Category Archives: Black collar crime

Bishop to lose castle home

James Newcome was the Bishop of Penrith for seven years. The castle residence of the Bishop of Carlisle is too expensive to maintain, Church Commissioners have decided.

Recently appointed bishop, the Right Reverend James Newcome, is now to be found alternative accommodation and a review of the castle undertaken.

The decision follows a reported maintenance bill of almost £2m for Rose Castle which dates back to 1340.

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The 14-bedroom castle, near Dalston, may now be put up for sale as the commissioners try to cut costs.

Andrew Brown, secretary to the Church Commissioners, said: “Rose Castle is a wonderful property, but a lot of money would need to be spent to make it suitable for a home and base for the bishop’s ministry.

“There are many calls on the commissioners’ financial support for the Church’s mission and ministry and so tough choices have to be faced.

“It was not an easy decision, but with local support, the Board of Governors feels it is the right decision for the Church of England’s mission.”

An earlier review of the castle in 2008 by the commissioners, who manage the Church of England’s historic assets, revealed that parishoners wanted the bishop to live in a more accessible location.

Bishop Newcome, 55, officially takes up his post later this year after a spell as Suffragen Bishop of Penrith.


Priest Sex abuse victim told to ‘go to hell’

MELBOURNE Catholic Archbishop Denis Hart told a woman who had been sexually abused by a priest to “go to hell, bitch” in conduct labelled appalling by a Victorian magistrate.

Archbishop Hart later apologised to the woman in the Melbourne Magistrates Court for what magistrate Anne Goldsborough described as ”appalling words of abuse”.

But last night Archbishop Hart repeatedly claimed that he ”did not recall” his comments or the magistrate’s rebuke in mid-2004. ”It was a number of years ago, I don’t recall precisely,” he told The Age.

Abuse: A victim’s story

A nun who was abused by a Catholic priest tells her story.

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When put to him that he would surely recall the comment because it had become an issue in court, he again said: ”I don’t recall.”

Court documents confirm the archbishop’s outburst after he was granted an intervention order against the woman, who had pursued him over her abuse by priest Barry Whelan in 2001.

The magistrate said that a ”very, very angry” Archbishop Hart had told the woman to ”go to hell bitch” after she knocked on his door at 1.20am in March, 2004. The woman was the subject of an earlier intervention order after she had thrown stones through a window of the archbishop’s house and hassled him and his staff.

Delivering her findings in June 2004, Magistrate Goldsborough said: “Archbishop Hart has apologised for this appalling and ungracious act directly from the witness box in my presence.”

The magistrate said she “did not consider he [Archbishop Hart] was fearful or had any apprehension for himself or others” when he found the woman on his doorstep – but also described her conduct as unacceptable.

The magistrate found that the archbishop was angry that his privacy had been significantly breached as a result of the early morning visit.

But Ms Goldsborough rejected the archbishop’s lawyer’s claim that the victim’s abuse was not a relevant factor in the intervention order court case.

”I am assured … by the archbishop himself that [he] … has a good understanding of the complex set of circumstances in which [the victim] finds herself at least in part caused by her … abuse by former father Barry Whelan.”

In her findings, the magistrate also said that after attending the archbishop’s house, the woman had later asked for an apology from the archbishop over his comments and told his staff over the phone that she wanted to kill him. Ms Goldsborough found that the woman ”had no intention to carry out this threat”, but said it was ”threatening and alarming”.

”[The victim] says all of the behaviour illustrated in her phone conversations is borne out of her hurt and frustration,” Ms Goldsborough found.

”While that may be entirely understandable in one sense it is absolutely unacceptable behaviour in all other senses.” Whelan abused the woman in 2001 after his suspension as a priest in the 1990s for abusing another woman had been overturned.

Over several decades, five women have accused Whelan of sexually abusing them, including a woman who was 13 at the time of the alleged abuse and a woman who claims to have had Whelan’s son. The church reached a confidential settlement in 2006 with the woman involved in the 2004 court case.

While being unable to recall his comments to the woman and his dressing down by the magistrate, Archbishop Hart yesterday detailed some of the events that led to the court case. ”I put my cassock on, I went down to the door and I was very annoyed … [she was] ringing and ringing and ringing, I had just got to sleep, I was very tired, I was about to go off to Rome and I went down and I am sure I would have spoken strongly, but what I said I don’t recall.”

The Age reported yesterday that a St Patrick’s Cathedral newsletter last month named Barry Whelan as a ”living treasure”, despite the church’s own investigator finding that he had abused several woman. The archdiocese has said this was a mistake and has apologised.

The Age investigation into the Melbourne Catholic Church’s handling of sexual abuse claims has also reported:

? That a priest accused of abusing a minor was told by a church investigator that he was the subject of a covert police probe.

Archbishop Hart said yesterday he had accepted Peter O’Callaghan’s denial that he was told not to tell the priest about the police inquiry.

? Comments from Melbourne Vicar General Les Tomlinson that there is a church sex abuse ”victims’ industry” that seeks to exploit victims to make money – which the Archbishop yesterday said ”weren’t helpful”.

? Calls from a victims collective, who are backed by two interstate bishops, to review the Melbourne archdiocese’s handling of complaints. Archbishop Hart said there was no need to review the system. ”I would much rather concentrate on the compassion that we need to show to victims … They are people who should have expected more from priests and it is a tremendous suffering to be let down by people they trusted.”


Church can no longer remain untouchable

It is almost a month since the publication of the Ryan Commission report outlining the extent of child abuse in religious-run industrial schools for half a century. The outpouring of anger and grief that followed has set the political agenda in a most surprising way. The heads of religious orders have been summoned to Government Buildings, ordered to produce an inventory of their assets, and can now expect a bill of up to ¤500m to atone for the sins and crimes of their sisters, brothers and priests.

But we detect a mood in favour of more profound changes. Almost since its foundation in 1922, the Irish state has genuflected deeply before the altar of the Catholic church. Politicians have literally and metaphorically kissed the rings of bishops. Church and state were so closely intertwined that the republic could feasibly have been defined as a “theocracy” at one point.

It was the state’s deference towards the church that allowed the abuse in industrial schools to continue for so long. As Justice Ryan said in his report, the Department of Education’s “submissive” attitude towards the religious congregations “compromised its ability to carry out its statutory duty of inspection and monitoring of the schools”.

That deference, combined with the sclerotic slothfulness that generally characterises the Irish public service, had another effect: it allowed the Catholic church to take control of the Irish education and health systems. State laziness and indifference has allowed that regime to continue, despite the huge decline in the number of priests and nuns since the 1970s.

Pat Rabbitte, a Labour TD, probably went too far in the Dail last week when he said that “for the first time in our history, public opinion wants an end to the deference and a separation of church and state”. A majority of the public — 95% of whom are believers — may be happy enough with the status quo. But Mr Rabbitte’s party is correct to say this scandal should not go unpunished.

There are 3,200 primary schools in the country, but fewer than 100 of them are owned by the state, according to Labour, with the rest in the hands of the church. Many of these schools are owned by the 18 religious orders which have been indicted in the Ryan report. This is now clearly unacceptable. Those orders were not just guilty of physical, mental and sexual abuse of children for decades — they were also guilty of minimising and denying their crimes right up until this year.

They adopted an aggressive line with the state in the matter of compensation, securing a soft deal, and then didn’t even keep their side of a very lopsided bargain. Up to half the properties that were supposed to be given to the state as part of the infamous ¤128m indemnity deal struck in 2002 still haven’t been handed over. Contrition and atonement are key concepts in the Catholic catechism — we’ve seen precious little of either from most of the 18 religious orders involved.

The Department of Education has refused to answer questions about the precise ownership of the primary school system, even though it is funded by taxpayers. This is unacceptable. Batt O’Keeffe, the education minister, should now order his officials to draw up a full register of ownership and publish it. When that task is complete, the state will be better able to decide what steps it might take to end this decades-old relationship. In the meantime, justice dictates that those schools owned by the religious orders named in the Ryan report be handed over as a matter of urgency.


Vicar’s ban for sending sex texts

A Church in Wales vicar has been banned from office for sending text messages of a “sexual and intimate nature” to a teenage girl.

The Reverend David Waters, vicar of Gelligaer, near Caerphilly, went before a disciplinary tribunal last year.

The tribunal recognised the 61-year-old was “suffering from a mental illness” when he sent the texts.

The ban is to remain in force until he provides medical opinion he is no longer at risk of repeat behaviour.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Church in Wales confirmed: “The Reverend David Waters was referred to the disciplinary tribunal of the Church in Wales, in respect of an allegation of conduct giving just cause for scandal or offence committed during his time as an incumbent in the parish of Gelligaer.

“Having admitted the offence, Mr Waters has been inhibited (prevented) from holding a licence or obtaining permission to officiate in any diocese in the Church in Wales.”

‘Scandalous and offensive’

The Church in Wales said that at the Cardiff tribunal last October Mr Waters admitted, through his solicitors, that he had sent texts to the girl on various days before 31 May 2007.

A Church in Wales statement read: “The matter was heard in Cardiff on 31 October 2008 when, through his solicitors, the respondent admitted the offence that on various days before the 31 May 2007 he sent to a teenage female person under 18 years of age, inappropriate text messages, in that they contained words or phrases that were unseemly and of a sexual and intimate nature. He further accepted that such conduct was scandalous and offensive.”

The ban will stay in place until he can provide the written medical evidence to a bishop that he is no longer at risk of repeat behaviour.

At that stage, the church said, it would be up to the individual bishop to decide whether the ban should be lifted.

The church said it felt the ban was sufficient punishment, as no criminal offence was deemed to have taken place, and the incidents did not prompt a police investigation.

“However, it is clear that the Church in Wales took this matter very seriously, which is why he was suspended from his post in 2007, and the matter was referred to the tribunal,” added a spokesperson.

Technically, Mr Waters still holds the title of priest, as he has not been “defrocked”.

However, the tribunal’s decision means he is unable to officiate in any churches that come under a Church of Wales diocese until the ban is lifted.


Militant Atheist cleaners could sue Christian care homes over crucifixes

Church care homes could be forced to remove crucifixes from their walls in case they offend “atheist cleaners” under the new Equality Bill, Catholic bishops have warned.

The way the bill is written means non-Christians could sue for harassment if church authorities do not remove religious imagery, according to Monsignor Andrew Summersgill, general secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

He said the bill, currently being examined by Parliament’s Equality Bill Committee, could have a “chilling effect” on religious expression.

Under the terms of the bill, harassment is defined as “unwanted conduct with the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading or offensive environment”.

Bishops are concerned that religious authorities could be left in an impossible legal position, because under the bill it would be up to the employer to prove that displaying such an image did not amount to harassment or an employee.

In a written statement to the committee, Mgr Summersgill said: “A cleaner may be an atheist or of very different religious beliefs. Nonetheless if a cleaner found the crucifixes offensive there would be no defence in law against a charge of harassment.”

He added: “If this bill is serious about equality, everything possible must be done to avoid it having a chilling effect on religious expression and practice.”

The bishops are also worried that they Equality Bill will establish what they believe would amount to a “hierarchy of rights”, with the rights of homosexuals overruling those of religious expression.


Abused while in care of Church

Andersonstown News Monday 26th of May 2009

Ciarán Barnes

A West Belfast community worker who was sexually abused whilst in care has accused the Catholic Church of protecting paedophiles.

John Leathem was beaten regularly by nuns while growing up as a child in the Nazareth Lodge orphanage on the Ormeau Road.

On his 13th birthday John was moved to the De Lalle Salle boys’ home in Kircubbin, Co Down.

For the next four years he was molested by older boys, until he left the institution aged 17.

He claims Brothers, some of whom were raping the teenagers, turned a blind eye to the abuse.

Last week the Ryan report into abuse at Christian Brother-run institutions in the South revealed sex attacks were “endemic”, that thousands suffered, and Church leaders knew what was going on. John says exactly the same thing was taking place at Catholic Church-run institutions in the North and has called for an inquiry, similar to the Ryan investigation, to probe the catalogue of abuse here.

JOHN  Leathem was born on June 12, 1957. A week later he was abandoned by his mother.

With no family to care for him, he was sent to St Joseph’s Orphanage for babies at Nazareth Lodge.

The sprawling complex, then at the junction of the Ormeau Road and Ravenhill Road, had been taken over by the Catholic Church in the mid-1950s. Run by nuns, it looked after orphaned children up to the age of 12.

John has little memory of the St Joseph’s baby unit. However, his recollections of being moved to the children’s section of the orphanage are  vivid – and the stuff of nightmares.

On his fifth birthday John became a ‘child’ and moved away from the ‘babies’ and into the main building at Nazareth Lodge.

That was to be his home for the next seven years – a living hell where beatings, humiliations and abuse at the hands of nuns was widespread.

“My earliest memory is being woken up as a five-year-old and having to get down on my knees and wax the floor,” recalled John. “We would use orange wax, I’ll never forget the colour. I would wax while another boy with two rags on his feet would come after me and rub the floor.

“You had to have the floor waxed before you got washed or had your breakfast.

“I remember at Christmas local businesses would organise a big party for all us orphans.

“We’d be given toys at the party but as soon as we got back to Nazareth Lodge the nuns would take them away. The toys were then sold in the  New Year bazaar.

“That sounds terrible, but at the time, because we were so young, we never asked any questions.”

The staple meal for orphans at Nazareth Lodge was porridge and water. Occasionally they would be given rare luxury – fried bread.

“We used to steal fried bread from the kitchen, it was a real luxury,” said John.

“That and black bananas from a vegetable and fruit hut at the back of the orphanage. If we were caught stealing the nuns would give us terrible beatings.

“To escape the beatings we used to hide in a hen hut with the hens and chickens – it was the only place you could get away from the abuse.”

John explained how orphans were banned from sleeping on pillows. Nuns ordered the children to remove them from their beds each night.

“I didn’t know what pillows were used for until I left Nazareth Lodge.

“When we went to sleep we had to be entirely under the blanket. If even a lock of our hair showed we would get a crack on the head.

“I remember having a cough and having to not let on by coughing under the blanket. If you were sick you were beaten, that’s just the way it was. It was only when I was taken to the hospital later that I was diagnosed with severe asthma.”

John says children who wet the bed were put into industrial tumble dryers.

“People don’t believe me, but it’s true. The nuns used to beat us with these big serving spoons. One wee lad, he must have been only nine, fell down the stairs after having a bucket of scalding water thrown over him because he answered a nun back.”

Kind-hearted families would come to Nazareth Lodge at the weekends and take the orphans out for a day.

The children loved going out on these trips but dreaded going back to the nuns – knowing that they faced another round of beatings.

“A family took me out to Cookstown one Christmas and they bought me a Ludo set, two packets of Tayto crisps and gave me a £1 note,” said John.

“I was sick while I was with  them and the doctor was called. When I got back to Nazareth Lodge the nuns beat me because the doctor had to be called.

“They broke my glasses and took the pound note from me to pay for the repairs.”

Shortly after his 12th birthday John was moved to De La Salle Boys’ Home at Kircubbin, Co Down.

Unlike Nazareth Lodge beatings were not as common – but sexual abuse was rampant.

“The Brothers knew what was going on and they all turned a blind eye to it. Some were even involved in the abuse, having sex with and molesting the boys,” said John.

“You had charge boys, usually about 15 or 16 years old, who were in charge of the dormitories. They had their own rooms and us younger kids were made to warm their beds for them.

“I remember waking up one time at night and an older boy was molesting me. Another time I was taken into the forest and stripped naked by older boys. I ran screaming back to my dorm.”

John explained how youngsters were beaten with a strap if they reported the abuse to the Brothers.

“They also banned us from watching Top of Pops and Dr Who. But it was better than Nazareth Lodge, even though we were all being molested, because there weren’t as many beatings.

“You have to understand that when you grow up in an environment like that – an orphanage – you don’t know any better.

We all thought beatings and sexual abuse were what happened everywhere – not just at Nazareth Lodge or at Kircubbin.

“We thought it was a normal part of life so we didn’t complain. Anyway, who would listen to us? We were orphans. We had no-one to go to – we were in there because no one wanted us.”

On his 17th birthday John left the home at Kircubbin and was dropped off by a Christian Brother on the Glen Road.

He was given two options – live with a foster parent in the Lower Falls or stay at a Christian Brothers-run boys’ home on the Falls Road.

“I moved in with my adopted mother, Elizabeth Leathem, who had been visiting me for years while I was in care,” said John.

“I’ve got my life back on track now but it’s been difficult. I’ve self-harmed and tried to kill myself and it can all be traced back to my experiences at Nazareth Lodge and at Kircubbin.

“I know loads of people who were in those places and who have committed suicide as adults.

“Reading the Ryan report into the abuse at Christian Brothers homes in the South has brought the memories flooding back.

“There also needs to be an investigation into what happened at care homes up here.

“Children in the North suffered just as much abuse as those in the South. The Church owes us an apology too.


Religious orders defy call to pay more into child abuse compensation scheme

The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland has clashed with the religious orders involved in child abuse over the amount they are willing to contribute towards compensating victims. Eighteen Catholic congregations defied calls from Cardinal Sean Brady to be more generous in their dealings with those who suffered abuse.

Pressure has been building on the Catholic hierarchy to do something about the grossly disproportionate burden that the Irish taxpayer has to shoulder in a controversial compensation or “redress” scheme for thousands of victims. But the religious orders said last night that they would not renegotiate the deal after Cardinal Brady, who is also bishop of Ireland’s largest diocese, asked them to revisit the terms of the compensation.

Last week the conclusions of the nine-year Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, headed by Mr Justice Sean Ryan, were published, and Dermot Ahern, the Irish Justice Minister, said yesterday that a senior garda officer was examining the report to see whether criminal charges could be laid. The report identifies about 800 abusers, among them nuns, priests and monks, principally members of the Christian Brothers. Only a handful have been prosecuted and convicted.

Pope Benedict XVI will also be briefed on the report.

Under the 2002 compensation deal 18 religious congregations agreed to pay £127 million — most of it in the form of buildings and land — in return for indemnity against further claims against them. The Government agreed to meet the remaining costs, which have since spiralled to about €1.3 billion. (£1.1 billion).

Public anger over the deal has increased. Thousands of people have queued to sign a “solidarity” book at Mansion House, Dublin, with some signatories angrily declaring that the guilty priests, nuns and monks who raped and tortured children in their care for decades should be hunted down “like Nazis”.

Sensing the rapidly growing public mood of anger, senior members of the clergy have been urging the religious orders to do more. Those appeals appeared to have fallen on deaf ears last night, when the congregations issued a statement saying that while they “accepted the gravity” of the Ryan report they would not do what Cardinal Brady and others have urged.

A statement from the orders said: “Rather than reopening the terms of the agreement reached with Government in 2002, we reiterate our commitment to working with those who suffered enormously while in our care. We must find the best and most appropriate ways of directly assisting them.”

The Conference of the Religious in Ireland (Cori), which represents 138 religious congregations and which negotiated the 2002 redress scheme, issued a separate statement last night, saying that it supports the 18 congregations in their efforts to find “the best and most appropriate ways forward”.

“All of us accept with humility that massive mistakes were made and grave injustices were inflicted on very vulnerable children. No excuse can be offered for what has happened,” the Cori statement said.

Earlier in the day Cardinal Brady said of the 2002 deal: “It should be revisited and take into consideration the potential of people to pay and above all the needs of the victims — we have to keep coming back to that.”

Ireland is still reeling from the horrific details contained in Judge Ryan’s report, which includes testimony from victims who were forced to lick excrement from the boots of Christian Brothers.

Clearly masking his disappointment at the refusal of the religious orders to heed his call, Cardinal Brady told RTÉ, the state broadcaster, last night: “Obviously more speaking will have to be done to clarify the reasons behind the agreement and what steps can be taken to revisit that.”

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin went much farther when he issued a thinly veiled warning to the religious orders that they did not seem to appreciate the depth of public anger. “The religious congregations should look now at what has emerged and ask themselves is that the picture that we understood nine years ago?” he said.

“If the thing is much worse than they admitted to at that stage, then they have to look at the consequences. Pointing, telling them what to do, won’t be the answer. They have to, themselves, own up and do some heart searching about the horrors that were there.”

The report that sparked a scandal

• The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse was established by the Irish Government in May 2000 after a television series revealed cases of abuse in Catholic children’s institutions across the country

• More than 30,000 children deemed to be thieves, truants or from dysfunctional families — a category including those with unmarried mothers — were sent to schools where the abuse took place

• Abuses also took place at 216 other church-run institutions for children — orphanages, hostels, non-residential schools and schools for the disabled

• The commission’s report ran to 2,500 pages and cost €10 million

• It included statements from 2,500 people who claimed to have suffered abuse. The cases dated from 1916 and only a few had a full hearing

• A government panel has paid 12,000 abuse survivors, who surrender the right to sue Church or State, an average of €65,000 each. About 2,000 claims are pending

Sources: Times Archive, The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse