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Fr Kit the ‘monster’ and the kindly priest I knew didn’t just seem like different people: they were different people

He had been granted the grace of ‘time for amendment of life’; and he had used it well

By on Friday, 24 June 2011

The greatly loved Fr Kit Cunningham will be remembered by most people for the terrible crimes he committed

The greatly loved Fr Kit Cunningham will be remembered by most people for the terrible crimes he committed

Like Fr Alexander Lucie- Smith, I, too have come to the conclusion “after much hesitation” that I have to say something about Fr Kit Cunningham. This is not an easy topic to write about. I have written about child abuse in the Church before; and however much you make it plain that this is a crime for which there is no excuse, if you try to write about it in anything less than an uncompromisingly condemnatory way you will be accused of trying to excuse this hideous crime or in some other way diminish its seriousness.

This is the first time I have personally known one of these “monsters”, as one of his victims described him. And at first, I simply did not credit it (I suppose that’s why it’s so easy to cover these things up – nobody believes it). I was glad that Fr Kit had died before having to run the gamut of what I assumed were a string of unjust and fantastic accusations (it would not have been the first time, after all, that a priest had been falsely accused). But there was no getting away from it. The accusations weren’t unjust or fantastic: he had accepted that they were true. He wrote to the victims asking for their forgiveness: he resigned the MBE he had been given for his services to the community.

It is as though the abusive priest, the “monster” he undoubtedly had been, and the good and kindly priest I knew were different people. And of course the reason for that perception is that they were different people: not because behind the kindly façade there still lurked the monster I was too imperceptive to detect, but because however bad you are, with God’s grace it really is possible truly to change: and he had changed. Ever since these dreadful crimes were revealed, I have had another of the Anglican prayers I wrote about the other day – this time the words of absolution after the General Confession from the Book of Common Prayer – running through my mind. The minister says: “The Almighty and merciful God grant unto you, being penitent, pardon and remission of all your sins, time for amendment of life, and the grace and comfort of his Holy Spirit.” That’s what Fr Kit had been granted, being penitent: “time for amendment of life”. And during that time, over 40 years of it, he had indeed amended his life. He had become a different person.

It is also true, of course, that though he had amended his own life, the lives of his victims had been permanently scarred. And now, the greatly loved Fr Kit will be remembered by most people for the lasting harm that he did, for the crimes he committed. Perhaps it is right that it should be so. But it is surely also right that he should be remembered too, by some at least, not only as the evil-doer he had been, but also as the person he had become. He did great harm to a number of people: but he also did a great deal of good to many others. So let us remember, too, the words of Fr Alexander (who knew him well in his latter days) in his Tablet obituary, about “his profound loyalty and love for the Church and the Gospel” and about “those he helped in distress…” Fr Alexander was right to say that “his sense of good humour and his kindness of heart will be remembered by many with profound gratitude”. Despite everything, they will be remembered by me, for one. Consider, too, the words of Mary Kenny, written in shock after the dreadful revelations about his past life had been blazoned across the media:

Fr Kit Cunningham, who died last December in Dublin, was one of my oldest friends. He was an adorable man; great fun; a little too fond of the vino, perhaps; and, on occasions, a benign flirt with the ladies – he had that unmistakeable glint in his eye of a man who likes women…

Above all, Kit was kind. As rector [of St Etheldreda’s] Kit never overlooked the down-and-outs who often came to the door for help. He set up a special cafeteria to feed the needy…..

We wonder why clerical abuse was “covered up”, as well as how it could have occurred. Now I know the answer. Because, at first, you just cannot believe it. It seems so utterly uncharacteristic of the guy you knew.… he was always so kind to all our children… he was like a genuine father. My sons and my niece had enormous respect and affection for Kit—and they knew him from childhood. You just cannot put together the man you have known and the “monster”.

No, indeed; you can’t put them together: because they were different people. There had been a conversion, a metanoia, a “turning again”. It is, after all, the whole point of the Christian religion. Of course, the law, rightly, takes no cognisance of such things. And if he had still been alive, the law would doubtless have taken its course. He would have ended his days either behind bars or, at the very least, in public disgrace. And few would have had any sympathy for him.

Perhaps I am wrong to say so: but I am profoundly grateful that it never came to that.

  • Celtes

    Apparently he did NOT repent deeply for the last 40 years.  This hypocrit proudly accepted his MBE and only gave it back, without explanation, when he was exposed as a paedophile.  Forget the stones I’d prefer to leave these criminals to the law.  Unfortunately, the Rosminians did not submit Cunningham to the law.  

  • mcmurphy

    I am not surprised by the idea expressed by author that the two were ‘different men’, and that the perpetrator of the abuse was superseeded by the doer of good (and god’s) work.  It must be truly horrible for anyone to realise that someone they hold in high esteem has such skeletons in their closet.  I have read and heard the testimonials of several people who knew Cunningham and I am truly sorry for the distress caused to those upset by these revelations.

    But this simply can’t stand.

    The article suggests that Cunningham’s life after Somi was an act of penitance, that with God’s help, “he had changed”, but offers no evidence other than the author hopes this was the case and that it was a possibility.

    Did Cunningham seek out those he abused and make penitance to them, asking forgiveness and expressing his revulsion at his betrayal? 
    No.  He admitted his actions after he was confronted with them, some 40 years after the event (at this point he certainly acted better than many other paedophile priests have, but that is damning with the faintest of praise).  

    Did Cunningham confess to the Rosiminian order in the 60s, apologise to them for bringing the order into disrepute and ask them never to put him in a position where he would be working with children again?
    Not as far as we know.  The order’s archives have been closed and it appears Cunningham had plenty of contact with children in his subsequent career.  Had he admitted child abuse it seems unlikely he would have been promoted and feted as he so clearly was.

    Either of these actions would have demonstrated a remorse.  Neither were taken.  So as the situation stands we can’t accept that Cunningham came to terms with his actions, or the consequences, or had any such metanomia.  There is simply no evidence this is the case other than the author’s fervent hope it was the case, which is understandable, but has no basis in the facts.

    The main thrust of the article talks about the ‘much loved’ Cunningham.  But these characteristics of the man were hardly different before the abuse.  At Somi, the documentary referred to Cunningham as a popular and
    charismatic figure.  The positive aspects of his character that made him
    popular and successful in later life were there at the time.

    And while it’s routine to call paedophiles ‘monsters’ because of the consequences of their actions and the degree of their betrayal, this helps us conceal some central dichotomy about them.

    Paedophiles see children as sexual beings.  Paedophiles are as often charming, intelligent people as anticsocial wierdos (it’s why they are so awfully hard to spot), and their way of attracting children is usually concommitant with their general manner.

    Think of 2 of the priests at Somi.  One was a vicious brute who took pleasure in dominating, whipping and punishing.  His method of getting sexual contact with the boys reflected this.  Cunningham was a ‘popular, charismatic’ man, who was much more the manipulator, the seducer (the sedution, persuasion element of this is just as disgusting as the violence, by the way, because it may make the abused victim believe they desired the abuse, in some way invited it).

    Charisma and an ability to make others like you are tools.  They can be used for good or ill.  That Cunningham continued to be popular and charismatic throughout his life is no evidence of change at all. 

    In some ways I hope Cunningham did confess and make amends.  But bear in mind the words of another priest in that documentary – “I didn’t abuse you.  I wasn’t that sort of man.”  People compartmentalize their actions, and deny to themselves how they acted, what they did.

    The author of the article must come to terms that the figure known for
    “his profound loyalty and love for the Church and the Gospel” and used
    his considerable gifts for the good of the church used those same gifts
    to seduce and abuse children.

  • mcmurphy

    You are misrepresenting the facts here.  It isn’t true to say that he hadn’t reported it at the time.

    At the time the future barrister told his father, who told the order, who said they were removing the priest.  Part of the reason the barrister has gone into the case is because instead of removing the abuser from contact with children the order sent him to another school, free to abuse more.  The barrister only became aware of this through the social networking.

    If his complaint had resulted in the priest not abusing again, that’s one thing, but the order betrayed him and all the other victims by their actions. 

  • ex ratcliffe and grace dieu

    I was at Grace Dieu at about the same time and agree that it was an abusive and brutal regime. This is the flip side of the sexual abuse and both were evident in Collins. That this comes out now makes me agree with you that for once we can look at these memories and recognise just how horrible a time we endured but more than that, we can see who was responsible for the atmosphere of terror. I hold Collins personally responsible and the Rosminians indirectly responsible for the lot. Cunningham did what he did under the influence of this foul society and he in turn influenced or condoned similar actions in his juniors. The order apparently came to an agreement, described elsewhere in these blogs, that only Bill Jackson, alone among the named abusers, should face prosecution. Like the others, he penned letters of confession. Whether these letters hold up under the scrutiny of the law I do not know. In the same way, of course, Cunningham’s apologies and admission of guilt must be examined very carefully. The Rosminian order places ridiculous weight on the vow of Obedience and what a superior commands is precisely what the obedient subject, the cleric under vows, goes on to do. the letters written by all the abusers were couched in evasions and platitudes and seem to me to have been dictated or unduly influenced by the Rosminian high command in an effort to lance the boil. They, Myers and Flynn, do not really mind who they sacrifice on their altar as long as their precious institute of “charity” survives intact. We might translate the Rosminian motto “legis Plenitudo caritas” as “Charity is better than the law” and certainly Myers and Flynn behave as if the Rosminian order does not really have to obey the law of the land. I suggest that the whole order is disbanded asap and certainly that it looses its house in Surrey, because it has done no one any favours in this story and its continued existence is an affront to the many silent victims who have not yet come forward to press legal claims (I am one of them). Should the order itself not willingly fall on its sword, then I am sure the numbers of boys joining the litigants will grow by the day. 
    However, to the article by Oddie, yes indeed, it is remarkable how someone can change, esp when the environment is different and the opportunities for abuse are almost completely removed. In the tv programme one of the victims describes Bill Jackson in his pyjamas with his penis hanging out. This sad image is one that could be applied equally to Kit Cunningham – two men committed in principle to chastity who simply could not keep that vow. In finding an outlet for their urges, they committed abuse, but it is the order that has enforced silence and promoted these individuals; as it is the order and the schools that condoned the brutal sadism practiced by Collins. It is the order that should go. Those Rosminians who have not already found a home elsewhere, I am sure, would be better off among the Jesuits or the Dominicans.
    The longer Flynn and Myers hold out and avoid resignation, the more they endanger the future of the entire order. Let that be the warning.

  • ex ratcliffe and grace dieu

    sorry to have to say this, but Mr Oddie, but – “I assume you are NOT a practising Christian. If you are, or claim  to be, you should be ashamed.” what a ridiculous comment! That someone should be outraged by Cunningham’s alleged behaviour and apparent confession is perfectly reasonable at not at all at odds with being a Christian, a Catholic or for that matter a Jew, Buddhist or Muslim. We temper sympathy for the sinner with a desire for justice not least in this case because we have not really seen the so-called confession, and do not know on what terms it was written, though it was almost certainly written under obedience, therefore under a degree of duress. That said, I have little doubt that what he confessed to was a reliable fact, though should it come to court, these confessions may not in themselves be sufficient to get a conviction especially when placed against the secrecy and militant instutionalised bullying within the Rosminian order itself. Assuming guilt, which frankly is the only possibility when faced with the evidence presented on tv, and in the light of Cunningham’s death, it is clear in what Alan writes, and it is also clear that if it is genuinely true that Cunningham had abused children, then it throws all his ministry into doubt, and certainly calls into question the authority of the Rosminian order, which unlike Cunningham, remains alive and well and in Derryswood. You are quite wrong to quote a specific scripture about the death-sentence in this context. THese men, or at least those still alive face imprisonment if convicted of these crimes. It is quite different, and it is important not to distort religion by appealing to spurious quotations when you feel like it. there are some standards to both journalism and academic credibility which we should uphold. 
    I saw the tv film and was appalled by the self-righteousness of Collins who certainly was associated with Cunningham. I find it slightly shocking that, after hearing Colllins, the focus of the media remains on an apparently genial man who is now dead, and phrases like “nil nisi bonum” lurk at the back of my mind, but the same rebukes made by Alan could be made about Collins and I suppose you could equally have written the same carefully considered words about him too. 
    I enjoyed your idea of metanoia, but please do not rebuke someone who does not share your point of view, especially when his is thoroughly defensible. That you knew someone who has proven to have a dark background is regrettable, and had he been alive it would have been your duty and your fortune to offer him support while I hope not condoning what he may have done. At the same time, as a jounalist, I would hope you would also offer the same support to his victims. If you want to do something useful in the memory of Fr Cunningham and use your media-position effectively, I strongly suggest you set up a fund for the victims to help their legal charges and to do something towards the future. That would be practical. But lampooning another’s “Christianity” is brash, arrogant and beneath you, really. As if Christians have some sort of monopoly on goodness – clearly as Cunningham, Collins and co demonstrate very clearly, Christianity has no such monopoly.You were not in one of these schools, I think, and I was. Moreover, I knew the motherhouse in Surrey very well and I knew some very peculiar people in Grace Dieu, Ratcliffe and Derryswood. I would not count myself as a serious victim of abuse but certainly I suffered at the hands of the Rosminian approach to education for many years and particularly when I was at Grace Dieu. That approach was in part fashioned by Collins, and it was apparently carried out by Cunningham.There were many others, both religious and laymen under their influence, some of them like Galway who are now dead frankly deserve to be mentioned in connection with this expose, who indulged in a peculiar mixture of secrecy, sadism and predatory sexual behaviour. I believe quite frankly that the obsessive interest in obedience in all things by the Rosminian high command lies at the heart of the problem.

  • ex ratcliffe and grace dieu

    well, as Cunningham was at Ratcliffe himself, it is highly likely he was indeed abused as a child.

  • ex ratcliffe and grace dieu

    reference to Jenny Floyd seems perfectly in order here. Another innocent caught up in this nonsense, There have been a few comments on line recently suggesting that because Fr Cunningham had a lengthly close relationship with her (euphemism I think intended), he was, the correspondents say, therefore heterosexual rather than homosexual, so throwing into further doubt, apparently, his activities in Tanzania. As I see it, it simply suggests if this was such a close and /or sexual relationship, then Fr Cunningham was incapable of dealing with the vow of chastity. This, it would appear, is confirmed by the allegations in the tv film about the abuse of small boys. An appeal to another indiscretion hardly helps, does it! It suggests at worst that he cannot keep his word, that he cannot be trusted.
    At best, it looks like Fr Cunningham could not keep his libido in his trousers. At worst, it suggests that he might have found a convenient “beard”. One of the priests I knew when I was a boy of 16 or 17 at Ratcliffe who regularly flashed at me regaled me with stories that he was “probably heterosexual” but both the visual messages I got again and again along with a story that he told about mutual masturbation when he was in his noviciate (he did not enjoy this apparently, though his friend was apparently delighted) strongly suggests quite a different interpretation. I am sure that the hint/suggestion/ existence/ assumption of a girlfriend would have been a much more reliable smokescreen! Fr Cunningham, in other words, was not alone in the Rosminian community in trying to have it both ways.

  • Monicabilongame

    What survivors of childhood sexual abuse is not even public disgrace for the offender – what they want is recognition and acknowledgement of what happened – they want honesty.  They want the perpetrator to actually admit that what happened did happen, and that they, the children, were not at fault in any way. They want the abuser to take full responsibility for the abuse.

    Too often these children are made to believe that it is their own fault they have been abused; too often they are threatened or ‘guilted’ into silence by the abuser, and they grow up and live with this unsureness about themselves into adult-hood.  Abusers HAVE CHOICES about what they do – children have very little, particularly in environments where the abuser is in a position of authority.  Abusers – whatever their reasons for abusing – DO NOT HAVE TO ABUSE.  But they do – and they then very rarely admit to it unless and until they are ‘outed’ in such a way that they cannot deny it – and even then, they will find rationalisations and justifications for what they did, and blame it on anyone but themselves.

    And the Church hierarchy for too long has sided with the abusers, protecting their own.  Jesus is quoted as saying that anyone who put an obstacle in the way of a child would be better off hanging a millstone round his neck and drowning himself – and the Church has put obstacle after obstacle in the way of abused children for too long.

    Physical abuse by the abuser; emotional and mental abuse by the abuser and the Church hierarchy in making them feel guilty and refusing to believe their story, and spiritual abuse also – in the document that stated that no-one who had been involved in abuse, be they abuser, victim or ‘witness’ be allowed to discuss it outside the Church (ie the ecclesiastical ‘court’) on pain of excommunication.

    Paedophiles do NOT change their spots – they just wear camouflage instead.

  • Monicabilongame

    I was abused as a child – and when I was about 12 I swore that I would never do to my children what was done to me.  Adults know what is right and what is wrong and adults have choices as to how to behave.  Fr. Cunningham and all clerical abusers like him had the choice – and they chose to abuse.

  • Survivor

    – “I’m saying that sexual abuse does not necessarily cause lifelong problems”

    Thank goodness for that. After 44 years (and counting), I was beginning to think I would never get over it and the ongoing issues would be with me till the end of my days. You scientifically-based assurances make me feel immeasurably better.

    Things do lessen and one gets accustomed to them but I can assure you, roidesicile, that my own personal experience is that the consequences cascade down and influence one’s life for decades afterwards.

  • Celtes

    ‘Sophistry’! – an irrational response from you! Unbelievable and shocking come to mind yet again.

    At least you acknowledge that some children may suffer lifelong problems – such as have been elucidated by some people in this case. That any child might suffer in any way as a result of abuse seems to me (as I expect it would be to other rational people) to be absolutely unacceptable. Your argument that ‘kids are resilient’ seems also to be a weak argument when faced with the fact that some of these children did suffer. In my view, such arguments are an irrational excuse for minimising the seriousness of those childrens’ experience. That some children ‘come up good’ is similarly a very weak argument when faced with the reality of long term damage to some children. We are not discussing the ‘prognosis’ but the reality of the  suffering and long term effects on those people who have reported on their childhood experiences of abuse.

    As for ‘hysteria’ and ‘an agenda’ – what offensive suggestions when we are considering the abuse of children. Every child matters.

  • Smajh

    Someone made the comment here that David Myers does not deserve the opprobrium he has received.

    I am not in a position to make judgement on how he handled it. I
    know enough about politics to appreciate that he would be substantially
    damned which ever path he took. He chose to be honest and open
    initially, and made my meeting with Bill Jackson and Kit Cunningham

    David Myers and I have corresponded ever since. I received a kind
    email from him the other day and I am sure he will realise why our skype
    conversations diminished when he reads this.

    I told him also, why I was going to appear on the film, and looking
    at it now, I know that he could have, ( is not that expression so
    completely meaningless when you analyse it) with a possibility of help
    from the few who were prepared to abide their time and seek a less
    divisive outcome. The number of abused who communicated with the Rosminans is over double the number of litigants.

    I have not got the words, or perhaps have too many, to describe the
    transformation in my being this whole process has brought about.

    Unfortunately David was faced with a large number of complaints and a
    wide range of personalities. I, and many others, are not privy to the
    details of the legal action.

    (It is poignant to point out that among the non-litigants there are a
    number of individuals who were interested in participating in projects
    in Tanzania and developing an intellectual understanding of the reasons
    and the causes of the events.)

    However this event that David helped bring about for me carries the
    price of the trip my soul would have taken down the conventional route.
    Thank god!

    With my exposure to religion being pretty full on from the age of
    five to eighteen I had enough cause to put my knowledge of Jesus’s
    message to mankind to the test. Somehow it just never took.

    The conundrum lay in the fact that, from a very early age I saw
    christians behaving badly, still do. At the same time I learned to
    distinguish, far too early and at first hand, who not to trust.

    ( There are priests who taught at Soni who are fondly remembered by a
    great many boys. Father Reynolds was my saviour in my last year. Myself
    and Sam Simeonides were escalated a year in dormitories, separated from
    our classes and isolated from scouts and sports. I had a lot of time on
    my hands.

    Father Reynolds had started a library when he arrived after my
    banishment, ( novel idea in a school ) and he got me started on a road
    that provides me with great solace and insight to this day. Father
    Hansom, who was known to be homo sexual, will be fondly remembered by
    many ex students for both his character and for his art classes and his
    bush baby and his interesting walks. I often wondered if he would have
    intervened had he seen the caning lesions had he been present at any of
    the popular shower photograph sessions. He would have been horrified to
    see them )

    I digress.

    It finally dawned on me last year and I believe it all the more
    fervently now, that the spiritual awakening that Jesus of Nasareth had ,
    his revelation that universal love was the secret to true spirituality
    among all mankind, heaven on earth, got hideously diverted and mixed up
    fairly liberally with a lot of mumbo jumbo and ritual that is entirely

    Centralisation took hold and the guys that hold the purse strings
    realised the message could warped and used as a lever to keep folk in
    check. In other words don’t question the establishment, don’t look to
    the true cause of the division of wealth and equality.

    Same old same old!

    Religion is more powerful a tool of the elite than ever before .Whilst
    Catholicism may be in decline in some countries it is growing in others.
    More radical interpretations of christianity swell in the United
    States. There are an estimated 40-100 million christian zionists in the
    States crying for nuclear war on Muslims.

    I do not see the Pope boarding a flotilla to blockade Nato from this
    odious and shamful action in Libya. I do not see him calling for half an
    SAS unit to put Robert Mugabe in gaol and try him for crimes against
    humanity. Then Rio Tinto would have to come square and we can’t have

    There have been and are many very well meaning people in all the
    myriads of codes, some intensley spiritual. It is high time we produced
    another who had the reputed ability to get the message across as did
    Jesus of Nazarus.

    Perhaps he will use the internet. Ain’t going to be no walking on
    water until we open up our minds collectively. I reckon he would repeat
    his only violent act and whip the money lenders and thier lackeys out of
    the system. He may go as far as giving the pope a fairly extravagant
    public kick up the arse for supporting the degradation and famine in
    Africa whilst living in opulence.

    Yup, with a steel capped boot fair up the clacker!

    Here is a really great humourous take on religion:

  • Don McFarlane

    That post by smajh was supposed to have connected through my facebook profile. And I apologise about the woeful formatting.

    Don McFarlane

  • Don McFarlane

    It is almost certain that he was exposed to abuse in some way, if not Grace Dieu then probably wherever he went next. Public boarding schools confine 12-18 year olds in an environment fused with sexual frustration. Prefects, teachers bigger contempories, you name it. Most relief comes through masturbation.

    I was fortunate enough to have been a day boy at a boarding school, non catholic, where some the stories I remember are quite hilarious. There was a far darker side.

    A good friend of mine who was a boarder had a homo sexual kid, 17, fall in love with him. The guy came from a devout christian family, used to sing give me oil in my lamp keep me burning, and had a beautiful sister whom he used to lure Brian to his home during the school holidays. The man is now a professor at Rhodes University. Poor Brian suffered a double whammy as when he told us we all teased him to death.

    For the woman who questions why we boarded at Soni, I am not catholic. Unfortunately the British Colonial service did not provide schools and the only other alternative was to go to England. That would mean one shool holiday a year with the folks.

    All behaviour is learned, including and especially sexual behaviour. But Kit was not just a paedophile. he was pretty keen on the ladies as well. There is an account of his amorous attentions resulting in a decision by a pretty young nurse to sleep at her hospital in order to avoid his persistence at the hospice.

    He was randy. He was deceitful. He had a warped conscience, if any. He was very smart. He ran a spy ring. Any kid who spent time with him was not to be confided in.

    But he liked to be liked because it brought great benefits. I knew Kit quite well thank you, in 63-end 64.

    He was quite fit then. We used to be taken for walks and he was a keen sportsmaster as well as a good grammar  and english teacher.

    The benefits of Kit’s charisma were well and truly evident in his physique before he died. He was bloated with benefits and still drinking. I had directed all my anger at him but when I stepped into his room, although I did not shake his hand, all my pent up fury disappeared. I was going to give him a good grilling but the mere sight of him – the image of toad sitting by the side of his wrecked caravan staring into the distance comes to mind.

    I thought to myself shit, imagine going out like this. What goes around comes around hey?

    Here he was, the abbot of Etheldreda, brought undone. The shame, remember this was a loose secret for just over a year before his death so the chance of exposure, before he died, was always possible. He already suffered the shame of his superiors knowing. David Myers followed procedures and the hierarchy at Grace dieu were notified along with the authorities.

    Looking back now over the whole process, (I took on a part time job in order to help co-ordinate it so I have a pretty close knowledge of the facts), the catholic grace dieu, rosmian grape vine must have worked overtime and it is a credit to the security net that it took so long for the truth to come out. The making of this documentary was impeded at every step by high ranking catholics.

    Kit has two brothers I understand, both of whom ranked very highly in the civil service. So what a shock wave.

    The making of this documentary was brought about by one individual, who is not a litigant, but felt so strongly that the world had to know. Well now the truth is out.

    It is not all catholic, most are abused by relatives. We had a fantastic email from a man whose daughters were abused by an uncle. He let them sit up, teenagers, and watch the film. They were both very moved by it and felt empowered.

    We have to wake up as a society. Our behavour is learned.

    A  child was brainwashed by a bible bashing grandmother. If he played with his willy he would burn in hell. Well he could not help it so to save a lot of children he mutilated their genitals so they could take the golden escalator, to the land with no genitals and a good view of the fire whilst they sit on jesus lap. Now no one touched him, but they sure got to his mind.

    Calling child abuse paedophilia is misguiding as it leaves people to believe that there are a fraction of people out there who want to play with kids or whatever and they suffer from paedophilia.

    They don’t. Their minds have been exposed in one form or another about how to achieve sexual satisfaction. If they have been exposed to it and they are heterosexual and they are literally hanging out for some sort of human contact there is a good chance they will give it a go. Kit did but he was not indiposed to women.

    Perhaps the whole way this has been handled will serve as an example to the living remainders of what not to leave behind you.

  • Anonymous

    The crimes do not undermine all else that he has done. Certainly they were abhorent but we cannot simply condemn everything he says for that. History is full of such examples of people who dedicated themselves to God’s work and still did terrible things. St. Peter himself denied his faith and his knowledge of Jesus when confronted with danger, the Catholic Church licenced the inquisistions, King Henry VIII burned Catholics and Lutherans alike in the name of his new church. All of these are crimes and none are excusable but the good deeds of all of these people remain as much as their sins. Whether you like it or not the fact remains that this man dedicated his life to God’s service and provided spiritual guidance that remains true even if he himself did not follow it; in short he was a dedicated servant of God despite his wrongdoing which may well be more than can be said for you.

  • Anonymous

    Yes they do deserve it and they shall have it. Whatever we think of Cunningham his soul and his fate are in God’s hands now and so there is little point hurling insults at him. The only faith for justice for most people lies with God and this is one more such occasion.

  • Anonymous

    Repentance for anybody is either a private thought or a confession that is never told to another person. The fact that you have no evidence that he repented simply means that you have no idea whether or not he did repent. I pity you if you have to resort to Richard Dawkins for your opinions of religion.

  • Anonymous

    to roidescile –
    Your arguments are mere sophistry.

    Or, put more simply: bullocks.

    So, some other things in society affect children. Acknowledged. That does not excuse the abuse of power, position, trust (from the children and from their parents). In fact, as the clerics were held in higher regard, what they did is that much more reprehensible. They have not only betrayed the children they abused (and are responsible, in part, for the ongoing consequences) but (in case you have not noticed) they are also responsible for placing the Church into general contempt.

    Attempts to conceal, reduce, lessen or excuse what they have done merely reinforce the arguments of those who say the Church is hypocritical and worthless.

    For goodness’ sake, shut up. You are only making things worse.

  • Anonymous

    It is the essence of abuse that it takes place out of the public gaze. Victims feel pressure to keep it secret – not least from their own (misplaced) feelings of guilt and shame.

    The boarding school I attended turned out to have quite a lot of ‘this filth’ going on in the 1950s, 60s and early 70s (I cannot speak for earlier years), involving a notable proportion of the clerical body – but this did not emerge until the late 1990s, and thanks to one person who had the courage to go to court. Other victims then emerged – including myself; until then, I was unaware that I was not alone. I thought I was unlucky and the only one – and this is not uncommon. In fact, it is the norm.

  • Anonymous

    Reposting, with offending word removed.

    to roidescile – Your arguments are mere sophistry.

    Or, put more simply: a load of old tosh.

    So, some other things in society affect children. Acknowledged. That does not excuse the abuse of power, position, trust (from the children and from their parents). In fact, as the clerics were held in higher regard, what they did is that much more reprehensible. They have not only betrayed the children they abused (and are responsible, in part, for the ongoing consequences) but (in case you have not noticed) they are also responsible for placing the Church into general contempt.Attempts to conceal, reduce, lessen or excuse what they have done merely reinforce the arguments of those who say the Church is hypocritical and worthless.For goodness’ sake, shut up. You are only making things worse.

  • Anonymous

    The desire is not to appease – it is to get the offenders, institutions and organisations to acknowledge what has been done and the immense damage caused, to the individuals first but also to the Church. The coverups and continuing ‘in-denial’ behaviour do not help – they bring the Church more deeply into public contempt, by appearing to be hypocritical.

    I was taught, from a young age, the requirements for a good Confession and Absolution. Denial, obfuscation, self-justification and blame avoidance were not among those requirements – rather the opposite, as I am sure you are aware. And it’s all so pointless because these things are going to emerge into the light of day anyway, as this current topic illustrates.

    This is not requiring the Church to act as Pilate and suggesting so is silly.

  • Anonymous

    Yes it is the original comment, roidesicile.

    I copied and pasted, substituting only ‘a load of old tush’ for the word that I suspect offended – which was a short word, normally used in describing young male bovine creatures. But I think the moderators knew what I meant.

  • Anonymous

    It was St Joseph’s College, Dumfries, as your prurience seems to desire such details.

    Otherwise, roidesicile, I have to say that you are a bit of a donkey.

  • Anonymous

    Drop me a line, give me your address, make arrangements to meet.

    I will beat the living whatever you choose out of you.

    Do not call me a liar.

  • Celtes

    Roidesicile you are one cold hearted individual.  After reading your comments, I sincerely hope you’re not a parent.

  • Bill Allen

    Has it occurred to you that the victims may have blocked all the terror and memory of this place and time from their minds?  Or that having thankfully survived Soni in particular, they went on with their lives?  In my case as a survivor of Soni, it was not until my mid 40′s that the patterns of my dysfunction started getting sheeted home to this time of my life.  It was only then that I began to realise what I and my peers had experienced was actually “abuse”.  Up till then I had taken the beatings, terror, mental abuse and general mistreatment as “normal”. Sorry to say, but that is hwo it worked out.

    Has it occurred to you that most of us who “social networked” only started discovering our common experiences of our pasts at that time?  And we were now in 2006.   It was not until a couple of us went past the “how nice to hear from you again after all these years” stage and the exchange of banal gossip – and began to tentatively get honest with each other about what we really felt, that we realised we had not been mad;  we were not the only one suffering the pernicious effects of what we had all survived.  Our failed relationships were a common theme, our abuse of alcohol was a common theme.  Our depressions were a common theme.  Our inabilities to trust authority was a common theme.

    There were also accounts from a number of individuals – they had tried to tell their parents as young boys;  in most, but not all cases, their parents did not believe them.  Is this not all too common in abuse cases?  In recent years a number of individuals have attenpted to bring this very issue to Fr Kit as well as the Rosminian Order.  How did they get on?  They did not.  Another question – how many boys were abused when some of these priests returned to UK or were transferred to New Zealand?  Check THAT out.

    It is easy to stand behind the moral pulpits and make pronouncements about all this.  But until someone has walked in our shoes or been abused, please don’t pass judgement on why we did or did not approach the church or authorities.  The simple fact is – we have now.