Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Horrible Things

I watched the programme about the Rosminian priests abuse scandal on BBC 1 last night. The accounts were both harrowing and ghastly, although I feel the programme makers dealt with the whole business sensitively. I do not think that this was a BBC hatchet job. It did not need to be. The victims now men just a few years older than myself came across as very plausible witnesses and I was appalled at both the descriptions of the abuse and the plight of what were then young boys away from home without anyone to whom they could turn. I was struck forcibly by a couple of leading thoughts.

The first concerned the abusing priests and the question that occurred to me was: how on earth did they come to perform these appalling acts? I find it difficult to imagine that they came from nowhere. Was it not more likely that they had arisen in some sort of culture in which such acts were both practised and accepted?

The second thought involved the reaslisation that these cases of clergy abuse took place within boarding schools. In contrast it appears as if there is an almost complete lack of such abuse cases within what might be called an ordinary or normal parish situation. I may be wrong but there seems to be a fairly clear "institutional/residential" bias.

And then there are these unfortunate victims. The cases described in the programme occurred at "Prep" Schools to which children as young as seven were sent to board. I do not excuse the abusers one bit, but I have to ask what kind of parents send their children away like that? Such parents appear to exhibit a remarkable detachment from their children's welfare- a striking- even alarming- lack of natural affection. Indeed, might not the emotional detachment of parents with respect to their children be precisely the kind of seed bed that originally nourished a culture in which the abusers matured?


  1. I wonder about your comments about parents... I've never sent any of ours to boarding school, but my brother has - because he's in the RAF and frequently gets posted from place to place. Moving the kids between schools every couple of years seemed like a bad idea, so he sent them to board, to give them some stability. Many forces parents do likewise: I don't think in necessarily betokens emotional detachment. And maybe other parents have other good reasons.

  2. Ben Trovato, thanks for your comment. You suggest some good reasons for sending children to boarding schools. I am sorry to disagree but seven years old strikes me as very young- too young - to send children away from home whatever the perceived advantages.