was based on police documents and dozens of interviews with victims, relatives, former and current ministers, aid groups and religious officials. The fear of clerics and the militant religious organizations that sometimes support them came through clearly. One senior official in a ministry tasked with registering these cases says that many madrassas are “infested” with sexual abuse. The official asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution; he has been a target of suicide attacks because of his hard position against militant groups. He compares the situation to the abuse of children by priests in the Catholic Church.

“There are thousands of incidences of sexual abuse in the madrassas,” he says. “This thing is very common.” Pakistan’s clerics close ranks when the madrassa system is too closely scrutinized, he says. Among the weapons they use to frighten their critics is a controversial blasphemy law that carries a death penalty in the case of a conviction. “This is not a small thing here in Pakistan — I am scared of them and what they can do,” the official says. “I am not sure what it will take to expose the extent of it. It’s very dangerous to even try. That’s a very dangerous topic,” he says. A tally of cases reported in newspapers over the past 10 years of sexual abuse by clerics and other religious officials came to 359. That represents “barely the tip of the iceberg,” says Munizae Bano, executive director of Sahil, the organization that scours the newspapers and works against sexual abuse of minors.

The above heart-wrenching report was written by Katthy Gannon and Kehrore Pakka of the Pakistan News outlet of the Associated Press. For those readers who were abused in childhood by clerics of the Catholic Church, the ingredients of the abuse – the vulnerability, fear and shame of the innocent child in juxtaposition with religion, power, threats, cover-up, lack of apology and blood money in exchange for silence – will all have familiar echoes. It is easy to understand why it was that the anonymous official had made a comparison between clerical sexual abuse in the Islamic madrassas and the schools and seminaries of the Roman Catholic Church.

Kausar Parveen, the mother of the boy struggling to hide his mental and physical pain through his tears, will have a chance, at least, to help her 9-year-old son overcome his trauma simply because the boy’s blood-stained clothes were visible evidence that something horrendous had happened to him. With her love and care and his trust in her, she may be able to help him to overcome at least some of the psychological damage that has been inflicted upon him so early in his childhood. That is small comfort, however, and only the best prospects in the circumstances. For those children whose abuse remains uncovered, life is more difficult – because, often in silence and alone, child victims of sexual abuse face secondary trauma in the long process of the critical path to disclosing the events that had taken place.

Often, when victims of abuse try to tell their stories to the clerics responsible for their wellbeing, they are in fear of the consequences of their disclosure. It may cause them the trepidation of being disbelieved and induce them to produce hesitant, unconvincing, incomplete and even partially retracted descriptions of the events. Such assumptions are often well-founded for it is common for victims to be assaulted with counter-charges of disbelief and blame – and that further inflicts upon them the curse of their rejection. Their expectation of help and comfort may reap only negative responses such as charges of lying, imagining, complicity and even their manipulation of the adult abuser.

 

Such damaging abandonment of the child by the very adults who are critical to their recovery constitutes re-victimisation and can result in deep-seated and permanent responses such as self-blame, self-hate and alienation. That sense of rejection will be increased proportionately to the child’s degree of expectation, trust and help that they had anticipated from the person in whom they had confided. Hence, it is not uncommon that the very fear of such rejection inhibits the disclosure of the trauma a child is suffering to anyone. From then on the child may take the wrong options and descend into a state of secrecy and helplessness. The last hope for such a child is that in later adulthood they begin to unravel the damage and find themselves able to speak out, but, that does not always happen.

 

I feel a deep and poignant care for the son of Kausar Parveen as he faces his future. Worlds apart from where he and his mother struggle to unravel both the present and the future trauma that they will re-live again and again, I recall the lifelong, internal conflicts of so many of the boys who were abused by Catholic clerics at the Comboni Missionary Order’s seminary at Mirfield in England. Some of those boyhood friends still wrangle in their hearts and minds over the events of abuse that was perpetrated against them half a century ago by priests whom they trusted implicitly. Betrayal by an adult – one that a child had admired and sought to emulate – is a mentally debilitating and spiritually cancerous injury. It creates a bitterness that cannot be sweetened by time alone. Indeed, whilst the clerics of the Catholic Church remain concerted in their abject denial of the truth – such denials can be life-threatening.

 

FOLLOWING THE MONEY IS THE KEY TO AUTHORITY IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH — by Brian Mark Hennessy

FOLLOWING THE MONEY IS THE KEY TO AUTHORITY
IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
By Brian Mark Hennessy.

In an extraordinary “to and fro” at a session on 23rd June 2017 of the Scottish Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse that had taken place at the Benedictine Fort Augustus Abbey, Dom Richard Yeo, on behalf of the Benedictine Confederation, mustered somewhat miserable attempts to fend off any possible hint of accountability by members of the current Benedictine hierarchy for any of the gross failures that had occurred historically at the Abbey. Indeed, the situation is complicated by the fact that every Benedictine Abbey is totally independent and has its own Abbot President. An Abbot Primate of all the independent Benedictine Abbeys is elected every four years but his powers of oversight are very limited as he has no direct jurisdiction over the Abbot Presidents.

Ultimately, Dom Yeo denied that even the Pope himself had any responsibility for the affairs of the Abbey and hence, none other than the Abbot of Fort Augustus at the time of the abuse had accountability whatsoever for Child Protection in that establishment. The revelations from some 50 former pupils of the Abbey were that Fort Augustus was used as a “dumping ground” for clergy previously accused of abuse elsewhere. The four most recent Abbots before closure in 1998 were Dom Oswald Eaves, Dom Celestine Howarth, Dom Nicholas Holman and Dom Mark Dilworth. A dozen Benedictine Monks and lay teachers of the Benedictines in the United Kingdom have been accused or convicted of the abuse of pupils of their United Kingdom monastery school establishments.

The structure of the Catholic Church, admittedly, is difficult to understand for anyone other than a well informed Vatican Watcher or Canonist. The casual spectator of the Catholic Church will be easily confused, for although like any other organisation the Catholic Church has, in essence, a top to bottom structure, it is also important to understand that the structure varies in pattern according to the authority, scope and purpose of each formation within it that is scrutinised.
Nevertheless, there is a “key” to understanding each of those seemingly impenetrable structures within the Church and the unique application of authority within each of the separate branches of the overall Hierarchical Structures. Quite simply, to penetrate the complexities of the many titled ranks and the names of their formations there is one guiding principle – and that is the proverbial, good old adage: “Follow the Money”!

Thus, whilst there may appear to be a confusing and colourful kaleidoscope of the channels of authority, indeed there are not. To see clearly, we just need to strip away the candles, vestments, bells, incense and mitres of the peculiar and unique structure of the Catholic Church. Quite simply, hand in hand with that traditional theatre of the Church celebrations and the moral teachings of the Scriptures are the common administrative offices, procedures and controls that can be found in any other institution for the control of money, property, inventories of valuables, investments and other assets.

To be economical with my explanation, the three main ecclesiastical branches of the Catholic Church that are likely to come under scrutiny at the UK Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual abuse (IICSA), which is also in current process alongside the Scottish Inquiry, are the structures of (1) Dioceses run by the Bishops, (2) the Institutes of Consecrated Life with Abbots and Abbesses at their head and (3) the Religious Institutes of the Missionary, Teaching, Medical and other charitable Foundations. There is a key word within all these structures that defines authority – and that word is “ordinary”. Quite simply, that word denotes a person that has the right to exercise “jurisdiction” to a specific degree and of a specific nature over any institution at any level within the Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church is an institution much the same as any other and its structure is that of a pyramid. All authority is invested in the Pope and is derived from him. It has a set of laws that govern both the moral and temporal structure of the Church at every level. Those laws have been derived from the historical pronouncements of the Church Councils that date back to Constantinople in the 4th Century. The Catholic Church has a “product” called “morality” which it claims to be inspired from sacred texts known as the Old and New Testaments. The rights of children have a biblical setting in the Gospels of the New Testament when Christ said, “Suffer not little children to come unto me”. There is an imperative in that statement that implies that children are to be both cherished and protected. Thus, in the context of the safeguarding of children it can be categorically stated that:

The Pope, the “Supreme” Ordinary of the Catholic Church, through his subordinate Ordinaries – who extend to the level of Bishops, Abbots of the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Superior Generals and Provincial Superiors of the Religious Institutes of the Catholic Church – is obligated to teach the morality exemplified in Scriptures, ensure that safeguards are in place for the protection of children, monitor adherence to safeguarding practices and bring non-compliant clerics to account.
At the recent IICSA hearing regarding abuse at Fort Augustus the following questions and answers took place between Counsel and Dom Richard Yeo. When the latter was asked about accountability, he responded:

A. “The English Benedictine Congregation had no authority over or involvement in either school. It is not the relevant organisation in respect of the schools as establishments. It has no remit or authority to acknowledge or accept abuse on behalf of the former Fort Augustus Abbey.”

Q. Just on that, that’s the position you adopt, is it? You don’t see that you, as the Abbot President, has a remit or authority to acknowledge or accept abuse?

A. I have – I can say on my own account personally that I am sorry about any abuse that has happened, but obviously I cannot speak for the school.

Q. Who can?

A. Nobody – and that is why I insisted that I wanted to say sorry myself because Fort Augustus is closed.

Q. Yes, but who can be held accountable for any abuse that occurred at Fort Augustus or (for the offences of) Carle Kemp?

A. Since the monastery has been closed I don’t see how anybody can be.

Q. What about the Holy See? I think we have accepted that the Holy See had ultimate responsibility.

A. Ultimate responsibility but not ultimate control.

Q. Or ultimate accountability. What you are saying is that because the monastery has closed, the Catholic Church cannot be held accountable, and that’s what I’m seeking to test with you.

A. I think I said publicly at a fairly early stage that the great problem with all this is that Fort Augustus is closed down and that must mean that the redress that any survivors of abuse can have is going to be limited. It is for that reason, as I say, that I felt it important to express my own sorrow about abuse but I cannot do that on behalf (of others). I can do that myself but I can’t do it as a representative of the organisation which was responsible.

Q. But what I’m seeking to explore with you, Dom Yeo, is whether there is someone within the Catholic Church who can provide the victims and survivors with that sort of apology in a more, if I can put it in this way, in a more responsible category?

A. I think that because Fort Augustus is closed, I’m the only person who can do that.

Q. Not even the Pope?

A. The Pope has expressed his sorrow that abuse has happened.

Q. Yes.

A. — but you cannot say that the Pope was responsible for it”.

That was the wrong answer. All roads in the Catholic Church do lead to Rome. The Pope is the “Supreme” Ordinary of the Roman Catholic Church and he has both moral and temporal administrative obligations. The buck does stop with the Pope and he must own it when all else fails! Dom Richard Yeo was categorically wrong when he replied that it does not and that a mere expression of sorrow from him will have to do! For the benefit of Dom Richard Yeo, I have constructed the following from Canon Law and other RCC Vatican sources for both his use and that of those representing abused children by clerics of the Catholic Church:

The Pope. The Pope is the “Ordinary” over the entire Catholic Church. The “buck” really does stop there! (Ref: Conc. Vatic., Const. “Pastor Aeturnus”, c.iii).In a period of interregnum following the death of a Pope and the election of a successor, the Cardinal “Carmelengo” in conjunction with the College of Cardinals assumes the role of Papal Supreme Ordinary. The Vatican Secretary of State, Prefects of the Vatican Curia Congregations and other Appointees to Pontifical Commissions and Intercasterial Commissions derive all the temporary authority they exercise as “delegated authority” directly from the Papal Supreme Ordinary.

The Chain of Command at the Vatican: Prefects of the Curia Congregations and Heads of the Pontifical Commissions and the Vatican Secretary of State with “Delegated” authority > The Carmelengo and College of Cardinals with “Delegated” Ordinary authority (“in absentia”) > Pope (the “Supreme” Ordinary of the Catholic Church).

The Diocesan Bishops There is often confusion about the title of “Bishop”, but in essence a Cardinal Archbishop, Archbishop, and Bishop are one and the same thing wherever they are located. They are all simply Bishops, as is the Pope himself, and they are the “ordinary judges” of the dioceses to which they are allocated. Their authority, which is both juridicial and territorial, is considered to be ordained by the Holy Spirit in the Acts (New Testament Acts of the Apostles 20:28). A Vicar Capitular or Vicar General assume the role of a Diocesan Bishop in an “inter regnum” period or other absence of a Bishop. Diocesan Auxiliary Bishops derive all temporary authority they exercise as “delegated authority” directly from the Diocesan Bishop. Parish Priests are not “ordinaries” and have no juridical or territorial authority.
Diocesan Bishops are appointed directly by the Pope following recommendations made by the Papal Legate of the specific country to which the new Bishop will be assigned. A Committee within the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy determines the final recommendations directly to the Pope for his consideration and subsequent appointment.

Diocesan Bishops are within their right (Canon 579) to establish an institute of Consecrated Life within their diocese by a formal decree, provided that they have consulted the Apostolic See – and the Bishop retains direct authority over such an institute, but will appoint a local superior “ordinary” with local “delegated” rights to manage the members of the institute in the “judicial” context. However, only the Pope can suppress an institute of Consecrated Life and the Apostolic See will make all decisions regarding disposal of the temporal goods of the suppressed institute.

Chain of Command of Diocesan Bishops: Local Ordinaries of Diocesan Institutes of Consecrated Life with “Delegated” authority from the Bishop > (Vicar General – “Ordinary in absentia”) > Bishop (“Juridical” and “Territorial” Ordinary) > Pope (“Supreme” Ordinary).

The Institutes of Consecrated Life The Pope in the Apostolic See is able to erect an institute of Consecrated Life, (such as the Benedictines), and individual members (clerics, lay brothers or sisters) are bound to obey the Pope as their highest superior by their sacred bond of obedience. The Superior (Abbot or Abbess) of an institute of Consecrated Life will convene a Chapter to advise and disseminate authority throughout the community. Only the Pope can suppress such an institute of Consecrated Life and he will also dispose of all the temporal goods of a suppressed institute. (Canons 589-591). The Abbot/Abbess is elected by the Chapter who will also advise and counsel the Abbot/Abbess.

Chain of Command of Institutes of Consecrated Life: Chapter (with “delegated authority”) > Abbot/Abbess (“Juridical” and “Territorial” Ordinary) > Pope (“Supreme” Ordinary).
Religious Institutes A Religious Institute (such as the Comboni Missionaries) is a society of clerics, lay brothers or sisters in which members, according to a proper law, pronounce public vows, either perpetual or temporary which are to be renewed when the period of time has elapsed. They lead a life in common. (See Canons 607 – 608). The Rule of a Religious Institute is approved by the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

Religious Institutes require the authority of the diocesan Bishop to establish a house within a diocesan location (Canons 609-611), but the Religious Institutes are, nevertheless, autonomous. The Religious Institute’s Provincial Superior of the country or other defined geographical location is the Provincial Ordinary within that country or location and the Provincial reports to the Superior General who is the Ordinary of the Religious Institute.

The Superior General / Sister General is elected by members of the Institute’s Curia, Provincial Superiors and other nominated members in accordance with its constitution. A Vicar General and Council are also appointed.

Chain of Command of Religious Institutes: Local Ordinary Superior of a community with “Delegated” authority only from the Provincial Superior > Provincial Superior (Provincial “Juridical” Ordinary) > (Vicar General “in absentia”) > General Superior / Sister General (“Juridical” Ordinary) > Pope (“Supreme” Ordinary).

WHY POTPOURRI DOESN’T HELP THE VATICAN. By Brian Mark Hennessy

WHY POTPOURRI DOESN’T HELP THE VATICAN

Some time has passed now since the “Boston Globe” of “Spotlight” fame founded the Catholic Newspaper “Crux”. It was hoped that “Crux” would inherit both the tradition and financial success of reporting on Catholic issues that had launched its parent publication to world-wide renown. Whilst I do trawl routinely through its pages – and it has a readership quorum that clearly sustains it financially – the current “Crux” agenda is not for me. For example, very recently in the middle of September and in Rome, J R Allen wrote the article, ”A Potpourri of Nuggets…” – because there was no “grand narrative” to report from the Vatican. Much of what followed appeared to be anecdotal trivia to fill in the column space. The image that immediately jumped to mind was that of the Emperor Nero playing the fiddle whilst Rome burned for six days and rendered 70% of the population homeless.
Sometimes today, both “Crux” (which I am using as an example and not as the sole focus) and a number of other Catholic news journals appear to lack essential focus and critical reporting and have become merely reflective mouthpieces of the Vatican Fides News Agency. The Catholic Church, however, is much larger than the iconic marbled palaces of Rome and it is essential for healthy debate for worldwide Catholic opinions to flow into the Vatican as well as dictats to come out of it.
For example, one matter that is long overdue is the cerebral Reformation within the Catholic Church Vatican Curia. Currently, it is stuck in the muddy ruts of age-old denial and senility on many issues – including sexuality, child sexual abuse, birth control, celibacy, pre-marital sex and the role of women in the Church – the list is almost endless. Those are all issues in which the Catholic Laity have a rightful voice. The early Church, at least in the first three centuries, was a family where everyone had a rightful say and it should be thus today. Roots are important and should never be forgotten because the continued growth of any tree depends on them.
The “Crux” birth-right tradition was to be in the vanguard of serious debate, but lately it appears to have slipped into the rear-guard position of the Vatican, which it meekly follows at a distance. “Potpourri” was symptomatic of a decline in “Crux” focus and journalism. If it routinely becomes a magazine-type mouthpiece of the Vatican, rather than a platform for vibrant debate on the important issues confronting a Church (which is in a goodly degree of turmoil) it may indicate that the “vision” and “ethos” of “Crux” is being misdirected. The same goes for every other Catholic news outlet.
That would be especially damaging in the broader context that the Roman clerical edifice is unwilling to respond routinely in any adequate way to justified criticism on a range of very serious issues. Some of those issues, for example dangerous levels of over-population in a world with diminishing resources, are not going to be resolved, either in practice nor adequately, by age-old dogmatic Vatican responses such as sexual abstinence or “coitus interruptus”. Nor is clerical child sexual abuse going to be solved by sending clerics to clinics or sanatoriums – or whatever they are labeled – to effect a “cure”. That is still the practice in Italy and many other countries. There is no adequate cure for psychosexual immaturity or dysfunctionality that could risk clerics with a past history of a sexual proclivity for children to be reinstated to positions in which children are accessible. Nevertheless, appallingly, that still happens.
The “Boston Globe” revelations on clerical child abuse stunned America, the Vatican and the world. It was a dramatic moment in the history of Catholicism. This last week, whilst “Crux” readers were engaged in “Potpourri”, Vatican failures associated with the curtailment and management of clerical child sexual abuse had not been dispersed into oblivion. The trauma and suffering of victims remained. It never becomes a figment of their imagination. Those victims, their families, parents and counselors are engaged with it on a daily basis. Sadly, too, the sexual abuse of children in Church institutions continues apace, as does clerical denial and the concealment of crimes and failures to bring the clerical offenders to justice.
Clerical child sexual abuse may be an old story, but it is not a “done topic”. Yet, many Catholic news outlets, not just “Crux”, rarely mention these issues at all today – except in passing in an inch of column space. Nor, within the seemingly impenetrable walls of its subconscious, has the Vatican, in the totality of its separate Congregations, put the essential measures in place to effectively understand, manage, contain or curtail the problem.
That is not to say that there is not a willingness on the part of some in the Vatican to drag the Church out of its historical blindness on such issues, but the action of just a few is clearly not gaining ground against the entrenched, generational myopia of clerics not used to being under daily, critical scrutiny and re-assessment. Yes, procedures exist, Canons remain in place, Diocesan Child Safeguarding Rules are held by all, statistics are published for public consumption.
That is all good, but in the corridors of the Vatican Curia Congregations, the age-old historical culture and pervasive clerical mind-set remains intact – as does a defiant reluctance to bare the breast and own up, with humility, that their greatest sin has always been and remains to this day one of arrogance. That arrogance was never more publicly evident than when Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Muller publicly defended his Congregation’s policy of refusing to reply to the letters received from the Victims of child sexual abuse. That is not ancient history. It was in February of this year!
What that incident tells us is that for the impersonal Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith in the Vatican Curia each new letter from a Victim is merely a statistic. It is placed in a growing pile and it is not valued with a response. I can relate to that personally. It is over eighteen months since I forwarded them a document that had calculated that something in the region of 1000 crimes of sexual abuse against child seminarians had occurred at the Comboni Missionary Order’s seminary at Mirfield in England. My expectations of some action were high for my volunteer courier was none other than the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster who had placed that powerful and revealing document (indeed I considered it to be “explosive”) with them “by hand” personally. There has been no response – it clearly did not give rise even to a low, plaintive “whimper”.
There is an emotional dimension for parents also in this debate – not just the victims themselves. When I eventually told my eighty-year old widowed mother of the abuse that I had undergone at that seminary, the reaction was shock, dismay, remorse, confusion, helplessness and disbelief. It was such an emotional and physical response that I had to leap to her side to steady her, sit her down, comfort her and reassure her. She then mourned for the passing of my father, whom she assured me would have confronted that Order and immediately withdrawn me from their “care” – “if only he had known”. I wished at that moment that I had never told her.
Historically, the Laity of the Catholic Church has always been overlooked by the Vatican Curia. All rules and edicts have been handed down for observance – often with the threat of serious interdicts for any failure to comply. However, the Laity of the Catholic Church out-number clerics by about 1000:1 and, hence, has on tap a staggering amount of collective brain power, energy and good will. Moreover, probably unbeknown to most of the Laity, under Canon Law itself, both clerics and laity are regarded as “equal”: “Flowing from their rebirth in Christ, there is a genuine equality of dignity and action among all of Christ’s faithful”. Indeed, in the early Christian Church both slave and master sat around the same table in the breaking of the bread. For one and a half millennia now – they have been excluded. So from where did the arrogance of clerics spring?
That begs the question also, “How is it that Clerics make the Rules about how our child victims and their child-abusing clerics are managed?” The Laity have not been asked in any meaningful and fully inclusive way about the formulation of the Rules to deal with it and curtail it. Most likely, nor has the Vatican Curia, historically, believed that they needed to ask the Laity anyway. Hopefully, a most recent Vatican announcement by Cardinal Gracias – to the effect that more Lay involvement in the issues of the Catholic Church is to be sought – might be the start of a reversal of the historical “Fortress Vatican” obsession.
Alarmingly, a recent Australian study* of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church has compiled the findings of some twenty-six commissions, investigations, judicial probes, and academic research from around the world. It has warned that there remains a grave potential for abuse of children to continue unchecked in the estimated 9,600 orphanages that the Catholic Church still runs. Worryingly, the report also states that there is no sign at the Vatican level of Religious Leaders answering why abuse has happened on such a scale and why they have reacted so poorly. In that context, the authors of the report, maintain that at some time in the future more shocking levels of the abuse of children will be unmasked.
*(Professor Cahill and theologian Dr Peter Wilkinson: Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church)
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The Catholic Church, like any global organization (whether political, religious or commercial) does not have all the world’s wisdom on tap. It is a vulnerable, human organization that imperfectly seeks to represent “Goodness” in this world. Thus the realism of critical, powerful and far reaching “alternative voices” is essential to keep the Vatican on track so that it can again move forward. Left to itself an isolated Vatican will become not just short-sighted and “tone” deaf, but both blind and “stone” deaf.
It is particularly essential that all Catholic news outlets, continue to project critical challenges on the issues surrounding child sexual abuse to organizations such as the Roman Catholic Church – which because of its historic claims of being a major moral force in this world – have lost the most credibility. The media should not fear recrimination because it is not the “Faith” of the Catholic Church that is under fire in this debate. The debate is something more humanly tangible than “Faith” and it gives the Laity the right of liberty to be critical. What is at stake here, is not the Vatican’s coveted monopoly of Gospel interpretation, but it is the universally held ethical essence of “Morality” and of “Truth” and of “Justice”. Full and open discussion of issues relating to those core values is vitally essential for the stability of the Catholic Church – let alone a World Order that is increasingly subject to the rampages of the instant global communication of unethical ideologies which have alarming claims of being the new normality. Before we tackle those new issues, however, we must tackle the old reality.
The issue of the clerical sexual abuse of children has demonstrated just how vulnerable the Roman Catholic Church is to its “mightier than thou” arrogance and it has literally “fallen from grace” as did Adam. It has been expelled from Eden and no fig leaf can now hide its nakedness. In many respects the Vatican Curia has been blinded by its own adherence to history and tradition and it does not recognize how shockingly and unacceptably Medieval it remains. To maintain any semblance of occupying the “high ground” in a world, increasingly aware of universal rights – and simply to be seen to adhere to its own principles such as Matthew’s Gospel, “And why beholdest thou the mote in thy brother’s eye, but not considerest the beam that is in thine own eye” – it needs to re-examine its own soul.
More precisely, what that means in the case of the Roman Catholic Church, which is often drowning unconsciously in its own incomprehension of its waywardness, is that that institution must reflect upon and eliminate its unacceptable and damaging practices that amount to “Immorality”, “Insincerity” and “Injustice”.
It is the immorality, insincerity and injustice of silence, of a failure to listen to victims, a failure to respond to victims and of a failure to demonstrate unchallenged ownership of each specific crime that takes place within the totality of Catholic Institutions.
of secret proceedings for accused clerics and religious – of proceedings that routinely exclude victims, witnesses, the public and the press from hearings – and of proceedings which publish no findings.
of secret proceedings that bind victims and witnesses who are admitted to them by oaths of perpetual silence on pain of threatened interdicts and excommunication from the Church.
of a failure to punish criminal clerics and religious appropriately and in line with the reasonable, common and universal expectations of the processes of civil laws and civil punishments, but instead routinely provides clerics found guilty of crimes with ecclesiastical or civil pensionable retirement.
of a failure to prevent clerics and religious found guilty of child abuse from all future interaction with children, of a failure to impose automatic interdicts upon abusive clerics and religious and of a failure, in many cases, to subject them to the process of defrocking.
of a failure to bring to account all clerics and religious who seek to conceal reports of crimes of any cleric or religious of any rank – whether they are priests, nuns, brothers, Bishops, Abbots or Superiors General in the Catholic Church.
of the failure to bring to account all clerics and religious who seek to hide within their walls those who have committed crimes against children – and who conspire to move those clerics or religious, as soon as discovered, to an alternative locations so to ensure that the legitimate processes of civil arraignment are forestalled or prevented.
of the failure to notify to civil law authorities or Child Safeguarding Organisations, as appropriate, those clerics who are known to have committed offences against children and against the civil law of the country in which they reside.
That Litany of failures – and, regrettably, many more not mentioned here merely for lack of space – constitutes the immoral, insincere and unjust failures of the Catholic Institutions. These are the failures for which the voices of both the people of God and no God in this world demand a re-birth – a true and “in depth” fundamental “renaissance” of Catholic Institutions and the minutiae of their “modus operandi”.
That Litany of failures is nothing short of a list of the standard features of feudal, monocratic structures – and are more akin to the control tactics of the despotic Medieval Monarchs and Roman Emperors of bygone history than a spiritually refreshing flower of hope for the future in a desperate world that is thoughtlessly rushing towards self-extinction.
The media voices, which comment on the Catholic Church, must engage in debate and re-iterate failures unceasingly and vigorously to the Catholic Church for the public good. Humoring readers with “potpourri” because there is no grand narrative from the Vatican news outlet on the day is not just frivolity, but it is a dangerous state of detachment from reality and it will quicken the demise of Catholicism as a moral force for good.
Brian Mark Hennessy.
Blog: Comboni Missionaries – a Childhood in their Hands
(URL: https://veronafathersmirfield.com/)

 

 

Cardinal Murphy O’Connor’s Cover-up of Child Abusers Must be a Lesson to the Catholic Church by Keith Porteous Wood

Cardinal Murphy O’Connor’s Cover-up of Child Abusers Must be a Lesson to the Catholic Church

by: Keith PorteousWood

Note: This Article by Keith Porteous Wood first appeared in Conatus News and was later posted in the National Secular Society’s publication “Newsline” on the 8th September 2017. Cormac Murphy O’Connor, the former Archbishop of Westminster, died on 1 September. National Secular Society executive director Keith Porteous Wood seeks to set the historical record straight with this alternative obituary below. However, the views expressed in the article below by Keith Porteous Wood are those of himself, the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of this Blog entitled – “Comboni Missionaries – A Childhood in their Hands”
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The death of Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor has understandably resulted in obituaries lauding his achievements as a Prince of the Catholic Church. But we are pleased that few ignore entirely the Cardinal’s involvement in one of the most scandalous child abuse cover-ups this country has seen. I don’t doubt for a moment that Cardinal Murphy O’Connor did some good in his life, but there was another side to his story that should not be forgotten – a side that resulted in pain and suffering for many children. And the ruthless campaign by the Church to repress the details of the Cardinal’s many errors and misjudgements, and worse.
Despite the image of a genial old buffer that the Cardinal liked to project, it did not stop him, in 2006, from sacking his talented press secretary, a lay position, simply because he was “openly gay”. And O’Connor was “firmly against the repeal of Clause 28, which banned the promotion of homosexuality in schools”, a repressive and vindictive measure now regarded with embarrassment. This, despite the prevalence of gay men in the priesthood.

Those with long memories will also remember that, following complaints from parents, O’Connor, when Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, moved a known serial practising paedophile cleric, Michael Hill, from unsuspecting parish to unsuspecting parish. If O’Connor’s objective had been to reward Hill by affording him the greatest possible opportunities to prey on an almost unlimited supply of vulnerable unaccompanied juveniles, some of them thousands of miles from their parents, he could have done no better than appoint Hill as Catholic chaplain at Gatwick Airport. Yet this is exactly what O’Connor did, despite his knowledge of Hill’s repeat offending and psychiatric reports that Hill was likely to re-offend. Needless to say, O’Connor never shared what he knew about Hill’s criminal abusive activities with the police, contributing directly to Hill’s ability to continue his orgy of abuse unhindered. Hill was eventually convicted and jailed in two separate trials for abusing a boy with learning difficulties at the Airport, as well as eight other boys. Ten further charges unaccountably “remain on file”. To his dying day, the best Murphy O’Connor could do in his mea culpa on Hill was to say his response was “inadequate but not irresponsible”. Not much consolation to the victims and their families. Nor will have been the self-righteous indignation of his pitiful response to criticism: “Inevitably mistakes have been made in the past; but not for want of trying to take the right and best course of action.”

Richard Scorer, abuse lawyer and NSS director, examined the Hill saga exhaustively in his book Betrayed: The English Catholic Church and the Sex Abuse Crisis and demonstrated beyond doubt that O’Connor’s claims about Michael Hill were completely baseless. And, so predictably, O’Connor’s affable mask slipped again and he got pretty vicious when the media started asking what were, to his mind, too many questions and getting too close to the uncomfortable truth. It is an open secret that the BBC was muzzled from pursuing its investigative work on O’Connor by top-level representations made by O’Connor.

Few if any others than O’Connor could have managed to intimidate the BBC into silence, yet having done so, O’Connor still had the gall to claim that there was an anti-Catholic bias in the media. He wrote: “Many others feel deeply concerned by the apparently relentless attack by parts of the media on their faith and on the church in which they continue to believe.” That old trick so well practised by the Catholic hierarchy: portraying itself as the victim. That would all be shocking enough, yet there is credible speculation that the Hill saga could have been just the visible tip of the iceberg. A 2012/3 report by the group Stop Church Sexual Abuse has speculated that: “[Anglican] clergy … seem to have worked together with priests from [O’Connor’s] Catholic Diocese of Arundel and Brighton … to abuse children. Reports include that of a Catholic priest who had multiple reports for alleged child sex offences and who was moved by the Catholic Bishop [O’Connor] over to the CoE diocese of Chichester and became an Anglican Minister.

“The relationship between the [Catholic] Diocese of Arundel and Brighton [O’Connor’s] and [the Anglican one of] Chichester [in which Peter Ball, mentioned below, ministered] has been historically close. In the 1980s Bishops Cormac Murphy O’Connor and Peter Ball [not imprisoned until 2015 on multiple counts of sexual abuse committed over twenty years earlier] were close friends and it is now [claimed] that both sat on multiple reports of child sexual abuse by clergy and did nothing to protect children from further abuse. “In total upwards of 17 Anglican and 19 Catholic clergy have been reported to have abused children up to the late 1990s within these Dioceses. Most lived and/or worked within one small geographic area which adds to the concern that there [may have been] a network of sex offenders shoaling for victims within church communities, schools, cathedrals, youth groups and scouting groups.” (See also Addendum by Brian Mark Hennessy below)
Even the Daily Telegraph reported police investigations into “claims that O’Connor hampered Hill’s prosecution” and if the claims above are correct about O’Connor’s close friendship and nefarious collaboration with the devious and mendacious Peter Ball, who escaped justice for decades, this does not seem in the least far-fetched. At least, however, O’Connor is still indelibly connected in the public’s mind with the disgraceful Michael Hill saga, having been widely reported including in The Times, with severe criticisms including “Victims’ groups demanded his resignation in 2002”.

The Church could not but have known very much more. But the process of rewriting history is no doubt in full progress. Does it not however speak volumes about the Pope and Catholic Church that, given all the above, they chose, out of all the possible candidates, “His Eminence Cardinal” Cormac Murphy O’Connor to be a cardinal, to be the most senior Catholic in England and Wales, to be Emeritus Archbishop of Westminster, and to be the Pope’s Apostolic Visitor to investigate clerical child abuse in the Archdiocese of Armagh? But maybe we should not be surprised. The Pope tellingly did not strip O’Connor’s fellow Cardinal in Scotland, Keith O’Brien, of his cardinal’s biretta for abusing his rank with decades of predatory sexual sackable offence.

It seems from the Gibb Report into disgraced former Bishop Ball that Sussex police appear to have done a workman-like job on abuse in the Anglican diocese. I would have suggested that the Sussex Police now turn their attention to the Catholic diocese, but unfortunately the CPS told them in 2003 to abandon the investigation whilst refusing to explain why. Hopefully this was not because of O’Connor’s clerical rank, just like the Cof E’s Report suggested Peter Ball’s cleric rank was the reason he escaped justice in 1993.
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ADDENDUM

Comments related to the above article by Brian Mark Hennessy:

From the 1960s to the 1990s the Chichester had some of the worst examples of child sexual abuse committed by priests. The numbers and the scope of the phenomenon were truly outstanding. Canon Gordon Ridout who was the Vicar of All Saints in Eastbourne was jailed for 10 years for 36 separate offences on 16 children between 1962 and 1973. Peter Ball, former Bishop of Lewes was convicted of abuse in the 1980s and 1990s. Former priest Keith Wilke Denford of Burgess Hill and organist Michael Mytton were convicted of historic sexual abuse. Vickery House, a former Brighton priest, was also convicted along with former vicar of Brede, Roy Cotton. Additionally, former Vicar of St Barnabas in Bexhill was charged and convicted of historic allegations.


Note By Brian Mark Hennessy:

Coincidentally and unrelated to the above article, it may be of interest to some readers that Father Herbert Brazier, the father of the Prime Minister, Theresa May, was an Anglo Catholic Priest serving in the diocese of Chichester as the Eastbourne Hospital Chaplain from 1953 to 1959, during which period he met Theresa May’s mother. Earlier, at the beginning of World War II he had attended the Community of the Resurrection at Mirfield where he trained for the Anglo Catholic priesthood. In the 1960’s and 70’s clerics and seminarians of the Comboni Missionary Order at Roe Head had very cordial relations with the Resurrection Community and on occasions exchanged visits. I remember one such visit well. I had a chat with a Priest of the Resurrection Community in their extensive library. He had spotted a book in the library that he wanted to read – and was in the process of learning Hebrew first so that he could do so!
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