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A terrible human weakness lies at the heart of the Jimmy Savile case

It is very hard for us to acknowledge the evil that lies plainly before our eyes

By on Friday, 12 October 2012

Flowers lie in the place formerly occupied by Jimmy Savile's headstone (PA)

Flowers lie in the place formerly occupied by Jimmy Savile's headstone (PA)

After a time you notice that a pattern emerges. Jimmy Savile’s case reminds me very strongly of other cases that have come to light. A man who was universally respected, who enjoyed the company of the famous, who was praised for his charitable work, suddenly unmasked after his death. And questions are asked: who knew? If they knew, why didn’t they say? Why, above all, did they go ahead with celebrating the man’s memory when, it seems, all the time they had known?

Similar questions were put shortly after the death of Fr Kit Cunningham. Now it is the BBC that faces these questions. But there is, if one can consider things calmly, a human angle to this.

We often say things like the following, after the event: “I noticed such and such, and I felt uncomfortable, but I didn’t like to say…” People did notice things about Jimmy Savile, and they must have been disturbed, but they did not want to say anything. It takes courage to speak out, especially against the overwhelming consensus of opinion – and as a result the person who does not speak out becomes complicit, becomes part of the conspiracy of silence, and the guilt they feel at not speaking out makes their silence, the longer it is maintained, all the more compelling.

People at the BBC appear to have known about Jimmy Savile – there were explicit allegations after his death on Twitter, which suggests that the people in the know were numerous, though what they knew might have been very far from concrete. Yet it appears that they were drawn into and paralysed by the web of deceit spun by Savile. They knew, they did not speak out, they were made to feel like co-conspirators, sticking to the received orthodoxy (which they had helped create, after all) that he was a wonderful man. As the years passed, the breaking of silence grew ever more difficult: untruth assumes a seemingly invincible life of its own. It might well have seemed an impossible task to blow the whistle on Jimmy Savile back in the 1970s when so many, especially those who had covered up for him, had a vested interest in maintaining his undeserved reputation.

We may well see that some BBC personalities are forced to fall on their swords thanks to their long failure to act on Savile, just as several Catholic bishops were forced into retirement and disgrace by their failure to confront early on the known crimes and misdemeanours of their clergy. But this is not altogether suprising: humankind cannot bear very much reality. Denial of shocking offences is a common refuge of those confronted with what they know to be wrong. Things that are too awful to think about do lead people to bury their heads in the sand.

When the German government in the mid-1930s turned against German citizens of Jewish extraction, no one, or hardly anyone, protested. They pretended Kristallnacht somehow had not happened. They went on to ignore Auschwitz. By then they had a massive stake in denial.

In acknowledging Savile’s guilt now, those who praised and honoured him in the past have to admit not only that they were wrong, but that they had been wrong for decades, and that for decades they should have known better. That is quite a tall order. But the fact remains: if they had confronted the evil earlier, it would have been so much easier for all concerned, not least the victims. The long silence has compounded the damage.

Savile is not the only one to have offended in this way. Many of the abusive clergy were know to be abusers for years – I mentioned the Fr Kit Cunningham case earlier, but the most clear example of this was Fr Marcial Maciel whose evil deeds first began to come to light almost 60 years before he was brought to justice by Benedict XVI in 2005. Again, so many knew about Maciel, and yet he was able to get away with it for so long: but the more people who knew, the greater the number with a reason to keep it quiet. In the end thousands of people had a stake in the reputation of a man in whom they had invested so much.

  • scary goat

    Thank you for that Father.  That all sounds very familiar.  I want to add one thing to that.  The more people there are “in denial” the more the one with the courage will get clobbered for trying to do what is right.  It becomes ever decreasing circles.  Even one with the courage will end up swamped and silenced. Then you have to live with a permanent sense of failure. Could you have done more? Maybe….probably not.

  • Benedict Carter

    Where Grace abounds, concupiscience and the Evil One will work hardest to destroy its effects and the soul (s) on which it is working. 

    Savile fell, and fell very hard and far. May God have mercy on him.

    Most people are decent but weak. In a culture that has already been rotted morally, that “weak decency” will close its eyes to all but the most evident evil.

    And already by the late 1960’s, Western Christian culture had already been destroyed. Did not the Church Herself go the same way? 

    The only consolation from this nasty story is that the smug, liberal, secular champion BBC, overtly hostile to Catholicism, has been shown to be nothing but a den of “celebrity saint” vipers.

  • Mark

    Far from this story showing how anti-Catholic the BBC is, Benedict Carter, before you reveal your illogical paranoia to the world, you might recall that Jimmy Savil was in fact a practising Catholic, and what’s more a papal knight.

  • Lazarus

    Whenever it’s a question of child abuse, we seem to lurch hysterically from identifying one monster to another. Now it’s Savile. It has been the Catholic Church (and will doubtless be so again). A few years ago it was the Satanic abuse stories.

    What’s lacking in all this is an acknowledgment that this isn’t a series of isolated cases that we can solve by catching individual especially bad people, but a persistent thread in how a minority of people with power tend to behave sexually. As Catholics, we ought to be familiar with the idea that sex is a particular locus of original sin, but a secularized society which proclaims our sex urge as always beneficent is always going to look at these events as individual aberrations which we can get rid of if we try hard enough. They’re not. They’re a standard (even if evil) aspect of fallen human behaviour that we need to acknowledge and continually struggle against.

  • Benedict Carter


    Concupiscience plus temptation was very strong – “where Grace abounds” it always is. 

    Perhaps you do not understand these terms?

  • Solly Gratia

    So far, the BBC has wisely chosen NOT to play the RC card, since the Savile case is an illustration of endemic complicity by ‘decent but weak’ people, even in the hallowed halls of the Beeb. Sadly, they are also trying to get damage limitation into play by already talking about a ‘different culture’ in the 70s, as if that excuses them.
    This isn’t about a change of culture though, but about a small group of predatory sex offenders who put themselves into positions where they can not only abuse, but also control the story around them. One might hope the Beeb will learn a bit of humility from this, before it points the finger again. Abuse is not endemic to organisations, but it can be an evil growth upon it, be it in churches, care homes, schools, or media organisations.
    Has anyone noticed how little this story has appeared on the BBC News website home page? To start with it was relegated to ‘entertainment’ news; at one point the only story appeared under Wales News. Joshua Rozenberg says it won’t be a problem to the BBC overall.

  • JabbaPapa

    Concupiscience plus temptation was very strong – “where Grace abounds” it always is.

    Very wise, Ben.

  • Framkbodley

    The same has to be said about the Mass Murder of Innocents ,as in Abortion. A creeping paralysis came over the whole world. Now there are many interests in keeping it going. In Northern Ireland the opening of Mary Stopes clinic for Abortion is a direct in your face blast at the Christians of that part of Ireland. Now the Irish Government in a thinly veiled veneer are introducing a Children’s referendum on Child Protection and deliberately clouding over the issue by its use of language of the hidden Trojan horse of Abortion which its Minister of Health has declared he will introduce into Ireland. This referendum if passed will give him carte blanche to do so in respect of pregnant teenage girls and the non redress of parents. Included in this is the forced adoption tactics as employed in UK.
    frank Bodley

  • Jonathan West

    There are plenty of monsters to go round.

    As for the fact that “a minority of people with power tend to behave sexually”, that is true and dates back thousands of years. It’s not an invention of the modern secular society. Suetonius reported that the soldiers sang the following during Julius Caeser’s triumph for his Gallic wars

    Home we bring our bald whoremonger;Romans, lock your wives away!All the bags of gold you lent himWent his Gallic tarts to pay.

  • Jonathan West

    Another reason that they wouldn’t play the RC card is that Lord Patten is a Catholic and is a governor of St Benedict’s School Ealing.

  • Benedict Carter

    You’re right Solly.

  • Lazarus

    Not sure what point you’re trying to make here, Jonathan. I didn’t suggest that sexual misbehaviour was limited to modern secular society. Indeed, I wasn’t making a general point about sexual misbehaviour but about child abuse in particular. (So the reference to Caesar’s whoring whilst welcome as an encouragement to classical studies is completely beside the point.)

    My point was that modern secular society a) reacts with hysteria to child abuse and b) treats child abuse as an exception which can be solved. In essence, both these mistakes are a result of an over benign view of human nature and the sex drive.

  • Gilead

    I don’t know much about Jimmy Savile or the scandal enveloping him and the BBC. (I am from the U.S.) It sounds as though a lot of people had strong evidence of his sexual abuses but remained silent, and thus were complicit in his transgressions.  However, as someone who works on and resolves sexual abuse claims, I have some additional observations, and I believe there often are other dynamics at play. Child sexual abuse is so abhorrent that many people, even when confronted with “red flags,” are loathe to point the finger, but not necessarily because they are morally weak. If they are wrong, they may have destroyed-permanently-an innocent person’s reputation, livelihood, etc. That does not excuse willful ignorance or turning a blind eye to concrete evidence. I am merely saying that sometimes, in hindsight, what appears to be moral ambivalence may in fact have been a reluctance to destroy a person’s reputation on the flimsiest of evidence. Also, today we have a much better understanding of what constitutes a “red flag” of possible abuse.  Decades ago, we did not. Sometimes it is unfair to assign today’s knowledge to yesterday’s facts and events.

  • Jonathan West

     What reaction to child abuse do you think is more approprate – toleration?

    As for your understanding of the secular view of child sex abuse, be assured that it doesn’t accord with my view of it. There are a wide range of sexualities, some of them are harmful, and child sex abuse is one of the harmful ones. That is recognised far more now and in previous times.

    Child sex abuse probably can’t be eliminated entirely, or at least not by any means we currently know of. But we can minimise it, by various means so that abusers are deterred, and those who are not deterred are caught more quickly.

    Child sex abusers are just like other criminals, they don’t like to get caught. So if you make it likely that they will get caught, then they will not commit the crime in the first place.

    Most of Jimmy Savile’s crimes have taken place in an institutional context: hospitals, schools, the BBC. The clever paedophiles do get themselves into a position of trust in such places because they provide a ready supply of victims.

    An effective counter to this would be for the management in all institutions which are responsible for the care of children to have a statutory duty to report all allegations of child abuse to the civil authorities, specifically to the Local Authority Designated Officer for Child Protection (LADO). The LADO then decides whether the police need to be brought in and/or social services.

    There is no legal obligation to do this at present, even in schools. A headmaster can know that one of his teachers has raped one of his pupils, and he has no obligation to report anything to anybody. Such a situation has in fact occurred, for instance at St Benedict’s School Ealing and at Downside school (though the knowledge was of sexual assault rather than rape). Failure to report is not limited to Catholic schools, there have been recent cases also at Wellington College and Hillside First School in Somerset. It’s time to call non-reporting of abuse by it’s proper name – protecting criminals.

    And it needs to carry a criminal sanction, including a lengthy term of imprisonment where failure to report results in an abuser committing further serious crimes. This will concentrate minds wonderfully, no headmaster or manager is going to be willing to risk a couple of years in clink in order to cover up somebody else’s abuses.

  • John Shuster

    Ratzinger covered up clerical sex crimes for years. He was forced to do something about Maciel because of brave survivors and the exposure of Maciel’s double life by Jason Berry. The current pope had plenty of opportunities to bring him to justice and did nothing.

  • Kevin


    That is another word that should be consigned to the dustbin you opened up recently. It is a deeply sexist expression in that it falsely accuses centuries of men of having had a sexist intention in coining and using the term mankind.

    Other than that, the Savile affair provides an interesting analogy for Judgment Day. Had these stories not emerged, Savile may have remained fondly remembered on earth, even after his soul had been judged differently. (Of course, I am not presuming to be the judge.)

    It is as if we have been given something of God’s perspective (on all our souls) and how different it can be from the world’s judgment (at least during Savile’s earthly life).

    This story tells us at least two things. It tells us that when we examine our consciences we cannot rely on the world’s judgment of us. Secondly, it tells us that, for all the “New Atheist” attacks on the existence of Hell, the secular response to the Savile stories has been to condemn him and to cast him into the darkness.

  • Lazarus

    ‘What reaction to child abuse do you think is more approprate – toleration?’

    Rather poor, Jonathan. Read what I said.

  • Alexander Lucie-Smith

    Humankind cannot bear very much reality is a phrase from a poet – none other than TS Eliot.

  • daclamat

    I’m waiting for William Oddie to comment, following his panegyric on Saville in these columns.
    Cover ups occur because victims believe that they will be punished by the very authorities from whom they seek redress. Look at the attitude of the Bishops of Middleburgh, Leeds and Portsmouth. The victims are damaged, for heaven’s sake!  And yet they have to go through the pain and humiliation of lengthy judicial proceedings, because the bishops must protect the intrests of the church. And they wonder why the faithful are walking way in masses. I know of a major seminary, where in my time a “rev” professor was a serial groper. Students of my generation, who knew and joked about the groper went on to become senior figures in the seminary establishment  silent about their pervert colleague’s activities. Another “rev” professor took prurient delight in ensuring little boys took their weekly bath correctly.  When his proclivities  caught up with him years later, the police said he was too old and frail for them to pursue the matter.  Having a bishop as brother was a big help, making sure that he got moved around. RIP

  • Rizzo the Bear

    Even if you pluck up the courage to report ANY form of wrongdoing to the BBC, the corporation is only interested in wriggling out of doing anything pro-active about the matter so that its reputation would remain intact.

    The sooner they swiftly and radically change this disgusting, immoral and counter-productive attitude, the better for everyone.Jimmy Savile wantonly deceived and manipulated all he encountered, all he abused. He thought he was untouchable, invincible… yet, for the many who believed he was, there were many more who thought otherwise.I grew up with Jim’ll Fix It and Top Of The Pops on the telly. Like other kids of that age, I wrote to Jim’ll Fix It once or twice… Thank God those letters weren’t answered! Thinking back on it, I had a lucky escape!He rather fancied himself a lot, too, by his swagger, his narcissim, everything. He wasn’t my favourite radio or telly personality at all. He was just ‘there’, like Noel Edmonds, Bob Monkhouse, Ed ‘Stewpot’ Stewart et al.When Hans Christian Andersen wrote ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’, he must have had a good crystal ball to see a future where celebrity, image and other trappings would brainwash people.It took an innocent child to cry out that the emperor was naked!Christ said ‘Do not be afraid.’ The Holy Spirit gives us courage.We should not leave these fruits and gifts in the back of the draw of our faith, but dust them off and use them.

  • dem

    What a refreshingly different article form that very odd one the other week or so (a reprint from Nov 2011) by Mr Oddie – so hagiographic in tone and so unwarranted that anybody with a sense of homework and knowledge would have hesitated judiciously from reprinting at this time such an utterance.

    Question Time just the other night showed Ms Odone in a condemning manner highlight the reprehensible hagiography surrounding anything to do with Saint Jimmy, the which adulatory attitudes and dispositions she found prevailing in the Catholic Herald when she went to work for it.  The Church is better served without such lofty attentions as Mr Oddie ever gave to Mr Savile when he lamented the omission in the press of Catholicism in the life and death of Mr Savile.  The church has already suffered enough from its associations with predatory priests and its lack of or rather tardy leadership in this direction.  A further linkage between faith and failing serves it ill.

    Mr Jonathan West made reference to the (hypothetical?) situation where a head teacher need not report a teacher who is ‘misbehaving’.  Is this so?  I thought that the Nolan Report and the later Cumberlege Report specified channels of procedure and obligation, ways of doing that have to be done and left no doubt concerning what ought to be set up and implemented.  It prescribed!  Has this been effected or is the situation still as Mr West described?  The latter report also drew attention to the dichotomy (if that is what it is), the tensions between a religious ethic of cognition that speaks of sin and the forgiveness of sins (something in which religious orders are very well versed and immersed) and the duty of justice towards the vulnerable and abused.  Often perhaps the former has been allowed to eclipse the latter.  The needs of the child and the abused come first and with it perhaps, the millstones around the necks of the offenders.  The secular world, that culture of death does not concern itself with sin and the forgiveness of sins but with the crime and punishment of such wrongs which it defines in law.  The sexual abuse of minors and the vulnerable is one.

    The BBC has a lot to answer for and I hope enquiries and investigations will reveal the full extent of this odious scenario.

  • Hermit

         I don’t know if I am understanding the
    case well.



         “A man who was universally respected,
    who enjoyed the company of the famous, who was praised for his charitable work,
    suddenly unmasked after his death.” This means that he has been accused of
    child abuse after his death. I, for one, do not accept this accusation. He is
    dead now and cannot defend himself.


         We are not judges but we do have judges in
    court and they judge and they do well in judging cases before them. How can I
    accept these accusations when there is no human judge to hear all witnesses
    under oath in the presence of the accused and examine both prosecutor and
    defence. How can I accept these whispers when there has been no fair hearing?


         Shall we start condemning anyone without
    giving him the possibility of defending himself? Surely not. 


  • Jonathan West

    I did. It’s just that you don’t like the reply.

  • Parasum

    Are those who condemn the Churches for the depravities of its members going to apply their reasoning to society outside the Churches ? I hope so. If they do not, then their indignation against paedophilia  in the Churches is going to look hypocritical. And that will be a great shame, because molestation of minors is a hideous thing.

    If this episode is not a reason to avoid lionising the living, what is ? This episode is a reminder that bad men can do a lot of good, and good men can have some terrible flaws. IOW, it makes such labels very difficult to apply, and meaningless. Which ought to warn Christians to remember that God is good – and only God.

  • Parasum

     I don’t think that is fair to Dr. Oddie. A lot of people were taken in, a lot of people saw the good works and nothing else. Dr. Oddie can’t be blamed for being as deceived as some even better placed to know the facts.

    The behaviour of the Church authorities in regard to our own little spot of Hell ought to be grounds for excommunication of all the clergy concerned. Some hope. The bigger fishes get away, the lesser are caught. No surprises there.

  • Parasum

    “Also, today we have a much better understanding of what constitutes a
    “red flag” of possible abuse.  Decades ago, we did not. Sometimes it is
    unfair to assign today’s knowledge to yesterday’s facts and events.”

    ## But not always.

    If a Catholic priest can recognise, in the 1950s, the serious and the character of molestation, what excuse have the bishops in his country for not knowing that ? People don’t need clergy to tell them molestation of the young is evil – it’s obviously evil. Here’s some info on how it was recognised, in in the past, as a great evil:

    It is beyond belief that laicisation for molester priests should be suggested in 1962, but not be adopted for almost 50 years.

  • Benedict Carter

    You’re right. 

    Some Bishops ought to be laicised, let alone the filth who actually committed the wickedness. And some Cardinals too should be heavily censored – one of them is a certain German who has been recently been made the Prefect of the CDF. Muller has a very shaky record in the matter of moving a known sex offender priest to another post, where he committed further appalling acts.

  • Jonathan West

    Unfortunately the situation I have described is anything but hypothetical. The only hypothetical aspect of it is that while I don’t know of head teachers who have known about rape carried out by their staff I do know about abbots and headteachers of Catholic schools who have known about sexual assaults carried out by monks and teachers and who have said nothing to the authorities. Downside Abbey and school,  and Ealing Abbey and St Benedict’s School are examples which most readily come to mind.

    And the matter is not restricted to Catholic schools. Early this year we had the sentencing of Nigel Leat for a host of abuses at Hillside First School in Somerset. The headmaster received repeated warnings from staff and didn’t pass any of them on. He had committed no crime, so the worst thing the local education authority could do to him was sack him. They did. 

    Also this year has seen the conviction of Bruce Roth, a housemaster at Wellington College and previously a teacher at Kings School Rochester. Both schools had indications of problems with Roth, neither chose to contact the authorities about him.

  • CaAndy

    So-called ‘conspiracy theorists’ were trying to get the message out about Sir Jimmy years ago.

    And the self-same ‘conspiracy theorists’ are still trying to get the message out about a lot of other prominent and high-profile individuals today. 

    I still feel that the link between between NATO, New Labour, and the Dunblane massacre needs explaining sooner rather than later. But since the judge in charge of that investigation locked the case-notes up for the next 80 years or so, the vast majority of those present on this earth today may never truly know…..

  • Jon Brownridge

     Benedict, you are right of course, but the Church’s attitude to sex offenses has shifted in recent years. Traditionally, a sex offense was seen as a moral failing rather than a criminal act. This explains why priests and bishops placed all their energy into trying to rehabilitate the offender rather than taking care of the victim. It is only relatively recently that society has begun to understand the long-term effects of sexual abuse and, thankfully, is doing something about it.

  • daclamat

    As did Ratzinger. Move priests around. As did Levada, before he became capo at the inquisition. As did Hume. And Cormac watsisname. The thoroughly evil Kit Cunningham had a good sendoff, even from his superiors in the know. Anodine stuff (as usual) from Lucie Smith. A terrible weakness like,say motor neurone disease? Filth, evil are more apt descriptions.  As for Subito Santo – he spent more time going after liberation theologians who put their lives on the line, and lost, than going after evil doers.

  • daclamat

    Little boys in catholic schools, backsides red, black and yellow, had little insight into the meaning of concupiscence. And little girls They were taught to believe they were guilty. And suffered for years when they didn’t decide to end it all.  Grace abounds? Forgiveness is easy when you haven’t been on the receiving end!

  • Lazarus

    No, I don’t like the reply because, as in your first effort,  it displays a lack of attention to what I actually said. (Together with your customary ‘unfortunate’ tone.)  Let’s try again.

    First, you may well be right about your suggestions on legal change. I’m a little suspicious in general about ‘back of the envelope’ legal tinkering, but you may indeed have a point.

    But whatever point you have here is not the only thing to be said about child abuse and the various media storms I mentioned. It’s not unreasonable to try to understand both what has happened in Savile’s etc actions and in the reactions of the media to them. My suggestion is that a greater awareness of the perennial problem of sex (as given in the doctrine of original sin) would help here. 

    Now, given your previous performances on the Herald website, I wouldn’t expect you to agree with that. I might disagree with some diatribe from you on Catholics’ ‘unhealthy’ attitude to sex etc, but at least such a reply would be relevant. Instead, you first start discussing Caesar’s whoring and then accuse me of tolerating child abuse because I won’t indulge in amateur lawmongering. Indeed, with your simplistic emphasis on regulatory solutions and prattling about different ‘sexualities’ , you evidence that very same secular unwillingness to grapple with the sinful nature of sex that I was complaining about. 

  • Jonathan West

    We make some progress, if you’re prepared to accept that I may have a point about the change in the law.

    Such a law has recently come into effect in Ireland, and similar laws are already in effect in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and at a state level in much of the US. So it’s hardly back-of-an-envelope tinkering, there is sound precedent for it. A Catholic bishop and a monsignor in the US have both been convicted this year of failing to report child abuse.

    You can dress up your understanding of sexuality in terms of original sin if you like. I see no need for it, but if it aids your understanding to express it in terms familiar to you, then I have no objection. The point I was making is that sexuality is not a rational matter, and so like the poor, the perverts are probably going always to be with us.

    It is up to us to decide what we are going to do about that, and it seems to me that the most constructive thing is to minimise the damage they can do. That means deterring them as far as possible from acting on their impulses, catching them as quickly as possible if deterrence fails, and making sure that people known to be a danger to children don’t get positions where they have unsupervised access to children.

    Mandatory reporting is one measure designed to help achieve that. Such a law is not particularly intended to achieve large numbers of convictions for failing to report abuse, its primary purpose would be to make it clear to all non-paedophiles what we need to do when we witness an incident or are told about it by the child. 

    There is a terrible conflict of interest when abuse occurs in an institutional setting, and the Catholic Church has wrestled with this as much as any other institution. When those in authority learn of abuse, they have a responsibility both to protect the children and to protect the reputation of the institution they are running. In all too many cases, they kid themselves they can do both at the same time by handling abuse in-house. That approach needs to be given its true name – protecting criminals. It is the abusers who are protected by keeping the abuse quiet, not the children. We now have ample experience that demonstrates that.

    The primary purpose of the change in the law would be to decisively tip the balance of this conflict of interest in the direction of protecting children by reporting abuse. It would also ensure that those well-meaning people who have witnessed abuse by Savile or others would in future know what they need to do as a result.

  • Lazarus

    I’ll leave you to argue your case for legal reform. As I said, you may well be right, but you are piggy backing your case on the back of my comment which had a different focus.

    But the simplistic thought that ‘perverts will always be with us’ is not going to help. First, to the extent it’s about the perennial nature of sin and sex, it’s my point not yours! (Hands off!!) Second, to the extent that simply it attributes the problem solely to perverts with a particular sexual taste, it’s missing the point. What happened at the BBC is almost certainly not that people clearly knew that Savile was engaged in what they regarded as immoral behaviour, but that he was rather louche sexually -and didn’t really object to it. (If you look (eg) at what John Peel has written about being pleasured by underage girls, it’s quite obvious that this sort of ‘player’ culture was widespread among DJs (and I bet, in some form, still is.))

    So whilst it’s jolly nice of you to allow me to ‘dress up my understanding…in terms familiar to me’, I do so because it is, I believe, a rather more accurate approach to the area than (eg) a) essentializing sexual attractions as ‘sexualities'; b) distancing the majority of the population from the problems of sex by describing others as ‘perverts’ or ‘monsters'; and c) retaining a generally benign view of sexual attraction.

    Consideration of original sin is certainly a more helpful approach than an exclusive focus on regulatory responses.

  • Jonathan West

    Jimmy Savile was a Catholic. He presumably had a perfectly good understanding of the doctrine of original sin, but it didn’t stop him.

    But had people known they had to report him, then that probably would have stopped him long ago.

    So whose approach is more helpful?

  • Benedict Carter

    I’ve been doing some extensive reading on the Congregation of the Servants of the Paraclete. The Bishops knew from them all about clerical sex offences in the late 1950’s and 1960’s (in America anyway), AND were warned by them that offenders were virtually incurable, but as the Revolution progressed (in Church & society) the Bishops turned away from spiritual answers and trusted the psychologists. 

  • Benedict Carter

    Totally agree.

  • Benedict Carter

    It’s not the little boys who were tempted.

    Savile was.

  • Lazarus

    Mine of course…

    Oh, despite the comedy value, I can’t leave it like that!

    a) I wouldn’t be too sure that someone who can do what Savile did can be unproblematically assumed to have a clear understanding of original sin. Whatever his knowledge of the doctrine, it seems unlikely to have struck home.

    b) Let’s try and imagine your sort of law taking its place in an environment where everyone thinks it’s a bit of a larf to get some young girl and muck around with her (ie the BBC). Going to be about as effective as anti-blasphemy laws in a Grauniad comments forum. Effective law can only exist in a certain cultural context -and that’s best provided by a society that has taken full account of original sin and its involvement in sex.

    c) Even if your approach were ‘more helpful’ that would not mean that mine didn’t have an important additional role to play. Dissing my comment, by not engaging with it and trying to substitute your own hobby horse would remain both ill mannered and off the point. (But of a piece with your customary absorption in  lecturing the ignorant, Catholic natives here on your latest wheeze.)

  • daclamat

    You’re getting there! Little boys and girls grew up believing they were guilty for derailing be it a saville or a priest.  In addition to the physical pain came the spiritual destruction. Suicides and family breakups abound, not to mention irreparable psychiatric disorders.

  • Anthony Jones

    Delete Savile and insert Vatican II and you would have a very interesting article. A truth that dare not surface.

  • Parasum

    STM a great problem is, not that “thoroughly evil” people do thoroughly evil things, but those who do such things are *not* thoroughly evil. They are too like the rest of us for comfort. For Jesus, there was no significant difference between the outward evil act and its evil roots in the heart.

    Not only do the media now practice *damnatio memoriae* – a habit seems to be developing, or returning, of destroying buildings lived in by criminals: a practice more often associated with the Spanish Inquisition. For the secular UK to imitate a tribunal it does not much respect is an irony. Extremes meeting, perhaps. Today’s Inquisition is not the S.C.D.F., which is a very different tribunal from the Roman Inquisition that preceded it – their functions overlap, but that is it. 

  • Acleron

    This case isn’t so much ‘damnatio memoraie’, more shaming the memory. But you need to divorce the agenda of the media from the real need to investigate Saville for the sake of any victims and allocate blame in various organisations if they have been found to be deficient in their duty of care to others. 

    But one thing that perturbs me is that the police have issued a verdict, that should not be their function and especially in this case where the accused cannot reply to the allegations. Also the reported stories in the media have so far been of the order of hearsay or, shock horror, sex with consenting young women. I would hope the police have more convincing evidence than that.

  • Benedict Carter

    I don’t know what “guilty for derailing” means. Is it English?

  • scary goat

     Indeed.  I have read up on that too.  Seriously worrying.

  • paulpriest

     Not true – in fact a downright lie – please provide a citation [for us to categorically refute] or retract it.

  • Amkennedypayen

    To Hermit…… If you have been listening to television reports concerning Jimmy So vile, you will have heard that he WAS accused of child abuse a long time before his death. He denied it. As for his” good work”. ?
    A poisoned gift !!!!!

  • Peter

    Why did the BBC cover it up for so many decades?

    The BBC accuses the Church for covering up Irish child abuse for decades, and they themselves have been caught red handed covering up Savile’s exploits for decades,and possible those of other household names.

    They are disgusting hypocrites.

  • daclamat

    I can’t believe my eyes! Are they just poor darlings who do nasty things? Thoroughly evil people do thoroughly evil deeds.  They are not like the rest of us, thank God. I wish people would stop attributing to Jesus wishy washy projections of their own imaginations. He was quite capable of going off at the deep, lashing out and throwing the furniture about; flying into a rage at cynical hypocrisy; and seeing millstones tied round the necks of those corrupting children. Rwanda was pure evil; and Srbrenica; I saw at first hand Idi Amin’s handiwork; George Taylor in Liberia and Sierra Leone. The list is endless.  World wide child abuse; sanctimonious cover ups for the good of the church. The Borgia pope set a high standard both in scale and content, but clergy and hierarchies have made a good fist at matching him. And yes, I know and have met amazing saints, bishops, priests, nuns and layfolk.  Sheer, heroic goodness. Ps 139:9