Sunday, 13 November 2011

BBC Sunday Programme

Lord Carlile and Abbot Martin Shipperlee have both been interviewed this morning by Ed Stourton on BBC R4's Sunday. The relevant section of the programme starts at 32:20.


  1. Fascinating BBC 4 broadcast. Lord C does understand the issues but plays cautious and Shipperley understands too and is questioning the Benedictine lifestyle.

    It is clear to me that the events that took place are a huge social problem, very largely rooted in the Benedictine lifestyle. I hope that the ongoing controversy will shine a torch on the dangers of holing up many men in a celibate environment with exposure to children, in other words the institutional problem (that in no way removes individual culpability for child abuse).

  2. Abbott Shipperlee's manner is that of a mild and gentle man. When he says he does not know the whereabouts of Father Laurence Soper, I am sure he is telling the careful truth. However more revealing was the Abbott's reply to the pertinent question "Have you tried to find him?"
    Clearly the Abbott was not expecting this question and appeared ill equiped to answer it directly. It seemed obvious that no attempt by St Benedicts had been made to locate Father Laurence. I wonder why this might be? If any 80 year old disappears from a normal "caring home" the family make every effort to try to trace him or her. Apparently not so in the case of St Benedicts. It seems as if the policy is that the Abbott "honestly" does not know where Father Laurence is. However any effort to find him might change that. It seems as if the Benedictine duty of care to its own community has come into play here once again despite an arrest warrant issued to catch Father Laurence. St Benedict's close connections with the other Benedictine communities in Italy might be the the first thing to investigate when trying to find Father Laurence but Father Abbott prefers to take no action. Plus ca change? Inaction is better than action it seems.

  3. A good point, 20.16. Better to avert knowledge than to find out something you might have to do something about...
    This is much like the attitude which refuses to see abuse, even when it is their job to watch out for it, and the attitude which sees the real problem of the abuse scandal as being the scandal and the people who uncover it.
    What is to be hoped for from this man?

  4. Actually, the truth might be simpler still. I reckon the Abbey is quietly hoping that Father Florence will top himself in some obscure part of Italy, and this his secrets will go to the grave with him.

    Far preferable, that, to helping bring him back to the UK, where he can spill the beans on his own activities as well as - no doubt - those of a number of fellow monastic fiddlers.

    Now that really would be embarrassing...