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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.

  • Jamie Ensign

    I never knew Fr Kit personally although I appreciated what he did at St Ethelreda’s. However, I was a little bit alarmed how in the recent reassessment of his life people have glossed over the fact that he had a very serious relationship with a “female companion” which may or may not have been sexual. It strikes that this was yet again inappropriate given the vow of chasity that he had taken and although he was no longer breaking his vow in as grievous a way as he did in Tanzania, he still was not truly living the Spirit of it (even if it was not sexual). I don’t think you can just overlook this because a mature lady seems is less offensive.

  • Lionel

    Always the same attitude—-predator first—victims last.
    You should spend less time on your knees kissing their rings, and more time using your brain.

  • Lionel

    I don’t think you can just overlook this because a mature lady seems is less offensive.
    That sentence , Jamie Ensign, shows that you haven’t any idea the harm that is done to people of all ages. 

  • stanlet jezior

    what about his victims. as a victim its much harder to forgive. may someday i will,but this article is a slap in the face. read what a victim goes thru.  its called soul murder. the person who does the abuse is a murderer. did you ever ask you children if he ever tried to murder their souls?

  • Gerard Magee2

    Mr. Oddie,
    Please do not offend victims by writing that somehow Kit Cunningham ( and his like ) were ‘graced’ by God and changed.   The lives of these ‘children’ were changed, ruined by the actions of a man who, far from being ‘graced’ was- and continues to be a ‘disgrace’ to the church and to humanity;  and I suggest that what you have written, and your futile attempt to justify this mans past actions by suggesting that he was repentent and therefore everything is okay,  is also a disgrace.  To repent means to ask forgiveness, to repare the harm you have done and to make proper compensation for the same.  I wonder if his brethren will do the latter !! 

  • Alexander

    So, Dr Oddie is profoundly grateful that a criminal died before he had a chance to suffer imprisonment and public disgrace. My guess is that Dr Oddie was not sexually abused as a child, and perhaps does not even knowingly know anybody who was. Those of us who were abused know that one of the things that the victim most wants is not retribution, but public disgrace for the offender. Precisely because the crimes were committed in public, the victim needs the satisfaction of seeing them acknowledged in public; the victim often suffers a lifetime of private disgrace: it is apt that the offender should suffer public disgrace. This is all the more true where the offender is, like Fr Cunningham, a man of public standing. Those of us who was abused by people who are eminent in their fields and esteemed in society know that this contributes greatly to the sense of injustice, and that seeing the mighty put down from their seat through public disgrace goes a long way towards putting right that injustice.

  • Alexander

    Sorry, my rhetorical flow was interrupted by a failure to proofread! I meant, of course, “Precisely because the crimes were committed in private, …”

  • R Brown

    Whatever good he may have done in later life, he failed to do properly and sufficiently early the act of penance and reparation that would have healed the wounds he inflicted, namely seeking forgiveness from his victims.

  • Tim

    Dr Oddie 
    I’m afraid this sounds like wishful thinking to me – perhaps because you find it hard to accept being so wrong about someone. It would be easier to believe in his conversion if he had resigned from the order and confessed decades ago before he was forced to, had served a prison term for his offences (now that would have been ‘time for amendment of life’) and then lived obscurely on his release rather than becoming so well known and connected and enjoying the good opinion of you and so many others, which fills me with no optimism at all about his final state - just foreboding. But what disturbs me most of all is the sufferings of the victims for which there can now be no adequate recompense in this life: “If such things are done to the green wood, then what shall be done to the dry?” 

  • Anonymous

    I rather think you might be wrong Dr. Oddie. No matter how ‘kind’ he became, he still betrayed the solemn vows he made before Our Blessed Lord, and in the process of so doing scarred the lives of innocent children.
    As you say, his death means that he will never be judged in a criminal court for his actions. Now, he is God’s business, and although we often rely on the mercy of God, this is still a court I am sure we will all tremble before.

  • Astin

    Having seen the BBC TV programme on Tuesday, what I keep asking myself is: why hasn’t anybody reported these offences to the police? Although Kit Cunningham (who taught me at school) is dead, it seems there are three or four other priests, now in comfortable retirement in Surrey – and one of them, at least, denying all knowledge of what he is accused of. Surely the first thing to do is to get the police on to the jbo – and only after that start thinking about monetary compensation.

  • Martin

    Heres the issue, Dr Oddie is not excusing Fr Kit, (or anyone like him), far from it. He is using the example of this mans life to demonstrate the Grace of God to those who truely repent.
    Does it excuse the a repentant sinner from his crime, by no means as far as human law goes.
    Does it stop the effects of the people who he has abused? no.  
    Does it excuse the man from Hell? Well, i truely hope it does, because if there are things we cant be saved of (if we truely repent),  then Jesus’ death was not what the bible claims it was, an all sufficient offering for sin.
    Does Fr Kit’s supposed good works save him after the event? No, but it is a type of evidence that he had really repented and changed by the grace of the Holy Spirit.
    Dr Oddie is stating the uncomfortable truth of the Gospel as it should be stated, honestly.
    God’s grace in Christ is truly outrageous. None of us deserve forgiveness and we have all fallen short of the Glory of God.
    Sin is horrendous, the effects of it are the reason why Jesus had to come and die in our place. (think on that for a while).
    If Fr Kit did repent, and the hope is that he did, then do not allow your hate for sin to over shadow the possibility that the exact same grace you rely on to be saved was not available to him.

    Forgiveness (through Christ) is the greatest gift God has given us.The uncomfortable truth is that it is available to EVERYONE who truly repents. We are commanded to forgive in order to receive forgiveness ourselves. Whilst i do not believe that God orgastrated this event, he can definately use it to reveal something about ourselves. Can we forgive though the love of Christ or will we hold onto the hurt and mentally stay where we where hurt? i am not suggesting that we forget what has happened, only whether or not we can hand over the sting of the sin over to Christ to heal? Can or are we willing to be transformed by Christ for the better. Love over hate, Mercy over justice? Are we Disciples with our own particular crosses of pain to carry or not?

    The gospel is difficult when we bring it into the real world and outside of the pulpit. It requires us to have a different heart and a different mind. Christ gives us his love without measure, we are called to pass it on.

    I feel so sorry for those who were abused that do not know Christ. They will only have their pain and resentment, my sympathy is truly with them, and as to all of this, very sorry that it has happened.

  • Jonathan West

    No, this won’t do.

    Watch the programme again carefully, and note the nature of the confessions and apologies given by Cunningham and others. They are full of evasions, circumlocutions and self-justifications.

    Unless there was a further change of heart before he died for which there is no record, then he died still profoundly unable to face up to the consequences of what he had done. That is not a metanoia. And given what happened in Soni, don’t rule out the possibility that accounts of more recent abuse by Cunningham may yet appear.

    A few years ago, there was another documentary about child sex abuse in Caldicot school, a non catholic boarding school, called Chosen. Towards the end of the programme, one of the victims of the abuse Alastair Rolfe said the following, which by the sound of it could have been specifically about Kit Cunningham.

    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.

    William, you’re still in shock about this. I’m not surprised, it is terrible to learn that one of your close friends did such monstrous things. But use it is a consciousness-raiser. Use it to realise that in child protection matters, adult logic doesn’t work. Nobody can be regarded as being above suspicion, no matter how respectable or even eminent they might be. No report or allegation should be discounted simply because you think XYZ is a splendid fellow who could never do such a thing.

    But you now know that priests, even colourful priests who are friends with journalists, can do such things, and you never had a clue about it.

  • http://cowboypapist.com/ Cowboy Papist

    It appears that the extended length of time between the crimes committed by Fr. Kit and his apologies to his victims would lessen the impact of his apologies; it seems the grace he’s received wasn’t compelling enough to apologize sooner.

  • Amfortas

    I don’t think William Oddie is trying to justify anything. He’s just trying to come to terms with what he now knows about Cunningham. However, it might have been better at this stage if he hadn’t gone into print.

  • Amfortas

    Jamie Ensign has recognised the harm in what he wrote. Lionel’s comment is made up of two contradictory sentences.

  • DdV

    > with God’s grace it really is possible truly to change: and he had changed.

    This is at the heart of the Christian religion. Thank you, Fr Oddie, for your compassionate, understanding and deeply Christian words. Yours is a voice of sanity and reason.

  • DdV

    Shame on you. I trust that God will be more merciful to you, and to me, than you have shown yourself prepared to be in this mean-spirited post.

  • DdV

    Thank God he did go into print. His words have brought light and hope into a hideous, snarling cacophony of spitefulness and hatred that makes me feel ashamed to be a Christian. God bless Fr Oddie.

  • Amfortas

    Dr. Oddie is not a priest.

  • Amfortas

    Dr. Oddie is not a priest.

  • DdV

    I stand corrected. But he is still a man of wisdom and compassion. I thank him again for his gracious Christian words.

  • DdV

    Again I stand corrected. But he must be a good and gracious Christian man to have written what he did, and I thank him for it.

  • RJ

    Seems to me that nothing can make up for what Fr Cunningham did – no human punishment or reparation - except the blood of Christ and the suffrages of those united to Him. Ave Crux, Spes Unica.

  • Alan

    This really is an appalling article. Cunningham only apologised when he was confronted with his crimes. The fact of those crimes undermines everything he since did – every sermon given, every confession heard, every good deed in the community. It all means nothing when contrasted with the vast hypocrisy and injustice of robbing children of their innocence. Cunningham lived a good life of genial company and the admiration of his many – a life he did not deserve if he sought true redemption.

  • W Oddie

    But i DIDN’T try to justify his past actions. on the contrary. Read it more carefully and you will see that. Yu have missed the point.

  • W Oddie

    I have written repeatedly about the victims.

  • A Survivor of GD

    I attended Grace Dieu in 1971 – 75. There were a few ex Soni boys at GD and they did have a few comments…
    Grace Dieu was a very HARD place. Brutal discipline, a society in society where nobody would dare complain.
    In a weird way it has done us good, in a bad way we are all marked …for life. I could never imagine beating children like I was beaten. It’s just 19th century child torture the end of an era where children would be molded by force.
    My father knew Kit Cunningham very well from the many Old Ratciffian meetings held in England in Paris. I even met Kit Cunningham who was always speaking about Tanzania and… New Zealand. He was a social personality, but behind the facade I can imagine the monster. The documentary has done enormous good in opening the Pandora box and allowing many of the ex Soni and Grace Dieu Manor pupils to understand and accept that we were not exaggerating the facts but just mentioning these memories that today are simply unbelievable.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jack-Hughes/100000562751914 Jack Hughes

    Dear Alexander

    The victims documented in tuesday’s programme claim to want justice, but
    in my eyes they are no better than those who insist on dragging up
    octogenerians who may or may not have been concentration camp guards 70
    years ago.  From what I have read of Fr. Kit’s life after Soni it would
    appear that he was a true pennitent. 

    I ask you what point was there in dragging this case into the public
    eye? that we might magically find some way of preventing abuse in the
    future? let me say that we have proceedures in place in state schools to
    prevent such abuse and guess what……… it still happens, as someone
    who hopes to be a Priest one day I can tell you that once ordained you
    are only an baseless accusation away from being thrown to the wolves,
    even if there is no evidence against you the Bishop will sacrifice you
    on the altar of public opinon, after all it is better that one man should die rather than a nation perish’. 

     Regarding the Rosminions themselves,, until he found letters from the
    lawyers on his doorstep Fr. Myers was very cooperative, now the victims
    want a gallon of blood in in addition to their pound of flesh.

    Speaking as someone whose parents spiritually raped him (how my confessor phrased it) I know that it can be hard to forgive, but guess what,
    I have (to an extent) and daily offer up my sufferings for their conversion,
    perhaps instead of abandoning the faith (as all but one of them have)
    the victims should have done the same for Fr Christopher et al.

  • AGH

    For Dr Oddie, and for many others, who knew Kit Cunningham in his later years, then it is human nature to try to rationalize the situation, and characterize Kit Cunningham as a man with two identities.

    The sad thing for me, is that things which are portrayed in films, whether it be catholic priests, terrorist events or any other subjects, which seem so far fetched, actually come true in this day and age.

    I don’t think you can claim good for the work he did in his later years, (and yes i met him and experienced his jovial personality), because to abuse children is one of the worst sins of all. To abuse children from a position of trust is unforgivable. The church to continue to cover this up, is equally as evil. 

    A thief can often be the most generous person, as he tries to exonerate himself from sins, in an over generous manner, whilst acknowledging the plaudits of the people he is generous to; and so the spiral of theft  continues.

    I’m sure Fr Kit Cunningham went through torturous years by asking God for personal forgiveness. We do not know if he was a victim himself, as so many are. But, as he was amongst others committing the same acts, it is wrong to forgive them because ‘they appear to have repented’, and changed. I’m afraid this will never solve the problems of child abuse.

    For those who knew Father Kit, and welcomed dialogue with him (and i include my own father in this category), he has left a huge void, a lack of trust and huge disappointment, and shock.

    The church is fighting for its’ future, by covering these offenses up, and believing that time is the best healer, or hoping that the victims will pass away.

    I congratulate the men in the film for their strength and courage, and hope that they can seek to  continue their lives with some of the stain from the past removed. I also pray that none have gone on to repeat the sins, as often is the case with child abuse.

    It is hard to end a post to a blog with a concluding sentence, nicely wrapping up a subject, which is so complex.  I can only conclude that children must be protected and that institutions that cover up abusers must be abolished. Fr K Cunningham was a con man, who’s past eventually caught up with him, and to that aspect i am deeply sorry for those who had faith in him, and likened him as a friend. He has let them down. The institution and the remaining abusing priests, or any other abusers, whether in a position of authority or not, must be brought to justice.

  • Gerard Magee2

    You ( and Mr. Oddie ) tell the victims of abuse that my post is ‘mean spirited’, I think you would get your answer. It is always the same – protect the credibility of the church. Have you ever heard a prayer being offered for the victims of clerical abuse ? didn’t think so. Those at the top are more interested in protecting the abusing clergy than helping the victims- this is quite clear from all the cover up that has happened over many years.

  • Gerard Magee2

    O but you did Mr. Oddie, or at least thats what comes over in your article. Listen Mr. Oddie, Father C committed a crime against innocent children. Neither you, any bishop in the church or I can even begin to know the devastating effects this has had on those children.  No matter what excuses you and others may make, no matter how Father C came over to you personally, what he did is inexcusable. I honestly think you made a mistake in writing this article.  I wish you well.

  • Amfortas

    I didn’t read it that way but I guess it’s inevitable that it would be read that way. Hence my counsel not to go into print at this time.

  • Jonathan West

    Martin

    On the available evidence, specifically the apologies described in the programme, Kit Cunningham is not somebody who truly repented. They are the apology of a child caught bullying another in the playground and told by the teacher “Say you’re sorry!”

  • Jonathan West

    You’ll feel an awful prat for saying that if it turns out that Cunningham has abused in England as well.

  • Anonymous

    It strikes me that there are just too many unknowns about Father Cunningham to be able to write anything useful about him.  What impelled him to abuse these boys?  Was he acknowledging that he was doing wrong at the time?  Did he go to confession at the time?  If the sin was persistent did his confessor suggest removing himself from the occasion of sin?  Did he repent?  At what stage? Now we have an allegation about his housekeeper which raises more questions?  We will never know the answers to these questions so perhaps the subject is best left alone and concentrate on what can or should be done for the victims.

    More generally there seems to be an idea that once a paedophile always a paedophile.  There seems to be an idea that they can never change, repent or be forgiven.  I do not think this accords with Christian thinking although I suspect it is incredibly difficult for some to abandon a sexual perversion. We should not be too quick to throw stones.

  • IDesireMercy

    Thank you, Dr. Oddie, for taking such a risk before the torch-wielding mobs.  The louder and more violent the yells, the more I wonder what the yellers have done in their lives. 

    Sexual abuse of the weak is epidemic, and very few of those abused go on to sue for thousands of dollars in compensation. Vacation spots like Thailand are flooded every years with British men willing to pay for sex with desperately poor Thai teenagers and children, who have not yet sued anyone. Children, teenagers and poor women are exploited by pornographers for the delectation of British men and others around the world, and yet they bring no lawsuits. Teenage girls in England are groomed and exploited from men operating out of a fast food restaurant, but the fast food restaurant is not sued. The girls and boys who suffer incest do not sue their mothers for the abuse their fathers or uncles meted out. The chap who “relaxes” before nasty images on his computer but screams to high heaven about paedophile priests is also unlikely to be sued.  

    My school class, unlike others, I believe, had an unusual and precocious amount of sexual bullying by the boys of the girls. For three years, certain boys targeted certain girls for constant groping. I reported this to the head teacher myself; he did nothing.  Twenty-five years later, these adolescent boys are now adults, married men, fathers, teachers and other professionals. As far as I know, they have never been punished for what they did as boys. One might say, as did the head teacher, that “boys will be boys”, and not to be compared to priests or other adult men, but however young they were, it was a clear case of the stronger preying on the weaker, and nothing was done. Should the girls, then, expose and sue these men 25 years later for a cash settlement? Should we get together and sue the school?

    I think not. It was a Catholic institution, and like so many other Catholic institutions, it now has strict guidelines to protect against sexual bullying and other sexual abuse. The head teacher has long since retired. The men are probably no longer the nasty boys they were. To open a suit in revenge would be to open wounds and create fresh ones in shocked, innocent people.

    Given the prevalence of sexual assault, I wonder if those who wish to dig up Fr. Cunningham’s corpse and hang it from the rather have ever, in their lives, laid greedy hands on a boy, girl, woman or man, who did not welcome them. 

  • IDesireMercy

    And how would we know? It would be the word of  accusers  against the silence of a dead man.  There is a weakness to hearing allegations that are 45 years old. 

    Meanwhile, you might feel like an awful prat yourself if it came to light that Father Cunningham was himself sexually abused as a child, as sexual abusers often have been.

  • IDesireMercy

    Sorry, the expression should be “hang it from the rafters.” Of course the gap between what a priest is called to be and a priest’s blackest sins is immense. But all the screaming for revenge against the very old, the dead, and their orders rather hides the fact that most children, teenagers and vulnerable women are sexually exploited by ordinary blokes, who might not even see how what they are doing causes just as much pain or more. 

  • IDesireMercy

    Frequently, including at papal masses. Do you ever attend religious services? If you did, you might have heard them yourself. 

  • dd

    Gerard, I too think you’re reading this wrong.  Unless, of course, you truly believe that nobody can repent and change their lives??  (and the corallary that no one can forgive or let go of any wrong done to them)

    If the latter, I certainly hope you are yourself without sin, I wouldn’t want you to forever be your worst sins bound with every wrong ever done to you – quite a horrible existence. 

  • W Oddie

    Let those who are without sin among you cast the first stone. I assume you are NOT a practising Christian. If you are, or claim  to be, you should be ashamed.

  • dd

    ammendment of life is only brought about by sitting in a prison cell? 

  • Martin

    Jonathan, you maybe totally right, however, it took something similiar for St Paul to be brought to his knees. Paul seperated families, he dragged them away to be punished and condemned, he stood in full agreement when the stoning of innocents were being conducted. Why do we love him yet hate others? Paul called himself the worst of Sinners but it wasnt until he was told, (by Jesus himself) that he got the message. Have we surrounded the gospel accounts with fluffy clouds and seperated it from the reality of what happened? How many people initially wanted anything to do with paul after his conversion? very few, they still saw him as he was in the flesh, not as he was now in the spirit….born again, thanks to the mercy of Jesus catching him bullying others in the playground.

    We are not in a position to say he repented or not, only what we think he did. Jesus, who died for each one of us (thank God), will be the final judge of that.

  • Gerard Magee2

    I have never heard a priest / bishop or the Pope offer up a prayer for victims. I wish I was as sanctimonious as you. or maybe not !!

  • Jonathan West

    Actually, I’m not all that concerned about Cunningham of and for himself. I never met the man. And it might possibly be that he was abused himself as a child. It wouldn’t greatly surprise me if he was (but if he was, then it further puts the lie on the idea that the abuse crisis is a phenomenon of the 60s and 70s).

    The point I have been making in the comments about Cunningham is that prominent ournalists and other public figures who are catholics are having to come to terms with the fact that somebody they knew well, liked and trusted, who they thought was above suspicion, has been revealed to be an abuser.

    And if William Oddie and others are going to be honest in their reactions to this, they will have to acknowledge that if Kit Cunnungham shouldn’t have been thought of as being above suspicion, then neither can anybody else be.

    And now, at last, perhaps the church can get on with the hard work of formulating and implementing effective child protection measures that are based on this realisation.

  • Jonathan West

    I’m not going to get into an argument with you about St. Paul. All I can do is reiterate that the evidence is that there was no true repentance on the part of Kit Cunningham, and therefore William Oddie in his article is engaging in wishful thinking.

    Had the content of the apologies shown in the programme been different, had they not sought to minimise and justify what had been done, had they not tiptoed round what had happened with words like “inappropriate”, had they not entirely omiitted the word “sin”, then I might have reached a different conclusion. All I’m doing here is going by the available evidence.

  • Little Black Censored

    He is actually; once a priest, always a priest.

  • Little Black Censored

    … one of the things that the victim most wants…
    That is not a sound principle for the apportionment of punishment.

  • Patrick Heren

    This is a kind article, and I agree with some of what William Oddie says about Fr Kit. But he is wrong to say that the child-abuser and the popular, kindly priest were two different people. They were the same man. As a friend said when he heard the appalling news, the first question is: how could these dreadful sins be committed by the good and caring priest that I knew? But the second question is: How does evil exist alongside whatever good is in ME? This actually goes to the heart of what it is to be human, and thus what it is to be Christian.