Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Other Victims

I was once accused of being a paedophile. It was guilt by association. I was a Prison Chaplain, I had just visited a prisoner in "the block" the segregation unit, he was a married man who had been a priest and ten years before he had been laicised, he had abused children too, his own and their friends. The press made much of the fact he had been a priest. It was one of the prisoners who yelled out at me, "Paedo", it hurt and actually it still hurts because it was done with such hatred and vehemance..

A friend of mine had worked as successful chaplain in a school in a northern diocese, then it was revealed his predecessor had who was in his sixties had as a newly ordained priest working in another school abused a boy. Everything started to collapse. He, my friend, felt the staff in this Catholic school started to exclude him, treating him as the enemy, numbers attending the voluntary Masses dropped away, children looked at him with suspicion, graffitti started to apear directed against his predecessor, and priests in general, then finally him. Again it was guilt by association, his friends cared for him but the bishop just wanted assurance there was no smoke without fire.

Another priest friend returned to his diocese having tried his vocation in a religious community, for a while he was left to do nothing, then the Bishop appointed him to an industrial chaplaincy, he was feeling pretty raw, the rawness was increased by the coldness and suspicion with which he was met in his new post. It took quite sometime before he discovered his predecessor had been removed because he was paedophile. I think it was when his trial happened. The bishop and those involved in his appointment had not considered it worth telling my friend.

Another friend was sent as a young newly ordained priest to a parish where there was a much loved, avuncular, older Parish Priest, some even named their children after him. In the Presbytery, however, he was a cold, secretive domineering drunk. He, with his housekeeper lived apart, from the assistant priest, barely talking to him, some people suggest she was his mistress. My friend complained to their Superior about the Parish Priest's "disfunctionality" but was ignored, eventually he was sent on the missions and succeeded by some other young priest. After Parish Priest's death it emerged that he committed paedophile acts whilst working as teacher and the Superior had known about it for some time.

There has been a lot of talk about official cover-up, some of it was obviously deliberate, even criminal, in other cases simple stupidity; bishops or religious seem caught like rabbits in headlights. I don't know if that is the case of the Rosminians and Fr Myers, it seems like it. Many clergy would suggest that our vulnerable adults protection policies seem to be dictated more by insurance companies and box ticking than by a genuine spirit of repentance, a desire to make reparation and a firm purpose of amendment. In the case of my three friends no one in authority has shown the slightest interest in how their experience has effected them, maybe that is bit touchy feely but apart from box ticking aimed at prevention of future cases, have we learnt anything?

If anything I think we have gone backwards, there is less pastoral care of clergy than there was before the "abuse crisis" broke. There is a tendency for some bishops to regard their clergy as potential liabilities, causes for the inflation of insurance premiums, rather than disciples or co-workers in the Lord's vineyard, or co-cross carriers. A previous generation might have introduced fast days or litanies or a feast of Our Lady into the calendar for the healing of the Church and all victims, but we,we just produce more paper.

I was struck by Cardinal Kaspar recent remarks about Diocesan Synods happening every ten years, it made me wonder how reflective we are as a Church. Our critics see us as arrogant, unfeeling, and certainly not as seeking mercy, forgiveness and reconcilliation. I wonder, is it this penitential spirit that is absent in today's Church. A blindness that stops us, for example, being able to assess and evaluate the lapsation or poverty of catechesis, or the expereiments of the last fifty years. The problem is that if we make this evaluation today it would be from a sociological perspective not a spiritual one.

87 comments:

pelerin said...

These stories are heartbreaking - it will take very courageous men to offer themselves for the Priesthood of the future.

This morning I watched on the Internet part of the ordination service of four young men in Notre-Dame Paris. There were many moving moments especially when the new Priests greeted their families and the outward joy and happiness of one in particular struck me. Then I thought about what a difficult task they will have in today's climate. They will have to be on their guard against false accusations too, just one single one could spell the end of a treasured vocation.

It is wonderful that young men are still presenting themselves for ordination and one can only hope and pray that these new Priests will serve God and their people well. I seem to remember that the Cardinal Archbishop Vingt-Trois once prayed 'Send us Priests; Send us Holy priests; Send us many holy Priests.'We must do the same and treasure those we have.

Terry said...

This is a remarkable piece of writing and personal disclosure. I feel privileged to have read it.

Anonymous said...

My prayers for you and for the church; my thanks to you for your interesting and enlightening articles. From Valerie in New Zealand.

Lily said...

Father, thank you for a very thoughtful post. I agree that other priests can be overlooked and we tend to think just of young men being discouraged from applying to the priesthood, rather than those who are already priests having to struggle with guilt by association. You've made me realise that my daily prayers don't include prayers for priests and that's something that I will now change.
Lily

Oliver Hayes said...

The real scandal is not so much the fact that these appalling acts took place: after all, priests are human and liable to the same law of sin and death as the rest of us. It is the gross negligence and dereliction of bishops and superiors to deal with malefactors, protect and defend the innocent, and to take full and personal responsibility for the clergy and faithful entrusted to them.

And now we have all these child protection programs which are quite frankly attempts to cover the backs of those in authority and avoid real accountability. Hardly ever have we had any bishop owning up to their failures and issuing grovelling apologies for their neglect of duty! Instead it has been rather convenient for them that the one who has had to pick up the tab and deal with the mess has been the then Cardinal Ratzinger, now our Holy Father, who has had to take the blame and meet up with victims of abuse. But he shouldn’t be the one who is doing all this: it should be our bishops!

It seems that our hierarchies are not filled with shepherds but hirelings who are in the episcopate for the status, position and career prospects, rather than to take on the enormous burden of responsibility and accountability authority entails. We should pray very much for them, for terrible will be the moment when they will have to answer and render account to the chief shepherd, high priest and judge himself.

shane said...

This is a very moving post. Thank you Father.

The lives of many priests here in Ireland is a total nightmare after all that's happened. No wonder so many leave.

Just another mad Catholic said...

Dear Father

Although you probebly don't remember me it was wonderful to meet you at the LMS conference last year, your impersonation of a large overgrown bat after the high dinner with your cape will always stay with me :) Keep the faith father and be assured of my prayers.

Jack

@pelerin

Please pray for me that my dream of one day going up to the Altar of the Lord will one day become reality.

parepidemos said...

Dear Father Blake,

Your struggle and pain (perhaps even a sense of betrayal) are quite palpable in this post. It must surely be difficult ministering as a priest today, particularly in situations involving youngsters. Worse, those who are innocent are sometimes branded as guilty - as was Christ Himself.

You are in my thoughts and will most assuredly be in my prayers at Mass this Sunday.

Edwin said...

Father, it is not only in the Catholic Church that these things happen. A former curate of mine suffered spitting and much abuse when, after moving to another curacy, it was found his superior there was a child abuser. That man died in prison. My friend survived, and now has regained the confidence of many through simply continuing faithful despite all his trials. He and his family suffered deeply; but it is only through prayerful perseverance that these terrible wrongs can be atoned for.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Jack, You are unforgettable!
Send me an email about, let me knows what has happened.

JARay said...

Indeed, very moving Father. God bless you. It is very difficult when one is accused of being guilty, because one has associated with another person, who in fact was guilty of perversion. That kind of mud has a way of sticking even when totally undeserved!

Anita Moore said...

There has definitely been an increase of attacks on the priesthood. The case out of London shook me even more than the business with the prominent priest here in the States, because it seems the London priest was apparently orthodox and liturgically traditional, and had an awful lot of people going for an awfully long time. Then I realized by my reaction to this that the Enemy's whole point was to use this case to make us suspect all priests, especially those we most love and respect, and to drive a wedge between us and our good shepherds.

So on Father's day, I started a 54-day Rosary novena for priests and bishops and the Pope. Our Lady of Akita asked for Rosaries for them. I hope everyone who reads this will do the same.

Sharon said...

You might like to read:


After Asceticism: Sex, Prayer and Deviant Priests
Linacre Institute - Founded within the Catholic Medical Association

The first study of its kind, it shows how the infiltration of therapeutic psychology on the training and lifestyles of clergy spawned a cavalier attitude in many priests and bishops about sex and prayer, causing the collapse of ascetical discipline with its devastating effects in the sex abuse crisis.

After Asceticism moves beyond criticism to an eye-opening explanation on how self-denial, fasting, and religious devotion work together to bolster attitudes and behavior for complete sexual abstinence. After Asceticism draws the connection between the ancient ideas about sex, prayer, and spiritual friendship with modern scientific research on the biology of fasting and the psychology of hope. It warns, however, that as society becomes more deeply immersed in pagan sexuality, the Catholic Church will remain mired in sexual crisis absent a return to its ascetical tradition.

http://www.amazon.com/After-Asceticism-Prayer-Deviant-Priests/dp/142590923X

Fr Barry Tomlinson said...

I feel so sad for those who are falsely accused. It is so difficult to prove a negative, and people will always say "no smoke without fire".
As priests we are meant to set an example, but we are all human. We need the prayers of the laity as we seek to proclaim the love of God, not just by what we say, but by what we are.

shadowlands said...

J.A.M.C said

"your impersonation of a large overgrown bat after the high dinner with your cape will always stay with me"

Don't you just love Father Ray?

Sorry Father, I've gone off topic. However, getting back to where the rubber hits the road Jesus was accused and condemned for every wrong ever committed, ever.
As a Protestant minister who has started to wear a crucifix said on the radio, a few weeks ago, when asked why, answered:

"I wear a crucifix around my neck. Whenever I feel stressed, worried, overwhelmed, I hold on to it and say to Jesus 'You endured crucifixion for me, I will endure this (whatever 'this' is at the time) for you."

I also wear a crucifix and have started trying to adopt the same altered attitude when life gets unfair (which it often does, have you noticed?)

This too, shall pass. Eternity won't. Let's keep our eye on the never ending, not the temporary enduring!

Chin up everyone and pray for each other!

santoeusebio said...

Sharon has provided a very useful link to a book available on Amazon. It is very well worth following the link just to read the reviews on Amazon which give a good idea of what the book is about - the links with liberalism, modernism, bad psychology and those with a proclivity towards homosexual acts.

Nicolas Bellord

Jonathan West said...

In terms of the need to do things right in the future, it doesn't matter whether the cover-ups were deliberate criminal acts, whether they were "rabbits in the headlights" or whether they were a lamentably mistaken overall policy.

What matters is that the cover-ups stop.

For that to happen requires to things above all others.

1. That safeguarding procedures are put in place so that every incident or allegation of abuse is reported to the civil authorities for investigation.

2. That there is a change in attitudes amongst both the clergy and laity such that priests are no longer regarded as being beyond suspicion by definition, so that allegations aren't discounted.

Just about everything else is irrelevant to the issue.

So what are you doing to contribute? I notice that your parish website makes no mention of safeguarding at all. There is no safeguarding policy published there, the names and contact details of the safeguarding officers are not given.

This suggests that there is insufficient emphasis on safeguarding in your own parish. If that is characteristic of the church across the country, then the abuse scandal is never going to go away, because abuse itself is not going to be reduced to minimal levels.

I do have sympathy for you in the stories you describe, but that sympathy was very much qualified when I tried searching the parish website for materials of child protection and safeguarding and came up blank.

For the abuse crisis to go away, more than fine words are going to be needed. You need to roll up your sleeves and do something. Please get on and do it.

Gigi said...

Hello Father Ray. I just want to echo the sentiments of others on here; I feel privileged that you have shared that post with us. How moving a piece of writing and how distressing to read: thank you for writing so candidly.
False accusation and guilt by association are horrors in themselves. I have a deep respect for priests and I feel their role has become more restrictive and burdened rather than evolving within society. As I've said elsewhere, I've met some very personable, warm and charismatic priests, which in no way detracts from their devotion.(I've never seen your Big Bat impersonation, but here's hoping!)
I've just looked at the comments a few posts back relating to the BBC film last week. I wonder how you must have felt reading our comments, knowing how it feels to be accused, even briefly, of something that causes the bile to rise so swiftly?
Again, this climate of cover-up has bred fear and suspicion, vilification and ridicule. It's horrendous that even one child should have his or her trust ripped apart; when the damage is untreated or not allowed to heal this malignant taint spreads to family, future partners and children, the image of the Church and therefore all men and women in religious life.
When I was at school, my parish priest was someone to run and hug, chatter to, confide in, play games with and trust implicitly. How achingly sad for children and their priests if we lose that innocence and faith?
God bless, Father Ray.

Anonymous said...

Father, my I ad a comment to Edwin's; not just in the Roman Catholic Church. I had the great joy of serving my Title in a parish further down the South Coast, a student from a theological college not too far from the Parish had been on placement; he was caught in a public toilet, the local press was full of (Parish name) Curate caught in... The assumption was that it was me. I have had to live with dealing with, "has there ever been an accusation raised against me about my sexual conduct". Since I was not the "Curate" in question.

not guilty said...

Father, my I ad a comment to Edwin's; not just in the Roman Catholic Church. I had the great joy of serving my Title in a parish further down the South Coast, a student from a theological college not too far from the Parish had been on placement; he was caught in a public toilet, the local press was full of (Parish name) curate caught in... The assumption was that it was me. I have had to live with dealing with, "has there ever been an accusation raised against me about my sexual conduct".

Anita Moore said...

Jonathan West: For the abuse crisis to go away, more than fine words are going to be needed. You need to roll up your sleeves and do something. Please get on and do it.

Hey Jonathan, how about Father is doing his best to be faithful to his priestly vocation and promises, and to the Church he serves? That is doing something, and it's worth more than all the bureaucratic policies on the planet put together.

Just another mad Catholic said...

Dear Mr West

How do you propose protecting Priests from false alligations? Remmber unlike the Strauss-Kahns of this world the average Priest does not posses the means to hire an expert legal team and unless his Bishop has come down with a serious case of episcopal backbone he is unlikely to get any support from the Diocese.

How do you protect against the fallan away Catholic who wants to pretend he was abused in order to make a quick buck?

What about the rights of the accused? is he presumed innocent?

what about the accused's right to a good name?

Personally I am inclined to always to give Priests a little more trust than the average person, their vocation of saving souls is a very challanging, they are the ones who are the on the front line in the fight against evil, they make great sacrifices and most of them could make vastly more money if they were seculars

@Father

I meant to email you today but I fell asleep before I did and I have to go to work tommrow, look out for something about 23:00ish tommorow.

Jonathan West said...

Anita Moore

Unless the bureaucratic processes are in place, in the hypothetical event that Fr Ray should fall from priestly vocation, if you hav e children it could just conceivably them that he might abuse.

And if you think that Fr Ray is such a wonderful person that he would never abuse anybody, then I have to point out that a lot of prominent Catholic journalists this week have had a rude shock when they discovered that the same beliefs about Fr Kit Cunningham have proved to be unjustified.

Let me make it clear, I have no reaason to think that Fr Ray is anything other than the honest priest he appears to be. But a small number of priests appear to be that way but aren't. You need the bureaucratic procedures to protect children from them.

In the great majority of cases, the procedures will never have to be used. But they are needed in order to catch the small minority before they can do serious amounts of harm, because you never know in advance who might turn out to be an abuser. You can't tell one on sight.

donk said...

Anita,

That is what the church and its priests have been doing and is isn't working.

To dismiss West's suggestion is to be subject illiterate. Safeguarding requires structure. Very little structure exists in the church as West has highlighted even in this Parish. The church has clearly learned nothing over recent years. The agenda remains cover up.

The church reaches rock bottom then breaks out the tools and starts digging once again!

Sharon said...

Any psychologist will tell you that most sexual abuse occurs within the family.

Tom said...

This is a piece from Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC1)

They have a slot called the Beast Files.

This is their take on abuse in the catholic church.

Richard Reeves said...

Jonathan West the best safeguarding measure is for the priest to be faithful to his vocation; to pray the divine office; offer daily mass, frequent confession; sound liturgy and pastoral praxis; moderation in food and drink; and the prayers of his people - and as for your suggestion that every incident should be reported no matter how trivial is absurd.

Priests deal with some very troubled people. It is not unknown for some of them to write anonymous letters. Should Father have been subject to an investigation just because some cruel and vindictive person shouted pedophile at him? I can see this turning into a witch-hunt with self-appointed wichfinder generals.

janeinthemindfield said...

we desperately need priests and this is an insidious way to destroy the priesthood.

no doubt, sadly, there have been instances of child abuse in the catholic church as in every other institution where adults are left in a position of trust over children. with all the resultant devastation it causes.

however,this climate of fear does not only affect people in the church, it is there in schools, nurseries etc as well. even parents feel constantly watched and suspected of abusing their children. grandparents. i say this so father ray can feel less alone in this horrible feeling. the whole of society seems to be tainted by these suspicions and fears, breaking the bonds of love and trust and warmth between people.

obviously its good to put safeguards in place. it looks to me as though there are indeed these safeguards at st mary magdalens as there are no opportunities for children to be left alone with priests deacons etc.

child abuse is a heinous crime. but this awful climate of distrust is fragmenting the bonds between people. and children will be the ones who suffer loss of self esteem through not feeling cared for or responded to in a normal loving way. with adults feeling frustrated at not being able to give the care and kindness that is natural to them, watching the children cut off and sad, it is all so destructive.

how do we deal with this?

Anita Moore said...

Donk: That is what the church and its priests have been doing and is isn't working.

No, Donk. The abuse is perpetrated by priests who are not faithful to their calling. I can give you the exact number of faithful priests who are sexual abusers, in real numbers: zero. One hundred percent of priests who live up to their calling to celibacy refrain from molesting children and harassing adults.

You and Mr. West may place a materialist's trust in bureaucracies and administrative procedures and risk management experts (and thereby make Father's whole point about the lack of a penitential spirit and too much faith in sociology), but the root cause of the problem is spiritual. There is no question that a reform is needed, but true reform is not going to be brought about by sociologists and bureaucrats, all of whom put together are not worth one St. Charles Borromeo.

Saint Michael Come To Our Defense said...

"Son of David, have mercy on me, a sinner!"

That is what Christ would hear as He walked.

By admitting to being a sinner, that person was telling Jesus; "I have crucified You, even before the Jews."

Take the spit and venom, and return prayers for grace upon that soul that stung your pride.

Exchange the demons that will take him and his brother prisoners to Hell for Holy Angels that will guide their souls to God's mercy.

Punish them with Christ's Love, rather than Christ's justice.

*

Ben said...

Where I live there is a small displayed notice near the door advising on procedures to be followed in the event of any form of anti-social behaviour and abuse.
It is a formal, unobstrusive A4 laminated guide.
Could not something on these lines be placed on church notice-boards including details of the requirement for CRB checks?

Do any commenters have these in their parishes? I have made this enquiry about Ely Place and await a reply.
Thank you.

Jonathan West said...

Richard Reeves,

If all priests were faithful to their calling, there would be no need for additional lines of defence.

But we know that they aren't all faithful to their calling.

As for false allegations, leave that to the trained investigators, the local social services, specifically the Local Authority Designated Officer for Child Protection. They will know how to distinguish false allegations from those that have some substance.

Social Services workers themselves have to deal with troubled people, and they they have to work under this kind of reporting scheme. Some schoolchildren are very troubled, but teachers work under this kind of reporting scheme.

You have to understand that an investigation is not the same as a conviction.

I'd like to draw a parallel with the world of science. Scientists don't trust each other. That might sound a very strange thing to say, but it is true. And scientsts accept this, for the good of science. So if a scientist has some new discovery, he publishes it. But he doesn't just publish the result, he also publishes how the experiment was designed to get the result, so that others (not trusting him) can repeat the experiment and see if they get the same answer.

This protects against two things. An obvious one is deliberate fraud, but the other is a mistake or piece of self-deception by the original scientist.

Scientists accept this kind of institutionalised mutual mistrust as being good for science, it ensures that science's answers are robust and have been checked.

The church could do to follow suit, so that people understand and accept that the safety of children is assured by having systems that don't put unqualified trust in any individual.

Neil Addison said...

Dear Father Ray

I sympathise with what you say because the problem of guilt by association has been used to demonise Catholic priests and catholic youth organisations.

Can I suggest that people buy and read the booklet Catholic Church & the Sex Abuse Crisis by Dr Pravin Thevathasan and published by the CTS.
http://www.cts-online.org.uk/acatalog/info_EX39.html

The Doctor is a practicing psychiatrist and looks amongst other things at how sex abuse was regarded by psychiatrists and other experts in the 70's and 80's

Professor Peter Jenkins (NB NOT a Catholic) has done some extensive research on the issue of child abuse in the Catholic Church and his findings are summarised in an article "The Myth of the Pedophile Priest" which can be read at http://www.zenit.org/article-3922?l=english

I deal with some of the legal issues in my Blog which can be read at http://religionlaw.blogspot.com/2010/07/world-wide-criminal-conspiracy.html

Certainly the way the Church dealt with or failed to deal with this problem can be and should be criticised but the extent of the problem can be grossly exaggerated

Mike said...

This is an opportunity for electronic communications to achieve something that centuries of Church documentation has failed to do.
I encourage readers to learn from reliable historical research summarised on You tube referred to by an earlier comment. It can be found at:

http://youtu.be/hJ1_aQz6IuU

Thank you.

Jonathan West said...

Anita

The abuse is perpetrated by priests who are not faithful to their calling. I can give you the exact number of faithful priests who are sexual abusers, in real numbers: zero. One hundred percent of priests who live up to their calling to celibacy refrain from molesting children and harassing adults.

Until the abuse was uncovered, you would have thought Fr Kit Cunningham was a true priest, but now you know better.

The fact is that you have no means of telling who are the true priests by your definition, and who are the false ones. So your classification is of no assistance in protecting your children from the false ones.

The successful paedophiles are the ones that aren’t discovered of course and there are plenty of them around. They are people who have all the social graces that you might expect in someone of normal behaviour. They’re charming, they have good conversation, they’re caring, they’re intelligent, they’re interested, they’re committed to what they’re doing, they earn respect, they appear like any other member of society quite frankly and you just can’t tell. Sorry but you can’t tell.

That was Alastair Rolfe, towards the end of the documentary Chosen recounting abuse at the non-catholic boarding school he attended. Follow the link and watch the programme there. It will open your eyes as to the techniques abusers use to clothe themselves in respectability, to befriend the parents of their victims to deflect suspicion, to suppress the will of their victims to prevent them from telling anyone.

We know that priests (or if you prefer, "priests") have used all these tricks.

Anne said...

The words of your commenters Jonathan West and Oliver Hayes cannot be stressed enough. I therefore ask for the latter's summary to be repeated with my capitalisation for emphasis.

"The real scandal is not so much the fact that these appalling acts took place: after all, priests are human and liable to the same law of sin and death as the rest of us.
IT IS THE GROSS NEGLIGENCE AND DERELICTION OF BISHOPS AND SUPERIORS to deal with malefactors, protect and defend the innocent, AND TO TAKE FULL AND PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE CLERGY AND FAITHFUL ENTRUSTED TO THEM."

This being the case, are your readers prepared to practise what they preach and MAKE THEIR CONCLUSIONS KNOWN before the next scandal breaks as it surely will.

Until the bad apples are utterly rejected, the tree cannot flourish and good fruit-faithful priests- will continue to be damgaged by association.

Richard Reeves said...

"You have to understand that an investigation is not the same as a conviction".

If only that were true. Once an investigation is begun in the Church on a matter related to safeguarding - the priest is publicly named, removed from ministry, and from his house. Even if there was absolutely no substance to the allegation it will remain on his personnel file for ever.
Should the priest in question later be considered for the episcopacy, then reference will be made to it in the secret investigations that are conducted.
I remember a priest who was secretary to a Northern bishop in the 1970's describing how he was instructed to read the post every morning. If a letter came in that was unsigned, and with no contact details he was instructed to tear it up. The bishop did not want his view of a priest coloured by such letters.

donk said...

Sharon.

Any psychologist will tell you that most sexual abuse occurs within the family.

And so?

Anagnostis said...

Forgive me, Jonathan West, but that's the most specious analogy I think I've ever come across in the context. Getting science wrong isn't criminal; it doesn't automatically destroy careers and reputations or render one subject to wholesale public revulsion.

"If you've done nothing wrong, you've got nothing to fear" - the slogan of every tyranny down the ages.

Tim said...

Would a polygraph test not help to exonerate an innocent priest? I know they are not considered reliable enough to be admissable in court but the technology is improving. The result along with an accused's (or an accusor's) willingness or otherwise to submit to one might bring out the truth at an earlier stage of the process.

Jonathan West said...

Anagnostis

If you imagine that scientists don't lose their careers over such things as research fraud, you couldn't be more wrong. It happens. It doesn't happen often, because scientists realise the large probability of being found out.

universal doctor said...

Those who would like to explore Jonathan West's venom towards Catholic priests and his predilection for vicious and wicked lies and slander (although I don't recommend it) might care to visit his blogs.
He certainly has an agenda.

Deepak Savio Fernandes said...

Well written Fr. Ray!

Deepak Fernandes

Marie said...

@ Universal Doctor and Father Ray

I have been following this blog commentary closely and checking profiles of commenters where available.
What you refer to disparagingly as Jonathan West's "agenda",is clear from his blog. It is commitment to the eradication of the problem through correct procedure.
Far from lies, it is an admirable dedication to a cause to which we all should be committed.

What you see as "venon against Catholic priests" is a justified and reasoned debate.
He seeks an answer to this problem.

If correct procedures can be followed, the "guilt by association", which is the subject of this post, would also be eliminated, an outcome that Father Ray, and all faithful priests, would surely welcome.

piscator said...

Very sadly we have the non appearance of relevant and reasonable postings that one speculates are inconvenient to the overwhelming clerical 'gush' promulgated on this site.

I was about to post statistics from the DfE about child abuse in 2007. These were released last year. They are illuminating and put the lie to the scale of malevolent allegations (please note not 'false' allegations) often claimed by special interest groups. Use of the world 'false' is misleading, perjorative, and prejudicial as would have become clear had I posted here this evening. I therefore intend to post these stats on West’s website for I fear they would not be posted here given what has already not appeared.


If the owner of this site is intent on biasing the exchanges which is his prerogative, there is no point in contributing – it becomes a pointless clerical gushathon that will discover and resolve nothing on the child abuse subject.

So here is hoping those blocked postings appear, otherwise please visit West’s site for the stats and stand-by for a rethink on malevolent allegations.

I’ll post it within a week.

Little White Squibba said...

"...they appear like any other member of society quite frankly and you just can’t tell. Sorry but you can’t tell."
The same goes for any other kind of criminal, but that doesn't mean you suspect everybody all the time. The "vetting" culture is undermining ordinary everyday trusting society, and we must not allow this to happen. A society organized by the Jonathan Wests would be hell.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Pisator,
The only posts I have not posted, on this thread besides your 2 signed "T" which seemed to be duplicates, was one which referred to another correspondent in rather strong terms. He/she signed it "Tablet Reader", is "T" an abbreviation? I did not read the whole comment.

Fr Ray Blake said...

P.S.
Unless of course they were anonymous
Above the comment box it says, ""Anonymous" comments are always rejected."
3 Anonymouses get confusing.

Richard Reeves said...

"A society organized by the Jonathan Wests would be hell"

Just read Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" to get an idea of what it would be like.

Jonathan West said...

Richard Reeves

Should the priest in question later be considered for the episcopacy, then reference will be made to it in the secret investigations that are conducted.

That would seem to be a shortcoming the church's procedures. In the world of education, and in fact in most walks of life, it can happen that an employee is placed on administrative suspension pending an investigation into an alleged wrongdoing. The suspension is not treated as evidence of guilt.

If the investigation finds that the allegations aren't substantiated, then the employee is returned to work and his or her record is considered unblemished. If the church does things differently, then it might be an idea for it take on some of the better ideas from the secular world on this subject.

Universal doctor
Of course I have an agenda. I want avoidable incidents of abuse to be eliminated. I've described my agenda quite clearly on my blog, for instance in the article Why do I keep on at this?.

What is your agenda?

Little White Squibba
The same goes for any other kind of criminal, but that doesn't mean you suspect everybody all the time. The "vetting" culture is undermining ordinary everyday trusting society, and we must not allow this to happen.

If the vetting culture had worked properly, Ian Huntley would never have got a job as caretaker at Soham School, and Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman would still be alive today. Would you have preferred that that the school had simply trusted Ian Huntley, or should they have carried out CRB checks in the expectation that his past would have been revealed?

Remember, at the time he was employed, the school had no knowledge of his past or reason to believe there was any kind of problem with him. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

I'm sure at the time of the case you prayed for the safety of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. Had the procedures worked as designed, you wouldn't have needed to.

Deciding that nobody is above suspicion of course doesn't mean that you go round suspecting everybody all the time. What it does mean is that

- for certain kinds of occupation, CRB checks are mandatory, with no exceptions, and

- allegations or reports of abuse must be followed up, no matter who they are about. Again, no exceptions for somebody who you happen to think is a wonderful person.

Jonathan West said...

jusr another mad catholic

How do you protect against the fallan away Catholic who wants to pretend he was abused in order to make a quick buck?

You investigate, and by this means you see whether the claims are substantiated. More specifically, you personally don't investigate, you pass the allegation to those who are trained to investigate.

You may like to note that the victims of Grace Dieu and Soni were initially not interested in money at all, but just in a full and unqualified apology and acknowledgement of the harm that had been done to them. The demand for compensation came later, once it was clear that the apologies were anything but full and frank.

What about the rights of the accused? is he presumed innocent?

Of course. That doesn't mean that the accused has a right for there to be no investigation of the allegations.

what about the accused's right to a good name?

Did Ian Huntley have a right to a good name, when it wasn't yet known that he had murdered Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman? Or was it necessary to investigate to find out whether he had murdered them?

And if it was necessary to investigate in the case of Ian Huntley, what is different about any other allegation of abuse against anybody else?

You cannot use the right to a good name as a means of preventing even an investigation of allegations from taking place.

piscator said...

Oh the woeful ignorance of Richard Reeves.

But still no proposals from the flock to resolve the problem. Just lots of noisy complaints - shooting the messenger whilst refusing to understand or listen.

Or maybe there isn't a problem of child abuse in the church?



And yes there is a posting missing and it was relevant and it was made by someone who had experience of CSA.

What better posting to delete? Let's hope no one else with experience of abuse posts, it would be far too problematical. And no it wasn't anonymous.

Richard Reeves said...

"If the investigation finds that the allegations aren't substantiated, then the employee is returned to work and his or her record is considered unblemished".

Teachers, social workers etc are afforded some anonymity whilst an investigation is conducted. Priests are not. They are removed from post and details of the allegations made public and inevitably end up in the local press and on on the internet. the accusation will follow him for life.

I can't imagine a teacher who had a false accusation made against her/him, then going on to get promotion as a head teacher.

Anybody who has studied criminal law knows that a sexual offence or a crime of dishonesty will follow a person for life. That is why it has to be proven beyond reasonable doubt. However, it seems that even an accusation will now follow a person for life, even if it never ends up court.

Jonathan West said...

Fr Ray

Just read Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" to get an idea of what it would be like.

Do you really imagine that trying to clear up the abuse scandal is akin to McCarthyism?

Jonathan West said...

Richard Reeves

Teachers, social workers etc are afforded some anonymity whilst an investigation is conducted. Priests are not. They are removed from post and details of the allegations made public and inevitably end up in the local press and on on the internet. the accusation will follow him for life.

That's not inevitable. If it is currently true, then it is a shortcoming of the investigating procedure of the church. In any case, it's not the church who should be doing the investigating, but rather the LADO.

I can't imagine a teacher who had a false accusation made against her/him, then going on to get promotion as a head teacher.

I don't see why not. A deliberately false allegation, or as piscator puts it, a "malevolent allegation" should have no effect on a person's record at all.

If in the case of the Catholic Church it seems that way, then it is solely because the church has failed to take action in so many cases, and so has brought about the public perception that there are priests against whom justifiable allegations have been made, but against whom no action has been taken.

Once you get to a position where allegations are properly investigated, and action is taken where the evidence warrants it, that public perception will gradually fade, as the public sees that investigations do happen and action is taken.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Mr West,
I have, but why are you adressing your arguement to me, I haven't taken part in this discussion, though I am fascinated by it.
My concerns as far as the Church are concerned are:
1 the vulnerable are protected
2 confession is made
3 reparation is made
4 a firm purpose of amendment is made, but that the needs to be more than secular tick boxing. Ultimately it is about satisfying God not just the insurance company, although that is a start Confession, Reparation anf Firm Purpose of Amendment need to go much deeper, as the Pope indicated in his Westminster Cathedral sermon.

Jonathan West said...

Fr Ray

My apologies, I mistook one of Richard Reeves' comments as having come from you.

But your reply is interesting nonetheless, particularly when you say "Ultimately it is about satisfying God not just the insurance company, although that is a start"

Your insurance premiums will go down significantly once the insurance companies see that the number of incidents of avoidable abuse is falling.

But we are both agreed that preventing abuse is something that should be done in order to protect the vulnerable, and not merely because we want lower insurance premiums.

So, it would seem that we are agreed on the aim, in which case the only remaining debate concerns the methods to be used. I've described the methods used in the secular world. If you want to find out about secular best practice, described in nauseating detail, then I recommend that you take a look at the London Child Protection Procedures.

But the essence of it is very simple indeed.

1. For people with occupations that involve contact with children, background checks are mandatory - CRB with enhanced disclosure, "List 99" and following up references.

2. Whenever an allegation or incident of abuse occurs, it has to be reported to the organisation's safeguarding officer, who in tern must pass it without delay to the LADO. The LADO in turn will decide whether it merits investigation and start an in investigation if required. (There obviously has to be an alternative route not involving the safeguarding officer where the allegation involves the safeguarding officer.)

These two core principles underpin best practice as it exists in the UK. It isn't always followed perfectly, which is why incidents of avoidable abuse still haven even in the secular world.

Also, these principles cannot eliminate abuse entirely, because all abusers abuse for the first time somewhere, and CRB checks wouldn't be able to prevent that. So the aim has to be to detect abuse as soon as possible after it first occurs, and put a stop to it then.

So could I ask you a few questions?

1. Do you have a safeguarding policy for your parish?

2. Does it implement the core principles I have just described?

3. Do you have any reason to think that these core principles are inappropriate to safeguarding within the Catholic Church?

4. If the answer to question 3 is "yes", then in what way are they inappropriate, and what would you put in their place?

Richard Reeves said...

Just to see things from another point it may be worth reading the blog of a priest, who was allegedly falsely accused, and is now serving a prison sentence.

http://www.thesestonewalls.com/

Why does Mr West assume that the secular authorities systems are automatically better? So often we here of processes in the secular world failing miserably - Baby P comes to mind.

No system is perfect. That is why Fr Ray is so correct in saying that it has to be much more than box ticking, and adapting secular models.

Jonathan West said...

Richar Reeves

You bring up the Baby P case, but that is a case where the secular best practice wasn't carried out - with an accordingly tragic outcome.

Had best practice been in place, Baby P would have been alive today.

So Baby P doesn't seem to me to be a very strong argument for not adopting secular best practices.

Just another mad Catholic said...

Mr West

You ask me if Ian huntly had the right to a good name before it was discovered that he murdered the girls in Soham, I answer YES.

Perhaps the following exchange between St Thomas More and his soon to be son in law Wiliam roper will enlighten you.

Roper: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law!

More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

Roper: I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast– man's laws, not God's– and if you cut them down—and you're just the man to do it—do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake.

Yes I would have given Ian Huntly the benifit of a good name,for my own sake, and if he should repent, believe and accept Baptism from Holy Mother Church then I will call him my brother, just as I pray for the Repose of the soul of Myra Hindly who to apperances died a good Catholic

Jonathan West said...

just another mad catholic

You've left me a bit confused as to what you mean by Ian Huntley having a right to a good name. Does this mean that the police shouldn't have investigated him when there started to be evidence that he had murdered Holly and Jessica?

Just another mad Catholic said...

mr west

From what I remember mr huntly actually walked into a police station.

But yes prior to his conviction he had the right to a good name.

Somebody said that the society according to west would be hell, I agree with him. The over-vetted socitey you propose would involve a breakdown of trust and love, it would be hell on earth.

Jonathan West said...

just another mad catholic

You remember wrong about Huntley. He was investigated by the police and then arrested. He pleaded not guilty at his trial.

So I'll repeat the question.

What do you mean by Ian Huntley having a right to a good name? Does this mean that the police shouldn't have investigated him when there started to be evidence that he had murdered Holly and Jessica?

Just another mad Catholic said...

mr west

I can't go into much detail at the moment because I need to scoot off to work but I'll be brief.

YES, until an inividual is convicted of a serious crime by a jury of 12 of his peers he possess the right to a good name and the presumption of inocence, after all the mere fact that an investigation is taking place should not imply that the person being investigated is guilty, the Guildford Four and the Maguire seven could tell you that.

Veronica said...

To all the commenters

On behalf of mothers of abuse victims and mothers of "guilt by association" priest victims:

This post, and the previous one on the subject, has generated 139 comments to date.
Apart from fine words and heated debate-

WHAT ARE YOU PERSONALLY GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?

Jonathan West said...

Just another mad catholic

I'd like to put a scenario to you. This isn't hypothetical, it has actually happened.I would like you to tell me what you think is the appropriate response. (Anybody else is free to join in with responses if they wish.)

A few years ago, a man in his 30s made a complain to the police concerning abuse he said he had suffered in his teens at the hands of a priest who was also a teacher at his school.

The police investigated. The priest denied the specific event in question, but under police questioning admitted to a similar assault on the same boy which had occurred during a school trip abroad.

Because of the way the law stood at the time, the incident on the school trip, even though admitted, could not be prosecuted in the UK.

The alleged sexual assault in the UK eventually came to trial. Tapes of the police questioning, including the admission of the incident abroad, were played to the jury. One of the lines of defence used by the defending barrister was to claim that the boy, knowing full well that the abuse abroad couldn't be prosecuted, had invented an incident in the UK which could be prosecuted.

The priest was acquitted.

So we have a situation where a priest has not been convicted of any crime, but has admitted to a sexual assault which cannot for legal reasons be prosecuted.

What should happen next?

Jonathan West said...

Veronica,

I entirely agree with you. Words are fine things, but they have to be matched by actions.

As for what I'm doing, I'm applying such pressure as I can to ensure that the safeguarding policies of two local schools are brought up to a good standard, having previously both been one long excuse for doing nothing in the face of abuses. The schools are St. Benedicts's School and St. Augustine's Priory School, both in Ealing, west London.

In past times, my children attended both schools, in the days when I didn't realise that care needed to be taken over safeguarding. Fortunately neither of my children was abused, though it was a close shave in the case of my son. The headmaster of the junior school at the time was subsequently convicted of 10 charges of indecent assault and one of sexual assault against 5 different boys, and sentenced to 5 years in prison.

You can read more about it on my blog.

I notice that there is no safeguarding information provided in Fr Ray's parish website.

Fr Ray, could you tell us what safeguarding arrangements you have?

Saint Michael Come To Our Defense said...

Miss Veronica,

We are going about engaging in spiritual warfare.

The jails have been infiltrated with the Holy Rosary, we are attempting to oust Freemason's from positions of authority in the local Diocese, and an attempt is being made to build a Catholic Monastary here in the fashion before the English king's take-over.

Among other things too numerous to here-in contain.

The children of darkness work far harder than the children of Light.

Have you contributed to extending the Kingdom of Christ?

*

Just another mad Catholic said...

If I were the Bishop of the Priest in question I would do the following.

Iwould order him to a life of prayer and pennance in a monstary under strict supvervision by a Monastic Priest chosen by the Father Abbot/Father Superior of the Monastary in question.

Believe it or not that is what used to happend, and actually happened in the case of the late Fr. Marcel Marcel.

I would also consider whether or not it was appropriate to make an announcement to the current parish of the Priest concerning the reaons for his departure, whether or not to make such an announcement would depend on several factors.

Richard Reeves said...

Mr West may I refer you to the case of Woolmington v DPP [1935] AC 462.
"There is a single golden thread running through the web of English Criminal Law which is that the burden of proving guilt rests with the prosecution ... a man shall be presumed innocent until proven otherwise".

Fr Ray Blake said...

Mr West,
Our praisf follows our diocesan safe guarding policy, there should be a link the diocesan site on our parish site.

Joe said...

Father Ray
Your comment not clear.(12.05am. 30/6) Is it a typo?

Jonathan West said...

Fr Ray

Could you point out where the link can be found? I can't find it, and neither can a Google websearch of the site.

And also I would like to point out that a link to the diocesan policy is not quite the same as actually having a policy of your own. Safeguarding policies have to be tailored to the requirements of each individual organisation. For instance, they have to provide the names and contact details of the safeguarding officers, so that people know who to approach in the event of then needing to report an incident of abuse.

Please ensure without delay that your parish writes and implements an effective safeguarding policy of its own. The lack of any reference to it on the parish website, combined with your reply to my question gives me every reason to think that safeguarding has been given an entirely inadequate priority in your parish.

Of course, the policy can depend heavily on the diocesan policy, and even refer to large chunks of it. I've had a look at it and it isn't bad. I could pick a few nits with it, but I'll say that I have seen far worse policies written for Catholic schools. But some aspects, such as names of officers, are unique to the parish, so you must have something of your own policy.

I presume also that you have a central register of appointments, where you have recorded the CRB and List 99 checks of all staff and volunteers who work with children, and that the register is subject to regular outside audit?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Jonathan West,
You are quite right, thankyou, it should be there, it is not. The error will be rectified as soon as I get our webmaster and safeguarding officer together.

dcod said...

Jonathan West,

I was interested to read your questions to Fr Ray. Since I see no indication to this effect on either your profile or your blogs, perhaps you could confirm the following for me:

1. That you have paid your income tax to date, with no outstanding payments?
2. That your car - if you have one - is currently insured for road use, with a disc properly displayed where it can be seen by officers of the law?
3. That your use of the internet is not in contravention of any court orders which may currently stand against you?

You are, of course, innocent until proven guilty. I presume you will be able to respond in the affirmative to each of these points, and look forward to your doing so.

Regards,

Deeply Concerned of Dulwich

Jonathan West said...

Richard Reeves

I think you are giving the Woolmington vs DPP case a wider applicability than it really has. The "golden thread" speech, for all that it was very rhetorically made, has an applicability solely to to with a criminal trial, that it is for the prosecution to prove a person's guilt beyond reasonable doubt, and that unless and until that is done, the person charged shall be presumed innocent by the jury.

That doesn't require that the person also be presumed innocent for instance by the police, otherwise no police investigations would ever happen.

And in the case of the priest I mentioned, it doesn't require that the church authorities presume him innocent of a sexual assault which has been admitted, but not prosecuted because of a legal technicality. So what, in your opinion, should the church authorities do?

Jonathan West said...

Fr Ray,

Thank you.

I very much hope that you put up more than a simple link to the diocesan policy.

Amending the website will reassure your parishioners as to the seriousness with which you treat safeguarding.

With all the scandals that have occurred, it is only natural for some of your parishioners to have wondered at the back of their minds whether you yourself might turn out to be an abuser, and how they would be able to tell. They mostly wouldn't have felt able to talk to you about it, but the thought will have been niggling at the back of their minds. It is unfair on you that they might think this, but inevitable given the number of cases of abuse that have happened and the way in they have been covered up by the church in the past.

Your conspicuous support for an effective safeguarding policy that applies to everybody in the parish who works with children, including yourself, is the best reassurance you can give. It shows your commitment to child protection, it indicates that you have nothing to hide, and if in the unlikely event you did have something to hide, it would be more likely to be found out.

Jonathan West said...

Deeply Concerned of Dulwich

You are welcome to presume whatever you like about me.

shadowlands said...

Jonathan said:

"With all the scandals that have occurred, it is only natural for some of your parishioners to have wondered at the back of their minds whether you yourself might turn out to be an abuser, and how they would be able to tell. They mostly wouldn't have felt able to talk to you about it, but the thought will have been niggling at the back of their minds."

Blimey, you remind me of the devil in the garden of eden with those words. He still tries to taunt people's minds, suggesting thoughts such as those, are occuring in other people's minds. In truth, we have no idea what other people think, no control over what people think and actually it is none of our God given business what goes on in other people's heads (they're private). Therefore Father Ray has no cause whatsoever to worry about this and should not let your comment rent any space in his head either! Evict it Father, before it has time to settle!

Richard Reeves said...

"Your conspicuous support for an effective safeguarding policy that applies to everybody in the parish who works with children, including yourself, is the best reassurance you can give. It shows your commitment to child protection, it indicates that you have nothing to hide, and if in the unlikely event you did have something to hide, it would be more likely to be found out".

Just like the conspicuos support given by the Canadian Bishop, Raymond Lahey. Didn't he sit on many panels that worked in this area. Fr Ray is so correct in suggesting that it takes much more than the tick the boxes policies of Mr West.

Anita Moore said...

Blimey, you remind me of the devil in the garden of eden with those words. He still tries to taunt people's minds, suggesting thoughts such as those, are occuring in other people's minds.

Yes.

By the way, I take issue with the notion, touted here as dogma, that it is impossible to detect a pervert. This is just not true. It may not always be possible accurately to discern a person's particular brand of perversion, but it is not impossible to detect the presence of something evil. There are gifts of discernment, both natural and supernatural, however much those mired in materialism may deny it; and there are also acquired abilities, gained through experience. Many things may hinder our ability to discern evil, starting with our fallen nature and including other factors, such as inordinate regard for a particular person; but that does not mean that it is impossible to spot a pervert.

Jonathan West said...

Richard Reeves

Of course it takes more than ticking boxes. Humans and their memories are of course fallible, so if ticking a few boxes helps ensure that records are kept of necessary actions, and the need to do the box ticking helps ensure that the necessary actions actually occur, then I'm all in favour of having boxes to tick.

But ticking the boxes is an essentially useless exercise if it isn't allied to a determination to ensure that child abuse can't happen in your parish, or at least that if it does, it is detected quickly and ended immediately.

The box ticking is a tool, it mustn't be an end in itself. As far as I can tell, When Fr Ray talks of the box ticking, it seems to me he is seeing it as having become detached from its primary purpose, the prevention of child abuse. If so, then I am entirely in agreement with him, and on the need for pastoral care for all those involved in an incident or allegation, however the investigation turns out. More generally I'm also all in favour of better pastoral care for priests on the receiving end of abusive comments such as he described in the article.

It would be wrong to compare the suffering of priests on the receiving end of such remarks with the suffering of those children who have been abused, the two things are so different that any comparison between them would be odious. But equally, it would be wrong to say that the honest priests are not suffering at all though the ordeal of ridding the church of abuse.

I genuinely hope that the ordeal comes to an end soon.

Terry said...

A few statistics:

http://youtu.be/SaGj1rJdPKo

The matter under discussion has surely contributed to this.

I have advised travelling colleagues to check on the display of safeguarding guidelines whenever they visit a new parish and check websites.

Jonathan West said...

Anita Moore

There are gifts of discernment, both natural and supernatural, however much those mired in materialism may deny it

It is rather a pity then that those gifts have not been used to protect Catholic children from their own priests. If ever there was a case for the effective use if such discernment, this would appear to be it. And then the abuse scandal would never have happened.

nickbris said...

It should appear by now that it is pointless trying to have a sensible debate with a psychopathic professional Atheist who could talk the hind leg off a Donkey

Anne said...

How unfortunate that such a valuable and challenging debate has ended on such a sour note.
Theist or Atheist why shoot the messenger?
The message is sound. Only by following procedures can we progress in dealing with this matter.
I personally thank all the commenters for their opinions and and Father Ray for his inclusion of these.
I think we have all learned from this.

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

Our parish priest is going through a false accusation episode right now. Even though the diocesan investigation and police investigation showed the case to be unsubstantiated, the accuser has filed a civil law suit, which really drags out the process by months and months. One thing that our priest, who has been removed (we hope only temporarily), says helps him is knowing that the parish has stood as a body in support, including raising money to help with his civil defense funds. Knowing that we believe him and want him back seems to be emotionally helpful to him. Thank God for social media; we can keep in touch with him. Many, many of us (including all the acolytes) have written letters of support to the bishop and provided copies to our priest's legal team. We don't know how it will turn out, but the press, at first, tried, unsuccessfully, to do a really bad number on Father's reputation. Fortunately, as time has gone on, the press has become bored, and, unable to come up with any other claims of abuse except from this one criminal (literally -- he made the claim not long after being released from prison for theft -- seems like he is looking to commit another kind of theft), the press does not mention it any more. Our parish is very concerned that our bishop is not caring for his flock, and this year only five people donated to the bishop's appeal in protest. We have also met with representatives from the diocese and sent word to the bishop that we expect him to support his priests better. At least, he has given Father a continuing salary and safe, local place to live. I worry about all priests, especially the ones who are really caring. That caring can get them in trouble in today's crazy, upside-down world. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Clearly, you are not alone. Clearly, our priest is not alone.