Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Catholic clerical abuse at Ealing Abbey and St. Benedict's School

This tale of clerical abuse is a bit too close to home for comfort.

Father David Pearce of Ealing Abbey, retired headmaster of the junior school at St. Benedict's School, has pleaded guilty to 10 cases of indecent assault and one of sexual assault against boys at the school, on dates ranging from 1972 to January of this year.

My son went to that school.

He's OK. I've checked with him. He was only in the junior school and nothing happened to him. From what I can gather, the reported assaults were against boys in the senior school. He had heard rumours of goings-on, mostly since he had left the school.

Ever since the sex abuse scandals first hit the Catholic Church, I have wondered how widespread it was, and whether anywhere local would be affected. The abuse elsewhere seemed so widespread and systematic, and there seemed to be nothing particularly exceptional about any of the places where it happened, and before it was made public it seemed that little was done by the church to prevent or deal with it.

I have to say that while I am extremely shocked that this has happened so close to me, I cannot say that I am in the least bit surprised.

I am very saddened but even less surprised that there is no mention of Father Pearce on the St Benedict's school web site - no apology, no contact number for concerned parents of present or past pupils, no offers of pastoral care to other possible victims who haven't yet come forward. It is as if Pearce - former headmaster of the junior school - never existed.

Nor is there any mention of him on the Ealing Abbey website, beyond his continued listing as one of the monks "resident elsewhere".

Nor is there any kind of apology or mention of the matter on the website of the Westminster diocese.

This seems to be a pathetically inadequate public response.

It isn't even as if the authorities were unaware of the existence of problems. Back in April 2006, a former pupil won damages against Father Pearce and Ealing Abbey in the High Court.

And yet, according to the BBC report of his arrest, the criminal investigation was into incidents between 2006 and 2007, and according to the Ealing Gazette report the abuse did not finally end until last January when Pearce was arrested.

So, it appears Pearce had contact with children and the opportunity to continue abusing them even after civil damages were awarded against Ealing Abbey for his abuse of children, at least until his arrest.

I don't suppose many of the parishioners at Ealing Abbey are likely to read this blog, but for any who do, I have this plea to make to you.

I know that most of you had no idea this was going on. I know that most of you are in no way responsible for the actions of a few evil individuals. But now that it is known, all the parishioners have a responsibility and a duty to do all you can to ensure that this can never happen again at the Abbey or at any of its schools, and to ensure that everything possible is done to help the victims.

You can demand that the Abbey's records on all matters of complaints or allegations of sexual abuse connected to the Abbey are independently reviewed, to see whether appropriate actions were taken in respect of any and all complaints. Such a review should go back least 40 years. Now, it would clearly be inappropriate for all the Abbey's records to be made public - there are issues of confidentiality with respect to the names of possible victims. But it is perfectly reasonable for all records to be turned over to some independent expert tasked with investigating the matter on behalf of the parishioners.
  • An independent external investigation is necessary, because it appears that the Abbey has proved unable or unwilling by itself to guard against this kind of abuse. The report should be as comprehensive as possible subject to maintaining confidentiality with regard to the identities of victims
  • The expert should preferably be a non-Catholic, so that there is no reason for people to believe in any complicity by the church to cover up or minimise the extent of any problems.
  • The report should state whether there was any lack of co-operation on the part of anybody who in the past or present has acted in an official capacity at the Abbey or any of the schools, and it should name those who failed to co-operate fully and describe the nature of the lack of co-operation.
  • The report should should be made public.
As parishioners and as parents and grandparents of present and future pupils at St Benedict's School, you deserve to know the extent of past abuses. Only with this knowledge can you know what measures need to be taken to ensure with the greatest possible certainty that any kind of repetition of this is impossible.

You can demand that provisions are made for counselling and pastoral care to be provided to other victims. If the abuse stretches back to 1972, then it is certain that there are more victims (possibly very many more) than have been mentioned in the criminal and civil cases. Those victims deserve your help and support, whether or not they have yet come forward. The support should probably be provided by people with no official connection to the Abbey, and should include provision for professional counselling of anybody in need of it.

You can demand that a full and unreserved public apology be issued in the name of the Abbey to all victims of Father Pearce. It is incredibly sad that such a public apology has not already been provided unprompted. ut better late than never.

You can demand that the parish and the schools review their child protection policies and ensure that they meet all current legal requirements and conform to all the relevant "best practice" guidelines issued by the relevant expert bodies. You can demand that the policies are independently audited on a regular basis to ensure that that they are kept up-to-date and are consistently adhered to.

You can choose to withhold your planned giving to the Abbey unless and until these actions have been carried out to your satisfaction. You can decide for the time being to divert your charitable giving to secular charities, or you can put your money into a separate bank account to be given to the Abbey only if and when it has demonstrated that it is a fit recipient for your charitable donations, or you can divert your giving to help pay for the cost of the investigation or to the expenses involved in providing the victim support.

The church is not the victim here. The damage to the church has not happened because these matters were made public, the damage has occurred because the events happened in the first place, and has been made far worse because it took so long for it to become public and to be stopped.

Please do not enter into a siege mentality of believing that everybody in the secular world is ganging up against the Catholic Church. That will do a disservice to those who have really suffered in all this. The children at the school, both past and present, are the victims. The victims probably include people you know, and the children of families who are friends of yours. The past abuse cannot be undone. But it is within your power to see to it that something is done to minimise the damage to those who were abused, and to minimise the risk to future children.

Please do what you can for the victims, and to make sure there are no more victims in future.

224 comments:

  1. I am a Parishioner at Ealing Abbey and the Abbot did make a public apology at Mass for the Parishioners, also the surrounding schools where all sent a letter explaining the situation, with apology.

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  2. As I understand it, all records were handed to the police to assist with their investigations.

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  3. Thank you both for your comments.

    I think that an apology made at mass doesn't quite amount to a public apology. As I wasn't present, and no effort has been made to ensure that the apology reached me, I can't really regard the apology as having been made publicly. Limiting it in this way does seem to me to be slipping into the old habits of keeping it all as quiet as possible in the hope that the troubles will blow over.

    Are you aware of anything being done for the victims, including any who have not yet come forward?

    Are you aware of any measures being taken to prevent any possibility of this kind of thing happening again? Are the Parishioners involved in deciding what the appropriate measures should be?

    As for records being passed to the police, that is fine as far as it goes. But there is inappropriate sexual behaviour that may fall short of being a criminal offence, or for which there is not sufficient evidence to justify a prosecution. But such events still need to be dealt with appropriately by the Abbey and the schools, for the protection of the children in their care. If all that has happened this that "all records were handed to the police" and that is being considered an end to the matter, I don't regard that as an adequate response. Are you aware of any other non-police investigations being carried out with the aim of discovering and rectifying weaknesses in procedures for assuring child safety?

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  4. A few points about Father David and the way Abbot Martin has handled this matter.

    1. After the civil trial and the damages awarded against the Junior School for negligence in having such a man as headmaster the Abbot allowed Fr David to remain living in the Abbey.

    2. Father David attending the Requiem of Father Bernard Orchard in his black habit - again after the civil trial.

    Both of these actions indicated to the Parishioners that the outcome of the civil trial was somehow unfair and that Father David had done nothing wrong. This view was compounded because he had been arrested earlier and no charges had been brought against him.

    As the recent criminal trial indicates Father David left it to the last moment to plead guilty to the charges and the Judges comments show that there must have been soem v. compelling evidence.

    Therefore it is v. hard to understand why Father David was allowed to remain in the Abbey after the Civil Trial and allowed to contiue his offending behaviour.

    It is good that the Abbot has read a public apology to mass-goers at Ealing Abbey. But how many old-boys go to Mass at the Abbey? How many are aware of this?

    I think you are correct that the School should make a greater effort to publicise the outcome of the trial. Father David was involved with the Middle School for many years and also the CCF. He went on all the Summer Camps. Something on the web-site would be appropriate.

    As a parent of a former pupil might I suggest that you write to the Abbot (or arrange to meet him) to make the very sensible demands you have above. A thorough review of all complaints would be an excellent way of starting. This review should look at allegations made against any other monk or teacher. If there is to be another criminal investigation the Abbey needs to take the lead in providing all assistance to the Police and not let the matter drag on.

    As an old school friend said to me when I told him about the latest on Father David - "Yes some of my colleagues are asking whether they were all perverts at That school". Sad.

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  5. As a former pupil, I was aware of allegations as far back as the early nineties. I wrote them off simply as unpleasant remarks and rumour mongerng by a homophobic minority; surely, I thought, there was no way such rumours could have any truth or else he would have been suspended pending a criminal investigation.

    Here we are, almost twenty years later, and Fr David is facing a lengthy custodial sentence for assaults carried out over a thirty year period.

    In the early nineties Father David was removed as Head Master of the Junior School and transfered to the bursary. Having some knowledge of the civil case that was brought against him, I am aware that Ealing Abbey incurred significant legal costs in defending Father David over the years. I would be intrigued to know where this money came from, not least as Father David held the role of Bursor for some significant period of time.

    The repsonse to the allegations should have been an immediate suspension from all duties and full cooperation with the police, not to shuffle him to another post - that simply smacks of a cover-up, no matter how honest and well-to-do the intentions behind the transfer may have been.

    It is sad to hear some of the comments resulting from this and it is sad to see the effect on the Church but, until the Catholic Church learns how to handle these kind of events with the professionalism and sense of moral purpose they deserve, it will continue to suffer the stigma it has now earned - as a defender of paedophiles.

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  6. Firstly, an abused victim has do deal with a lot of psycholigical issues before they can speak out against the abuser.

    Secondly, no matter how genuine any member of clergy seem, they will protect the abuser. The victim or parents have to involve the police and only then the church would 'seem' to be cooperative.

    Any organisation that protects paedophiles is an organisation that has to be outlawed and none of its clergy members should be involved with any public or political issues. Most of all they should not be considered as a 'charity'.

    I speak as an abused victim by a member of clergy. It nearly destroyed my life, but becoming an atheist saved me from my self destruct mode of blaming myself for the priest's disgusting deed and believing in the Church's man made God that didn't care about me.

    The pain and memories do not go away, but I have learnt to put them behind me on concentrate on my future and the one and only life I have left. Unfortunately for the still believing victims they will always question why their God did not step in and save them from the heinous crime. Its only when you know that there is no God to help you and only you can help yourself you can start to put your life back on track.

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  7. An update on this.

    I wrote to the Abbey expressing my concerns. It appears that my first email went astray, but I have now made contact and I have an appointment to meet the Abbot later this week.

    To the person who left the last comment - thank you. I have no idea whether your experiences are related specifically to the Abbey or whether you suffered your abuse elsewhere, and I do not wish to pry.

    I would just like you to know that I will take a copy of your comment with me to the meeting as an example of kind of the damage that has been done, in order to stress the need for all possible measures to prevent anybody else becoming a victim of this kind of abuse.

    Even if the Abbot has not read this blog (and by now he probably has, as I specifically mentioned it in my email), I will see to it that he reads your words, and is faced with the damage the Abbey has done to the lives of those who were under its care.

    I realise that this will not make the pain go away, but I hope in this way I can provide some small measure of comfort to you. You are not without friends, even amongst those who are strangers to you. I will report back.

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  8. Dear Mr West,

    I am pleased that you are to meet with the Abbot to make your suggestions.

    This is regrettably not the first criminal conviction of a teacher at St Benedict's. Many will remember that in 1982 a Middle-School Master called John Maestri disappeared weeks before he was due to replace Dom Laurence Soper as Master of the Middle School.

    It emerged many years later that the parent of the victim had complained to Abbot Francis that she would report John Maestri to the Police if he were allowed to take up the post as Master of the Middle School. He then disappeared.

    Before he was eventually arrested and subsequently convicted of abuse he was invited to take a degree in Theology at the Benedictine House of Studies in Oxford - St Benet's Hall. He resided at St Benet's from 1989-1992.

    It is hard to understand how John Maestri was allowed to enter St Benet's and actually live in the Hall with monks from Ealing and Ampleforth when the Abbot of Ealing knew the serious complaints that had been made against him.

    Of course both John Maestri and Father David taught in the Middle School at the same time. The Middle School at that time was in a separate building when the Nursery section is now.

    One contributor above asks where the money came from to fund Father David's defence in the Civil trial. Simple - the defendent in that case was not Father David but the Junior School. The abused victim sued St Benedict's Junior School for negligence in allowing such a man to be Headmaster of a Junior School. Therefore the fee-paying parents of St Benedict's Junior School paid the legal expenses for the defence and the £40,000 of damages.

    I hope you will ask the Abbot to reflect on the words of victim of clerical abuse above as he considers what he must do.

    In my opinion your suggestion of an Independent Enquiry is a very good idea. Perhaps the mass of material gathered for the trials of Fr David and Fr Stan held by the School Solicitor would be a good place to start.

    As a final point it should be remembered that Fr David was not only Master of Novices at one stage but was also the Prior when Fr Lawrence was Abbot in the early 1990's. He was not an insignificant member of the Community.

    Good luck with your meeting. Please post the outcome on your blog..

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  9. As a parent of a boy who attended the junior school whilst Father David was headmaster I would like to make the following points.

    I have no critism of the present abbot, Abbot Martin who appears to have done, and is doing his best to rectify an awful situation not of his making. I also believe that the present monastic community are as horrified as the rest of us by what was allowed to occur.
    I would though like to ask when the previous Abbot is going to return from Rome and answer a few questions about what he knew was going on. It seems his way of dealing with the matter was to make father David, Prior and his deputy and place him in charge whilst he was away. Please could we also be told when the previous abbotts were told about the danger that Father David posed to our sons.
    Was the good name of the monastry more important than the safety of our sons?

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  10. To the author of the last comment:

    Can I ask you to contact the Abbot and put your questions in person? I have been to visit him, (you can see my report of the visit in a more recent article here), and as you can see I am not at all convinced that he has done everything that he could and should have done to protect the children of the school. He was aware of the circumstances of Fr David's removal as headmaster, and yet publicly denied the existence of a problem to the point of defending the civil case in 2006.

    I will continue to press my points with the Abbot, but it will be far more effective if you and others could apply pressure for change as well.

    If you would like to contact me privately, a link to my email address is available on the "view my complete profile" link on the right.

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  11. Dear Mr West,

    I read your post on your interview with Abbot Martin but I did not see you mention there that Abbot Martin knew "the circumstances of Fr David's removal as Headmaster", which I assume took place in around 1991. Do you know when he learned of these circumstances.

    As Abbot Laurence Soper reigned from 1991 to 2000 the commentator above certainly has a good point that Abbot Laurence should also answer questions about his role.

    Am I right to interpret that commentator as claiming that Abbot Laurence removed Fr David as Headmaster and then selected him to be his Prior - a strange case of promoveatur ut amoveatur?

    One wonders what was going on in the 1990's at Ealing?

    Kyrie eleison - Rorate caeli

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  12. As a parishoner, I do think that communication within the St. Benedict's community is widespread.Announcements made after Mass and in the parish newsletter do make their way around the world by way of mouth, phone, letter, text, e-mail and fax. I received e-mails recently from two ex-junior school parents-one living in Australia & one living in New Zealand. Both had had sons in the Junior school, one in the 80s & one in the early 90s.Neither of their sons had suffered any abuse but both parents were understandably shocked by father Pearce's admissions of indecent assault and also concerned about the extent of what was happening during his tenure as Headmaster. This was a man well-known (they thought)to these parents and held in high esteem.

    I do believe that other victims should be encouraged to come foreward if it would be of benefit to them to confront their abuser. Whilst I acknowledge that some financial compensation would in part atone for the suffering undergone by targets of abuse, I would also be aware of the possibility that false accusations might be made, if there were a finacial incentive.

    The whole situation is very sad.I think the main point is that it must not be taken for granted that those in positions of trust are necessarily trustworthy.

    I wonder if the boys concerned approached their parents or teachers at the time? They must have felt uncomfortable at the very least by father Pearce's behaviour.If they did not do so, or if they did, but were unheeded, then that also, is a sad inditement of the adults responsible for their care.

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  13. I think the problem is that the actual victims are those least likely to have kept in touch in this way.

    Your last paragraph hints at what I suspect is the wider problem that some of the victims may have suffered from. To be sexually assaulted by such a pillar of the community, someone held in trust and respect not merely by the school but by the boy's parents as well. Who (even his parents) would believe the boy if he complains? I'm sure that some did complain and were not believed, and other decided not to complain because they thought they would not be believed, and yet others didn't complain because they had been persuaded that they were somehow at fault.

    Most children from a very early age have a very well-developed sense of fairness. To suffer something like this and then not to be believed is a shattering blow to their confidence and trust in the fairness of the adult world. The failure to be believed is in some ways even worse than the original abuse.

    I have some small experience of such children, though not in the context specifically of sexual abuse. Once their trust in the fairness of the adult world goes, their respect for adults goes with it, and their behaviour becomes increasingly rebellious.

    And that bad behaviour becomes noticed and the child becomes "the problem", and efforts concentrate on fixing the child. And of course, an accusation of abuse coming from a child who has become badly behaved is even less likely to be believed than before, the accusation will be thought of as a lying part of the rebelliousness rather than as a truthful description of its cause.

    It wouldn't at all surprise me if some of Fr Pearce's victims ended up being expelled from the school for bad behaviour, which would really have added insult to injury.

    It is not merely that Fr Pearce assaulted children, it is also that in doing so he grossly abused a position of trust in the community.

    The Abbot's failure is one of imagination, not to understand that the harm done by Fr Pearce continues long after the assaults were committed, and that even now, some of that harm can be reduced my making it clear to the victims that they were in fact victims, that what happened to them was not their fault, it was the fault of Fr Pearce, and of the Abbey and the church for not acting effectively to stop or prevent his activities. By failing to apologise to and act in support of the victims, he is in effect causing the harm to them to continue.

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  14. Benet

    I read your post on your interview with Abbot Martin but I did not see you mention there that Abbot Martin knew "the circumstances of Fr David's removal as Headmaster", which I assume took place in around 1991. Do you know when he learned of these circumstances.

    The Evening Standard reported the civil case. You can read the text of the reporthere. The report includes the following:

    "The pupil who won the payout, called C by High Court judge Mr Justice Field, attended between 1989 and 1993. The Abbot of Ealing Abbey, Martin Shipperlee, admitted to C in 2004 that fellow-monks knew of allegations-against Pearce before he retired as headmaster in 1993.

    But even after he was arrested that same year following allegations of abuse by another boy, Pearce was made bursar of the [pounds sterling]8,730a-year school because he was the only monk with the right skills."

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  15. I am not really surprised by the church's handling off all this given the organisation's wider baggage and history. I found this article on the current Pope as disturbing as it was illumninating. They have a lot of things to cover about,particularly their work and support of Franco, Mussolini and to a lesser extent Hitler in the 1930, I think they were hoping to turn Europe in a 'Christian' theofacist version of Iran.

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,613756,00.html

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  16. A point of interest to all parents and ex pupils in the school who had any dealings with Father David is that in the newspaper report of the civil case in 2006 it was stated that he had video taped the boys, at swimming and sport. Has the school or abbey stated where these tapes now are? I would be very concerned if they were not accounted for.
    Did he distribute them among "friends"
    We appear to have been let down.

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  17. News reaches me from other fellow ex pupils that Father Stan has recently been going around suggesting that police actions against Fr David are somehow part of some witch hunt and that after their investiagtions the police have simply found that Fr David is not part of some international child sex abuse ring as the police thought. I find this alarming behaviour on the part of Fr Stan. I do not believe the police were investigating specifically that Fr David was part of an internationl child sex abuse ring but rather were looking at the individual actions of Fr David himself. Why is Fr Stan attempting to discredit police investiagtions and the work of the legal system. It is ironic that he seems to want to discredit a system that actually found him not guilty of similar allegations a few years back.

    I think at the root of a lot of this is Church´s dreadful and biggoted homophobia, perhaps dare we say that even Fr David himself is a victim of the church. Born in another context without all this nonense on human sexuality from religion, he may have been able to realise his sexuality without the need to abuse minors of age, countless lifes of under age vitcim of him have now been damaged.

    Strangely if the church had taken the right actions after the civil case, he may not have been facing criminal judgement and jail at the age of 67 now ! It is astounding that the Pope, who witnessed the holocaust would use a chritian feast such as Christmas, as an opportunity to preach homophobia, describing them as a threat to humanity as serious as global warming and the loss of the rain forests.

    It is not unreasonable to assume that some nutter will think they have morality on their side when they harass or inflict violence on someone purely because they are gay. Yet when it comes to the case of a priest sexually abusing minors of ages, they are protected. In earlier post we learnt of the amount of money that was spent on legal fees defending Fr David, when they must have known of his guilt.

    Was this the intended use of the people who give money to the church, and of course given the tax breaks on charitable donations, some of the money could be termed as being from public funds.

    I lost any faith in this dreadful religion after studying the spanish civil war and the church´s steadfast support for Franco who delibrately killed 10s of 1000s of his own people in a deliberate policy of terror. At a time when the world was outraged by the bombing of Guernika, The Vatican was describing Franco as a ´Prince of Christ and a defender of christian civilisation´, following Franco´s victory his troops were invited by the Vatican to victory celebrations in Rome. How ironic that tourists to Barcelona marvel at the spires of Gaudi´s Sagrada Familia, a church built by Gaudi ( an extreme right-ultra catholic) as a way of seeking forgiveness for the sin of Barcelona wanting Spain to be a democracy and plural society.

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  18. I knew it, I bloody knew it.

    Gay Dave, that was his name to the kids and he was the one that all new kids were warned about. Oh, it was a dark day when he took over as headmatster of the junior school and he made my life hell for three years.

    Gutted for the boys and I am sure I must have known some of them. We all knew he was a deviant. Final straw for me was when he pulled a hair from my leg - a strange action to perform on an eleven year old child.

    I remember some time after that being sent to his office by a teacher and refusing to go unless the teacher went with me as I wasn't prepared to be alone with him - a clear indication of how he was viewed by pupils.

    Amazing that Shaky Stan is still knocking about. No suprise he is defending the Church to the hilt. Even less suprise at the ineptitude of Abbot Martin, even as a teacher he was weak as water. The only suprise is he made it to Abbot.

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  19. I see that comments that don't agree with your views are removed. A harbinger of the wonderful religion-free future to come?

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  20. I have removed no comments from this article. If you have made a comment which hasn't appeared, then it is a result of the Blogger software which seems to be a bit erratic at times.

    If one of your comments hasn't shown up, try posting it again.

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  21. I am extremely angry about this because Abbott Martin is still in post. He allowed Pearce to continue at the Abbey AFTER a civil suit was determined against him. He sent a letter to the parents (I was one of them) defending the actions of Pearce and downplaying it all.

    The fact that he allowed Pearce to continue to have contact with children is unforgiveable. When this scandal broke in 2006 and when I saw the manner in which this arrogant man dealt with the situtation, I removed my children from the school.

    I am distressed to hear that Pearce abused again subsequently. The Abbot will be judged by God. He appears, by his actions and deeds, to think that he is God.

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  22. Paul Musetti (St Benedict's pupil from 1980 -1987)

    I don't mind being on record, and putting my name to comment on this blog. I was a pupil at St Benedict's in the 1980s and was taught by David Pearce, John Maestri and Father Stan.

    I'm horrified, not that Maestri and Pearce were convicted of child abuse but that the Abbey appears to have been grossly negligent in allowing these two men to be in a position of trust with children.

    Pearce and Maestri were able to abuse because of the status they had built up in the Abbey and school community.

    When I was at the school there were rumours about both teachers, but apart from this they both appeared to be charming and, in many respects, quite popular. John Maestri was very touchy, feely. I certainly thought his behaviour was very odd. Many of my friends did too. I met him later, by complete chance, when I was at Oxford University after he had left the school following allegations of abuse.

    At Oxford, I was surprised to find a very different John Maestri. He was studying for a theology degree, funded by the Abbey or Catholic church. I couldn't have imagined a more unlikely Catholic theology graduate student. Charming and polite as always, John had by then obviously tapped into a very 'camp' side to his character. At the time, I was just surprised and thought it was quite funny that he had changed so radically from the persona he had as a teacher at St Benedict's.

    It's 2009 now, and most of my school peers are in their 40s. Yet I know that as early as 1981 both David Pearce and John Maestri had achieved a position of trust within the school. There already were rumours about both teachers and both have been convicted of abuse, perhaps systematic abuse. I hope that the people these two men abused have the courage to come forward and that the Abbey has the moral courage to face up to its own responsiblity for this abuse.

    I would like to see the Abbey hold an enquiry in to the possibility that there may have been child abuse stretching back to the 1980s and involving other teachers, not just David Pearce.

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  23. What happened to your blog stating the result of the cout case and you observations on it it appears to be no longer available

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  24. It is still there and as far as I'm aware it has remained available continuously, though it might be that the blogger software took it down automatically while I was updating the article last night.

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  25. A review what a nice way to bury it all? Hand picked members of the review team and no obligastion to publish the findings. No doubt everyone will be sorry and saddened by what occurred.

    On a different note No doubt Abbott Martin will be standing up in church on Sunday apologising for the failures. Is there any chance that Father Lawrence Soper might be standing next to him or is he too busy with his high profile job for the Benedictines in Rome. The act of making David Pearce his Prior whilst being aware of allegations against him beggars beief.

    The other question that has bothered me is the profile that Father David was given. Not only Prior, Novice Master but spokesman for the abbey when ever they were on TV. I can think of two occassions Songs of Praise and an advent mass when he spoke on national TV.

    Just who was deciding his role at the abbey

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  26. "David Pearce's future as a priest will now be reviewed by my superiors in accordance with the child protection procedures of the church."

    I find this quote by the Abbot, a very naive statement to make. Sure they probably have to go through as administrative process to "sack" some one as a priest, but really having been found guilty and jailed, is there that much to review.

    "I will remember in my prayers all those lives who have been troubled by David Pearce's actions."

    "troubled" sounds like a strange and mild choice of word, given the context it has the tone of a tannoy annoucement apologising for a minor public transport mishap, why did he not say effected (which is neutral / factual) or damaged (which would be more to the point, we are taking under age sexual abuse) "TROUBLED" does he is not capable of taking on board what has happened.

    It sounds like he is in denial or clueless.

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  27. The abbot has to say "review", because the matter is out of his hands and will be decided in Rome. Pope John Paul II made it very clear that he wanted all paedophile priests dismissed from the priesthood without option, and the centralised and hierarchical nature of the Catholic church (for which it gets much grief from critics) means that this policy can be implemented without bullshit. Expect Fr David to be "Mr Pearce" when he is released from prison. The abbot is not going to have much to do with the document that the pope will sign to ensure this. Higher powers are at work.
    Don't expect ex-abbot Lawrence Soper to have much part in the unfolding of this scandal. He's a complete alcoholic (a three-bottles-of-wine-for-lunch man) and is an embarrassment in himself, not just because of what he did and knows.
    I'm associated with another Benedictine monastery in England, one that used to have a school but does not now (to the great relief of the brethren). This affair is being viewed with much interest, and little sympathy for Ealing Abbey. Obviously the abbey has been trying to keep the institution going with an inadequate number of monks, which is why Fr David was not "locked up" much sooner. It's heading for a train wreck if it doesn't downsize soon.
    The allegation that paedophiles study for the priesthood simply in order to get access to kids is organic, Class I bollocks. The studies are very hard, and the probation is onerous. Rather, since secular society demands that paedophiles stay celebate, the Catholic church has had many paedophiles choose the priesthood in good faith as a job that requires celibacy. I can personally vouch for this. However, this does require that they be kept from temptation. Monks, especially, should live in their monasteries and only have contact with schoolboys when teaching in classrooms. All monks I know, and I know a lot, privately agree with this.
    Note that paedophiles in general are 90:10 straight/gay, like the general population. However, paedophile priests are mostly gay. Blogging as a gay, and hence privileged to say what I like about the subject, I think that the gay subculture has to take a lot of the blame for gay paedophile priests going off the rails. I have no intention, just because I'm gay, to have sex with another man, and the idea that I "should" is nothing to do with my preference. I think that a lot of my fellow queers have a problem recognizing other people as being people in their own right, and not just masturbatory objects, and Fr David is one of them. Don't blame sexual frustration -that doesn't make gays or paedophiles.

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  28. A parent of a former pupil above writes that Abbot Martin sent a letter to parents after the Civil Trial "defending the actions of Pearce and downplaying them".

    In that case the Judge said this:

    85. I regret to have to say that I found D1 (The 1st defendant David Pearce)to be an unconvincing witness. In contrast to C’s (The Claimant - never identified) evidence, D1’s evidence did not have the ring of truth. It lacked spontaneity. It appeared to me to have been carefully rehearsed. For example, before he was asked how he could be sure that he was filming only the top parts of the boys in the showers, he was careful to say that he was using the zoom lens. I also regard it as significant that before he was recalled he said in respect of the swimming baths incident that occasionally he looked to see if the boys had dried themselves properly whereas when he was recalled to deal with X’s allegations he said that he lined the boys up to check to see if they were dry and tapped them on the shoulder at the end of the inspection. I was also wholly unimpressed by D1’s explanations for touching Z’s penis and for watching a boy shower in Austria. His justification for filming in the showers was also extremely unconvincing, as was his denial that he looked down the boys’ swimming trunks if they said they had lost their locker key."

    Neutral Citation [2006] EWHC 166 (QB).

    It is also clear from reading this Judgement that there had been three complaints made to the School about Fr David's behaviour. These were disclosed by the Abbey to the Court for the Civil Trial.

    After reading the Judgement I do not understand how the Abbot could defend or downplay Fr David's actions when the Judge finds that Fr David's actions proved he had a sexual interest in boys.

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  29. Time for the ealing monks to go home!

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  30. Would it be possible to know whether the abbot (or indeed the previous abbot) sought or received any advice from higher authorities in the church or from secular experts before making decisions, after the initial and the later allegations of abuse were made? For example, there are now presumably guidelines and set procedures in place for the health and safety of children.
    Did Ealing Abbey have autonomy in this matter?

    How long has the compulsive nature of some adults'sexual attraction to children been understood? i.e could an abuser in denial formulate a convincing argument to remain in situ and away from children (because not in daily contact or in a position of trust)?

    Common sense, if nothing else, should have indicated that Pearce should have been removed from the school after at least the second allegation with some creedence, for the sake of the pupils,the Benedictine community, the church and even Pearce himself.Was it really believed that there would not be a recurrence or was it thought that the initial allegations were false?

    Given that abuse cases have been in the public domain for some years why are victims coming forward now, rather than earlier? Was there some other overriding reason why they were unable to expect some action to be taken by the police or the CPS earlier?
    Needless to say, I find the whole situation tragic,particularly for the boys whose lives have been affected.

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  31. Anon writes: "Given that abuse cases have been in the public domain for some years why are victims coming forward now, rather than earlier?"

    Perhaps the article below will help to answer that - also there is copious info about victims' response to abuse on www.bishopaccountability.org


    "Jailed child pervert priest ruined my life
    Oct 9 2009 By Michael Russell, Ealing Gazette

    THE VICTIM of a child-abusing priest has spoken of how his life has been devastated.

    The 27-year-old, who asked to remain anonymous, was molested by Father David Pearce at the age of nine.

    Too young to realise what was happening, the pain only manifested later, sparking bouts of rage and causing him to 'go off the rails'.

    Fr Pearce, of Ealing Abbey, in Charlbury Grove, was jailed on Friday for eight years for 10 counts of indecent assault and one sexual assault committed against boys between 1972 and 2007.

    Hearing the sentence, the victim, formerly of Greenford and whose case never came to trial, said: "It's the best piece of news I've heard in a long time.

    "You try and forget about it, but even now just thinking about it makes me angry.

    "It has dictated my life. Once you've felt that vulnerable you want to make sure nothing like that ever happens to you again. He was in such a position of trust and my father worked so hard for the school fees, it makes me sick."

    Pearce, 67, preyed on pupils while headmaster of St Benedict's lower school in Eaton Rise, Ealing.

    When the victim told his family about the incident in 1990, Fr Pearce claimed he was checking for marks in case his father had been hitting him.

    The spotlight was turned on the family for weeks until social services established his relatives were blameless.

    The victim's father began building a case against Pearce, causing him to step down from his post. Yet he was still allowed to remain at the school as an administrator.

    But the victim's father died of a brain tumour in 1994, two days before his son's 13th birthday and his wife did not feel strong enough to pursue it.

    She tried going to the abbey for help, but says she was turned away.

    She said her son's life was shattered, he became violent, ran away from home, and committed violent crime, leading to a four year jail term for threatening a probation officer."

    http://www.ealinggazette.co.uk/ealing-news/local-ealing-news/2009/10/09/jailed-child-pervert-priest-ruined-my-life-64767-24893070/

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  32. I was at St. Benedicts and joined soon after Mr. Pearce became headmaster of the junior school. He was called Gay Dave, but us children knew he was wrong (and not in that he could be homosexual). He was quick to start weekly swimming - a select group that today I cannot remember how he chose this small group of swimmers (although sadly I have my suspicions). He was very touchy feely, very creepy and took every opportunity to look in the showers, down your pants, or if at school, to have a private chat in his office.

    I was never abused by him, thank God, but he did try. I didn't think to report it, I just thought it was odd and wrong that he suggested taking my pants off and told him to leave the room.

    I am very concerned about how the Abbey has dealt with this over the years. As someone has previously said, Fr. Martin was a complete wet blanket and is never going to be the man to lead the church through this. The lack of response and responsibility should lead to further personal judicial proceedings. The monks claim they didn't know, but I refuse to believe that, Fr. David was openly mustrusted by pupils and both secular and non-secular teachers at the time will have known something was not right. The church itself protected fr david and gave him the opportunity to continue.

    When he left in 1993 (in the middle of term and suddenly) every ex pupil 'knew' that he must have finally been found out. How 15 years could pass under the church's protection beggars belief.

    Of course, he wasn't the only one. He was frequently competing for young boys affections with an ex-pupil of the school (I shan't name him), but I hope his name and activities come out in all this too.

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  33. To Anon: 14 oct 2009 : 12.09

    You refer to an ex-pupil but do not mention his name.

    If you have suspicions that he abused pupils at the school please report this to the Police or the Archdiocese of Westminster's Child Protection Officer.

    The Diocesan Child Protection Co-ordinator is Fr Sean Carroll 020 8566 4077.

    The Diocesan Child Protection Officer is Mr Peter Turner 020 8969 5303
    pturner@cathchild.org.uk

    You can also visit the Westminster child protection website at
    www.rcdow.org.uk/childprotection

    (from http://www.westminstercathedral.org.uk/clife/clife_childprot.html )

    After the conviction of Fr David how can anyone with suspicions or information about abuse remain silent?

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  34. It is still not clear how much abuse went on and for how long ( although one instance is one too many).Some comments seem inaccurate in small things although this may not mean that in substance they are incorrect. The present abbot would be what?... responsible for regulating the behaviour of David Pearce,among other monks, from the time he (the abbot) took office? How would this work in practice? At least 3 abbots would have held sway between 1972 and now,perhaps?
    I knew David Pearce briefly , for a few years as a headmaster, in the late 80s and I would have considered that he was dedicated to providing the best educational opportunities and pastoral care to the boys in his charge.I would also have considered him a person of integrity.
    I suppose that is why I wonder how he would have been able to have fooled so many of the people so much of the time.
    One recent comment seems to me, to be dangerous in that it suggests that there were other , or similar forms of abuse going on at the school.I am not sure how helpful this is to anybody unless it is to prompt a general enquiry following the recent shocking revelations.

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  35. I was at St Benedicts until 1982. Was taught by both David Pearce and John Maestri. Neither of them attempted to abuse me and no one in my year ever mentioned any rumours about them. I'm sure there were other cases with other teachers at the school. In my time there you were generally very well behaved when in the year Father Lawrence Soper was in charge of as he would always make boys take their trousers and pants off before he caned them. Parents complained about this but nothing was ever done. I've always been surprised his name hasn't appeared in the papers.

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  36. Just this, I went to Saint Benedict's in the mid to late 1970's and knew both Father David and Father Lawrence.

    We all knew Father David as "Gay Dave" and tried to steer clear of him becuase even as young teenagers we knew that there was something very creepy about him.

    Father Lawrence, the man who gave him his job as Headmaster of the Middle School, was known to the boys as Father "Florence". I will leave you to your own conclussions.

    I was not touched by but I know that some of my contempories most definitelky were. How in God's name could all of this been covered up for so long? Somebody must have known, and turned a blind eye to what was happening.

    I agree that there should be a full and open independent enquiry.

    What steps are the Abbbey taking to try to find the other victims of what, increasingly looks to me like a possible paedaphillic ring? ANON

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  37. The reference to Father "Florence" reminds me of an event to celebrate Father Laurence leaving the Middle School.

    A group of Sixth Formers, whom he had been teaching, came down to the Middle School and sang a song they had composed for him calling him Florence or Flossie in the song.

    Giving clergymen girls' names as nicknames - bit Anglo isn't it - how pervasive was this gay-culture at Ealing?

    As for the post just before that - about time there was an enquiry into the way corporal punishment was adminstered in the Middle School in the 70's and 80's by said Florence.

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  38. Some of the comments posted on this blog appear to be heartfelt and some to be as a result of hearsay.

    Encouragingly, most seem to be prompted by a genuine concern that children were not allowed to be children for part of their schooldays at St. Benedict's.

    I have been more than a little upset by the unfolding of events, altough I realise that , on the scale of things, my trauma has not been so very great.

    I was teaching in the Junior school for part of the time when Fr Pearce was a headmaster. I have always thought of myself as being unusually observant but this one escaped me. I have also thought of myself as an approachable
    teacher.....

    What I would really be concerned to know is why there appeared to be no signs of unusual behaviour amongst the boys involved e.g. withdrawal, unusually quiet behaviour, outbursts of temper etc.

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  39. Prosper Keating23 October 2009 10:15

    I was at St Benedict's from 1974 to 1977, when I left to go elsewhere. Father David arrived in 1976, if I recall rightly. He had been an army officer at some point and quickly became one of the officers of the school's CCF. As an earlier victim of sexual abuse, which was, fortunately for me, non-penetrative but which left me very screwed up and highly attuned to homosexual paedophiles, I 'smelt' Pearce as soon as I met him, and he knew it. He soon came to hate me energetically.

    Fr Lawrence was not as obvious. I would be surprised to learn that he had consummated his leanings, although he seemed to enjoy checking boys' bottoms for protective padding before beating them. There were a couple of others whose names escape me now. Could one describe this as "a ring"? I would be more inclined to say that there was some sort of loose association between these men, that they covered for one another but then, given that the Catholic Church has been protecting predatory paedophiles in their ranks for decades, this is hardly surprising. When Fr David and Fr Gregory were first collared a few years ago, I wrote to the headmaster of the school, who sent me a very thoughtful and compassionate reply. I believe him to be a good man. Unfortunately, however, Pearce seems to have been protected by the Abbott and this is simply unacceptable. I was not abused at St Benedict's. I'd been 'gotten at' beforehand and was wise to this risk, but I will say that David Pearce absolutely ruined one boy I knew and must have ruined others during his three-decade career of degeneracy and, hard-boiled though I can be nowadays, I sit here feeling deep outrage towards the people who protected Pearce and those of his ilk, perhaps even greater outrage than I feel towards Pearce & Co, who are probably mentally deranged to some extent. I have no problem with signing my name to this.

    Prosper Keating

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  40. Prosper Keating23 October 2009 10:40

    quote/…

    What I would really be concerned to know is why there appeared to be no signs of unusual behaviour amongst the boys involved e.g. withdrawal, unusually quiet behaviour, outbursts of temper etc.

    end quote/…

    I can't speak for the boys in the charge of the former St Benedict's teacher who posted this but I can assure him that the boy to whom I referred became withdrawn to the point of near-catatonia and that I turned from gentle, shy adolescent into a violent teenager described by a police psychiatrist as having "psychopathic tendencies", with a hair-trigger temper.

    Textbook enough for you, baby blue?

    PK

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  41. So many have bad tales to tell about Fr David.
    I can only speak as I found him but my son was not one of his boys perhaps he was too street wise.My son and I found him most supportive during a family bereavement some years ago.
    We communicated from time to time and were shocked at the revelations.
    My son now in his forties was not hurt sexually
    but spiritually he is no longer a practicing
    catholic and it would take a miracle for him to
    return to the church.

    RIP

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  42. I see Father David is still named on the Abbey's website as "resident elsewhere". Would it not be more truthful to put it down as "at HMP" - "P" for pleasure.

    Prosper Keating's comments are very valuable and fully deal with the previous comment of the former teacher who saw nothing. Also I disagree with this former teacher's remarks that the comments on this blog are hearsay. The only bit of hearsay I read here is the reference to something Fr Stan may or may not have said otherwise the comments are first person accounts or "fair comment" remarks.

    Anyone reading this or the other threads would be struck, as I am, by the fair mindedness of the comments by the Old Priorians who have commented here. Yes there's some bitterness but many of the remarks show regret that the School allowed this to happen.

    As noted elsewhere peadophiles are devious and manipulative and pick weak and vulnerable targets for their abuse. It is interesting that Mr Keating says he "smelt" the malodour from Fr David and the latter kept away from him.

    Is there any news on the investigation? and what it will set out to investigate?

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  43. I was another pupil at St Ben's and recall an incident back in 1984/85 when Father David showed himself to have an "opportunistically" predatory side, another hallmark of pedophiles. Suffice it to say, nothing 'extreme' happened, but I was shocked at his inappropriate physical contact with me. I shrugged it off and even mentioned it to a handful of friends - and we all put it down to his obviously "known" tendencies, and that was that.

    In a way we were all complicit in allowing him to get away with such things, but then again, we were youngsters at a time when such incidents were always kept quiet and not really made public. Thankfully, things have progressed in the 20 years since and people/society can talk more openly about such issues.

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  44. I also forgot to add above that apart from being known as "Gay Dave", he was also referred to by the code initials "GD".

    I recall a telling and tragicomical episode when we were on a CCF summer camp back in 1985, where he was obviously with us; as we walked past some kind of small shed for some military purpose, upon seeing the words "G.D. Section" inscribed on the door, we all jested that would be where a lot of boys would end up during that summer camp. And indeed, I had that inappropriate experience with him soon after. Tragicomic indeed.

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  45. In Reference to Prosper Keating and the teacher who thought she/he was approachable, and thought children's behaviours might change.

    I was abused by David Pearce on several occasions. My behaviour did not change immediately but most noticeable when i was a teenager, and i remember at 18 drinking about half a bottle of whiskey a day.

    Not to mention random acts of violence, assault, drink driving etc ending up in a hospital in China.
    There is a time delay in the abuse. You see you start to think it was normal, it was OK to be abused. He was a priest, a grown up and a headmaster-trust. My parents held priest in high esteem, so my thoughts where, that what he was doing was not wrong, but my emotions said otherwise.
    Then you question your sexuality when you go through puberty, then things start to go grey.
    You get embarrassed telling people so you keep it secret in your head like a cancer, and it eats you. Everyday i wake up thinking about it, everyday David's face haunts me. My parent's liked him, my grandparent gave him cases of wine, and as my behaviour gradually changed, I was punished by my family and eventually kicked out of the house. It is like an avalanche, it starts small then it goes out of control. When your family punish you for being abused, people go crazy.

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  46. Well, as far as I remember about Father Laurence, he was known to only cane a boy with his underpants and trousers down if he found that the boy was wearing protective padding when being caned , which seemed like a normal thing to do at the time in the days of corporal punishment, it would certainly make sure that the boy didn't try to use protective padding again.

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  47. I am somewhat startled by the last comment concerning Fr Lawrence.

    “He was known to only cane a boy with his underpants and trousers down if he found that the boy was wearing protective padding”.

    That makes it OK does it?

    I have no direct experience of Fr Lawrence as I left the Middle School before he became headmaster. I did, however, hear stories from other pupils which were broadly in line with what others have described.

    If any of this is true then he has some serious explaining to do.

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  48. I will say that I don't know how accurate the claim was, it might have been exaggerated, and I don't know if it makes it okay or not. It would have meant nothing more to me than the fear of greater pain.

    What if the truth was the person was caned in his underpants, does that make it any better?

    I thought that Father Lawrence was a good fun as a teacher, maybe a little bit strict at times, but good fun.

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  49. Has the Abbot spoken about the allegations against Fr Laurence which are now appearing? Is this going to be investigated or will it be swept under the carpet like the rumours about Fr David were in the past?

    We will be able to see how serious the Abbey is about investigating abuse by its approach to the allegations against Fr Laurence.

    I confess I have never seen the words "Fr Laurence" and "good fun" in the same sentence.

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  50. Father Lawrence was head of either L5 or U5 when I was there and it was definitely no trousers and no pants for the caning. It was common knowledge amongst the boys. My best friend had the misfortune to be caned by him, no padding involved or discovered. My friends Mother complained nothing happened... other teachers Fr Benedict, Mr Nonehebel just caned you in the way you'd expect. Fr Lawrence obviously had slightly more interest than just making you behave.

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  51. To all those who have commented, thank you.

    If I find out anything more about the inquiry, I will post a new article. I intend to continue to follow this issue and will report what I can learn.

    By the way, I've realised that some of you have commented not realising that comments have been appearing on other articles I've written on the subject. I've written a total of 4 about Fr Pearce.


    Catholic clerical abuse at Ealing Abbey and St. Benedict's School

    Meeting with Abbot Shipperlee of Ealing Abbey

    Sentencing of Fr David Pearce

    A big "Thank you"

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  52. Prosper Keating1 November 2009 13:48

    quote/…

    There is a time delay in the abuse. You see you start to think it was normal, it was OK to be abused. He was a priest, a grown up and a headmaster-trust. My parents held priest in high esteem, so my thoughts where, that what he was doing was not wrong, but my emotions said otherwise.

    Then you question your sexuality when you go through puberty, then things start to go grey.

    end quote/…

    Two CID men came to see me, when I was a teenager, about the man who had abused me from the ages of 12 to 14. He was a teacher and there were several charges against him involving at least twenty boys as a result of very incriminating photographs he had taken, which had been found. I actually found myself protecting him, standing up for him against the police.

    Mind you, I was rather anti-police by that stage because I was in trouble with them so often. For years, I told myself that it was not so bad because it had been non-penetrative and he had always been nice and fun to be with. I believe he went down for seven years and left the UK when released.

    Once I faced up to the fact that it had done me a lot of damage in various ways, my general outlook and attitude began to improve. I never told my parents as home life was tempestuous enough as things were.

    I suppose that I was kept sane by an older mentor, a neighbour who introduced me to Rockabilly and motorcycles, who had been badly abused as a schoolboy by the headmaster of his school. It wasn't the abuse that haunted him so much as being punished by his parents for running away from the school and for saying shocking, horrible things about such an upright chap. This was 1950s England, after all. When my friend was on a downer, he sometimes tried to kill himself. He finally succeeded four years ago, hanging himself in his back garden after calling a few of us to say goodbye. The police took around three hours to attend, waking his family up to tell them about the frantic calls they'd received.

    So, yes, there is certainly a "time delay" and it can kick in decades afterwards. Fortunately for me, I am now a fairly well-adjusted person, thanks to people who have given me a lot of support, but the capacity for extreme anger and violence remains there under the surface, bubbling up when I encounter certain kinds of people who trip my sensors. It's not an ideal state of mind but it's better than it was. But I do not forget the boys and men who did not make it, like some of my schoolfriends and like my much-loved friend who finally succeeded in topping himself at the age of 63 because of what was done to him half a century before.

    PK

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  53. I would like to add something about father Lawrence if I may.

    I was a pupil in the Middles School, just before his hand over to Mr Burns as it turned out.

    I am only aware of one boy being caned during my time there and, not being a particular close mate of his, I never sought for or heard any of the more immediate details. All I knew was he got caned and came out crying. That's it.

    Nor can I lay claim to knowledge of any untoward dealings between this monk and other boys at the school be it then or at any other time. I certainly wasn't aware of any rumours.

    Perhaps that's why, when I found myself alone in his rather secluded study right at the top of the building, stood next to this cleric, my trousers -at his request- around my ankles as he rubbed his had up and down my thigh, the sounds of the other boys playing in the playground below and wishing with all my heart that I could be down there amongst them, I have no problem believing what's being said about him.

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  54. I have read these posts with a mixture of great sadness and increasing anger. Somebody needs to answer the allegations that are being made here. That somebody is the Abbott at St Benedict's. There needs to be an immediate and public enquiry to address what are very serious allegations. My son attends this school now. I don't want to read in twenty years time a similiar blog. I want to be able to look my son in the eye and assure him that the very best efforts were made to investigate these matters. If something is not done, if this is simply swept under the carpet it WILL happen again. So Fr Abbott what are you doing? Please explain and please do not prevaricate. Enough is enough. My impressionion is that this type of abuse is not happening now and that there are systems in place that would pick it up if it were, but I am not sure. I want to be sure. I demand absolute certainty.

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  55. I totally agree. Are we ever going to be told about the nature of any review ?. Ithink not. We need to get real about the matter. The one and ONLY priority is to protect the reputation of the Monastry. Boys in my sons class at school were among those assaulted by Pearce. Father Abbot don't take the flack for the inactions of others. The school needs to reegain its respect. Respect will not be gained from a cover up.

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  56. Asking for a response from the abbey i.e. action on the part of Abbot Shipperlee is baying for the moon! Nothing will happen.

    The only way parents are going to get answers is by placing the matter in the hands of Westminster and demanding a thorough investigation. Ultimately the care of souls in this parish is the responsibly of the Archdiocese. What is more, it alone is in a position to bring the abbot and his community to book.

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  57. Sadly, I think the above contributor has got it wrong. The Archdiocese of Westminster has little say in the running of this abbey.
    Like all Benedictine abbeys, Ealing is a fully autonomous entity. Though not an ordained bishop, its abbot wears a mitre and carries a crozier; he, therefore, not the local bishop, rules the monastery.
    In fact, it is well-nigh impossible to challenge such a monastic community, for the abbot’s rule is absolute. Each member of the community has, like all Benedictines, pledged life-long commitment (stability) to his abbey (and its abbot) and, in return, is afforded the abbey’s life-long protection. Ealing Abbey is, therefore, rather like an ancient City-State answerable only to itself.

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  58. The Abbot doesn't give a shit about former boys like us, all they care(d) about was getting parents' money.

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  59. Putting the last half-dozen comments together one cant help seeing similarities with the MAFIA. It –
    • offers 'protection' to its members,
    • collects money by the sack load from 'clients'
    • and, in effect, it cannot be challenged.

    Maybe this is not really so surprising, given that both organisations are deeply rooted in the culture of southern Italy?

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  60. Fed up waiting for this Enquiry13 November 2009 21:11

    As the Abbot and Fr David discovered both in the High Court and the Crown Court at Uxbridge the Abbey is not a "City-State answerable only to itself".

    Did the High Court not award damaged of £43,000 against the School?

    Did the Police not arrest and the Court imprison Fr David?

    The Abbey is not a City-State it is a small group of battered men who have not yet realised just how badly the trial and imprisonment of Fr David has damaged their reputations for sanctity and basic common-sense.

    I see no sign that the Abbot has comprehended the damage. If he had he would have given some details of the Enquiry. Eg:

    1. Who is leading it?

    2. Will the enquiry hear witnesses?

    3. What the rules of evidence will be - ie like a County Court or whatever?

    4. When it is going to start?

    I see a parent of a current pupil above is complaining at the lack of information. Can I ask you what you have been told apart from the letter published on the school's website on 03rd October - after the verdict? I note that this letter does not even acknowledge that Fr David abused boys from the School.

    Parents are current pupils at St Benedict's can and should be pressing the current headmaster for full details of the Enquiry.

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  61. In answer to your question: absolutely nothing. We received a letter in the mail that directed us to go to the school's website and thence to an obscure link to read the Abbot's note. Not a word since. The "sweeping in under the carpet" culture is alive and well in Marchwood Crescent....

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  62. Okay, of course, Ealing Abbey isn’t, in reality – that is outside the ecclesiastical world - ‘a city state’. But Benedictines, qua Benedictines, don’t inhabit ‘reality’ as we know it – they are ‘set apart’ and so, come what may, to be seen and treated as ‘holy’. When reality does impinge on this one-and-a-half-thousand-year tradition it may somewhat ‘batter’ these guys but it certainly will NOT change them!

    This insistence on being special, of occupying a unique position somewhere above ‘reality’ is, of course, characteristic of the larger institution to which they belong, that Empire of Holiness, the Roman Catholic Church. And, there lies the real strength (weakness?) of Ealing Abbey - just too many people, despite abuse of all kinds, are still dependent on the alleged ‘holiness’ of this vast body!

    Let them, to site just one example, take a look at the history of the papacy. Dozens of ‘celibate’ popes have sired children, ‘favoured’ young boys, been openly bisexual and many – at least three or perhaps four in the last century have, according to many well informed sources, been known for their homosexuality and, in some instances, for quite openly homosexual practice while in office. When it comes to ‘carpets and dust’ this institution certainly has the infallible touch!

    But what is the lesson here? Surely, it has to be, that wherever the ‘dust’ of our humanity is not held in honour, dishonesty and hypocrisy inevitably rule the roost and the chief occupation of all concerned rapidly becomes the weaving of elaborate ‘carpets’!

    >To catch up on a little ‘papal dust’ see, for example:
    The Bad Popes by E.R. Chamberlin
    Shroud of Secrecy by Luigi Marinello
    In God's Name by David Yallop
    Murder in the Vatican by Lucien Gregoire

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  63. Some good points above to which, as a GAY MEMBER OF ST BENEDICT'S PARISH,I’d like to add a little.

    Some years ago I read and kept a long newspaper article by George Monbiot (Guardian 2000). The article begins: Is the Pope gay? How else can we explain his virulent campaign against homosexuals? “What a man believes upon grossly insufficient evidence,” Bertrand Russell wrote, “is an index to his desires - desires of which he himself is often unconscious.” The Vatican’s current obsession with homosexuality suggests that something interesting might be going on. Are some of the Church’s most powerful cardinals struggling with their sexuality? Could the Pope himself be gay?

    Monbiot examines these questions – in the light of sufficient evidence - in a careful, critical fashion, as have many others since, concluding with the following sentence: Homosexuality is surely both natural and moral. Can the same be said of the Pope?

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  64. Some good points above to which, AS A GAY MEMBER OF ST BENEDICT’S PARISH, I’d like to add a little. Some years ago I read and kept a long newspaper article by George Monbiot (Guardian 2000). The article begins:

    Is the Pope gay? How else can we explain his virulent campaign against homosexuals? “What a man believes upon grossly insufficient evidence,” Bertrand Russell wrote, “is an index to his desires - desires of which he himself is often unconscious.” The Vatican’s current obsession with homosexuality suggests that something interesting might be going on. Are some of the Church’s most powerful cardinals struggling with their sexuality? Could the Pope himself be gay?

    Monbiot examines – in the light of sufficient evidence - these questions in a careful, critical fashion, as have many others since, concluding with the following sentence:

    Homosexuality is surely both natural and moral. Can the same be said of the Pope?

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  65. Is Geo Monbiot a Monk at Ealing?14 November 2009 14:48

    x

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  66. Who cares about Benedictine history or the state of the Catholic Church. Right now as a mother I want a straight answer to a straight question - What has happened to your enquiry Fr Shipperlee?

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  67. Fed up waiting for this enquiry14 November 2009 15:10

    To the parent who says the Abbot is sweeping this matter under the carpet:

    May I suggest that you ask to meet the Headmaster or Abbot Martin? if you know other concerned parents why not go as a group?

    Otherwise why not contact members of the Abbot's Advisory Council?

    It was respectful and deferential attitude towards the monastic community that helped Fr David to get away with his behaviour for so long. Are the parents of current pupils going to trust that "Father" Abbot knows best for their children?

    PS: I wish you had not mentioned "carpets" as it seems to have set some commentators off...

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  68. Indeed let all would be commentators be carpeted. From now on, everyone PLEASE stick to the Catechism!

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  69. I find all the comments on this thread interesting and, though coming from different points of view, relevant. However, ‘FED UP WAITING’ is right. There has been enough comment and it is time for a group of parents and parishioners to confront the Abbot directly, not merely politely to ask what he might or might not be doing but, if necessary, to INSIST that a proper, independent enquiry be set up without further delay. Could someone, Mr West for example, please organise this? This kind of confrontation cannot be done piecemeal it has to be a serious challenge from parents and parish to the Abbot.

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  70. The autumn Parish general meeting next Sunday 22nd November 2.45pm in the parish hall appears to be a good oportunity cofront the abbott.

    Me bets he finds a reason not to be there though

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  71. HUNTING WILD GEESE!
    This blog is a huge waste of time and effort. Get real! So far as the Abbey is concerned all that need be said and all that will be said is as follows:

    If you have evidence of further criminal activity take it to the police, if you have no such evidence – get lost!

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  72. I think you are wrong. I don't think that this is a "huge waste of time". I have no doubt that the Abbey is aware of this blog and from a purely pragmatic point of view it would wise for the Abbott to take some action. There are parents of children at this school, and I am one, who are watching what is happening, or rather what isn't happening, very carefully. Any business, and let's face it, this is a business, would be very foolish to ignore its customers. I want to know what the Abott is doing to protect my child.

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  73. I would imagine that an inquiry is being set up-probably these things take a while- a few weeks/ months to organise. The school has just finished an inspection this week and I think that both Abbey and school would have been concentrating on the preparation for that, in recent weeks.
    I do think that this blog is useful as it enables people to express their feelings and, in some cases exchange opinions. I do not believe that the Abbey acts quickly, in general and so would expect an inquiry to begin in , say, January.
    It is clear that some further communication from either the Abbot or the Headmaster (or both) would go some way towards assuaging parental concerns re: current child protection issues.
    Speaking as a current parent, I am confident that my son would have avenues of action , were he to experience inappropriate behaviour from an adult , in school.

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  74. To the writer of the last comment, I'm very glad for your son, that should he encounter inappropriate behaviour he will have avenues. Bet out parents thiught the same thing. What a bloody shame they were wrong.

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  75. growing more fed up waiting for this enquiry..17 November 2009 22:02

    Father David plead guilty many, many months ago - this was reported in "The Sun" newspaper on 12th August 2009, today is 17th November 2009. Therefore Father Abbot has had over three months to think about this enquiry. The fact the School has had an inspection is no reason for delay in announcing details of the enquiry.

    I would like to see full disclosure of the manner in which John Maestri left the school: this must be part of the enquiry.

    I would like to thank Mr West for hosting this discussion - I think his original posting, far, far above is still worth reading and considering.

    Any Parishioner who is concerned about the Abbey's handling of this matter should refuse to put money into the plate - donate it to the Missions or another Catholic charity. Instead why not put a note into the offertory plate saying you will not contribute any more money to Ealing Abbey until you have seen the outcome of the Investigation and are satisfied it has revealed the truth about who knew what when...don't worry they won't starve....

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  76. Unfortunately not! A prolonged period of starvation is probably what they most need!!

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  77. Starvation???

    A few months of MONASTIC life would do this community a world of good.

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  78. Please Remember the Parish Meeting tomorrow at 2.45 in the Parish Hall. If you can come along and don't be frightened to ask questions.

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  79. So will someone please tell us what happened at the parish meeting?

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  80. A good idea...but I've a strong suspicion there's nothing to tell!

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  81. Unfortunately because of family commitments, I was unable to attend, and so I have nothing I can report.

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  82. so...did anybody go? has anyone anything to tell?

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  83. Oh dear! It seems our ‘brave ship’, captain and all, has floundered at the very first sighting of land!

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  84. maybe we should contact the abbot directly with our concerns and experiances and post his replies, if any, here for all to see. If someone gives me his email address I'll start.

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  85. BANGERS vs. MASH or THE WOLF WHO, THANKS TO ROMULUS AND REMUS, MASQUERADES AS A GOOD SHEPHERD -

    The debate on this blog, stretching back several months, would seem to have come to an end. As one might have expected, it has done so with ‘a whisper’. What I think the blog demonstrates, however, and very clearly, is the sinister, all-pervasive POWER of Catholicism.

    We, the contributors, are all victims of this clinging, un-holy (i.e. un-Whole/un-Wholesome)‘MOTHER’. One or two of us have been sexually abused, many more mentally abused, but all of us, yes, every single one of us, has been emotionally abused and manipulated. Thanks to this institution, we are all, in some significant way, retarded.

    Up to a point, some of us are able to articulate our anger, our frustration and our pain but others, probably the vast majority, feel bound to hide-away muted, semi-conscious thoughts and feelings of outrage behind a façade of polite diffidence. Yes, of course, THE SHOW must go on! Just as it has now for over two-thousand years!

    And WHAT A SHOW!, modelled as it is on the strategies of a late, decadent Paganism, desperately trying to maintain itself within the bosom of ‘Eternal Rome’!

    PLEASE - THIS CHURCH WON’T, CAN’T, LET GO OF YOU! BUT YOU – WITH THE HELP OF ‘THE GODS’ – CAN, INDEED ONE DAY SURELY MUST, LET GO OF IT! WHATEVER THE HYPE, POMP OR PROPAGANDA, FOR US HUMANS TO BE FULLY HUMAN (WHOLE/HOLY) - THE LIKES OF ‘ROME’ CAN NEVER, EVER BE SEEN AS OUR ‘HOME’! IT LIKE ALL ITS KIND IS AN EVER-CONQUERING, ALIEN AND ALIENATING LAND – AN INSATIABLE, ALL-CONSUMING MONSTER – A WOLF IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING!

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  86. *eyes the last post and wonders a) who shuffled of their mortal coil and promoted them to devine status the better to speak for us all and decide when we must cease to make noise and b) just what on earth - or indeed any other planet - they are going on about?*

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  87. I wrote the above, apparently unfathomable, lines and would like to add a couple more:

    First, for Eliot lovers: A friend rang just now to tell me of the last entry and to ask why I wrote ‘whisper’ rather than ‘whimper’? Well, because whimper is a sound of defeat, whereas a whisper is something we might or, sadly, like the last contributor, might not hear but which can, over time, grow in strength to the point where it can no longer be ignored.

    Secondly, geographically at least, I’m an Ealing parishioner - someone who sent both her sons to Catholic schools, albeit not St Benedict’s. I no longer regard myself as a Catholic or even a Christian, but there is nevertheless still an emotional thread of connection. I recognise, however, that this is no Ariadne’s thread leading to freedom but, on the contrary, one that would, were it able, bind me forever to the monster at the heart of the labyrinth – the Minotaur – devourer of youth!

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  88. I quite like what the lady who’s a ‘geographical parishioner’ has written and how its expressed. However, a bit more light can be shed, I think, on *…*’s problem.
    Back in the 1992 American Presidential Campaign, Bill Clinton’s team coined a phrase aimed at George W Bush’s woeful grasp of the state of the nation – ‘It’s the economy, stupid!’
    In this long debate about monastic child abuse, responsibility and other issues what really counts can I think be summed up in similar fashion – IT’S THE MYTHOLOGY, STUPID!

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  89. Well, so where are we going with this now 'cos last time I checked the ancient greeks had a saying 'you take a woman for duty, a boy for pleasure and a man for love'? Not sure I care much for their world view, gods and all.

    I still want to know what if anything was said at the parish meeting. Infact, why not have someone from the Old Priorians set up a meeting speciafically to address these points? Must be someone on here that kept up membership. I let mine slip.

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  90. Indeed, indeed, indeed! Give us a good old-fashioned Father who, no messing about, demands the bloody sacrifice of his Son - all in a good cause of, course! Not a whiff of sex about that...well at least not of that nasty, objectionable kind!

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  91. insteaad of being venomously anti catholic why don't you add something constructive? Speaking as someone who was directly effected by the issues that have been covered here I fail to see how you are actually adding to this.

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  92. Then you are failing to see crucial historical links and connections. You are failing to see a wider picture of which 'the issues' to which you refer are merely symptomatic.

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  93. The venom referred to above is, I imagine, meant to be homoeopathic!

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  94. Call me selfish then but I'm concerned with my own expirances, as unpalatable as they were, and getting someone to talk to me and others to explain to us why they were let happen.

    The 'bigger picture' I leave to others, along with homoepathic whatevers.

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  95. Someone - Mr West? - can surely write to the Abbot letting him know the concerns expressed on this blog and the many questions people have raised. It is not credible that he would ignore such a letter, especially if it indicated that his reply would be posted on this blog. The main question, without a doubt, remains When can we expect to hear about his promised investigation?

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  96. My ‘selfish’ friend: You indeed have my sympathy. But, you know what happened to you and you know why it happened. Furthermore, you have a pretty good idea why 'they let it happen'.

    The pain and confusion you feel belong, whether you know it or not, to a bigger picture, to a much bigger picture than the one referred to above. They belong to our human condition - to its injustice, indifference, cruelty and, maybe, who knows, its overall lack of meaning.

    The problem with how you feel is not its selfishness, but that it is the kind of selfishness that does not help for it goes nowhere, as it cannot see beyond itself. The beginning of any healing is too see that whatever we suffer as individuals is, in fact, universal - it affects everyone, even if it doesn’t seem like that. This in turn can be the beginning of a compassion that, given that it relates to our universal condition, is truly catholic! Don’t be frightened of your negativity - your anger, your resentment, etc - acknowledge it, take a good look at it - and then use it, use the precious energy it contains as fully as you can - lively more creatively than those who abused you!

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  97. Dear All,

    The Abbot has posted a letter concerning Father David on the abbey's website.

    http://www.ealingabbey.org.uk/07monastery-0home.htm

    It is broadly similar to the original letter addressed to parents of pupils at the school. It does, however, include his contact details.

    ************************************************

    2nd October 2009

    Dear Parishioners,

    Fr David Pearce, a member of the monastic community, pleaded guilty on 10th August to serious criminal offences against children and has now been sentenced to 8 years imprisonment.

    The crimes perpetrated by Fr David were a betrayal of the trust placed in him as a teacher and priest. His exploitation of the most vulnerable was brought to an end by the courage of those of his victims who came forward and revealed what had been happening.

    We have cooperated fully with the police throughout their investigation and I would like to express my thanks to them for the professional way in which they have dealt with this matter.

    I would like to apologise in every way that I can to his victims and to everyone else who has been affected by this case. I will remember in my prayers all those whose lives have been troubled by Fr David's actions.

    I am instructing an independent review into this matter to examine what there is to be learned in order to ensure that there can never be a recurrence of this situation.

    Fr David's future as a priest will now be reviewed in accordance with the child protection procedures of the Church and he will certainly never again serve as a priest.

    If you have any concerns or questions on this matter I shall be present after all the Masses this Sunday, as will Mr Peter Turner, the Child Protection Officer for the Diocese. I can also be contacted directly on 020 8862 2149 or by email at: dmartin@ealingabbey.org.uk

    Abbot Martin

    ***********************************************

    Former pupil (1975 - 1982)

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  98. That is an old statement from Abbot Martin which most of us read (and commented on) two months ago.

    What has he done about the matter since?
    Has the Independent Review been set up?
    If not why not?
    What is its brief?
    Who will conduct/is conducting the review and in what manner?
    When can we expect to learn of its findings?

    There are many more such questions. Chief among them at the moment being why is this straightforward matter taking so very long?

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  99. I have phoned the Abbot's secretary requesting an appointment. I will keep you informed of any progress.

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  100. I’ve glanced at this blog several times over the past couple of weeks, noting what seem to be its main concerns – 'child abuse', 'the existence of God’, 'evolution', etc.

    What interest me, as a classical scholar, are recent references to ‘the Greeks’ - some for, some against. I’d like to contribute three quotations from the novelist and essayist, Andre Gide.

    First, though, I have to point out, to those unfamiliar with such issues, that the entire edifice of Catholic philosophy-cum-theology rests squarely on the achievements of ‘the Greeks’. Catholic thought, for better or worse, is thoroughly Greek!

    Now, the quotes:

    1 With reference to the ongoing debate on theism:
    I would give my life for God to exist. Yes, that makes sense. But giving my life to prove that God exists makes no sense at all. It simply has no meaning. – Andre Gide

    2 With reference to an analogy drawn between the Catholicism and Minos’ Labyrinth:
    There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them. – Andre Gide

    3 With reference to ‘the gods’:
    The Greeks, who not only in the multitude of their statues, but also in themselves, left us such a beautiful image of humanity, recognised as many gods as there are instincts, and the problem for them was to keep the inner Olympus in equilibrium, not to subjugate and subdue any of the gods.
    – Andre Gide

    There, in that last quote, is a lesson Catholicism may not have learned as well as it might and, in failing, has let down both its tutors and its pupils!

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  101. I am a practising Catholic but a thinking one, so this entry is NOT designed to give offence, merely to raise a knowing smile!

    The comments above remind me of an old joke, one that contains perhaps a touch of Greek Wisdom, it goes like this:

    ‘One of life’s greatest tragedies is not to be born a Catholic.
    However, an even greater tragedy is to die one!’

    Think about it - humour is at the heart of religion!

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  102. Gosh! Nice to find a joke of sorts on this blog. Most of the stuff is either pretentious or mindbogglingly repetitive!

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  103. Perhaps the author of the previous comment would have done well to remember that this is a thread about the rather unfunny matter of sexual abuse of children and its cover-up. That might explain the absence of jokes and also the repetition because as he himself (for I would presume him to be male) demonstrates some people take a long time to "get it".

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  104. well, I bit the bullet and emailed the abbot:

    Dear Abbot Martin,

    as far as I know we have not met, nor am I one of your parishoners. My reason for writing to you is, however both personal and concerns your Parish, or to be more precise, your school, which I attened in the 1980's from the age of 7 until I left at the age of 16. I bet you can guess now part of the reason.

    I have been following with more than a passing interest the blog of another former St Benedicts student, a certain Mr West. I think I actually either knew him or knew of him during my time at school. Certain posts have brought up a number of old, bad thoughts, feelings and memories and I would like to share these with you.

    Although I knew (the soon to be ex) Father David from my first year in the middle school I can't say that he ever targeted me directly physically, though I do remember a rather awkward lesson in RE when he spent over half the lesson explaining to us what a circumcision was. His reputation amongst us (then) boys was indeed well deserved.

    No, he mostly left me alone, though I did see his sadistic side on more than one occasion it was only ever threats and verbal abuse. What stired my memories was talk of Father Lawrance. It caused me to actually post the following:

    I would like to add something about father Lawrence if I may.

    I was a pupil in the Middles School, just before his hand over to Mr Burns as it turned out.

    I am only aware of one boy being caned during my time there and, not being a particular close mate of his, I never sought for or heard any of the more immediate details. All I knew was he got caned and came out crying. That's it.

    Nor can I lay claim to knowledge of any untoward dealings between this monk and other boys at the school be it then or at any other time. I certainly wasn't aware of any rumours.

    Perhaps that's why, when I found myself alone in his rather secluded study right at the top of the building, stood next to this cleric, my trousers -at his request- around my ankles as he rubbed his had up and down my thigh, the sounds of the other boys playing in the playground below and wishing with all my heart that I could be down there amongst them, I have no problem believing what's being said about him.

    I do not wish to go into further details because I see little benefit to it and frankly it's painful. What I do want to know is was this not, as I have long thought, a single 'episode'? Did you indeed have other complaints against this monk and was that why he was bumped out of your community to Italy as has been suggested?

    To be absolutly frank with you I have few, if any, good memories of attending your school. I have mild dyslexia which was never picked up during my time there so I was simply labled lazy and taunts from certain teachers made sure that I was eventually targeted and severly bullied by a number of other students. It is the main reason I chose not to become a member of the Old Priorian association or have any particular ties with the school. Therefore reading all this as I'm sure you appreciate has not been easy for me and certainly revisiting things long forgotten has been difficult. With all that in mind can you or indeed will you be kind enough to provide this old boy with an awnser?

    Yours in anticipation,

    ******

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  105. I got this reply:

    Subject: E mail to Abbot Martin
    Date: Thu, 26 Nov 2009 11:52:44 +0000
    From: peterturner@rcdow.org.uk
    To: **********@hotmail.com




    I have been forwarded by Abbot Martin your email below.



    As the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisor I am concerned about the contents of your e mail and would ask that you contact me either by e mail or by telephone (my number is shown below) so that we can discuss this matter and take any action that may be necessary.

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  106. to which I sent this:

    Sent: 26 November 2009 12:55:22
    To: peterturner@rcdow.org.uk

    Well, it was nice of Abbot Martin to forward my e-mail to you and I appreciate your concern at it's contents.

    However, what I was actually asking for was an awnswer to my question. Am I to take it that this will not be forthcoming?

    It is my understanding that Father Lawrance is now in Italy, that being the case I'm not sure I see how any further action will be deemed necessary? I mean, he's out of the country and I'm tempted to say that some might thus concider him out of mind. As for the bullying and what led up to it, I can't see that being of particular interest to anyone other than myself.

    But that aside, I would point out that I do not know you, either personally or by reputation. As I stated in my e-mail to Abbot Martin these are very personal matters to me which I have difficulty dwelling on. I don't mean to be rude but why do you feel that I would be comfortable discussing them further with you?

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  107. Dear Non-Old Priorian, Well done! And thank you for sharing your messages with us.

    What a discourteous whimp the so-called ‘Abbot’ is! Open him up and chances are you wouldn’t find a single gut!

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  108. Yes, what a really shameful response, or rather lack of response. The Abbot has very badly failed here - as Abbot, as priest, as monk and as human being!! Disgraceful, and truly shocking from someone whose job is to set an example to others. I have written this, but in fact I'm so angry I'm almost speechless! As of now, I shall never set foot in St Benedict's again!

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  109. Abbot Shipperlee has made up his mind not to enter into dialogue with anyone. His motto and that of his community is the (Irish) motto that has received so much publicity today -

    DON'T ASK AND DON'T TELL!

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  110. Mr West, have you had any response from the Abbot to your telephone call or have you too been forwarded to someone else?

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  111. I have had an email response from the Abbot refusing to meet with me. The reason I have been a bit quiet on this topic until now is that I have been trying for 4 weeks to get a response from him - in that time I have sent a couple of emails and left a couple of phone messages, each time leaving a reasonable time for him to get back to me.

    I will be writing more on this in a day or two.

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  112. THANK YOU, MR WEST! DEALING WITH BRICK WALLS IS NOT AN ENVIABLE JOB. BUT YOU HAVE ALL OUR SUPPORT!

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  113. ISN'T IT TIME FOR ST BENEDICT’S SCHOOL TO BE TAKEN OUT OF MONASTIC HANDS?

    My son is a pupil at St Benedict's and I find this blog very distressing indeed and things are not getting better. In fact, judging from the Abbot’s behaviour they’re sinking rapidly - from bad to worse. The Abbey’s old 'cover up' policy is certainly alive and well.

    It is, I would think, now glaringly obvious to everyone that the Abbey feels no responsibility to respond to parishioners, parents, pupils or anyone else - something you’d imagine common courtesy alone would demand! But, this community, as several contributors have pointed out, seems to think it’s above ordinary human decency. Well, I have news for this deluded, self-satisfied lot: WE CAN NOW SEE YOU, FOR WHAT YOU REALLY ARE - A BUNCH OF YOBBOS!

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  114. I am glad to see that someone, at last, has made a written complaint about Fr Laurence Soper. I would encourage that former pupil to co-operate with the Diocesan Safeguarding Official, Peter Turner in order get an investigation going. If you leave it as it is I doubt they will bother to investigate, they will simply dismiss you as a crank or a trouble-maker.

    Then others may come forward as well.

    It is shameful to see that Fr Lawrence still occupies such a high position as assistant to the Abbot Primate in Rome. But if no-one makes a formal allegation against him why should the Benedictines do anything? Ealing only acts when the Police are at the door, they have learned little or nothing from the Fr Dave events it seems.

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  115. Yes, sadly the last two contributors are right! The behaviour of this community is shameful, but nothing will be done unless its hand is forced.

    However, as the last contributor but one says, something positive can be done. Given what we hear about 'decades of abuse and cover up’, the idea of putting this, now well-run, school into secular or diocesan hands is excellent. Such a move would, I imagine, be welcomed by the majority of parents and a great relief to those who, quite understandably, continue to worry about its present management.

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  116. This is just to add my word thanks to Mr West and to the young man who has had the courage to challenge Mr Shipperlee.

    I also very strongly support the idea of liberating St Benedict's from the grip of Ealing Abbey.

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  117. ST BENEDICT'S SCHOOL

    'Liberating St Benedict's', to use a phrase from the previous entry, might not be anywhere near as difficult a task as some might think.

    Firstly, it is not unlikely, especially in the light of recent events, that Ealing Abbey would itself welcome such a suggestion. It is in any case an aged community with little hope of recruiting new members.

    Secondly, it would be foolish to resist such a move. The adverse publicity generated would be enormous and something from which the Abbey would probably never recover. No, unless foolish beyond all belief, the Abbey would not contemplate publicly challenging, the host of accusations that have been, and are being, brought against it.

    So, if there is a problem here it is merely a procedural one. Probably the easiest way to proceed would, as I suggest, be to present the proposal directly to the Abbot of Ealing. Were, by any chance, that to fail, the way ahead would become fairly clear, I think!

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  118. This morning I recieved this:

    From: Peter Turner (peterturner@rcdow.org.uk)
    Sent: 27 November 2009 08:20:17
    To: *******
    Cc: Martin Shipperlee (dmartin@EalingAbbey.org.uk)

    As the Safeguarding Advisor for the Diocese Abbot Martin passed your e mail to me, in order that I can offer any assistance to you. However, if you feel that I cannot offer this assistance I will contact Abbot Martin for him to reply to your e mail.



    I would like to add that any allegations/concerns are taken seriously, albeit any alleged offender may be abroad or indeed deceased. This is to ensure that all persons who may be affected by the alleged abuse can receive such help as may be necessary.



    That offer would still be open to you or anyone else.





    Peter `W Turner

    As yet I have not replied to it and nor have Ihad any communication at all from Abbot Martin since Is ent my first email to him.

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  119. The entry before last is fine but suggests 'the easiest way' would be to contact 'the Abbot of Ealing direct' - has he/she not read just how difficult that is? The Lord Abbot of Ealing responds to no one. It would be easier, it seems, and quicker to make contact with him via the Pope.

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  120. That's not a bad idea! Might even shake him out of his complacency. But I doubt it!

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  121. No, it seems nothing will shake this Abbot’s ‘complacent’ attitude. One wonders if it's a sign of profound resolve on his part or sheer stupidly? Whatever, as time drags on, this saga is becoming unbearable and maybe just a little absurd.

    Isn't it time to take the story of this blog, especially its recent history with the Abbot and the new proposal to reform the school’s status, to the press? Someone says the Abbey only responds 'when the police are at the door'. Well, let's see how it gets on with the media.

    The job of making contact would probably fall best to poor old Jonathan West, but really anyone of us could start the ball rolling. Any suggestions on where to best to begin? The BBC, the local newspaper, the national press or where?

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  122. It is with deepest sadness that I read this blog and ponder the several aspects. Holy Mass will be offered at Westminster Cathedral for my special intention, namely for the victims of abuse and for their families and for all who are in any way affected by their suffering; and to this I join my fervent prayers.

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  123. I would like to say that I have now had a reply from Abbot Martin to my email. As it's reasonably personal rather than an 'offical' responce I hesitate to post it here. But I think it's true to say that he is very much aware that there may be other problems yet to be looked into.

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  124. Okay...but how many more ‘problems’ do we need to know about, I wonder? Three members of this small community have been directly accused of sexual abuse, one now behind bars, not to mention two suspect lay teachers in its employ. Surely this is more than enough evidence to demonstrate that this is not a fit community to run a school?

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  125. Before liberating the School from the Abbot are we not forgetting the need for an Investigation? It is vital that Abbot Martin is not permitted to delay this because other allegations are being made.

    Also before beating up on Abbot Martin let's recall he inherited this mess from Fr Lawrence. Also I notice no-one has mentioned Fr Francis Rossiter did he know nothing about Fr David or Fr Lawrence?

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  126. Excuse me! Is that a serious question? As far as I know no member of this community is completely deaf, dumb or blind!

    Investigation..or..liberation? I think - as an earlier contributor stays- we already know more than enough.

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  127. I've now written an open letter to the Abbot, asking about the independent review and commenting in detail on the shortcomings of the school's published child protection policy. See the latest two entries on my blog.

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  128. Thanks for that Mr West. Both for the pointer and all the hard work!
    :Pointers are necessary on this blog:

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  129. Indeed, thank you very much Mr West. It's just terribly sad you have to deal with someone of Abbot Shipperlee's calibre! Among other things, he’s doubtless trying to avoid – as with your OPEN LETTERS – an honest brain being brought to bear on matters that should and, in some perverse way probably do, deeply concern him.

    Like others, I’m all in favour of 'liberating' the school. However, it may be, that before that can happen, further public Investigation into its past running is necessary.

    But, what, I wonder, of the wider question? Surely, shades of Ireland and its Archdiocese are in the air here. Westminster, long ago, quietly suspended several members of this community from the priesthood and has known what we know – maybe a great deal more - for many years! Is this not both a very depressing and a very worrying thought?
    - P D

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  130. A BIT OF A MIXED MESSAGE

    As a relatively young priest I find much on this blog makes for very uncomfortable reading. But, I would like to thank those who have written it, especially Jonathan West. Though frequently unpalatable and disturbing the contributions here are nearly all of a high standard - challenging, insightful, varied and well written.

    Some time back, a contributor mentioned contacting the media. I would like to urge that, if there is to be such a move, it starts with the Catholic Press. Maybe The Herald or Tablet? But on the whole such a direct contact would not really help matters.

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  131. I have just mentioned this case on Damian Thompson's blog Holy Smoke -

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  132. Anon at 11.44 writes:

    "Westminster, long ago, quietly suspended several members of this community from the priesthood and has known what we know.."

    This is the second time I have seen this claim. Who are they? and why the secrecy?

    If they have been suspended a divinis then they won't be saying Mass in public. It is simply idle rumour if no-one is prepared to name names. Also the suggestion is that Westminster has suspended priests at Ealing against whom there have been allegations but has not followed its own safeguarding procedures of announcing to Parishes these events. No Sorry I do not think Westminster would be that stupid in the prevailing circs.

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  133. I think '11.44' is referring to Frs. Hobbs, Soper and Pearce. As to 'the procedures' I have, I'm afraid, no idea.

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  134. Where can we find Damian Thompson's Holy Smoke blog?

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  135. These guys 'will not be saying mass in public'. Fr Stan isn't, Fr David isn't, of course. But what about Fr Lawrence? He can't say mass here either. But in bella Italia, scene of Fr Stan's alleged crime, who knows? But, then who cares?

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  136. Holy Smoke blog28 November 2009 17:49

    The Holy Smoke blog is here:

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/author/damianthompson/

    NB: There are plenty of cranks writing on it..

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  137. Re: Father Stan28 November 2009 17:57

    " But in bella Italia, scene of Fr Stan's alleged crime, who knows? But, then who cares?"

    off-topic i know but two points here:

    1. The jury were aware of the Italian incident, Fr Stan admitted it, and it was presented to the jury as similar fact evidence - Fr Stan gave an innocent explanation for it. He was subject to a five-day trial which examined very personal aspects of his life and still the jury found him Not Guilty.

    2. Despite the massive publicity about Fr Stan's arrest no other allegations were made by anyone else. Just compare and contrast that with Fr David, after he was arrested others came forward with allegations.

    Let's let him enjoy his retirement in peace.

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  138. I fully concur with the sentiments just expressed by 17.57. However, as a non-Catholic parent I also concur with 17.35. I don't give a damn where, how, when or if these men say mass. But I do care how they treat my son and other boys. Their clerical duties are really not the concern of this blog. They may be of interest to some but they are NOT the prime issue with we are here are concerned.

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  139. sorry...'with which we are here concerned.'

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  140. I wonder if someone would be kind enough to explain the various options for contributing to this blog. We nearly all opt for 'anonymous', I suspect because, as in my case, we don't really understand how the others work.

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  141. Anon at 18.26 writes:

    "However, as a non-Catholic parent I also concur with 17.35. I don't give a damn where, how, when or if these men say mass."

    Earlier the poster at 11.44 claimed that Westminster was "quietly suspending" members of the Community at Ealing. In other words, they were secretly removing priests from public duties, like saying Mass in public, but NOT announcing that allegations of abuse had been made against them. I doubt that has happened as Westminster should announce if allegations have been made against a priest.

    If I have misunderstood your post, 11.44, please correct me.

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  142. So far as Fr David is concerned there was no ‘secrecy’ possible – both his cases were all over the papers. As for Fr Stan, most of us would assume that as he was found 'not guilty he’d be allowed to carry on working as a priest. But no! Unbeknown to most of us Westminster suspended him and it is a life-long ban. In the case of Fr Lawrence, well, he simply disappeared from the scene. Did anyone hear an announcement as to why, from Westminster or anywhere else? Of course, one can understand perfectly well why these matters are kept as quite as possible; they’re hardly ringing endorsements of the system, are they? Nevertheless, it seems they have a life of their own and are contributing to the present un-holy mess!

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  143. PS
    I've refrained from commenting further on Fr Lawrence as I imagine he's one of the 'problems' Abbot Martin tells us are 'still to emerge'.

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  144. IS THERE A DEGREE OF CONFUSION HERE?

    Within Society we all play many roles and have several ‘identities’. Members of the monastic community at Ealing Abbey, have three main identities:

    1 They are our fellow CITIZENS, subject to the law of the land and its institutions. Thus, the abbey school is publicly assessed and is subject to regular Inspection.

    2 They are MONKS, living by the Rule of St Benedict, under the jurisdiction of their abbot and constitution.

    3 They are PRIESTS under the jurisdiction of the local diocese, the wider ecclesiastical authorities and canon law.

    This multiple ‘identity’ is, I believe, causing some confusion. For instance, one contributor sees the abbey is something like ‘a city state’. Yes, as a monastic house it is, and the abbot’s rule is law. But, as recent events have shown, the abbot has no jurisdiction over our civil courts. There the Law is administered under a judge. However, as a community of priests – and Ealing is a ‘priestly community’ - its members are subject to the diocese that ordained them and which retains the power to take away the privileges of that ordination. This being the case, one might wonder, and I think several contributors to this blog do wonder, who actually calls the tune? The answer, as we see, is various people; it all depends on which ‘identity’ comes into question.

    So, a query:

    WHY DID THE ARCHDIOCESE, THE ULTIMATE AUTHORITY HERE, KNOWING WHAT IT DID ABOUT CERTAIN MEMBERS OF THIS COMMUNITY, FAIL TO INITIATE THE KIND OF INVESTIGATION THIS BLOG IS CALLING FOR?
    - R P

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  145. Ok, interesting, thanks for that. If I’ve got the message, it's ‘de-frocked’ but never ‘de-habited’. Yup, it is justa bit confusing/

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  146. I agree it is very interesting. My convent education drilled into me the phrase ‘once a priest always a priest’. That no longer seems to hold! Perhaps convents today offer the mantra ‘once a monk always a monk’? I don’t know. But I do know we have an enormous shortage of priests. How come we can afford to push aside men such as Fr Stanislaus Hobbs?

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  147. There are many issues involved in all this, that is for sure. But can we please come back and focus on the main reason for this blog? Its major objective is and has to remain the safety of pupils at St Benedict’s. To this end we want-

    a) the Abbot to fulfil his promise and set up, as quickly as possible, a thorough, independent investigation into what has happened at the school over the past two or three decades and

    b) for him to demonstrate that he is now doing everything in his power to establish in the school proper procedures and safeguards to protect its students.

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  148. Hear, Hear! I do hope everyone has read Jonathan West's excellent Open Letters to Abbot Shipperlee?
    (see NOVEMBER on this blog)

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  149. A large number of people contact this blog and that's fine. But couldn't more of us contact Abbot Shipperlee direct? He doesn't respond to anything unless forced it seems.

    Many would, I feel sure, if, in doing so, they could remain anonymous. Parents don't want to run the risk of their children being victimised, which, as we've read, is not at all impossibility. Two old-boys have calmed they were expelled from the school, simply for ‘knowing too much’.

    Anyway, I note the email address is:

    dmartin@EalingAbbey.org.uk

    - Mary T

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  150. N.B. > Very interesting and instructive article from THE OBSERVER in November thread.

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  151. Yes indeed. Furthermore Jonathan West has just posted part of a 'Guardian' article, covering the same subject. Only this one throws responsibility right into our own backyards. Yes, yours and mine!

    SEE [UNDER NOVEMBER]: 'The Crime of Inaction'

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  152. Thank you to both Prosper Keating and to G ( I think)for explaining the time delay involved in reporting abuse and the life-long devasting effects such abuse causes. I take G's point that it was his parents' disbelief that caused further damage.
    Again, given knowledge in the public domain at the time, Mr/ Fr. D. Pearce's comment that he "meant no harm" cannot be understood. What effect did he think such actions by a trusted adult would have?
    So,as a teacher, I would ask- how is it possible to ensure that children are able to report behaviour that makes them feel uncomfortable, before it escalates?
    I don't understand the "textbook....baby blue... " reference but did understand that my comments prompted an anger.
    I think the person who complained re: the lack of jokes is probably on the wrong blog. This is a serious matter and Jonathan West has facilitated relevant discussion and enabled people to voice their concerns.
    I hope Father Martin is aware of the blog and trust that he will take notice of the concerns expressed.
    At the risk of causing controversy, I believe he acted to the best of his knowledge at the time- possibly without full information.

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  153. *I believe he acted to the best of his knowledge at the time- possibly without full information.*

    Really? Father Martin has lived with Frs. Stan, Lawrence and David for years. Believe me, in such a setting everyone knows everyone else, and their business, all too well.

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  154. To laugh or NOT to laugh?

    “Humour is the way to cope with problems. Anger and bitterness don’t help – humour
    and laughter do” - Rabbi Lionel Blue

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  155. I have just been looking at the home page for St Benedict’s School (http://www.stbenedicts.org.uk). It indexes through a series of photographs showing different aspects of school life. I was extremely surprised to see a photograph of Fr Lawrence Soper talking to some children in an office. For those that do not know him, he is the balding monk with the glasses.

    Posters on this blog have stated that Diocese of Westminster has banned him from celebrating mass. Serious allegations have been made about his behaviour towards children. St Benedict’s claims to have a new “child protection policy” in place. In spite of this, Fr Lawrence would appear to remain in such good standing with the school that he features in its promotional material.

    Either Fr Lawrence is being unjustly accused or the school is not taking its responsibilities seriously enough.

    Somebody please tell me that I have made mistake and identified the wrong man. It would be a big relief if I had.

    Former pupil (1975 - 1982).

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  156. Is that Fr Lawrence in the photo? No2 December 2009 17:43

    No it's not Fr Lawrence in the photo of the monk with the two pupils. (Are you sure you are an OP?)

    Interesting though that that one is the only photo to feature a monk in the slide-show. Is the monastic role in the school no longer used to promote the school?

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  157. I stand corrected.

    I have not been near the school or abbey since I left. I suppose this illustrates the problems with trying to recall events and people from so long ago.

    Former Pupil (1975 - 1982).

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  158. Charity Commission Report 15/12/0916 December 2009 14:42

    http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/investigations/inquiryreports/benedicts.asp

    Charity Commission Report on the St Benedict's Trust published 15th Dec 2009 -

    Conclusions
    52. The Commission concluded, in relation to the two issues investigated by the second Inquiry, the following:

    Child Protection

    53. Despite assurances from the trustees, they failed to implement the restrictions placed on Individual A (aka Fr David Pearce) whilst on Charity premises and the Commission is extremely critical of the trustees in this regard. One of the terms of Individual A’s continued role in the Charity was that he was to have no access to children and young people on the Charity’s premises – the trustees failed to ensure this was the case (refer to paragraph 47 above).

    Actions taken to protect the reputation of the Charity

    54. Following the arrest in January 2008 the trustees took positive steps to protect the reputation of the Charity and continue to do so – the trustees have confirmed publicly that an independent review will be carried out to ensure that this situation can not reoccur.

    end of extract ------ from Charity Commission Report

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  159. Charity Commission Report 15/12/0916 December 2009 14:47

    More from the Charity Commission Report:

    Regulatory action taken
    55. Due to the serious nature of the concerns raised, both in the original anonymous complaint and following the arrest of Individual A, the Commission opened a statutory Inquiry in July 2006 (the first Inquiry) and a second statutory Inquiry (the second Inquiry) in February 2008 to investigate matters further.

    56. The Commission provided regulatory advice and guidance to the Charity, which was accepted by the trustees.

    57. The Commission monitored the progress and outcome of the criminal investigation to determine if further regulatory action was required. In light of the criminal prosecution and sentencing, this was not necessary.

    58. The Commission has requested a copy of the independent review and will actively monitor the Charity to ensure that this happens.

    --end of extract--

    So it looks as if Abbot Martin will have to get on with sorting out the Independent Review as the Charit Commission has joined the queue of those wishing to see this document see Para 58.

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  160. Re: what was and was not known- I believe that it is possible for e.g flatmates to live alongside oneanother in the same geographical space and yet not understand the minutiae of oneanother's lives. So, I believe that it would be possible for say, Father Pearce and/or Father Stan, for example, to exhibit unsuitable and inappropriate ( and possibly learned ) behaviour which amounted to child abuse. i.e there was invasive and inappropriate touching (causing long term psychological damage) which they somehow thought was normal.......this is the only explanation I can find for recent events.
    I do not believe that there was a paedophile ring active at St. Benedict's.
    As to how much the various Abbots in charge during the 80's and 90's would have known....it is true that "there are none so blind as those who will not see" and this may be an explanation as to why suspicions were not reported earlier.It is also true that those who are not looking for evil do not find it.So, just as it is posible for an unsuspecting wife/husband to live with a partner for a number of years and yet not know that that partner has another ( in another part of the country/around the corner),I contend that it was possible for these monks to co-exist whilst each was unaware of how the other was behaving.I would be interested in opinions on this.

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  161. Charity Commission report 15/12/200917 December 2009 00:23

    Here is what the Charity Commission said in the report published on 15/12/2009:

    53. Despite assurances (ie given by Abbot Martin as the Chair of the Trustees to the Charity Commission during the 1st Investigation July 2006) from the trustees, they failed to implement the restrictions placed on Individual A (aka Fr David Pearce) whilst on Charity premises and the Commission is extremely critical of the trustees in this regard. One of the terms of Individual A’s continued role in the Charity was that he was to have no access to children and young people on the Charity’s premises – the trustees failed to ensure this was the case (refer to paragraph 47 above)."

    This a serious criticism and Abbot Martin needs to explain why he has not taken reponsibility for his failure to protect children from David Pearce as he told the Charity Commission he would. In other words why has he not resigned?

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  162. Don't ask for 'opinion'. Simply look any member of this community straight in the eye and ask the question!

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  163. DON'T ASK.......
    I think you have nailed it home, stop the mud throwing and do what he/she said....

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  164. Nothing at all will be achieved by merely talking on this blog.

    If you genuinely want anything to change at Ealing Abbey and St Benedict's school, then there is no point in us merely talking to each other here.

    I have reached the limit of what I can achieve alone with the Abbot - he has now refused to meet me. Nothing more will happen unless a group is formed which is able to apply more pressure than individuals can manage.

    I remain concerned at the inadequacy of the child protection arrangements there, as I've stated in the Open Letter to the Abbot. If you want to see any changes and are willing to form a group, email me here jonathanwest22@googlemail.com.

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  165. How nice to think of the abbey as just a bunch of lads discreetly sharing a flat together. 'Nice' but way off beam. A much closer analogy would be to compare the place as a Masonic Lodge. Of course, as with everywhere else, you'll find 'the good, the bad and the ugly' there. However, here, unlike everywhere else, 'the bad and the ugly' are a protected species.

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  166. The full Charity Commission report on Ealing Abbey:
    www.charitycommission.gov.uk/investigations/inquiryreports/benedicts.asp

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  167. Statutory Enquiry into St Benedict's Trust..19 December 2009 19:49

    I see no mention of this Statutory Inquiry by the Charity Commission into the St Benedict's Trust on the Abbey Website. Has it been mentioned at all?

    I am glad to see the link here.

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  168. Guardian Report 28 Dec 200929 December 2009 21:40

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/dec/28/paedophile-catholic-school-criticised

    "The most recent case, when he abused a teenage pupil who was hired to wash up for the monks in the abbey, took place between July 2006 and January 2008. It happened despite the civil courts already having awarded damages against Pearce following accusations of paedophile activity with pupils in 1984 and in the early 1990s, when he was headmaster of the junior school and taught in the senior school.

    The child protection commission of the diocese of Westminster also knew about Pearce's past but advised the abbey that he could continue to live at the abbey under restrictions. Its involvement could embarrass the head of the Catholic church in Britain, the archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, who has campaigned vigorously against child abuse among priests.

    Following revelations of Pearce's history of abuse, the abbey assured the Charity Commission that he could continue life at the monastery "as long as this does not bring him into contact with children and young persons". It promised he would have "no public ministry within the parish setting" and would only be allowed to "say mass in private, or within the monastery setting, with no members of the public present".

    From the Guardian Newspaper.. 28/Dec/2009

    sheds further light on this matter....

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  169. Here's what local MP, ANDY SLAUGHTER, has to say on this matter:

    '..the Charity Commision wrote to me with the findings of their Inquiry into St Benedict's Abbey in Ealing. The Gazette has reported on the scandal of Father David Pearce, a priest at the Abbey and former head of St Benedict's junior school, sentenced to eight years custody in October after almost 40 years of sexual abuse of young boys. In the most damning report I have ever read from the Commission, they concluded: 'the trustees failed to ensure that the restrictions imposed against [Fr Pearce] were properly implemented and we were extremely critical of the trustees in this regard'.
    The restrictions were those placed on Pearce after the High Court had found allegations of sexual abuse proven against him, but which allowed him to continue to abuse children. These appalling events are reminiscent of those recently exposed in the church in Ireland and the United States.
    What is now being called for and must be implemented is proper compensation for all victims and an independent and transparent inquiry into how Pearce was able to continue his criminal behaviour for so long.'

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  170. WELL, WELL, WELL now the charity commision send out there reports! and write to local MPs do they? I think Mr Slaughter is very fortunate to be on the mailing list!.

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  171. Well, well, well...setting your sarcasm aside...you will not be surprised that the vast majority of people agree with what you have written!!
    What in God's name is the point of such reports if they are filed - discreetly - to remain unread by those they should concern the most?

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  172. Failure - Charity Commission31 December 2009 22:08

    There is no mention of the Charity Commission report on either the School or the Abbey's website. This is another failed cover-up. I am glad to see the local MP, the Guardian and even the Daily Mail draw attention to the Report. It is highly critical of the Abbot.

    I added details of the Charity Commission report to the School Website but someone has deleted them twice.

    Although the Charity Commission report may be strongly critical they have left all the Trustees of the St Benedict's Trust in place. It would have been better if they had appointed Trustees who are not monks of Ealing and ordered the Trust to place a copy of the report on the School website.

    Now we have both the Charity Commission and the local MP demanding an independent enquiry.

    The Charity Commission Report makes clear that Abbot Martin (in consultation with Westminster) established the restrictions on Father David after his civil trial and did not foresee the danger of allowing Father David to remain in the Monastery. They were employing a lad to do their washing-up it emerges and this lad was Father David's last victim.

    Does the Abbot not understand that if he had sent Father David to an enclosed monastery he could have prevented this further abuse?

    Does the Abbot not understand that Father David was using his position as a priest at Ealing to build up relationships and gain access to his victims? A dismal failure..

    But another body that failed was the Charity Commission. When the Abbot told them that it would be alright for Father David to remain in the Monastery because he would not have access to boys why did they not see the danger and the difficulties in monitoring Father David's movements. Did the Charity Commission think that Father David was really going to "obey" the Abbot and keep away from boys?

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  173. Failure (this time mine) & Clarification...31 December 2009 22:10

    Sorry -- by school website I mean the St Benedict's School Wikipedia site NOT the official school website (although if I had access to that one I would add links to this blog)

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  174. Daily Mail 29th Dec 200931 December 2009 22:17

    I feel terrible doing this but here is a quote from the "Daily M--l".

    ***"St Benedict's abbot Martin Shipperlee apologised, saying: 'We were in error allowing the young man to work in an area where he could potentially come into contact with David Pearce. It is a very sad situation and we didn't care for him as we should have done. Hindsight makes that devastatingly clear. I am quite aware of child abuse happening among priests as a wider issue, but I wasn't aware enough of how paedophiles work and how they exploit situations.'


    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1239118/Paedophile-allowed-access-boys-abbey-school-repeated-abuse-claims.html#ixzz0bJ6mZvQw

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  175. Abbot Shipperlee knew David Pearce intimately. They not only lived together but were firm friends for over three decades. 'I wasn't aware ENOUGH of how paedophiles work and how they exploit situations'. That frankly is nonsense, a lame attempt at an excuse. Abbot Shipperlee had more than 'enough' opportunity to study 'how paedophiles work'- right under his own roof!

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  176. Opportunity to understand paedophile behaviour?

    It seems Abbot Shipperlee could observe it from at least three quarters - Pearce, Hobbs and Soper. More than 'enough' for most people, I'd have though!

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  177. I'm really puzzled. The Abbot tells us originally that his aim was to protect Father David from "unfounded allegations" and therefore kept him in the monastry. We are now being told that he felt it better to keep him at Ealing as he knew he was a danger, but at least this would allow him to be supervised rather than to send him away from the school.
    I'm also very preturbed by the response that is is UNLIKELY that Pearce will return to Ealing after he completes his sentance. It you are sending you sending your children to St. Benedicts be warned. In four years time the smiling face of Father David maybe watching them from the Abbey and Monastry. They still don't seem to get it. Their priority should be the care of the children, not of a convicted child molester.

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  178. On the previous post: You're right on both your points. However, any 'puzzlement' stems from the fact that the Abbey's priority is, first and last, its own way of life. The school is merely a means to that end. Therefore, strange as it may seem to the likes of us, the interest of its monks comes way ahead of that of our children. Though essential components of the school, children are simply seen as a 'means' and never an 'end' in their own right.
    Does the school have nothing to say about these issues? Its standards have risen dramatically since becoming an essentially secular institution minus monastic teachers. This has to represent the way ahead as the headmaster must surely see? He surely has to be aware just what a liability the Abbey now represents to the future development of the school and the well-being of its children? At the moment, of course, the school is in a very difficult position given that it is financed entirely via the monks, i.e. via The Ealing Abbey Trust.

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  179. Financed. But, more important still, they're HIRED and FIRED by the Trust. This makes any criticism by the school well nigh impossible!

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  180. The Trust and financing of the monks..2 January 2010 11:43

    To understand how the School fees of St B's subsidise the living costs of the monks you need to look at the Trust's accounts on the Charity Commission website.

    The St Benedict's Trust should have independent Trustees but the present trustees are unlikely to give up control of their cash-cow. Why the Charity Commission did not appoint outside Trustees amazes me.

    The Charity No: 242715 - THE TRUST OF ST BENEDICT'S ABBEY EALING

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  181. I see that Abbot Martin is President of the Conference for Religious in E&W.

    http://www.corew.org/execsec.htm

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  182. Someone ought to let the Religious of E&W know what we think of their President. At least they ought to be encouraged to read through this blog!

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  183. Can anyone post a link about the conviction of John Maestri (Middle School Maths teacher) mentioned above? - a long way above, sorry, I've only just caught up with this blog! I've tried Googling it with no luck.

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  184. Sorry can't help with your specific request Sarah. But as you must be beginning to see, paedophile activity at Ealing did not centre on just one man alone - David Pearce! Another monk, similarly accused, was acquitted in court while a third is still avoiding attention in Italy. A second, unnamed, lay-teacher has also been mentioned. All-in-all, therefore, the abbey's record is pretty damning!

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  185. Fresh posting January 2010..4 January 2010 11:33

    Mr West has added a fresh post on the Charity Commission report with links to the media articles. It can be found under January 2010.

    --Sarah,
    I have also tried to find newspaper articles relating to John Maestri. I think there are none on-line because he was convicted pre-Internet (as it were).

    Does any reader recall whether the conviction was reported by the Ealing Times or Gazette?

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  186. THE BENEDICTINE HABIT

    Look up the Maestri case if you must, but do also take a careful look at the sites now listed under MEETING WITH ABBOT SHIPPERLEE OF EALING ABBEY in SEPTEMBER.

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  187. Other Benedictine schools..11 January 2010 11:05

    A problem in other English Benedictine schools:

    Cardinal Hume's cover-up at Ampleforth:

    http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/Ampleforth-child-abuse-scandal-hushed.1258869.jp

    or google "Buckfast/Douai/Belmont/Downside Abbey" and abuse for details of more abuse at Benedictine schools.

    For an American perspective on Benedictine cover-ups see the copious info at:

    http://www.behindthepinecurtain.com/

    --copied here due to the bizarre coversation on the "meeting" thread about the benefit of teachers touching pupils..

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  188. I've just read the "meeting" thread but can find nothing about the 'benefit of teachers touching pupils'(!) merely a plea that teachers and others remain 'human' and act accordingly. As a teacher of 20 years standing I concur utterly!

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  189. The first post in that part of the thread (10 January 2010 12;41) asked us to accept that "'chasing young blood’ is not merely part of Benedictine culture but is, and has been, a strong undercurrent in world culture down the ages".

    That to me sounds very much like an attempt to argue in favour of paedophilia. Of course, the person who made the post is perfectly at liberty to identify himself and explain that isn't what he meant.

    I'm under no obligation to provide a platform propagating views promoting paedophilia, particularly from people who hide behind anonymity. You all know who I am - I use my real name here and have been quoted in national newspapers on the subject. If you disagree with me, I ask no more than that you identify yourself to a comparable extent.

    Therefore, as a matter of policy, I will delete all further anonymous comments pursuing this argument, in any thread on this blog connected with St. Benedicts School, Ealing Abbey or Father David Pearce.

    If necessary, I will turn on comment moderation to enforce this.

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  190. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  191. Mr West I and presumably several other read the post you have just removed. Can you please say what was objectionable about it?

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  192. It contravened the policy I had just described.

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  193. In what way Mr West? Please be explicit.

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  194. Are we now, perhaps, seeing the real Mr West? Someone who cannot brook criticism of any kind no matter how honest or constructive?

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  195. I think it is time some of us quietly left this blog to its own very limited devices.
    - Last poster but one.

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  196. I tend to agree as it seems perfectly good comments are being removed for no good reason. As far as I could see, the above comment (now removed) contravened nothing at all, not even the declared 'policy' of Mr West.

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  197. I made it perfectly clear that anonymous comments on this would be deleted. I will allow far more latitude if you are prepared to identify yourself.

    As you can see, all the deleted comments are anonymous. If you want to take that as being a suppression of free speech, then be my guest. Don't let mere evidence get in your way.

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  198. Mr West as the offending post, above, clearly said, we all have a right to remain anonymous and the vast majority of contributors to this blog choose to remain so.

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  199. I couldn't agree more and, indeed, suspect that not a few 'anonymous posts' stem from Mr West himself!

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  200. If you want to discuss here anything related to claims that paedophilia is good, then you identify yourself. I really don't care whether you think I am being a net Nazi for defining and applying such a policy. That's how things will be.

    From now on, that includes complaints about the policy itself. if you complain, you identify yourself first.

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