Friday, 24 June 2011

Recommendation 8

This is the last of the recommendations I made to Lord Carlile. It concerns the governance of the Trust running the monastery, parish and Abbey.
The constitution of the Trust running the Abbey, monastery and parish shall also be changed, so that the trustees are not exclusively drawn from one class of beneficiaries of the Trust (i.e. the monks). A place on the Board of Trustees shall be reserved for the Archbishop of Westminster or his nominee, with specific responsibility for overseeing the pastoral and parish duties of the priests. The nominee shall not be one of the monks.
It is bad practice in charitable governance for the trustees of a charity to be drawn exclusively from a single class of beneficiary of the charity. But that is the situation we have here, the monks are all beneficiaries of the Trust, and they are the only group from which trustees are drawn.

The danger is obvious. Without any conscious intention, still less any evil motivation, if the trustees are all from one category of beneficiary, then there will be a tendency to regard the interests of that category of beneficiary (and therefore of the Trustees themselves) as paramount in the decisions concerning the trust's governance.

An example is the use of charitable funds to pay for the Father David Pearce's defence in the civil action brought by C against Pearce and the abbey. The Charity Commission in their report of the two Statutiry Inquiries they conducted clearly felt that, while not quite a misuse of charitable funds, it was really stretching the valid use pretty far, and that they felt they ought to have been consulted before the decision was made.

Even if it were decided that the charitable trusts for the Abbey and the school needn't be split, there is still the need for a wider range of trustees so that all the charitable objectives of the trust can get appropriate degrees of attention and resources.

So, those are my recommendations. I hope that you consider them appropriately modest. I'm not calling for the dismantling of the Catholic Church. I'm not calling for the monks to be kicked out of the monastery. I'm not calling for the school to be handed over to the Richard Dawkins Foundation to be run as an atheist academy. I'm merely looking for safeguarding to be made a priority both in procedures and culture, for fairly modest changes of governance that will bring wider experience to the management of the school and parish without destroying the Catholic nature of either. While some of the proposals have been quite specific, I have explained the reasoning behind them, and would be perfectly content with some other arrangement that succeeds in achieving the same overall ends.

Once I'm satisfied that the policies and procedures of the school are such that abusers will be detected quickly and properly reported, so that abuse cannot again become part of the culture of the school, I will be gone. I have lots of other things I want to do with my life apart from writing about St. Benedict's School.

1 comment:

  1. New Deputy being appointed at St Augustine's tomorrow.
    Will it be sombody fresh, new and professional or will it be an insider who is compliant and brain-washed?

    Enjoy this little ditty!