I've just been watching Sins of Our Fathers again, and decided to pay particular attention to the interview with Richard Yeo, Abbot President of the English Benedictine Congregation.
He started out by saying that he was "very sorry about any abuse that may have been committed at Fort Augustus", which of course very neatly avoids admitting that any abuse in fact had been committed there. These kinds of mealy-mouthed non-apologies are actually worse than useless. For victims and any right-thinking person, they just make the blood boil.
He was then asked about abusive monks who were relocated to Australia rather than the police being called, and how neither the civil nor church authorities in Australia were warned about the people they were receiving. those monks were free to abuse again, and they did. He said that "that is unacceptable, I'm not defending that."
He was then asked whether he had spoken about this to Fr Francis Davidson, the headmaster at the time. At that point Yeo clammed up and said that he wasn't prepared to talk about specific cases.
Yeo was then told that the BBC had evidence that the headmaster in the 60s had ignored allegations of serious sexual abuse by Fr Aidan Duggan. Yeo was asked what he had done to investigate this. He was asked whether he had looked at the school records. Yeo had not - the records are apparently in Edinburgh. Quite why this makes them inaccessible to him was not stated.
Yeo was then given a long list of monks: four who had committed physical abuse, three who had committed sexual abuse, and two headmasters who had covered it all up. Yeo was asked what he was going to do about this. His answer was "I want to wait until I get evidence." What!
He went on to say that "The big problem of Fort Augustus is that the school closed 20 years ago, the monastery closed 15 years ago, and a lot of the people involved are dead. Under those circumstances, it is going to be very difficult to get answers that are going to satisfy people."
But of course he is not going to be active about finding such answers as there may be, instead he is going to "wait until I get evidence"!
Yeo was then asked whether he had met Richard White (Fr Nicholas White) at Fort Augustus.White had been sent to Fort Augustus after having abused Rob Hastings at Downside School. Yeo admitted having met White there in 1997. On being asked whether he knew White was a paedophile, he said he knew there had been serious allegations made against him, which hadn't been handed to the police.
But the reporter Mark Daly I suspect was unaware of the next part of the history of Richard White. At about the time Yeo was elected Abbot of Downside in 1998, White was permitted to return from Fort Augustus. White continued to live at Downside until his arrest in 2010. For eight of the twelve intervening years, Yeo was his Abbot.
Of course, as Abbot, Yeo had access to the records of his predecessors. So he would have been fully aware of the abuse that White had admitted to before being kicked north, and it is for this reason that White was kept on "restricted ministry".
So Yeo must be regarded as a long-term participant in the cover-up of abuse. He said in the that the cover-up "is unacceptable, I'm not defending that." But he joined in that unacceptable action.
The Catholic Church's commitment to safeguarding can be judged by the fact that Yeo was one of the participants in the Cumberlege Commission, and was appointed to carry out the Apostolic Visitation to Ealing Abbey.