Friday, October 22, 2010

Pray for this man's victims

Yet more filth fouling the bride of Christ.

James Robinson, 73, a laicised priest*, has been jailed for 21 years for the sexual abuse of young boys which began in the 1950s.

Describing the Catholic Church's role in Robinson's case as highly questionable, Judge Thomas said: "It is not for me to judge.

"Others may take the view that a full investigation and full disclosure of the results of that investigation is due to the members of that church and (Robinson's victims)."

*I have been corrected, Robinson has not been laicised, the Archdiocese of Birmingham has apparently begun the process.


Sadie Vacantist said...

The sentence seem incredibly harsh. Especially as we have no knowledge that he is wanted for crimes in the USA.

It does raise questions as to why the Church was still funding this man up until 2002. It's very confusing.

My experience of priests is that they don't want to talk about these issues. They are convinced that the media is out to get them and that the Church has been guilty of no more than breaking the 11th commandment of getting caught. I blame the ecclesiology of Vatican II.

I know of only 4 people who seem to know where the bodies are buried:

Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald (often quoted out of context by the awful Thomas Doyle)

Dr. Judith Reisman (clever Jewish grandma with a healthy Kinsey obsession)

Michael Rose (adored by trads)

Fabian Bruskewitz (adored by trads)

Stephen said...

He was sentenced to 21 years in prison, of which he can expect to serve 10 years and 6 months (less time on remand). He will serve the balance of his sentence in the community (and he will probably be electronically tagged), where he will be subject to strict conditions (which, if he breaks, will see him back in prison).

He was convicted of 21 separate incidents of calculated, predatory child abuse, while in a position of trust, and of then avoiding the English legal system while knowing that charges had been laid against him. I don't think that his sentence was harsh at all.

The matter of diocesan funding is alarming. There may be a perfectly innocent explanation, but I feel that the archdiocese needs to conduct a full and open investigation at the first opportunity.

I was until recently (I've moved) a parishioner of a church where this man befouled the Altar with his presence in the sanctuary, although before my time. Even so, I am awash with several emotions in connection with this case, chief amongst them disgust and horror.

Auricularis said...

A testimony to the post conciliar church. Lord, when will this mess end and when will the people responsible be punished?

Ma Tucker said...

We should to pray for him too. Sin is so horrible.

Sadie Vacantist said...


Thanks for the clarification. I can understand your comments in respect of the sentence. Would he have been given 21 (consecutive?) sentences if he had not gone on the run?

The period when he was still being salaried crosses over (just) into Vincent Nichols tenure. Clarification is required as you suggest. Why and when was he laicized for example?

Anonymous said...

Another scsandfalous case. Thank God the Church is being purged, however gradually.
However I have one question. You refer to hmm as a laicised priest whereas the Archbishop of Birmingham, according to one report, says "he will be defrocked" which implies he is not yet laicised. I wonder which is accurate?
Of course, in any event, the Church has obligations in Charity and Justice towards him, as well as his victims'

Fr Ray Blake said...

EF Pastor,
My mistake, I had assumed Birmingham had had him laicised. I'll make a correction.

This began in the decade before VII.

Sadie Vacantist said...

Gerald Fitzgerald was quite clear when dealing with these issues 60 years ago. The Church has only two options:

1) removal from priesthood


2) total isolation

I fear some of the post-V2 set don't seem to be able to get it. They want to host coffee mornings to discuss the issue with Professor O'Something and Doctor McSomethingelse.

Sadie Vacantist said...

@Fr Ray Blake

The problem is not when it started but what was done about it? There was inactivity during the enlightened post-1965 years. This man was still being salaried as recently as December 2001. Who made this call?

The suspicion always with the Church is that it is about 'who you know'. Did nobody ask the question, was it licit to carry on paying this man money?

Stephen said...

@ Sadie Vacantist:

I'm not familiar with the precise structure of the sentence imposed, but I don't think it was 21 consecutive 1-year sentences (one year for child abuse would be a travesty). I suspect that the judge probably sentenced him "in the round" for all offences. That he went on the run would certainly have been a factor in the judge's sentencing exercise.

It hadn't registered with me that the payments crossed into Archbishop Nichols' tenure. That makes it even more discomforting. I think that the judge's rather barbed observation that he was not in a position to pass judgment the Church was quite justified in the circumstances. Investigation now, please.

nickbris said...

He had been "at it" even before he joined the Seminary.

These misfits will always find a way to satisfy their urges.

Vetting procedures would have to be so Draconian that they would be counter-productive.

The same could be said for recruitment in any organisation, screening pyromaniacs from the Fire Brigade for example.

Most of these cases occurred half a century ago so it must show that some vetting has been taking place.We all have to stay alert without total destruction of all that we love.

Philip said...

According to a Birmingham (UK) newspaper he left school in 1952 aged 15 years and worked first as a blacksmith in a colliery, then as a driver for a butcher's shop, then as a professional boxer.

His first offence took place in 1959 when he was 22.

He became a priest in 1971 - 12 years later.

He fled to the USA in 1985 when he was first accused of these crimes. He was reportedly "defrocked" by the late Archbishop of Birmingham in 1993. I think that "defrocked" must mean suspended from carrying out any priestly functions.

According to the newspaper, until recently there was no extradition process between California and the UK - so the UK authoritities were only able to bring him to court recently.

As he had been suspended by his diocese from working as a priest but had not been found guilty in a court of law of any criminal offense, the diocese clearly faced a dilemma: should they or should they not pay him a pension while he was suspended from priestly duties?

If they had refused to pay him a pension, some people would claim that the diocese was acting above the UK law - as in the the UK anyone accused of any criminal offense (even of such a vile crime as child abuse)is innocent until proved guilty.

Defense lawyers can and do argue that their clent has been deprived of a fair trial if newspapers or other bodies (including no doubt a Catholic diocese) have acted in any way that may prejudice or influence the decision of the jury.

As he has now been found guilty in a criminal court, this now clears the way for a church tribunal to have him dismissed from the clerical state (aka laicized).

RJ said...

Vatican II seems to be coming in for blame here, but where did it mandate the laxity to which this abuse might be attributed or the leniency with which it may have been dealt with. One may say, in defence of the bishops, that they did not know how to deal with it. Would their critics have done any better?

Ma Tucker said...

Phillip, the fact is payments were continued into year 2001 and then ceased. In the absence of a guilty verdict one must question why they were ceased at that time. I do not know the procedure but based on what you said would not the act of ceasing payments at that time be also construed as prejudicial? Why was there no issues with ceasing payments in this regard?

Furthermore, why do we wait for a judgement in the secular courts before the ecclesial court can act. Surely this man could have been dealt with a long time ago by Church authorities? One of course makes the assumption that there was sufficient evidence to convict him and that he was not being shielded from the Church authorities by someone on the inside. Questions need to be asked I think.

Fr Ray Blake said...

By 2001 Abp Nichols had his feet under the Birmingham table, his predecessor was, maybe, too supportive of the accused.

Sadie Vacantist said...

In order to understand this and other related issues one has to read the 4 people I have previously cited in the first post.

Reisman is good for starters. St Luke’s Institute and Servants of the Paraclete are the leaders in the field for treating abusing priests. The latter were devastated by lawsuits whilst the former are still going strong.

1) The Murphy report makes it quite clear that Canon Law was abandoned after Vatican II and bishops began to ‘wing’ decisions.

2) Fitzgerald was brought down in a coup by his own people with the connivance of the local bishop during the Council and lost control of the Servants of the Paraclete. If you read the Thomas Doyle version of events he disingenuously excludes this important fact.

3) Cardinal Law took the ‘best advice’ money could buy from those connected to St. Luke’s Institute and still his priests offended. Doyle claims that Law ignored a 1984 report produced by Doyle and Fr. Petersen former director of St. Luke’s. The reverse is true, Law and others fully implemented the strategy the report proscribed. Petersen latter died of AIDS

4) Michael Rose makes it clear that many advanced psychosexual counselling techniques were being widely used in American seminaries and elsewhere. They were being used to exclude heterosexual and orthodox students.

5) In my view this priest received protection from the gay and/or liberal mafia operating in Birmingham Archdiocese.

6) In my view a(n illegal) bullying culture remains in many dioceses and seminaries.

7) In my view Bishops continue to play with loaded guns.

shane said...

That's very interesting Sadie about Fr Fitzgerald. If only some bishops had listened.

There was a fascinating article a while back in Der Spegiel on the connection between 1968ers and paedophilia,1518,702679,00.html

Patricia Casey, professor of psychiatry at University College Dublin, also wrote a good article in the Irish Independent about the culpablity of psychiatrists

Philip said...

Re Ma Tucker's comment.

I realised the hole in my argument just after I posted it!

I am based in the UK and I am not a lawyer. Obviously too I don't have full details of this case. But I suspect that the ending of the payments might have had something to do with the new broom (ie new Archbishop) that was sweeping through Birmingham at the time - as Fr Ray suggests.

Without in any way seeking to minimise the suffering and pain inflicted by these evil and criminal acts, it must be admitted that sometimes people are found not guilty in court of the crimes they are accused of.

In other professions it is quite common for someone to be suspended on full pay when serious accusations have been made, pending a court hearing.

I also read that his Archbishop (probably Archbishop Nichols) ordered him to return to the UK to face the charges - and he refused. So that may well have had something to do with the ending of payments.

Now about the ecclesial courts waiting until the secular courts have acted, I have heard that this is normally the case in marriage cases (ie the ecclesial courts in the UK wait until a divorce case is completed before they make any decisions re declaration of nullity).

Other people have pointed out that laicization is not always seen as a punishment imposed by the church authorities - but quite the opposite in some cases. Indeed during the early days of Pope John-Paul II, many commentators complained that laicizations were being witheld from men who wished to leave the priesthood in order to marry.

Richard said...

"why do we wait for a judgement in the secular courts before the ecclesial court can act"?

Possibly the payments (which, from comments, seem to be a form of pension) were contractual, i.e. an obligation under secular as well as ecclesial law.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Sadie, I'd like to see some evidence for your view.

Sadie Vacantist said...

@Ray Blake

Which one?

Sadie Vacantist said...


The ending of the payments might have had something to do with the scandals which were breaking in Ireland and the USA.

The less publicised and earlier Birmingham scandals brought on the late 'Couve's' breakdown and early retirement.

Sadie Vacantist said...


Listened to Fitzgerald?

Fitzgerald died in obscurity in 1969 although Fr. Hardon in the US was aware of his sanctity. Fitzgerald's correspondence was locked away for 38 years requiring a secular court order to open it in 2007.

Fr Ray Blake said...


Sadie Vacantist said...

@Ray Blake

Fitzgerald suffered a similar fate to St. Mary Mackillop and St. Jeanne Jugan and countless other holy men and women. He lost control of the order he founded.

His life and work is the key.

Please be more specific, Father. It is my view (similar to the JEWISH Reisman), that the Church is suffering from a crisis in faith. If a good and noble Jewish grandma can see this, why can't we?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Sorry, those things you preface with "In my view".

nickbris said...

We have been asked to pray for the victims but nobody even mentioned them.

This is a very tricky subject but it does throw up a lot of questions.Why do all these accusations only come up after forty of fifty years? Worlwide there must be millions of victims but only a few have come forward.

Do the victims who have come forward suffer some sort of guilt?or have they had such an unsuccessful life that they have to blame somebody?It would seem to me that they have been got at by some charlatan psychiatrist who persuaded them to free themselves of the guilt by bringing somebody down to their own hopeless level.

There must be thousands and thousands all over the World who have had some sort of inappropriate relationship and they have gone through life successfully without giving it a second thought.

The whole exposure business is good for the sale of salacious newspapers and they pay good money for a dirty story or anything that will destroy lives.

Stephen said...

@ nickbris:

I am a psychologist. Until a couple of years ago, I worked with victims of rape, both male and female. I can assure you that in a great many cases (but certainly not all), the victim does feel a weight of shame and guilt which defies all reason. I have listened to women describe in great detail how it must have been their own fault. I have listened to both men and women tell me that they bathe and dress in a darkened room, because even years after the event they are unable to look at their own bodies. I have listened to one man describe how he was raped by another man when he was 19, and how that experience sent him spiralling into 12 years of drug an alcohol abuse in an attempt to forget, and which culminated in him luring another man back to his flat with the promise of sex, only to bludgeon him repeatedly (he later died of his injuries) because his shame and self-loathing had twisted his mind into knots and he believed that this would somehow make his own pain better. The youngest rape victim I listened to was in her early 20's, the oldest was 60.

I had to stop doing this work because it had reached the point where I needed to drink a bottle of wine in order to get to sleep at night.

People do lock this information up for decades, and for a variety of reasons. In 13 years of practice where I was dealing in large part with victims of sexual abuse, ranging from "inappropriate touching" to violent rape. I can only recall off-hand two cases where the "victim" later turned out to have been constructing a fantasy. In almost every case, the victim's underlying emotional state was a mixture of shame, guilt, fear and denial.

nickbris said...

Thankyou Stephen,a great story but it does not explain all the questions,we can all find excuses for our failures in life but there are some things we get over.

I'm not going to ask what went wrong in my life because I'm going through a rough patch,I'm not going to blame anybody for anything.

We have all had experiences that make us cringe to think about,but we don't set about destroying other peoples lives when we may have been equally guilty and possibly enjoying the experience.

As I already said it is a very tricky subject and all part of life.Those that have been told that their lives have been destroyed by certain activities must of course be prayed for.

Most of us have got over a lot in our lives without the help of charlatan do-gooders.

Stephen said...

@ nickbris:

All I can say in response is that in all of my professional practice, I have never, to my knowledge, encountered someone who I felt was projecting their personal regrets onto a third party. I'm sure that such people do exist, but I've never encountered one.

And, again, in my experience, many people who have been subject to such abuse do in fact internalise an astonishing degree of self-blame. Sometimes, my involvement helps a person to realise that they are not responsible for the actions of another person. The 60-year old I mentioned had held the experience in her heart for more than 30 years. At the time (and I do not exaggerate) she convinced herself that her husband had the right to have sex with her, and she had been wrong in refusing him, and the physical assault had been justified. It took the alleged assault of her daughter (the charge was subsequently withdrawn) to provoke her to talk about her own experience. No charges were ever brought and, in any case, the man was a year dead and subject to a higher tribunal.

I do not dispute that there are some cases of sexual assault brought for mean and vexatious reasons. Nevertheless, I hold that such are extremely rare.

In response to your original opening paragraph, you make a valid point. As someone connected with one of this "priest"'s former parishes, I have had a keen interest in this case. I have been praying for both victims and perpetrator for several weeks. For the victims: peace and healing of body and soul. For the perpetrator: true repentance. To the Judge: mercy.

shane said...

Sadie, that's fascinating. He was mentioned a lot in the media here around the time of the Murphy Report. Things would have been a lot better had bishops paid attention to his warnings.

Sadie Vacantist said...


The point is his warnings were not available and nobody else was articlating them.

The debate here between nicbris and Stephen is classic stuff. (I was abused as an 11 yo by a priest and I have my own views on the subject) but who out of these two would have the ear of the bishop? Who gets the invite for coffee?

Stephen said...

@Sadie Vacantist:

I've never been invited for coffee by the bishop. I don't think he likes me.

Sadie Vacantist said...


Don't be so paranoid!

nickbris said...

In the light of that irrefutable evidence from Sadie Vacantist I suppose I had better change my tack.

If these accusations were not made at the time they have to be taken with a pinch of salt,there is such a thing as FALSE MEMORY and this can be brought about by continual probing by the charlatans.

Some people have been taken back to a previous life.

If a statement is made against a noble profession when it has never been mentioned for over half a century then it must be totally ignored.

We must still pray for the victims even if they are victims of their own imagination.

Sadie Vacantist said...


Your contribution strikes me as important. There are two debates here:

1) The trustworthiness of the abused and the long term impact of abuse on any given individual.

2) The role of modern psychology when assessing and treating abusers.

Stephen said...


In my experience, clinical psychologists tend not to be charlatans. But since I am one (a clinical psychologist, not a charlatan), I suppose I would say that, wouldn't I?

Sadie Vacantist has summed-up masterfully (or perhaps mistressfully?). The British legal systems do not (in these days) receive the pronouncements of a psychologist as infallible truths, and nor should they. In particular, "Recovered memories" are treated with extreme caution and such testimony is not automatically admissible, and in any case is subject to challenge. There is much debate in psychology as to the veracity of repressed or recovered memories.

Of course, there is a difference between recovered memories (about which I am somewhat sceptical), and merely not talking about them. The perceived "nobility" of a profession can actually encourage the victim to keep silent. After all, who would believe an 11yo boy who told the most disgusting "lies" about poor Father Whatsisname? Such a holy man. Such an ungrateful and wicked boy. After all that Father did for him, too.

Putting a man - or woman - on a pedestal because of the perceived nobility of his profession is dangerous.

Lest it be mistakenly thought that I am overly-identifying with victims of sexual abuse, here's an interview with a different sort of victim: an Anglican priest who was falsely accused of abuse. I remember the newspapers at the time. The horror and disgust I feel towards James Robinson is comparable to the horror and disgust I feel for the way Fr Ronald Crane, a good and holy man, was abused by those on whom he should have been able to rely for support:

The most important thing, though, is that the victims (howsoever defined) need our prayers. As do the perpetrators (howsoever defined).

Unknown said...

@ Stephen. How do you know Fr Ronald Crane is a good and holy man. I read with interest and totally agree with your reasons why someone may take years to find the courage to talk about personal sexual abuse. And even more difficult if they are not believed when they do. Take the recent Saville and Harris exposure as an example. No one believed victims in the past because of who these men were "perceived to be" . And that's what they hid behind. May God flush out all those who take advantage of children for their own gratification and expect no consequence from their very damaging actions.

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