Sunday, 8 January 2017

A MAYNOOTH STORY

Life of Pain Laid at Door of Three Clerics


St Patrick's College, Maynooth. Fr T, Fr U and Fr V were classmates there. 'John' claims the three priests had sex with him. Fr T subsequently left the priesthood, and it has been confirmed that Fr U and Fr V are out of ministry.


Irish Times, by Patsy McGarry




When ‘John’ sought advice from a local priest after his relationship broke up at the age of 20, it led to sexual encounters with that priest and two others. All three priests were in the same class in St Patrick’s College, writes PATSY McGARRY 

JOHN (his chosen pseudonym) says his adult life has been one of turmoil, and he attributes this to being taken advantage of by a young priest, Fr T (who, along with the other priests referred to in this article, cannot be named for legal reasons).

He also claims he was raped by Fr U, a Maynooth classmate of Fr T’s, and that he was intimidated and threatened by a gang acting on behalf of Fr V, another Maynooth classmate of Fr T’s who also had sex with him.

John is heterosexual. “I’ve had no homosexual experience except for those three priests. I have never been able to form a close personal relationship with a male since that. I always got on completely better with women,” he says.

John has been married and had four children before he separated from his wife. He has since had a daughter from a later relationship. He has had “countless” relationships. He has had “38 jobs and has lived in 31 different locations”, mostly around the midlands town where he is based. He has also been homeless. He has attempted to take his own life a number of times, twice in recent months.

He traces the beginnings of his misery to the break-up of a relationship with a girl when he was 20. He was distraught. His father was worried, and sent John to see the local priest, Fr T, for help. This was in a rural parish in the Killaloe diocese.

THREE PRIESTS

IT WAS the early 1980s, and priests were still held in awe. John used to visit Fr T for advice in the priest’s house. They would talk. Whiskey would be produced, and Fr T would bring the conversation around to homosexuality, something John knew nothing about.



Fr T talked about homosexuality among his classmates at Maynooth and, eventually, during one of their talks he told John he was gay. A short time later Fr T touched him for the first time.

Looking back, John is still surprised at his passivity in the situation.“I thought . . . if a priest was doing it, it was right. Or I was doing wrong. I’ve lived with the guilt of that all my life,” he says.

HARTY


His sexual encounters with Fr T continued for many months. There were complaints. When then Bishop of Killaloe Michael Harty visited to investigate, John claims he was hidden in an attic at Fr T’s house until the bishop left. Nothing more happened.



On another weekend, they went to Killala diocese to visit a Maynooth classmate of Fr T’s. It was there that John met Fr U, who took him on his own to another house. Poitín was produced. They drank two glasses. It was then, John claims, that Fr U raped him.
John did not tell Fr T what had happened. “I was afraid of him. He used to beat me up,” he says.

John took an overdose of tablets early on in his meetings with Fr T. He was pumped out at a local hospital. Fr T decided to quit the priesthood and the locality. They went to London and were there three months, until money ran out. On their return Fr T was hospitalised, and John went to his sister in the midlands town where he has since lived.

John met a girl there. They married and had four children in quick succession. But he was in and out of work, and riddled with depression and anxiety.

John rang the president of St Patrick’s College, Maynooth. He said he wanted to talk to him about Fr T. He was met in Maynooth by two men, one of whom he has since recognised from internet photographs as Msgr Micheál Ledwith.

He says when he arrived for the meeting Msgr Ledwith said: “I can only give you 10 minutes. RTÉ are coming to do an interview.” He says he had “only got as far as talking” about Fr T “when he [Msgr Ledwith] said ‘Did you have your tea?’ He cut me off and brought me down to where they eat and ordered me a meal and left. I was disgusted. I didn’t eat it. I left too.”

John subsequently contacted Fr V in Armagh diocese for advice, another Maynooth classmate of Fr T’s. He had not met Fr V before but he had heard Fr V praised highly by Fr T.

Fr V was very encouraging, and asked John to visit him. He told Fr V about Frs T and U. A bottle of brandy was produced. Fr V then told John he should probably stay the night. He was shown to a bedroom. During the night, John claims he awoke to find Fr V touching him. “I just froze. I lay like a block of ice. Afterwards I felt that he had not just taken something from me physically, he had raped my soul,” John recalls.

The next morning, Fr V gave him a cheque “for a few hundred quid and said ‘I want you’ – not ‘will you?’ – but ‘I want you to come up to me in two weeks’ time’ ”. John did as requested. He realises how this appears, but he says he “felt obligated”.

On this occasion, John says he asked Fr V how could he have done what he did, considering what had happened with Frs T and U, and how would it look if he (John) told the gardaí or the newspapers. Fr V became very angry.

John says that some time later, Fr V pleaded with him to visit again, to make peace. When John did, he was attacked by three men.



They pinned him down and put a gun in his mouth and said he had threatened the priest, he alleges. They warned him never to come back.
Fr T subsequently left the priesthood. It has been confirmed that Frs U and V are now out of ministry.

THREE BISHOPS

FLEMMING


John says he wrote to Bishop of Killaloe Willie Walsh, Bishop of Killala John Fleming and Archbishop of Armagh Cardinal Seán Brady about five years ago, outlining what had happened him.

Bishop Walsh drove to the midland town immediately. “It was bizarre, surreal. He cried and cried. He also cried for many of the abuser priests, who he said had been abused themselves as children.” He encouraged John to go to the Garda, which he had done and has done again recently.

WALSH


Over the intervening years, John believes Bishop Walsh has given him about €20,000 from his personal funds. He also organised driving lessons for him so he could get a job with a local building firm, which he did.

Bishop Walsh told The Irish Times he believed Fr T was “the worst offender in that he started it. But the other two did worse”, where John was concerned. He has been in contact with John “40 to 50 times” over the years and they had met “about nine times”.

In 2008 the diocese of Killaloe gave John €40,000, with another €5,000 in 2009, though “he never formally sought compensation”, Bishop Walsh said. John was “a decent person”, he added.

CLIFFORD


John contacted Bishop Walsh again last May. He was in dire straits. He could not pay his bills or his rent. He was “literally in the dark. It summed up my life,” he said. Bishop Walsh arranged for himself, Bishop Fleming and Bishop Gerard Clifford, Auxiliary Bishop of Armagh archdiocese, to meet John at a hotel in the midlands town on June 14th last.
John believes that afterwards Bishop Walsh agreed to seek a further €20,000 from his own diocese and that he encouraged the other two bishops to seek €10,000 each from Fr U and Fr V.

BRADY


However, the finance committee in Killaloe refused to give any further money to John unless he agreed to go for treatment for alcoholism. He was infuriated as he does not believe he is an alcoholic. Neither does Bishop Walsh.


PAT SAYS:

This is another story of a life destroyed by Maynooth - and the failure of the Irish Bishops to act.

God knows how many more there are out there.

We are not just dealing with human weakness here.

We are dealing with PURE EVIL !


31 comments:

  1. Terrible what happened. Pat, do you know how best to contact Bishop Donal Mc Keown and also Bishops of Down & Connor in a manner in which they will definitely see the communications?

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  2. Any update on these alleged incidents? This article is from August 2010...

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    Replies
    1. John continues to live with his pain.

      The bishops involved continue to reign unchallenged.

      Only Wille Walsh tried ti help.

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    2. And Willie Walsh is probably himself an outsider among most bishops. His views would be seen as heterodox. If you show a bit of humanity by pointing out the burdens the church often puts on people, the great and the good brand you a heretic.

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  3. How does one measure the long term damage resulting from a "church gone wrong" experience. How does on apportion blame. Looking at my experience how much was my fault and how much was the fault of others. How much "bullying" not recognised at the time was planned and how much was because of the preexisting state of the local environment. Just a few thoughts worth airing....

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    1. The church is a very poor reconciler. It has all the right words and jargon, all the correct theology but when it comes to the crunch it'll fight tooth and nail to protect its own worldly interests. Any small bit of knowledge of church history will tell you that. Often popes were more interested in protecting their temporal power. Great schisms like the reformation were made only worse when popes just responded by issuing hardline anathemas. Some humility and dialogue on both sides might have healed divisions early on. Instead there was much bloodshed. How very sad. Not much changes.

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  4. This is factually far from correct Pat as Bishop Clifford was in a private nursing home in Dublin suffering from advanced Dementia from late December 2015, and you have stated that he attended a meeting in June to deal with this matter, nonsense!

    Please state facts not lies about the dead!

    Do you believe everything and anything that people send you?

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    Replies
    1. It was a previous June. Not last June.

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    2. It states June Last Pat, point taken.

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  5. This report is very unsatisfactory. Why did 'John' go to the Garda more than once? The report doesn't tell. And when was the first occasion? How much time elapsed between this and his subsequent visit 'recently'? Didn't the Garda believe'John' initially?

    For these and other reasons, the way in which this report is constructed is confusing and frustrating: there are too many material gaps in it; it's sloppy journalism.

    I'm not suggesting that 'John' is lying, but the time-period in which these alleged events occurred hasn't been well delineated and contexts explained.

    That Bishop Walsh encouraged 'John' to go to the Garda again suggests that it didn't believe 'John's' initial statement. If so, why?

    I just don't understand how a 20-year-old man (yes, 'John' was an adult at that age, not a minor) could let Fr 'T' (who apparently was not much older) become sexually involved with him if 'John' is, as the report states, 'heterosexual '. Worse, how could a 'heterosexual' man return for more of the same treatment? He was free to say 'no!'

    I recall, Bishop Pat, the story of your distress when two parish priests in Wales made sexual advances to you: you didn't succumb to them, but gave both men a 'wide berth'. And you weren't much older than 'John'. What's more, you were gay.

    I can't help thinking, from this poorly constructed report, that 'John' was, at the very least, confused about his sexuality.

    There is a significant difference between this case and that of Fr Paddy McCafferty: the latter was in his early teens when Fr James Donaghy took a sexual interest in him; 'John' was a grown man, an adult.

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    1. Magna Carta, I take your point. But maybe we should consider some other aspects:

      1. John was obviously very distressed when all this began.

      2. John may have been a very weak character who could not stand up to others?

      3. There was alcohol involved.

      4. They say:

      "THE ONLY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A GAY MAN AND A STRAIGHT MAN IN 6 PINTS" ???


      Very powerful and manipulative people can get weaker people to do many things ???

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    2. I agree, Bishop Pat, that every point you made needs to be 'factored in' when trying to make sense of 'John's' role in these alleged incidents. This is something the report doesn't do, and I find it very frustrating to be left with only an impression of what happened rather than a reliable picture; impression, as you know, can be completely subjective, a 'posh' way of saying 'existing only in one's own head'.

      I do sometimes forget that others may not be so strong as I am personally. I know that when certain gay students 'tried it on with me' in seminary, they knew exactly how far they could go: they knew not to touch me inappropriately, otherwise they'd have been physically hammered. I'm not a thug, but there are boundaries with me that are crossed only at a person's peril.

      If 'John' was manipulated and used by these individuals, then he has my profoundest sympathy and prayers.

      The last priest to have allegedly abused 'John' seems to have had paramilitary connections, as a pistol was used to intimidate 'John' into silence. I wonder if this happened before or after the Good Friday Agreement et alii? And on which Primate's watch?

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  6. This article is from 2010 - whatever the problem - reports to Gardai bishops etc - it should have been resolved by now.
    What happened?
    What is happening?
    It happened SIX years ago - was this problem dealt with by any authority???

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    Replies
    1. Obviously not in a satisfactory way.

      The Church tries to sweep everything under the carpet.

      The Garda used to be very wary of the Church.

      There are still Garda officers that are Catholics first and policemen second.

      Not so long ago I was in a rural Garda station and on the wall was a poster which read:

      "EVER THOUGHT OF BECOMING A CATHOLIC"?

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    2. Seriously, Bishop Pat? That notice was on the wall? Unbelievable!

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    3. Absolutely - Navan Garda Station.

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  7. If this man has been to the Gardai a number of times, could we entertain the possibility that there was not sufficient evidence of what he has alleged? It is unfair to conclude that the Church has merely swept all of this under the carpet - Bishop Walsh clearly tried to help him. However, what's to say that this man didn't have Bishop Willie Walsh wrapped around his finger? Yes, Willie Walsh believed him to be a good man, and arranged for tens of thousands of euros to be handed over to him. However, the finance committee believed he needed treatment for alcoholism, yet Willie Walsh didn't - perhaps Willie Walsh didn't want to see that. Having personally given John €20,000 to help him back on his feet in order to get a job, he was subsequently given €45,000 from the Diocese of Killaloe - although he did not formally seek compensation. Why did Willie Walsh not encourage him to seek "formal" compensation? It seems fishy. Indeed, surely Bishop Walsh's personal funds which he gave to John would have been better spent in the first place on getting him counselling, given the alleged trauma and history of depression - I mean, it's a decent thought to give money to help someone get back on their feet, but if they're not mentally healthy, how on earth will they hold down a job, a mortgage perhaps, or keep a relationship together?

    We should also remember that he traces his "misery" to a break-up when he was twenty. While I will obviously admit that what allegedly happened is terrible, from reading this article it seems that he may well have been on a path of self-destruction without all of the Fr. T business. Countless relationships, 38 jobs, lived in 31 different locations, broken marriage, unable to say "no", overdosing "early on" in his meetings with Fr. T (we don't know if this was before or after their sexual encounters, which did not begin immediately) - I believe this man was deeply troubled long before Fr. T came on the scene. I would conclude that it is a bit harsh and simplistic to lay blame squarely at the feet of Maynooth or the bishops in this instance.

    As for being hidden in an attic when Bishop Harty came to investigate - I'm sorry, but I find that hard to believe. I cannot say it didn't happen, but it seems odd. The coincidence of John being in Fr. T's house just at the time that Bishop Harty decided to call and the very act of forcing a grown man into an attic (which, unless there were attic stairs would, I imagine, be difficult to do quickly and quietly), seems very strange. If John was so crippled with fear that he would not have shouted for help while in the attic, why would Fr. T not have just sent him out the back door knowing that he wouldn't have the guts to shout for Bishop Harty's help?

    I do not wish to diminish any suffering caused to victims of abuse, but based on my reading of this article - and that is all the information I have on this case - I am not surprised that his complaints to the Gardai were not followed up on.

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  8. I remember this story and I remember a conversation I had with a now deceased cleric (a good man). However, he told me in the conversation that 'John' would not be receiving a penny from his diocese and to get any money 'he can take us to court'. My impression of the conversation was that the diocese was prepared for a fight.

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  9. At least Frs T, U and V left the priesthood. The problem today appears to be the encouragement, fostering and protecting of unsuitable candidates and unworthy priests.

    I think these priests in this article took advantage in a most shameful way of a very troubled and vulnerable young man.

    Allegations of rape and criminal sexual assault are in a separate league. James Donaghy is in that league as he forced his attentions on boys and young men - including a seven-year-old boy - and is now a convicted criminal, a pedophile and a registered sex offender.

    But Donaghy is also an ephebophile. Most sexual predators who have been Catholic priests fall into that category. They are attracted to male teenage boys and males who look young even if they are in their 20's. We all know young men in their 20's who would still pass for school boys. I have a grandson who finds it hard getting into clubs and served in bars even though he is 27.

    Sexual predators are ruthless and unscrupulous. The priests described in this article are appalling. What I find personally very worrying though is the apparently high number of dysfunctional and unhealthy homosexual men in the priesthood.

    How can these men relate normally and healthily to teenage boys and young men in parishes, schools, etc. without their baser instincts coming into play? Very disturbing!

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  10. +Pat,

    Every day it seems to be the catholic church is getting worse and worse. When will all this stop. I have hugh respect for Bishop Walsh and this story seems to confirm this. He was and is a decent man. Both himself and Bishop Joe Cassidy where the only two bishops of the irish church who were true sheppards of their flocks.

    I believe the church now needs 10 new bishops - why have these not been appointed as yet - what is Brown doing or up to. is there a chance some dioceses will be amalagmated together ?

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  11. I have been away for a while and spent today catching up with your blogs - i came across the WYD one - i believe everything that man said about what was going on. Have you seen the photos on the Irish bishops flickr account ?

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  12. We are weeks away from the centenary of Fatima - i remember the old days of Albert Renyolds and the guy who hijacked the flight asking for the third secrret to be revealed - its interesting to think maybe the secret was speaking about the destruction of the church - well in my opinion in the next few weeks - all will be revealed in Ireland following the visit of the irish bishops to Roma

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  13. I agree 18.46. What about the present case of Fr X and his boyfriend who is 17. It's all very distasteful and appalling. What is the Archbishop of Armagh doing about it all - nothing!

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  14. Its clear that Eamon Martin is just turning a blind eye otherwise this priest would have been dealt with before now.

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  15. I've seen enough of some young priests when they get together in Lourdes at night and have one too many in the bars. It's enough to last you a lifetime, believe me. My Son deliberately brought me into a bar to show me their behaviour. At first I thought it was a group of giggling girls. I know people need to let of steam and let their hair down but the language from them left a lot to be desired. I was shocked and that doesn't come easy to me. Stewartstown Mother

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  16. +AB E Martin a fish out of water - shouldn't never have been given Armagh - Derry would have suited him better

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  17. Is Fr X' s boy toy in the DUP still? Does anyone know?

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    1. More to the point - - does anyone care? - -

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  18. Fr X's Orange boy turned 18 not so long ago. Apparently there was no end of money spent on him and an exclusive holiday planned soon. Yes, according to social media the young "thing" is still very much in the DUP. He has been tweeting his total support for Arlene. He would be well known and involved with the party bigwigs. Isn't it quite interesting that like the Church, the DUP is choosing to turn a blind eye. It's now become a joke and Sinn Fein are now using it against the DUP, that one of their DUP younger activists is in bed with a Catholic and that happens to be a Priest.
    D Mac

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  19. It's 10.40am on Monday morning with no new blog page appearing as of yet, today - Pat, where is my fix?!!! Feed me!

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  20. It is all too often that predators will isolate a vulnerable person to abuse.

    Then he vulnerable person simply self-destructs and the mess is enough to discredit the complaint.

    There's many a wolf wearing a collar in the Irish Church.

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