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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A Message to IICSA from Brian Mark Hennessy of the Comboni Survivor Group

A Message to IICSA from Brian Mark Hennessy

of the Comboni Survivor Group:

 

The United Kingdom Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) must be clear and steadfast in it’s goals. The effects of the Inquiry must be felt far into the future. In order that that goal is achieved IICSA must be certain that the Information they gather now will achieve the purpose for which it was devised. They are not constrained by a monetary budget. The United Kigdom Government will pay the cost whatever the cost. Time is no Constraint. That is set out in the Constitution of the Inquiry by Parliament. If they fail to cover all aspects of the history of child abuse now, then they will fail children in the future. Any area of abuse today and in the past will continue unless investigated now. All Civil organizations, Religious Creeds, Civil and Religious Institutes must be investigated and put “on notice” now that they will be watched into the future – that they may be called to give evidence and to be examined – and that if they ever fail in years to come – the recriminations of the Judicial processes of the United Kingdom will be most thorough and severe – and ultimately – their very survival will be questioned.

 

The Royal Commission – Australia’s Inquiry – An Update

 

Distributed by Australia’s BLM Abuse News Blog

 

As Australia is the news through the IICSA child migrant investigation, the work being undertaken by the Royal Commission (RC) in considering issues relating to abuse across many different organisations in Australia should not be forgotten. We summarise below its most recent work, much of which is of relevance irrespective of the jurisdiction in which an organisation finds itself.

Hearings

A series of final hearings are taking place to inquire into the current policies and procedures of 10 institutions in relation to child protection and child-safe standards, including responding to allegations of child sexual abuse. These hearings will, amongst other matters, consider the responses to and implementation of, recommendations which have been made to date by the Royal Commission. It is reasonable to expect the inquiries in England & Wales and Scotland to ask similar questions, and to expect to see consideration being made by UK based organisations of the recommendations made in Australia. These are all available on the Royal Commission website.

A further hearing will meanwhile commence on 27 March to consider the nature, cause and impact of child sexual abuse in institutions. This will consider the nature of child sexual abuse and related matters in institutional contexts in Australia, and how community understanding of abuse has changed over time. It will also look at the extent of child sexual abuse in institutional contexts historically and in contemporary Australia, and challenges to identification and prevention. It will consider if the factors that contribute to the risk of child sexual abuse in institutional contexts are:

  • Factors that make all children vulnerable to sexual abuse and heighten the vulnerability of particular groups of children to sexual abuse
  • Factors that may contribute to people sexually abusing children in institutional contexts
  • Institution-specific factors that may contribute to child sexual abuse.

 

It will also consider the impacts of child sexual abuse and institutional responses on survivors, both in childhood and throughout their adult lives, their families and supporters, and the wider community.

Research reports

Many good reports have already been published and we have previously commented on some of these in our blogs. The most recent are:

Disability and child sexual abuse in institutional contexts – The most reliable data suggests that between nine and 14 in every 100 children with disability are likely to experience sexual abuse. Children with a disability can be vulnerable to sexual abuse due to various factors including the locations and people with whom they spend time, the need for greater physical assistance and attitudes that children with disabilities are less competent and less likely to tell. The report includes recommendations for strategies to prevent future abuse.

 

The role of organisational culture in child sexual abuse in institutional contexts – This report looks at literature and some of the RC case study reports. It found that cultural factors associated with “total institutions” and “macho cultures” may be more conducive to the perpetration of child sexual abuse. This was because they were more likely to conduct their own investigations into allegations of child sexual abuse, rather than referring alleged perpetrators to authorities; to forbid children from retaining personal items and discourage the building of relationships with peers; to promote secrecy and withholding of information from children, staff and others, and/or command children to engage in or refrain from behaviours that make abuse possible and reporting less likely.

 

Children and young people’s views about their safety in residential care – Most of the children and young people who participated in this research described feeling unsafe in residential care due to bullying, harassment and the threat of sexual assault. The report’s conclusions include that children felt safest in residential care when it felt like home, for example when they were in a clean and welcoming environment, where they were able to celebrate events, and were well supervised by adults. To be safe, participants needed their residential care to offer stability and predictability. Many of the young people interviewed described their time in residential care as chaotic, found it difficult to feel settled and spoke of the high turnover of staff. Children were provided with a sense of safety when their residential care provided routine, fair rules and the ability to be heard during decision-making. Residential care felt most safe when adults and institutions took children and young people’s safety seriously and had proactive strategies in place to protect children from harm.

 

Grooming and child sexual abuse in institutional contexts – This report concludes that grooming can involve a range of behaviours that target not only children, but also others involved in gaining access to the child’s life including parents and caregivers and staff in institutional settings. Grooming is often an incremental process which involves three stages – gaining access to the victim; initiating and maintaining the abuse; and concealing the abuse. The best way to identify and prevent grooming and child sexual abuse may be through the development and implementation of policies and procedures, particularly codes of conduct, to prevent and identify such behaviours and through developing an organisational culture that prioritises child safety.

 

Consultations:

 

Criminal Justice – Submissions to a consultation on criminal justice have been published and a seminar heard to discuss the content of the submissions. As part of this consultation a draft Bill has been published which address some issues relating to evidence. The benefit of cross jurisdictional considerations can be seen by the fact that this bill is based in part on laws in England & Wales which allow for much greater admissibility of tendency and coincidence evidence and for more joint trials.

 

Records and record keeping – Following a consultation last year, 40 submissions have been published which comment upon this issue. Five key principles have been determined, they are:

  • Creating and keeping accurate records is in the best interest of children.
  • Accurate records must be created about all decisions and incidents affecting child protection.
  • Records relevant to child sexual abuse must be appropriately maintained.
  • Records relevant to child sexual abuse must only be disposed of subject to law or policy.
  • Individuals’ rights to access and amend records about them can only be restricted in accordance with law.

 

 

Case study reports

The following reports have been published:

Jehovah’s Witnesses – Although the RC only heard evidence from two victims as well as institutional witnesses, it examined evidence from case files held which recorded allegations, reports or complaints by 1006 members of the organisation. The RC found children are not adequately protected from the risk of child sexual abuse in the Jehovah’s Witness organisation and it did not believe the organisation responded adequately to allegations of child sexual abuse. It considered the Jehovah’s Witness organisation relied on outdated policies and practices to respond to allegations of child sexual abuse which were not subject to ongoing and continuous review. This included the two-witness rule in cases of child sexual abuse which, the RC considered, showed a serious lack of understanding of the nature of child sexual abuse. It noted the rule, which was relied on, and applied inflexibly was devised more than 2,000 years ago.

 

Yeshiva Bondi and Yeshivah Melbourne – This inquiry looked at the response of the Yeshivah Centre Bondi and the Yeshivah College in Melbourne to allegations of child sexual abuse. In particular, consideration was made of the influence of Jewish (or ‘halachic’) law on the responses of the institutions to child sexual abuse allegations and the experiences of survivors of child sexual abuse and their families and the community’s response to them. Consideration was made of the impact of a Jewish law, known as mesirah, which forbids a Jew from informing upon, or handing over another Jew to a secular authority (particularly where criminal conduct is alleged). Even though there had been an advisory resolution in 2010 noting this did not apply to child sexual abuse there was some discouragement within the community to report abuse and a lack of supportive leadership for victims of abuse.

 

Sporting clubs – This report looked at allegations linked to certain football, tennis and cricket clubs. The RC heard evidence from a female football player who had been repeatedly raped by her coach; from a female tennis player sexually abused by her coach in the late 1990s; and from three male cricket players who had been sexually abused in the 1980s and 1990s. The RC gave its opinion on the steps taken by each of these sports clubs in response to the allegations and also looked at the wider policies and procedures of national sporting organisations. It singled out the website ‘Play By The Rules’, which is administered in part by the Australian Sports Commission and which promotes child protection in sport, as a very valuable and effective resource. It provides information, tools and free online training to assist administrators, coaches, officials, players and spectators to manage child safety issues in sport.

 

The Church of England Boys’ Society and the Anglican Dioceses of Tasmania, Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney – The report concluded that most CEBS (a boys youth group) branches could operate in an autonomous and unregulated way and that abuse often occurred on camps, sailing and fishing trips as well as overnight stays at rectories and private residences. As a result a culture developed in which perpetrators had easy access to boys and opportunities to sexually abuse those boys. There were networks of sexual perpetrators at CEBS who had knowledge of each other’s sexual offending against boys and in some instances facilitated the sexual abuse of children. Systemic failures were also identified including child sexual abuse being treated as one-off offences, or isolated incidents of aberrant behaviour and historically, allegations of child sexual abuse not being reported to the police either at all or in a timely way. There was limited information-sharing between the dioceses about allegations of child sexual abuse; a lack of child protection policies and procedures within CEBS; and a lack of consistent record-keeping about complaints in CEBS at a national and state level. The report also identified minimisation of the offending, a focus on protecting the reputation of the church, dioceses, CEBS and individual clergy and links not being made at a national level in the Anglican Church regarding the possibility of a network of perpetrators within CEBS.

 

Geelong Grammar School – Evidence was heard from 13 former students who reported sexual abuse between 1956 and 1989. The report comments upon the different acts or omissions of the school at the times of reporting of abuse. It also concludes that before 1994, Geelong Grammar had no formal systems, policies and procedures in place dealing specifically with child sexual abuse, or to prevent child abuse. Although policies are now in place, there is no system to either monitor the success of the policies or capture how often teachers are reporting allegations, in accordance with the policies and procedures.

 

Brisbane Grammar School and St Paul’s School – The report considers specific incidents of abuse and the response, or lack of response to disclosure. Amongst other findings are that the head teacher did not achieve his most fundamental obligation, which was to ensure that students under his care were kept safe.

RG Dance and the Australian Institute of Music – We have already commented on this report in our earlier blog.

Submissions in a number of investigations have also now been made publically available.

 

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.

 

What the UK Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse Doesn’t Want to Know – by Brian Mark Hennessy

What the UK Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse Doesn’t Want to Know
by Brian Mark Hennessy

We need to be clear about this matter. Pope Francis has stated many things in the past about the sexual abuse of children by clerics. Surviving victims of clerical sexual abuse all remember clearly his words in the Vatican’s Santa Marta where he stated to an international gathering that “There is no place in the Church for Clerics who abused children”. They remember his words spoken on his trip to the United States of America: “God weeps”. They remember the day when he promulgated the establishment of a Vatican Tribunal which would hold Bishops accountable for their failure to take action against those clerics within their dioceses who had abused children. They remember his establishment of a Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Surviving victims of clerical sexual abuse have welcomed every pronouncement that Pope Francis has made in the past concerning his abhorrence of child sexual abuse. Now, however, Victims rightly ask what genuine steps forward have been made by the Roman Curia and the Diocesan Bishops of the world. What future difference will Pope Francis’ latest comment, “Sexual Abuse by Priests is an Absolute Monstrosity” achieve? In truth, most Surviving Victims now have little faith in any tangible change being achieved whatsoever – but is that fair? Is the Pope the problem?

Let us be candid for a moment: there have been some changes. For instance, a fellow Jesuit of Pope Francis, Father Hans Zollner, who is the Academic Vice Rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, has made great strides in the education of clerics (including all newly appointed Bishops) in order to illuminate both the psychological and spiritual implications for both victims of abuse and the clerics who abuse them. He has held worldwide symposiums on the issues and has gathered both students and scholars together in Rome to share and spread their ideas and knowledge to the corners of the Catholic World. There are others, of course – and Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston who presides over the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Children is another example. His major beef has been with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for their ineptitude in the handling of child sexual abuse cases – and starving his Commission of adequate funds. Pope Francis recently made a shrewd and telling move concerning O’Malley when he appointed him in January of this year as a full Board Member of the Congeregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – presumably to shake it up a bit and help O’Malley make some leeway with the Pontifical Commission. Francis also got rid of Cardinal Muller, who severely and unjustifiably criticized the film Spotlight, as head of CDF, and who more recently stated that it was inappropriate for members of CDF to write back to Victims of clerical child sexual abuse who had written to him about their experiences.

Nevertheless, despite the historic retrenchment in dicasteries of the Roman Curia such as CDF, it is a fact that Catholic dioceses and scholastic institutions throughout most of the globe now have clear guidelines on the issues and procedures that are essential for the care and protection of children. We hope, with an appropriate degree of discomforting past expectation, that they will follow the procedures they have so carefully devised. Happily, the lay Catholic Church is miles ahead of their clerics and is holding them to account in the most effective way known to them – leaving church pews and collection plates ever more empty. That is one certain factor that will concentrate a clerical mind steadfastly on the essentials.
To be equally fair, however, and the Pope is right about this also, the entrenched and often pernicious arrogance of “clericalism” still treads upon the stone flagstones of religious houses and monasteries. There are many mitred and scarlet scull-capped heads within the Church that have an entrenched “mightier than thou” view of their dignity. Indeed, within some global religious structures there is both a perverse and pervasive resistance to any change in the “status quo”. Some even rage against criticism and all outside interference. Moreover, some Church institutions have adopted not just a false morality which is misguided by a conscience that is incompatible with Gospel-based Christianity, but they regard themselves as virtually autonomous structures beyond the reach of Pope and Curia. Unconscionably, it is the Roman Curia structures of the Catholic Church that have allowed this to happen by their failure to subject these Church institutions to any form of internal moral audit.

So what are these institutions that, in practical day to day terms, are even beyond the reach of Popes, Cardinals and Bishops – institutions with such a degree of autonomy that they are able to pay smiling and pious lip-service to the Pope, Curia and Canons of the Church, but, still smiling, lend a deaf ear and carry on as if Pope, Curia and Canons hardly exist at all. Quite simply, they are the Religious Orders of the Catholic Church. These institutions elect their own leaders, write their own Rules, interpret those Rules how they wish, have no geographical interference from – nor owe any allegiance to Bishops, Archbshops and Cardinals. More importantly – in practical terms, they are accountable to no one. Yes, upon the foundation of these Religious Institutions, (mostly many years back in history), their “Rule” would have been approved by the Vatican Congregation for the Religious. Then on in, unless something most exceptional and catastrophically irreligious comes to public attention, they will not be monitored in anything they do.

Yet, these Religious Societies, Congregations, Orders – however they describe themselves – have a total number of members close to one million – which is three times the number of the Catholic diocesan clergy in the world. They manage countless thousands of teaching establishments, hospitals, hospices, youth clubs and youth movements – and remote mission stations in third world countries throughout the globe. They undertake these tasks with children and vulnerable adults on trust – but so many of them falsely belie that trust.

In the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse which recently published its findings, of the ten Religious Orders that were investigated, on average about 14% of their total members were alleged to have committed acts of child abuse. In one Religious Order that figure of abusing Religious clerics was 40.4% – and in another three Orders the figures were over 20%. These shocking statistics cannot be extrapolated to Religious Orders throughout the world, but it appears to be apparent that in some Orders, or perhaps in some communities within Orders, the self-indulgent abuse of minors can become “endemic” to an extent that is not mirrored within the diocesan priesthood. There has to be a reason for this. I cannot make judgements and give witness about all Religious Orders within the Catholic Church, but I can make comment about one Order that I know well.

In the case of the Comboni Missionary Order (previously known as the Verona Fathers) who operated the Mirfield Seminary in Yorkshire, England, from 1960 to the early 1980s, the permanent community of male Religious numbered, at any one time, about ten to twelve Religious including both priests and lay brothers – and for a relatively brief period of time also one layman. Those accused of the sexual abuse of the seminarians there totalled 4 Religious priests, one Religious lay brother under vows and one lay teacher. That is a total of six members of staff against whom allegations of child abuse were made. The numbers are not great, but it has been calculated that something in the region of 1000 incidents of child sexual abuse, each incident a crime in its own right, were perpetrated by those few individuals. Most boys remained silent about the abuse at the time, unaware in their immaturity, what was being perpetrated against them. Within that period, however, some 26 reports of abuse, from amongst the 20 abused boys who have made statements, were reported to members of the Order. In the case of one of the priests 10 reports are claimed to have been made, but no action was taken on those reports for three years. That priest was ultimately incardinated in an Italian parish – where, presumably, he had access to more children. In the case of the second priest, the first reports were made in 1965, but it was not until 1969, following continuous reports, that action was taken against him. After a brief sojourn in London, that priest was sent to Uganda (where he organized Catholic boy Scouts) and then he was transferred to a Mission in South Africa. Another of the priests, when discovered was also sent to the Missions immediately upon discovery – and a fourth followed suit similarly.

Curiously, the pattern of the percentage of the number of Religious at Mirfield who were abusing children was between 10 and 20% of them at any one time – about the same as the average 14% reported in the investigations of the Australian Royal Commission. Another feature in common between Mirfield in England and the Religious Communities in Australia where abuse occurred, is that the abuse was often reported at the time, but no resultant action was taken to protect those children from further abuse. In both cases, thousands of miles apart, reports were made, but ignored. Additionally, it is known in both the Mirfield and Australian cases that often further reports were made to more senior clergy further up the hierarchy, but those reports were also ignored. In the case of some of the abuse at Mirfield, it is known that not only the Provincial Superior of the Order was made aware of the abuse, but also the Superior General of the Order in Italy had been informed. Again no action, as it is even laid out in their own Code of Conduct, was taken – and nor were reports made in accordance with Canon Law to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Nor were reports made to the Civil Police as they were required so to do under the Common Law Act of Misprision that was current at that time. Finally, many of the Religious clerics against whom a modicum of action was eventually taken to stave off an outcry, were simply moved on to another community where they could continue to abuse yet more children. The clear fact of this evidence is that not only was abuse of young seminarians allowed to continue unchecked for years at the seminary, but another eight priests in the Order at the seminary and hierarchy to whom reports of abuse were made did nothing about it at all. Practically speaking, the whole community was complicit in the abuse for years on end.
The lessons to be learned from many multitudes of investigated cases of clerical child sexual abuse within Religious Communities are legion, but the pervasive themes surround a distorted sense of “self” in terms of what they stand for and their dignity – both as individuals and collectively. There is a Canon which in essence states that the Roman Church must never be brought into disrepute. There has probably never been a Canon more misused than this – but misinterpreted it was to ensure that clerical miscreants were protected. To achieve this aim, attention was focused on whom they needed to protect and what damage limitation was required in order to deflect unwelcome criticism. The tactics they utilized both then and today were denial, silence, suggestions that the victim was the instigator, refusal to accept that any harm was done, demanding the silence of the victim, even the expulsion of victims and witnesses on the grounds that they were unsuitable, sending victims away for psychiatric evaluation and causing them to become isolated. Such behaviour is manifestly a concept of elitism in which the abuser’s status must remain intact and unchanged, whilst the abused is made an outcast and is considered to be unworthy.
For a child who has grown up to understand that the abuser could do no wrong such tactics aimed at the self-preservation of the “community” are devastating. The rejection by and isolation of the victim from the very person they once trusted implicitly and from the broader community at large, becomes, in psychological terms, critically and often permanently damaging. For an Institution, Religious or otherwise, which routinely adopts such tactics for their own self-preservation, there is another dimension to the obvious cruel arrogance of their tactics. That is that they themselves have to unlearn the very basic concepts of their Christian morality and substitute it with a newly learned false conscience that absolves them from the shame and guilt of their cruelty. These practices are the basis of arrogant “clericalism” and it is a rife facet of Catholicism about which Pope Francis has been severely critical.
In comparison with the Religious Institutions, it is fairly well established that the Catholic diocesan clergy of most Countries in the developed world are getting their act together. Admittedly, that is not true in the case of all countries as the less developed parts of the globe, specifically in Asia and Africa, often still have cultural difficulties in communicating the issues related to child abuse. Nevertheless, the Jesuit, Father Hans Zollner at the Vatican’s Gregorian University is actively trying to address these issues.

Notwithstanding his efforts, however, the Roman Curia has a blind spot – and that is the Religious Orders of the Church. Specifically, we are not talking of the historic Religious Orders – the Benedictines, Carthusians, Carmelites, Dominicans etc who mostly live in closed or semi-closed communities. The Vatican blind spot is the unaccountable conduct of the multitude of Religious Societies that globe-trot the world running missions, schools, medical facilities and youth organizations.
Sadly – and this is not an after-thought, but a deliberate statement – the United Kingdom’s Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has learned nothing from the Catholic world around them. Rather, they have ignored the facts of the Australian Inquiry – and others – and in investigating only the Diocesan Church structures and one historic “monastic” Order of the Catholic Church in the United Kingdom (the Benedictines), they have blinded themselves, as has the Vatican, to the most pressing issue that confronts the problem of child abuse within the Catholic Church. That issue is the autonomous nature of the Religious Societies that roam the globe. Those Societies have total autonomy from the Diocesan Bishops – who are largely beginning to get a grip on the issues and are active in putting robust measures in place to protect children and adequately deal with the perpetrators of abuse.

However, the Superior Generals of the Religious Societies have the same authority over their members as have the Bishops over their diocesan clergy – but they report to no equivalent of a Bishops’ Conference where an Archbishop, who often has a direct input with the Vatican, holds sway. The Religious Societies have only one global institution in which they participate and that is the Union of Superiors’ General at the Vatican in Rome. That Union’s General Secretary, Father David Glenday, was a contemporary of most of the child victims of sexual abuse at the Comboni Missionary Order’s Seminary in Yorkshire England. He is also a former Superior General of the Comboni Missionary Order. He wrote that Order’s Code of Conduct to which that Order merely pays lip service. He was also involved directly in a failure to report an instance of clerical sexual abuse to the Vatican and providing the abusing cleric with immunity from civil prosecution. Considering those facts, he is probably the least appropriate person to be giving guidance to the worlds Superior Generals on matters concerning the sexual abuse of children in Catholic institutions.
By not determining the Comboni Missionary Order to be a “Case Study” in the UK Inquiry and insisting on the presence of Father David Glenday, a British citizen before her Inquiry, Professor Alexis Jay is ignoring the lessons to be learned from the modus operandi of the multitudinous Religious Institutions that roam the Catholic Church throughout the world – and who also work within the United Kingdom. Those institutions control 75% of all the clerics of the global Roman Catholic Church. As such, those same global Religious Orders have control over the thousands upon thousands of Catholic educational and welfare institutions that they sponsor and directly administer – and the millions of young Catholics who attend them. A direct consequence of the decision made by Professor Alexis Jay to exclude the Comboni Missionary Order from a Case Study by the Inquiry is that the validity of the IICSA Findings in the Roman Catholic Church Investigation will be numerically reduced to a mere 25% of their full potential. That is unacceptable.

CLERICAL CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE AND THE ROLE OF RELIGIOUS ORDERS OF MEN AND WOMEN IN THE MISSION COUNTRIES – By Brian Mark Hennessy

CLERICAL CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE AND THE ROLE OF

RELIGIOUS ORDERS OF MEN AND WOMEN IN THE MISSION COUNTRIES

By Carol Glatz writing for the Catholic News Service

In a continuing effort to protect children, the Catholic Church’s focus is now turning to religious orders of men and women. Much of the attention has, in the past, been on how dioceses and national bishops’ conferences have been responding to victims and protecting children. But, religious orders and congregations are sometimes left out of that picture, even though they, too, have a duty to make sure every person in their care is safe. Also, the majority of the more than 300,000 Catholic schools and orphanages around the world are run by religious brothers and sisters whose charisms are to promote human dignity and Gospel values.

Pope Francis last year authorized the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to investigate and judge claims of “abuse of office” by bishops who allegedly failed to protect minors and vulnerable adults from sex abuse. But that form of censure “wasn’t extended to the superior generals (of the Missionary Congregations), and it should be,” said Father John Fogarty, superior general of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit. Canon Law and the complementary Vatican norms regarding this field “refer only to clergy” — bishops, priests and deacons — said Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, president of the Center for Child Protection at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University.

While the Vatican’s doctrinal congregation asked the bishops’ conferences to develop guidelines and procedures on how they are adhered to by local bishops, he said religious brothers, religious seminarians before ordination or religious sisters are in a league of their own, and the canonical practice is different. Each religious order or congregation establishes its own policies, he said. And while some may have a set of guidelines for their whole congregation, in others, each province or region is in charge of setting up safeguarding guidelines, Father Zollner told Catholic News Service.

Father Fogarty said his “first priority” after being elected superior of the Spiritans in 2012 was to establish comprehensive guidelines and then ask each of the order’s provinces and regions to draw up procedures that would protect children and respect local laws and customs. “Not everyone is at the same point on the learning curve,” he said. But his experience working for the province in Ireland and as provincial superior in the United States “was very helpful for me for formulating policy,” said the Dublin-born missionary. He was surrounded by “lots of accumulated wisdom, lots of workshops, all the latest insights and reports,” he said. Since each local superior of his order is responsible for his territory, Father Fogarty said he uses his role “to work with the superiors” and get them all “on the same wavelength.” Not everyone in every part of the world is “at the same point” in recognizing the need to protect and care for children and survivors; “our job is to get them there, put pressure on them to produce adequate policies, procedures, hold workshops” and use every “means at our disposal” to spread awareness and resources. When new superiors meet in Rome each year, one session is dedicated to safeguarding norms, Father Fogarty said. When leaders don’t draw up procedures or get informed, he said, “we can urge them” to, “but we can’t do it in their place. We can’t replace (the local superior).”

The need to have adequate protection policies and procedures in place for religious orders is urgent since they are present in so many countries around the globe, said Mark Vincent Healy, an advocate in Ireland for services and care for survivors of child sexual abuse. For example, of the 48 Spiritan priests noted in Ireland’s National Board for Safeguarding Children’s audit in 2012 as accused of abuse in Ireland, half of them had also served in other countries, including the United States, Canada, Sierra Leone and Kenya, Healy has said. In Healy’s situation, the Spiritan priest who abused him at the school the order ran in Ireland was transferred to a Spiritan-run school in Sierra Leone, where he allegedly abused again before being convicted in Ireland and laicized. Healy’s case was handled in Ireland — the country where the abuse occurred — but, he said, victims of Irish missionaries in other countries, particularly Africa, lack clear or any channels at all for reporting and redress.

The church already responds to the psychological, emotional and spiritual fallout of victims of war in many of those countries, Healy said, so why not extend that same care and concern to victims of abuse by its own members. Healy said he was looking at ways the order and the church as a whole could provide services across jurisdictions, especially “in countries where there are no structures” to help survivors and communities. One proposal, which he also discussed with Father Fogarty, was the creation of a global network modeled after Doctors Without Borders. Instead of addressing physical harm, the network could specialize in delivering mental health care services to people suffering from trauma caused by war, civil conflicts and abuse in underdeveloped nations. By offering comprehensive mental health services, perhaps “you can alleviate the suffering and bring some function back to a dysfunctional society. Otherwise, violence will just repeat itself,” Healy said.

Father Zollner said that in some places in Asia and parts of Africa, the Catholic Church “is the organization that is doing more to safeguard minors than other groups.” In some areas, he said, “if you didn’t have the church, you would have nothing there” to look after and care for the most vulnerable. One example, he said, is Bishop Emanuel Barbara of Malindi, Kenya. The bishop, who’s a Capuchin priest from Malta, “set up the first help desk in the whole country” for victims of the sex-tourism industry there. “All the others, including those who legitimately have the power, just look away from the problem, there is much money involved,” Father Zollner said. With one in five children in Europe expected to be victims of some form of abuse, according to the Council of Europe, and global estimates reporting 40 million children are subjected to abuse each year, many child protection advocates want to see more action and cooperation among all sectors of society. “If the Catholic Church can address it, then the larger human family can, too,” Healy said. The church can’t keep being seen as sole perpetrator and healer “because that’s not working.”

 

Notes by Brian Mark Hennessy:

> The above article raises many issues known already to the Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse at the hands of Clerics of the Comboni Missionary Order at the Mirfield Seminary in Yorkshire, England. Specifically, information contained in that Order’s own historical archive refers to a conversation between a Provincial of the Order and the Superior General who said, “Dear Father. many of our Order think that if they had behaved less well they would have been granted their desire to go to the missions and so they feel betrayed (when prevented from going). Should we be responsible for creating the idea that only the maladjusted are sent to the Missions?”. Moreover, of those clerics whose abuse was reported at the time by seminarians on 29 known occasions, two of those clerics were sent to the missions – one to South Africa and one to Uganda and the third was incardinated into a diocesan parish in Italy. Another priest against whom allegations have been made has been located in Mozambique for many decades. No sign of consideration to other children with whom these clerics came into contact appears to have been considered at all. The re-allocations of those clerics appeared to be related more to removing those clerics from the United Kingdom legal jurisdiction as fast as practically possible.

> Father Zollner may be familiar to some readers. Mark Murry met Father Zollner on the occasion of Mark’s invitation to the Vatican to speak on the effects of abuse that he suffered at the hands of a priest of the Comboni Missionary Order when Mark was a thirteen-year-old seminarian at the Mirfield Seminary. Father Zollner later contributed to an article that appeared in this forum. The priest who has admitted that he abused Mark Murray remains within the Comboni Missionary Order at the Verona Mother House under the protection of the Order. It is believed that no reports have ever been made to the Vatican regarding this priests admissions of abuse under either Canon Law or the Motu Proprio, ‘Sacramentorum Sanctitatus’ which are mandatory reports to be made by Bishops concerning diocesan priests.  All attempts to extradite the cleric to the United Kingdom have, so far, failed. It is also of note that just before Mark Murray attended the Vatican Meeting, the Comboni Missionary Order appeared to attempt to scare off Mark Murray from entering Italy and addressing the Vatican meeting. They did this by the issue of a summons through the Verona Criminal Tribunal on what turned out to be totally unfounded charges. Mark, however, was not deterred and made his presentation to the world assembly of Representatives.

> It is of further interest that it is common that clerics whose abuse of children is fully documented, are not reported to civil authorities as a matter of routine practice by either Bishops or General Superiors. This situation pertains despite calls from such notable Vatican figures as Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, Member of the Pope’s personal Advisory Council, Member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Chair of the Pontifical Commission on the Protection of Minors – to the effect that all child sexual abuse should be reported to the Civil Police by Bishops and Religious Superiors in every instance as a basic “moral duty”.

> Recently Reports have appeared in the Vatican press to the effect that Pope Francis’ recent call, just a few weeks ago, for “no tolerance” to be shown to clerics who abuse children was little more than “whispers in the wind”. In the last week, the very same Pope has called for “mercy” to be shown to those same priests – who have demonstrated no such mercy whatsoever to innocents – many of whom were brutally and repeatedly abused and who subsequently have continued in adulthood to suffer the lifelong effects of that abuse. According to one commentator in the last week, Pope Francis’ “no tolerance” has so far applied to only 25% of priests determined to be guilty of child sexual abuse, but the remaining 75% have been granted “mercy” with no loss of clerical dignity nor privileges. If these figures are verifiable, then someone needs to point out to Pope Francis that his “no tolerance” call was outrageously misleading – and neither the 1.2 billion lay Catholics in this world who are “sick to the teeth” of the Vatican’s failure to manage the problem of the clerical sexual abuse of minors appropriately – let alone everybody else in the world watching with wry smiles on their faces and in total disbelief– will ever believe anything this Pope, or his princely Vatican entourage, ever say in the future.

> Finally – in the question of the Rules of Missionary Congregations, it has to be said that in matters of Child abuse, the Rules of the Comboni Missionary Order, despite my many misgivings, are “reasonably” sound “as written”. They were revised in 2005, by none other than a childhood friend of mine, David Glenday, to reflect the changing winds. Those Rules even allow for individual provinces of the Order to reflect local civil laws and the rules of the Conference of Diocesan Bishops that pertain to their geographical location. Great! However, the problem is, upon my very close inspection of those Rules, that, in practice, the Comboni Missionary Order in the United Kingdom and the Irish Republic, have ignored their own Rules totally. Yes – totally in every detail. In addition, they refused attempts by the Former Chair of the United Kingdom’s Catholic Safeguarding Organisation to encourage them back into line. It has to be said also, as a final comment on the lack of commitment by the Comboni Missionary Order to the issues of clerical child sexual abuse and the care of Victims, that even after the acceptance of the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster’s Diocesan Rules and Guidelines by the Religious Conference of England and Wales – to which august organization the Provincial Superior of the Comboni Missionary Order is the Secretary (at the last time I looked) – the Order’s “tolerance” of those Diocesan Rules is 0%. Someone needs to tell them that they have misunderstood Pope Francis’ call for “no tolerance”. In respect to the Rules, the “tolerance” level is expected to be 100%. Pope Francis’ call for “no tolerance” relates to the manner in which the Order is expected to deal with those paedophile priests, still in their midst, whom they have protected for decades. 

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE MORAL CONSCIENCE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH? by Brian Mark Hennessy

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE MORAL CONSCIENCE

OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH?

 

Mark Twain once said, A clear conscience is the sure sign of a bad memory”! He was being mischievous of course. His intention was not to utter a literal truism, but to say something that we all learn in childhood, sometimes painfully, which is that now and then “our clear conscience” is a matter of convenient, feigned memory loss to cover an inconvenient known truth. When I was a Boy Scout, getting caught up a tree trying to rescue a non-existent cat whilst in the act of “scrumping” apples was where I learned that lesson. The problem is, when it comes to “conscience” many people do not truly understand what it is and how we each came to have one?

What is a fundamental truth is that we were not born with an inherited “conscience”. There is no “conscience” gene implanted within us by an extraterrestrial “being”. The cerebrum, which is the inherited genetic organ of our intelligence, nevertheless, has a part to play in forming “conscience” because it is integral to the sense of our “consciousness” and gradually provides us with an awareness of “self” and “other” as we grow in early childhood. Our cerebral ability to observe and learn assists us in the assimilation of our environment, including our physical surroundings, our parents, extended family and the boundaries that exist in all interactions, both mental and physical during play, education and within society at large.

In the process we understand gradually what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior and what are the limits beyond which we should not go. The learning process is continuous and it includes the norms of behavior in a complete and complex culture – down to whether or not it is appropriate to drive on the right or the left hand side of the road. Abstract aspects of culture are also learned – as for example the necessity to tell the “Truth” – and that necessity comes from an awareness that you will not be accepted by society if you are unreliable. “Truth”, indeed, is so fundamental to co-existence and good order within a society that an individual or group will be rapidly and permanently ostracized from other networks of interacting individuals within a community if an act of lying or deception is exposed. Implicitly, therefore, each person’s unique conscience is a learned “rule book”. Of course, in different cultures with different social mores and religious norms – whole groups of individuals will have a distinct set of conventions that have a bearing on their collective “conscience”, but they will also have a more general code of conduct, influenced by universal humanity. That code has been specifically devised to ensure our essential adaptation as individuals to living within a safe and harmonious extended society. In this context, the conscience is not specifically a vehicle of moral discernment, but a guide to the essential needs of “survival” in a complex world.

The position of the Catholic Church on “conscience” is not at odds with the above as a “general” theory. St Thomas Aquinas said in his “Summa Theologiae” – if I can deduce anything he said to a few words – that conscience is the “learned habits of the mind”. The Church today regards conscience as a “remarkable and distinctly human facility of our reason”. However, they emphasise one aspect of “conscience” by suggesting that its function is primarily to enable individuals to make “moral” judgements – and it is thus a reminder to us of the difference between good and evil. The proof of that pudding, they claim, is that we have a “guilty conscience” if we knowingly choose what they consider to be the “immoral” option. The Catholic Church further believes that an already formed set of learned habits may be faulty, even immoral, and thus each Catholic, in his or her own way, must take dutiful steps to form a new “moral” conscience in the light of the teachings of Jesus Christ and the examples of the Saints and Martyrs. Individuals can do that by learning and taking to heart the “moral” law, as found in the authoritative teachings of the Catholic Church. This forms an objective “moral conscience”, they claim.

Currently, in the United Kingdom, the Government is endeavoring to increase the numbers of “non-faith” or “other faith” children within Catholic Schools. The Catholic Church’s current robust determination to maintain Catholic Faith Schools primarily for Catholic children – coupled with the historic priority they have given to teaching the Catechism – should be understood as a major part of the Church Hierarchy’s aim to ensure that Catholic “consciences” are specifically formed in the light of their teachings alone. The Catholic Hierarchy perceives, correctly of course, that exclusivity of Catholic children in their schools is the only way that they will be able to ensure each individual child’s continued membership in the Church in the future. If you are a sceptic – it will ensure their future financial support also. It would not be a surprise to learn that this is a model that the Catholic Church mirrors throughout the world. Being that children are unable to make a choice about their own schooling, the process is rightly described as “indoctrination” – but then the complete process of all choices of parenting can be seen in the same vein.

Conversely, I should of course note in passing, that if the moral habits of the mind can be learned, then they can also be un-learned – and replaced over time by what the Catholic Church would most probably describe as “immoral” or “evil” habits. In any such a process of transition there will be continuous inner conflict until one set of norms dominates the mind. Such conflict is manifest in the minds of many today, particularly the youth of this world, who seek to throw off the shackles of Catholic Church teachings in order to embrace their perceived or true, innate natures. Examples of individuals who, out of necessity need to embark on this process of painful conscience re-orientation, are homosexual gays and lesbians and transgender persons.

Now we are getting to the “nitty gritty” of this tome – and that is that there are many matters of universal concern where the Catholic Church and the Civil jurisdictions of this world appear to be polarized at the opposite ends of a spectrum on moral issues. This should not happen in an increasingly “joined up” intellectual and scientific world with global institutions that have clearly defined aims in the matter of Human Rights. Nevertheless, a case in point are the differences between how the Catholic Church and the civil institutions of this world manage, in practice, the grave matter of child sexual abuse. I say “manage in practice” quite deliberately because, despite what the Pope or Vatican might declare publicly, many Bishops and hierarchs of Religious Orders often manage such issues with blatant indifference – not just to the will of civil jurisdictions, but of the Pope also.

There are many examples I could give, but I state once again the most obvious example that relates to this blog. Namely, whereas Pope Francis states that there is no place for clerics who abuse children in the Catholic Church, the Comboni Missionary Order of Verona Italy have given sanctuary to and protected a known, alleged paedophile priest for two decades within their Italian Religious House at Verona – and have no intention of handing him over to the UK Civil Legal Jurisdiction – namely the UK Crown Prosecution Service – who want to question this cleric regarding his alleged crimes. Such arrogance cannot be classified as a “difference of opinion” on how to pursue the matter. The startling and profound disjunct in attitude of this Catholic Church Religious Order, with the expressed will of both Pope and State jurisdictions at every level from the UN Human Rights Committee right down to the civil law authorities, is bulldozing a growing chasm right within the Catholic Church itself. There, the relatively small Hierarchical, Clerical Church is at extreme odds with the vastly more numerous Lay Catholic Church.

The Clerics will always blame the “secularization” of the lay church for this upheaval, no doubt, but that is clutching at straws. To quote Mary Gail Frawley-O’Dea, an American psychologist who has been working with abused children for thirty years: “Church officials lied, denied and projected blame on victims, parents of victims, a sexually liberated and sexualized culture, bad apple priests, the ’60s, the media. They had seen the enemy and it was not them”. The unsurprising result of this sad state of “moral blindness” is that there is a profound mistrust amongst the Catholic Church lay community of the ability of clerics to “care for their kids” and appropriately deal with predator priests. This situation has provoked many lay Catholics into walking away from the Catholic Church. The growing “mistrust” of clerics – and not just those guilty of abusing children, but also the complicit superiors who have hidden the abuse from sight – has caused a rupture and a broadening “schism” between Catholic clerics and Catholic laity.

The distinction between the two groups (clerical and lay) of the Catholic Church is very much more fundamental than having been caused by the process of “secularization”. It comes back to the formation of “conscience” – and the conscience that drives the Catholic Hierarchical Clerical Church forward has become warped by an arrogant and immoral self-belief in their function, worth and stature within the Universal Catholic Church itself. They have literally “self-taught” themselves a “false conscience” by mutually reinforcing their perceived, but misconceived, unique status within the Church – and this has created within their consciences a false sense of impunity from all criticism. In their minds, they have become “above” the law.

St Thomas Aquinas, one of their undisputed Doctors of Church theology, if not the most significant, does not agree. Perhaps the modern-day clerics of the Church need to revise their knowledge of his Summa Theologiae in the light of his declaration that “due obedience is to be given to the civilian power when there is no moral issue that precludes so doing”. In the discussion of a moral issue in the case of child sexual abuse, the need to report the matter to the civil authorities is not a matter of debate, but an overwhelming necessity. The neglect so to do within the Catholic Church points to a lack of moral self-scrutiny within the Church regarding one of the most essential elements of universal harmony, which is the need to be open and to tell the “Truth”. Implicit within the process of telling the “Truth” is the process of providing “Justice” where crimes have been committed. The forgotten victims in this matter are the young, gullible, innocent children who were cruelly abused by subversive and powerful, adult, paedophile priests who continue to be given “Sanctuary” within the walls of Religious Orders and Diocesan Bishops’ domains.

The often-appalling lack of management by Bishops and Religious hierarchs of the criminal, clerical, child sexual abusers in their midst – their failure to accept the necessity to subject these criminals to the justice procedures of civil jurisdictions and their harsh and often belittling treatment of the Survivors of child sexual abuse are the root causes for the increasing lack of trust and alienation that the lay Church has for the Hierarchical Clerical Church. If it is a fact that “conscience is learned” – then it is starkly evident that the Catholic Church Clerical Hierarchy, as a whole, has been found to have substituted the Scripture’s moral laws of truth, humility, justice, charity and the cherishment of infants with their own brand of elitist, false morality – which is based on narcissistic impunity, arrogance and sometimes avarice too. This lack of “Truth” within the Church has ostracized the Hierarchical Clerical Church from the broader World Society. As I mentioned above, “Truth” is so essential to co-existence and good order within a society that an individual or group will be ostracized permanently if any untruthfulness or deceit is exposed. That goes for institutions such as the Catholic Church as well. So, how has the Catholic Church come to this miserable state of losing its “moral conscience”?

Well, if you think of the Catholic Church as the amorphous, top-down stucture that it is, then it opens up a number of possibilities for analysis. Firstly, the Vatican does not consider itself to be accountable to anyone on this earth. It is not a “trading nation”, but it has an unending source of money garnered annually from donations and from undisclosed, but significant worldwide investments in property and other portfolios. It is a closed and secretive establishment that makes all its own rules without having to rub off the hard edges in negotiations with other societies and individuals who are not members of its own elite institution. It has a dogmatic set of Rules that are to be obeyed implicitly by its followers. In effect, as it is without a process of open, two-sided litigation, it decides who is “in” and who is “out” by having a useful tool for those who do not fully agree with them – and it is called “excommunication”. In effect, at the top end, it is akin to an exclusive “rich men’s only” club in which the top job is put to the vote of a small number of just seventy or so male “Cardinals” – appointed solely by the whim of the previous Pope out of its global half a million exclusively male priest followers. The latter, in turn, administer the needs of a world-wide lay membership of some 1.2 billion adherents – who, somewhat surprisingly, if you think about it, have no say whatsoever. The perpetuation of such a “club” depends on absolute loyalty. When that loyalty is threatened, as it has been, by attempts to cover up the corruption within the walls of the Hierarchical Clerical Church by deceit – then the tail of that Church, (id est: the 1.2 billion laypersons), will either start to wag more and more furiously until the head wonders why – or they will simply hand in their membership cards.

For the moment, loyalty is ebbing away fast because non-clerical ordinary folk like me treasure our kids and our grand-kids – and we have scant regard for those who would abuse them. We have even less regard for those in the Hierarchy of the Church who would rather protect their criminal paedophiles and lie to us than do anything more positive about it. They do so at their peril, for like it or not, the 1.2 billion supporters of their extravagant lifestyles have already started to walk away from their Church doors – and they will keep walking, in the short term at least, because they hold out no hope of determined reform. Eventually, if they still see no change, they will readily pull the plug and stand by whilst the Church goes down the Vatican’s drain into the Tiber.

How did we come to such a moment? The answer is simple: the Catholic Hierarchical Clerical Church has failed in their ability to discern their moral conscience. Their pretence of having a “clear conscience” will not do. It is a moment for choices – and there is only one choice that will save them. That is to start the process to unlearn that “grotesque conscience” that they have acquired and which is devoid of any concept of Christian, Scriptural morality – and start the process of re-learning a “moral conscience”, based on the Gospels of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, all over again and from the very, very beginning.