UK Rosminian Head on Sex Abuse: “Morally Speaking Compensation would be Wrong”

…I will not be video-ed and edited for the programme, about Soni and Grace Dieu.

…I have decided to follow the advice given in the book of Lamentations: ‘It is good to wait in silence’ 3:16

So writes Father David Myers, Provincial Superior in the UK of the Rosminian Fathers (or Institute of Charity), concerning his decision not to participate in a documentary about clerical abuse that was broadcast on BBC television last night. St Michael’s School in Soni and Grace Dieu were two schools run by the order – the former in Tanganyika and the latter in Leicestershire – where children were terrorised by sadistic and paedophile priests forty to fifty years ago.

The documentary, Abused: Breaking the Silence (produced and presented by Olenka Frenkiel), explained that a group of victims contacted Myers in 2010 (although he had received at least one complaint prior to this, in 2007, according to a screenshot of a letter in the programme at 20:57); Myers arranged a meeting at St Etheldreda’s Church in London, and for the elderly abusive priests to write letters of contrition. Myers assured the victims that the priests concerned “are not allowed to represent themselves as priests in public”; that they had signed a document “stating that they are not priests in good standing”; that they would receive six-monthly visits from a child protection officer; and that local police had “been informed” and would perform “spot checks”. Other members of the order would also be informed. One of the guilty priests was Kit Cunningham, himself the former priest of St Etheldreda’s Church and a popular public figure; Cunningham quietly returned an MBE, asking for no publicity, several months before he died at the end of 2010.

However, Myers’ subsequent decisions all appear to have be the most convenient courses for action for himself and for the order: the order’s archives have been closed to public scrutiny, and he provided Kit Cunningham with a celebratory memorial service that buried the true facts about him and consolidated his public reputation. As well as the passive-aggressive response to the BBC’s request for an interview (“I will not be video-ed and edited”), Myers also chose to lecture the victims on the morality of their wish for compensation in a similar tone:

I have always acknowledged that in civil in civil law, you have a right to seek compensation. I would be blind not to. But it is another matter whether you have a moral right to so so. No-one has yet attempted to answer my question why innocent people today should be made to suffer by the wrongs done by somebody else in some cases. Until someone is able to give me a convincing moral argument on this point, I remain of the opinion that that morally speaking compensation would be wrong.

Myers’ choice of Biblical passage to take as guidance is of a piece with this general attitude. I’m sure we can all think of some more appropriate alternative verses.

(All quotes taken from screenshots in the programme)

36 Responses

  1. Myers’ response is morally disgusting. Cunningham used his position as unofficial ‘chaplain’ to the Catholic Herald and as the ‘priest’ behind the Keys, the club for elite Catholic journalists, to attempt to destroy any journalist who attempted to write about paedophile scandals in the Church. And now we all know why….

    • Please tell us more about this

      • I am very puzzled by the bitter comments by Ruth Gledhill,daughter of the Bishop of Lichfield.
        I was very close to Father Kit Cunningham during those years and regularly attended meetings of “The Keys” in the crypt of St.Etheldreda’s. For six years, I had an office in the church precincts.
        Pace the “evidence” of paedophila,which will now never be subjected to the test of “beyond reasonable doubt” in criminal proceedings,but rather the “balance of probabilities”of civil proceeds,Kit was very obviously heterosexual. I vividly remember his telling me in his office that Ruth Gledhill was employed by The Times as their ballroom correspondent,in the period when religious journalism clearly had low status,but he never expressed any negative opinion of her work….he clearly found her physically attractive !
        The notion that Kit intended to “destroy” her work,whether ballroom or religious, is clearly a figment of Gledhill’s febrile imagination.

  2. my son was educated by the Rosmini’s in Ireland. He was not abused by them. By saying this I am not saying he is in the majority, I believe the memories of the men who were abused by the Church, and the women’s memories. We must ensure that our children and their children always have a voice to out the abusers in this world be they in the secular world or in the Church. We have a responsibility to the world’s children that abuse in any form is eradicated from the earth. Each of us has a personal responsibility to own up to any abusing we may have done and deal with the consequences of those actions in human justice. We will all be judged and if we have not admitted our wrongs we won’t be living eternally, mayhap (?) It is not for me to judge.

  3. Let nobody call this a case of a few bad priests acting against the orders of the church. Even the Catholic Herald (not a paper noted for publishing negative stories about the Catholic Church) has nearly 60 articles tagged “clerical abuse crisis”, describing cases from UK, Tanzania, Canada, Kenya, USA, Ireland, Belgium, Netherlands, Australia, Austria, Germany and probably a few other places that I have missed.

    It is time to realise that this is, if not normal behaviour by priests, at least distressingly common.

    It is not a problem of just the way some seminary or other has trained its priests, it is worldwide.

    It is not a problem of sexual licence introduced to the world in the 1960s, it has been going on much longer than that.

    It is not a problem of a few rotten apples, it is too widespread for that.

    It is not a problem of homosexuality, some abusers (Cunningham himself for instance) were heterosexual.

    It is not a problem of liberalism, abuse was going on before Vatican II.

    It is not a problem of celibacy, outside the priesthood there are abusers who are married or in a regular sexual relationship.

    So dump all the excuses that have been trotted out to explain away the problem, they are all bunk.

    Of course, this individual example of the problem is going to have to be resolved in a way that offers some degree of justice and healing to the victims. It is tragic and scandalous that Fr Myers and the Rosminians are digging their heels in against this.

    But the wider causes of the problem must be addressed, and real effort put into introducing proper child protection measures everywhere in the church, and more importantly, establishing a culture of awareness and zero tolerance.

    No more saying “Oh, but Fr Kit was a wonderful priest who brought lots of people to the faith”, as if that excuses his actions. It doesn’t.

    No more saying “Fr XYZ would never do such a thing” and so failing to pass on a report or allegation of abuse. We know that priests – even very prominent priests – can do such a thing.

    No more of the attitude that equates reporting abuse with an attack on the priesthood or on the church itself, unless you want the church to be in a position where it institutionalises the defence and protection of paedophiles and sexual abusers.

    That such a prominent priest as Fr Kit Cunningham, who knew everybody who was anybody in London Catholic circles, should have been revealed to be an abuser will be making a lot of people feel awfully foolish and betrayed today. Let this be a wake-up call. Abuse isn’t something that only affects other people and places. Nobody can be treated as being above suspicion, and robust protection measures are needed to ensure that any abuse that happens near you is detected quickly and stopped immediately. That is happening in some places, but not nearly enough.

  4. “It is time to realise that this is, if not normal behaviour by priests, at least distressingly common.”

    Actually the statistics and research all indicate that this is extremely uncommon — a child is much more likely to be abused by a secular school teacher than a priest or religious brother.

  5. The answer to Myers’s request for a moral argument is simple: just as organizations such as the Rosminian Fathers are legal persons, so they are moral persons too, and hence liable for past institutional offences. Organizations can be morally good and they can be morally bad, and they can be morally liable for compensation for their crimes. It is surely obvious that the Nazi Party, for example, was an institution that was morally bad and morally responsible for crimes.

  6. The US Catholic Bishops’ sponsored report, published just a few weeks ago, and seen by some as a cover-up, nevertheless gave a figure of 5% of priests in the US connected with some form of abuse. It is very sad for the other 95% who have all been besmirched, but 1 in 20 is an amazingly high number for a group of men, all who have chosen in a sense to be professional Christian clergy, who have been through training and formation and who were supposed to be models.

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  8. Contrary to Anthony Weaver’s comment above, Ruth Gledhill is not the daughter of the Bishop of Lichfield. The Bishop was born on 14 February 1949, and Ruth was born in 1959.

  9. Sure darling……….
    Was I right about Gledhill starting out on The Times as their ballroom correspondent ?
    Right or Wrong ?

    • Whether correct or not, your comment merely shows smallmindedness and a complete lack of understanding of how journalists’ careers often develop. You must be a very minor sort of person to try to create a sideshow rather than address the issue of child abuse under Catholci auspices.

      • I am very minor………..
        I had only a minor role when I flew to Dublin for my old friend Kit’s funeral at Drumcondra last December
        and I had only a minor role in reading the Bidding Prayers at his memorial service,which in our Catholic tradition is to pray for the soul,not celebrate the life or achievements……….
        Paedophila can never be cured, we are told by experts………..
        If Kit was a paedophile in Tanzania,why was there never any sign of it during his thirty years in London ?
        Why did the “victims” of Grace Dieu not involve Leicestershire Police in a criminal prosecution,as has happened with other Catholic schools? Could it be because the criminal process involves the test of “beyond reasonable doubt”, rather than the civil test of “on balance of probabilities” ?
        A criminal process would involve the plaintiffs being subjected to forensic questioning by a criminal barrister………No questions can now be asked and the legal principle of “Audi Alterem Partem ” has been ditched.
        We are not required to agree withe the “other side”, but we are always required, even when magistrates grant a late alcohol licence to a bar, to listen to the other side………..all of this disappears when the smear word paedophilia is mentioned………. The blogs which have appeared after the programme reveal that people feel they have been given permission to hate………..
        Why did the BBC programme make no mention of the six “victims” who have declared they want no part of the money-trousering civil litigation ?
        Why did Kit always make his way to the Tanzania stand at World Travel Market each year,whether at Earl’s Court,or Excel,accompanied by me, to ask about the families he had known when teaching? Is that the behaviour of someone wanting to forget his “victims” ?
        It is clear to me that forced anal or oral penetration by an abuser would lead to lasting trauma………
        Notice that neither of these were alleged in the programme…….
        No one will convince me that the fumblings alleged,however shocking and however much a gross abuse of power,could lead to lasting trauma.
        The trauma of divorce would always be more damaging for a child.
        The “victims” in the BBC programme got their act together shortly after learnng of a separate payment of compensation by the Rosminian congregation in Ireland………….
        The more trauma, the more compensation….hence the crocodile tears………….
        Just a few minor comments………….
        Having seen the programme, I would fly to Dublin again if I had to.
        But then, people tell me I am in denial……….
        Or perhaps defending my old friend renders me a paedophile too ???

      • It is clear to me that forced anal or oral penetration by an abuser would lead to lasting trauma………
        Notice that neither of these were alleged in the programme…….
        No one will convince me that the fumblings alleged,however shocking and however much a gross abuse of power,could lead to lasting trauma.
        The trauma of divorce would always be more damaging for a child.

        You stupid, ignorant prick. Do you realise that you have just tried to defend kiddy-fiddling because your old friend, the priest, turn out to be a pedo.

        There is no defence for the actions of you friend and other pedo priests. NO DEFENCE. You are a sick piece of work.

    • Wrong. I joined The Times in 1987, became religion correspondent a couple of years later and was never ballroom dancing correspondent.I did write about a dozen stories on ballroom dancing at a time when I was involved in competitive dancesport. This was before the paedophile issue became front page news. To choose those few stories to characterise a career at The Times that has spanned well over two decades is further evidence of the sexist and misogynistic outlook that has surfaced in some comments here. ‘I know how to belittle her. Call her the ballroom dancing correspondent. Tee hee.’ Anthony, I am praying for you, that one day you might know enlightenment. And I am still praying for my enemies, even though after a lot of spiritual discipline I have now forgiven them.

  10. Far. Kit admitted it in letters he wrote to those he abused, so you are in denial.

    Most of the abuse seems to have involved fondling. Very few acts would leave a mark for years, and very few of the clericlabuse cases seem to involved anal sex. Touching and some for of oral sex are much more common.

    I don’t think Fr. Myers deserves all the opprobrium he is getting: I can see that it is his duty to protect his order.

    As to litigation. I share some of your concerns, but there seems to be no other way to deal with the blatant efforts at cover-up by both order hierarchies and diocesan leaders.

    As to paedophilia as an incurable disease, it does indeed seem that some are incorrigible, but not all. People age, their sexualities change, and they may acquire more control. Not all sex offenders reoffend.

    Still, none of this this has anything to do with you attacks on Ruth, who is a fine reporter. Perhaps more to the point, in her blog, as opposed to her news items, she demonstrates a most Christian effort to loev other people.

    Compare this with Damian Thompson – clearly a brilliant man, but whose columns are full of vituperation, invective, and conspiracy theories.

  11. I may well be in denial.
    Anthony Blunt, Keeper of the Queen’s Pictures and spy, chose loyalty to his friends above loyalty to his country.
    I am opting for loyalty to my dear friend Kit Cunningham above loyalty to the seemingly universal received “wisdom” about child “abuse”.
    My first teaching job,in 1970, was at De la Salle Colllege,Sheffield,a direct-grant boys’ grammar school run by the De La Salle brothers.
    It was not a happy year and the school was closed down later,but the culture of that time was to cane boys to maintain discipline. I feel shame at the cowardice involved in caning boys of 11 or 12, but never the boys of 15 or 16,who would have been my size. I fell in with the practice,believing my peer group in the staffroom that it was essential to maintain discipline.
    Imagine I received a letter tomorrow from one of those boys I caned forty years ago…………
    I might well write a letter expressing regret and such a letter could be used against me.
    But at least with my caning,we would have a fairly accurate idea of what I was apologising for…………………
    You say, Mr.Halsall, that Kit admitted “IT”. WHAT ????????
    The devil is in the detail……….
    Consider for a minute physical assault……….we have a whole hierarchy of offences,rising in gravity :
    common assault
    actual bodily harm
    grievous bodily harm
    gbh with intent
    malicious wounding
    wounding with intent etc. etc.

    No one in their right mind would use the generic term “Asault” to cover that spectrum of offences………
    BUT, with SEXUAL ASSAULT, we are expected to know what the term means! WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
    forced oral penetration?
    fondling someone’s knee?
    fondling someone’s genitalia ?
    forced masturbation?

    Surely, some of these activities are more serious than others ????
    If so, why do we not insist on knowing, in terms, what the “assault” consisted of ?
    So, when you say Kit admitted IT, what exactly is the IT ??????

    Uppaltaylor of Nottingham (“Click here for our Child Abuse Online Form”) will be working for big compensation.
    Is it too personal a question to ask what the plaintiffs will do with their money? Or can we ask personal questions only about Fr.Kit ?
    None of my business, you may say, but I will press on with my role as devil’s advocate and ask?
    Will any of the plaintiffs be donating their compensation to charities working in the field of child abuse?
    Will any of the plaintiffs feel any guilt at using their compensation to enjoy holidays, new cars ?
    Would any of the plaintiffs be using Uppaltaylor at all if the law specified that compensation could be paid only in vouchers to be exchanged for counselling sessions to cope with their “deep trauma”?

  12. […] Comments Anthony Weaver on UK Rosminian Head on Sex Abuse: “Morally Speaking Compensation would be Wrong”Witch-Hunt Against Huma Abedin Paragraph Path: p Word count: 635 Draft saved at 7:04:38 pm. Last […]

  13. The use of physical violence at Catholic schools, as well as secular schools also needs to be examined.

    And let’s face it, even 40 years ago we knew this was wrong. My stepmother’s first husband had the faith completely beaten out oh him by the Irish Christian Brothers in the 1950s. It was common discussion in the 1960s and1970s about how out of control there were.

  14. We CANNOT examine the 1970’s, the 1950’s or the 1870’s through our lenses of 2011. “The past is a different country, they do things differently there…”
    Reading the comments abut paedophiles as charming illusionists, I am reminded of the medieval ducking of witches…..if the woman sank, she was clearly innocent of wtichcraft, but dead…….if she floated, she was clearly guilty,and so could be condemned to death……
    If Kit Cunningham had shown any signs of paedophila during his thirty years in London, he was clearly guilty…….
    Since he never showed any signs of it, we have CLEAR EVIDENCE
    of his paedophile skill of covering up his proclivity !!!
    I doubt if Uppaltaylor of Nottingham need to be on a NO WIN-NO FEE
    on this particularly gravy-train………
    With the suspenstion of ALL critical faculties by BBC producers,judges and the great British public, a win is guaranteed in this particular witch-hunt……………

  15. Weaver;
    there are many more than just the tiny few you saw/heard in the bbc documentary, who were sexually abused by Cunningham. They used their prerogative not to join in the documentary or the matter for compensation. Although his proclivities, according to your close personal evidence, had changed, this does not make him not guilty of paedophilia. Another person in denial is Mary kenny,; no doubt you know her well; she has said that, although Cunningham COMMITTED paedophilic deeds, he was not a paedophile!! I reall wish that i could have your sort of conscience!

  16. What I cannot fathom is the fact that so many folk talk about paedophilia as a sin.

    It is not a sin.

    It is, quite simply, a manifestation of perverted sexual behaviour.

    And unfortunately, like it or not, all behaviour is learned, particularly sexual behaviour. Being as powerful as it is it has the power to enable seemingly normal people to engage in activity that is recognised as being unacceptable by established society.

    So for all those chappies and chapesses out there who believe that the paedophiles are tempted by the devil, not only are you barking up the wrong tree, you are actually helping to excacerbate the problem through your ignorance.

    And for those who believe that the law is the solution, all it will succeed in doing is driving the perpetrators underground and overseas.

    This excresence will be with us until there is a massive shift in conciousness and a global acceptance that the sexual act is the ultimate expression of love.

    And the rampant pornography that is jammed down our throats on a daily basis only helps to compund the issue.

    • although i agree that behaviour is learnt, we have to accept some responsiblity for our own actions. We cannot blame our behaviout totally, on what we have seen. Sin is a context. Paedophilia is morally wrong. To some believer of faiths, that makes it a SIN. To an atheist or a p—ed off ex follower of Rome, it is morally wrong, therefor it is a sin. p.s. It is not a manifestation, it IS perverted sexual behaviour. As far as global acceptance of the sexual act being the ultimate expression of love, that is also a moral issue, If that were to happen, the population of the world would decrease rapidly, even amongst married couples, and a lot of people would go out of business. Don, you should have thought a bit more on the wording of your last sentence.

      • Thank you Rory you nong. See the Waratahs went down again. Go the Reds.

        We have to take responsibility for all our actions regardless of whether it is morally wrong. Many people would argue that sodomy is absolutley disgusting including me. Yet it is widely accepted in heterosexual relationships now regardless of the bacterial heaven in the lower colon and the fact that it is really meant to be a one way valve.

        Learned from pornography which promotes it. I work in a truck depot!

        And we we have massive hoardings here promoting drugs that let you do it longer!

        Were are we going with this? How far are we going to go?

        Was not Rome at the depths of it’s depravity when the Empire collapsed?

        In Greek society and in some arab societies it is/was acceptable therefore not morally wrong.

        I came to loathe pornography long ago. Someone put forward the argument that it was no good. How bad would you feel were it your daughter or mother, and yet all women are someones daughters.

        We have a lot of civilising to do yet. The worlds most pressing problems, population explosion, might benefit from a new approach.

        My house mate is a Kiwi. Apparently you need wellies and a cliff!

    • I am hoping that this is Don McFarlene who appeared in the BBC documentary in the U.K. I am a married women with three children who attended a catholic school in the 70’s who is currently a teacher in teh UK. at my time at St Mary;s in Wisbech Cambridgeshire, nothing untoward happened to me by the sister’s who taught us, but they were not to be messed with and I did receive the cane a couple of times. I am still a practicing catholic, and on Sunday during mass, our new priest offered his heartfelt pleas to those you have suffered at the hands of Father Bernard Collins and the others. I vaguely remembered the name Father Bernard Collins, but it wasn’t until I watched the documentary that I remember seeing him serving in our parish and I couldn’t believe who I was seeing.

      Please extend my deepest sympathy’s for all those you are in contact with relating to the abuse you suffered. Priests are in a place of trust whether that was in the 40′, 50’s or in current times and they should never abuse that trust. What is the point of having systems in place to protect young children, when disclosures are made, when clergy brush them under the carpet and do not listen! as for not receiving compensation, I believe you deserve some as abuse affects your life forever, not just over night and listening to father Bernard Collins on the secret film, his denial of the acts he performed makes me so very cross. I wonder what might happen if he was a normal person living in a house and not a priest would be have been prosecuted? recently in our local college a guy committed similar sexual acts on a young girl and he has just received a custodial sentence of 12 years. he was part of the Jehovah Witness order so what is the difference?

      may you all find closure and thank you for sharing you story.


  17. I have made my views on the child abuse compensation racket very clear already.
    But following on from the thoughtful comments above by Mr.McFarlane,consider for a minute how the BBC programme-makers,.had they not been trapped by superficiality,could have delved into the prep-school and public-school experiences of the priests themselves……….Was Kit Cunningham a pupil at Grace Dieu in his time?
    Separating boys from their parents at the tender age of 8 ( a separation they would avoid for their dogs) has always struck me as cruel and inhuman………………
    “In the lost boyhood of Judas was Christ betrayed “……………

  18. Someone made the comment here that David Myers does not deserve the opprobrium he has received.

    I am not in a position to make judgement on how he handled it. I know enough about politics to appreciate that he would be substantially damned which ever path he took. He chose to be honest and open initially, and made my meeting with Bill Jackson and Kit Cunningham possible.

    David Myers and I have corresponded ever since. I received a kind email from him the other day and I am sure he will realise why our skype conversations diminished when he reads this.

    I told him also, why I was going to appear on the film, and looking at it now, I know that he could have, ( is not that expression so completely meaningless when you analyse it) with a possibility of help from the few who were prepared to abide their time and seek a less divisive outcome.

    I have not got the words, or perhaps have too many, to describe the transformation in my being this whole process has brought about.

    Unfortunately David was faced with a large number of complaints and a wide range of personalities. I, and many others, are not privy to the details of the legal action.

    (It is poignant to point out that among the non-litigants there are a number of individuals who were interested in participating in projects in Tanzania and developing an intellectual understanding of the reasons and the causes of the events.)

    However this event that David helped bring about for me carries the price of the trip my soul would have taken down the conventional route. Thank god!

    With my exposure to religion being pretty full on from the age of five to eighteen I had enough cause to put my knowledge of Jesus’s message to mankind to the test. Somehow it just never took.

    The conundrum lay in the fact that, from a very early age I saw christians behaving badly, still do. At the same time I learned to distinguish, far too early and at first hand, who not to trust.

    ( There are priests who taught at Soni who are fondly remembered by a great many boys. Father Reynolds was my saviour in my last year. Myself and Sam Simeonides were escalated a year in dormitories, separated from our classes and isolated from scouts and sports. I had a lot of time on my hands.

    Father Reynolds had started a library when he arrived after my banishment, ( novel idea in a school ) and he got me started on a road that provides me with great solace and insight to this day. Father Hansom, who was known to be homo sexual, will be fondly remembered by many ex students for both his character and for his art classes and his bush baby and his interesting walks. I often wondered if he would have intervened had he seen the caning lesions had he been present at any of the popular shower photograph sessions. He would have been horrified to see them )

    I digress.

    It finally dawned on me last year and I believe it all the more fervently now, that the spiritual awakening that Jesus of Nasareth had , his revelation that universal love was the secret to true spirituality among all mankind, heaven on earth, got hideously diverted and mixed up fairly liberally with a lot of mumbo jumbo and ritual that is entirly meaningless.

    Centralisation took hold and the guys that hold the purse strings realised the message could warped and used as a lever to keep folk in check. In other words don’t question the establishment, don’t look to the true cause of the division of wealth and equality.

    Same old same old!

    It is more powerful a tool of the elite than ever before .Whilst Catholicism may be in decline in some countries it is growing in others. More radical interpretations of christianity swell in the United States. There are an estimated 40-100 million christian zionists in the States crying for nuclear war on Muslims.

    I do not see the Pope boarding a flotilla to blockade Nato from this odious and shamful action in Libya. I do not see him calling for half an SAS unit to put Robert Mugabe in gaol and try him for crimes against humanity. Then Rio Tinto would have to come square and we can’t have that.

    There have been and are many very well meaning people in all the myriads of codes, some intensley spiritual. It is high time we produced another who had the reputed ability to get the message across as did Jesus of Nazarus.

    Perhaps he will use the internet. Ain’t going to be no walking on water until we open up our minds collectively. I reckon he would repeat his only violent act and whip the money lenders and thier lackeys out of the system. He may go as far as giving the pope a fairly extravagant public kick up the arse for supporting the degradation and famine in Africa whilst living in opulence.

    Yup, with a steel capped boot fair up the clacker!

    Here is a really great humourous take on religion:

  19. Weaver
    You are so much in denial, it’s unreal. You are defending your old friend that as a result it appears you really don’t know what you are talking about. You don’t know half of the story and you don’t want to know it because you are simply denying it all because it’s Kit Cunningham and not some other unknown priest. You are obviously tied up emotionally with this man to a fault that you will condone such acts. And it is only the tip of the iceberg. As for caning, or any acts of violence, on young people, is wrong, just plain wrong. They go on to hit others as a result and say it’s all ok. It’s not. The means does not justify the ends. It is simply abuse, plain straight forward abuse, and any abuse be it physical, sexual or verbal cannot be condoned or put in pecking order. It’s all wrong and goes against the Gospel and what Jesus taught – yes, Jesus, not the Church or some of the priests. Pity you had to conform as a Catholic to such ways of discipline. With all your rhetoric about sexual abuse, you could not see you were doing wrong and could not find another way of disciplining those who were entrusted to your care. You had to hit them!

  20. As a pupil at Grace Dieu and Ratcliffe (1945-1956) I knew a some of the people involved in the Rosminian scandals. Kit Cunningham arrived as a young teacher at Ratcliffe in the early fifties – a slim young man with a ski-slope nose. Although to the best of my recollection he never taught me, I remember him as a friendly, unstuffy figure. Not a view shared by everybody. When I enthusiastically told my friend the English master (an Irish layman) how broad minded brother Cunningham was, he came back “Good, my boy. His mind’s so broad that there’s nothing in it.” There were no rumours then about sexual activities. Perhaps something happened at Soni, a place I had never heard about until a few weeks ago. But it did stir a memory of my Grace Dieu days.
    Doug Rayner, then Brother Rayner, had a taste for beating boys. It was said he made a scourge of interknotted lengths of light flex, and on one occasion beat a boy so severely that he bled. Br. Rayner, vanished to a Rosminian mission in Tanganyika.
    I had two pieces of good fortune. I didn’t attract the attentions of Brother Rayner and I left Grace Dieu before Collins arrived.

    Neither the TV programme or any of the discussion I have read has said anything about the men with a major responsibility for the abuses – the head masters at the infected schools. Francis O’Malley, a trained Jungian analyst, and later parish priest at St. Ethelreda, was head of Grace Dieu until 1948 when Father Canavan succeeded him. In this small and isolated community they cannot have been in ignorance of what was happening.
    I think I saw somewhere that Fr. McCarthy was head at Soni, a man I remember as a repellant human being.
    One more point. At the outbreak of war clergy were exempt from military service. Could it be that some of the younger teachers at Grace Dieu had discovered their religious vocation in the late 1930s?

  21. On 2th June 2011, Anthony Weaver stated; “Why did the “victims” of Grace Dieu not involve Leicestershire Police in a criminal prosecution,as has happened with other Catholic schools? Could it be because the criminal process involves the test of “beyond reasonable doubt”, rather than the civil test of “on balance of probabilities” ?”

    In response I would cite my own experience after being physically, sexually and emotionally abused by nuns at the Olive Mount Children’s Home in Liverpool in the mid 1960’s. Firstly, I was only four years old when I was abused and my single mother (she had separated from my father) who had been convalescing after treatment for cancer took me to the police bridewell in Liverpool to report the matter. The police (and society in general) were more likely to believe the testimony of a nun (or priest) than the four year old son of a single mother. Thus the ‘high office’ of nun is a means of abuse on two levels – directly in the act of abuse and intrinsicly in claiming the moral high ground. The police were of the opinion that a four year old’s (who had suffered the trauma of separation from his parent) testimony would not be credible against a respected nun.

    To rub salt in the wounds, a similar rebuf was given by members of the archdioses in Liverpool; their view was that rather than complain, my mother ought to have been imensley grateful that the church had taken in her child in her hour of need.

    So, the police and the Catholic church did nothing. But at the age of 48 I still suffer the physical and mental consequences of my havin been physically, sexually and emotionally abused. It is the many like me who are left to “wait in silence” but my ‘lamintation’ is that this is not good.

  22. Rather late on this one, but for those of us at Soni there seems to be a total concentration on Cunningham, and very little on Rayner and the others. I barely remember the others, but having been sent to see Br Ranyner for being unable to recite my 6 times table, I was beaten. Foolishly I didn’t cry. I got beaten again immediately with electric flex.

    What I want to know, since all organisations have their rotten apples, was where was the supervision. It isn’t normal(even in those days) routinely to thrash 8 year olds till they could barely stand, and literally could not sit for days.

    Nor could that have gone unnoticed – small boys relatively frequently coming out of that room screaming, and the purple and yellow weals were plainly visible in the showers. Yet they all – the staff, remained silent.

    They are all complicit. Miss Willy, Fr Little, the lot. They signed the notes sending a child to Rayner, they had to know something was amiss.

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