Sunday, 23 December 2012

THE POPE SAYS...........................

The Pope has spoken out on historic child abuse, maybe something was lost in translation, but other than suggesting a bit more praying, he offered no apologies, nor compensation for lives ruined.  Apparently, child pornography etc, was big in the 70's and he reminded us there are of course greater and lesser degrees of evil - I think the implication being that abusing children falls somewhere between missing mass and eating meat on a Friday.

Having lived in a Convent run children's home in the early 1970's, I would strongly suggest that His Holiness delve a little deeper into the meaning of evil, especially, where it concerns small children.  Paying particular attention to the whole 'Suffer little children' thingy, unless the clergy interpret that particular phrase as as it being their duty to bring about the actual suffering. 

But, I won't mince words.  I would like the Judge in my own particular case to contemplate the idea of living a children's home run by a practising (and very skilled) paedophile and sadist and then ask himself on what planet that could be considered as a nurturing environment?  I would ask others too, those who might perhaps doubt my story, to ponder on the implications for children reared in such an environment?  

That Peter Rands was a paedophile cannot be disputed, the evidence was there within his withheld personnel file.  'Found in bed with a 15 year old' in 1972.  Some would find that pretty convincing evidence for preventing such a person from working with children.  Not so, the Catholic Church, Rands continued to work with children until the late 1980's.   

True, he had his own particular forms of self punishment, and no doubt once he informed his employers that he had given himself a darn good thrashing, they took him back into the fold.  

I would urge anyone who was at St. Anne's Convent, Orpington, who suffered abuse either directly, or indirectly, to come forward and speak your truth.  Peter Rands was not the only 'Uncle' abusing at that time, there were others and some have since been imprisoned.  

In numbers the case cannot fail.  The Church will fight individual claims, but class actions allow anonymity and in most cases, no necessity for years of litigation or trials.  In Ireland, claimants merely have to prove that they were at an Institution where abuse took place (with the Sisters of Mercy it is a given) and their cases are settled.

Prayers and apologies are not enough.  In too many cases practical and financial help is needed.  Lets ensure it gets to those who deserve it.


20 comments:

  1. hello bell , ive been trying to send you e mail are you back on line yet for e mails , gracelandann ,,wishing you and yours all the very best for christmas and new year 2013 xx

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  2. I went to this so called school and saw things in my lessons I still can't get out my head , two of my class mates were black brothers and the mobile class room by the field were you hang your coats up in the middle ( wont say who) but the teacher would hang them up by there jacket collars for the whole lesson time after time for no reason at all, I would tell my parents but be smacked and told not to lie.

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  3. I went to this so called catholic school and I saw things I still can't forget at 53,, two of my class mate were black brothers and the two roomed mobile class room by the top field the teacher would hang them up by there jacket collars on the hook for the whole lesson for no reason at all, if you told your parents or other so called teachers / nuns you would get a smack round the ear. you learn to shut very quickly at that age

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  4. Many thanks for your contribution Jim, and I hear you. In no way were the horrors that went on at St. Anne's 'normal'. If you place a load of religious fanatics, sadists and perverts in charge of vulnerable children, the outcome will not be happy. Those charged with 'protecting' us, were the ones we feared the most.

    The convent was bad enough while run exclusively by a bunch of bitter, angry, frustrated women, but in the late 60's, some bright government spark, had the brilliant idea of advertising for single, religious men to move into children's homes to take over the role of 'father' (more specifically 'uncle'. Blind faith to the point of insanity was the benchmark - ex Jesuit monks and self flagellators had the advantage over regular guys, and the strict disciplinarian's were positively encouraged.

    They applied the same mentality as the orphanage in Oliver Twist and your average 19th century workhouse. We were the children of the 'underserving' poor and they were 'correcting' us before setting us into the world as model citizens, obedient domestic servants and subjugated wives.

    But I am waffling, the way in which we treated and imo, brainwashed, still makes me mad as hell. Kindest wishes Jim, I do hope your experience made you all the stronger, I'm kind of thinking it has. :)

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    1. Thank you for your super reply i'm not very good with words and explaining myself not in your league, have ordered today from amazon Cry and you cry alone, never in my adulthood have I ever spoke about this school and my life there before moving on and out to Ramesden Boys but it been a warm feeling to think that I did see the thing I saw and there are people out there who believe me. thank you

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  5. Is this the same Rands who claimed to have been in a De la Salle Approved School, was a nurse, lived on a chicken farm in Orpington in the early 60's, invited kids to feed the chickens and gave their parents free eggs as a prelude to inviting the kids for a sleepover and share his room on the farm? Last I heard of him in the 60's, he was trying to join the Carmelites at Aylesford.

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  6. I attended St Anne's primary school along with 4 siblings. I was born in May 1960. In my penultimate year my teacher was a Sister Antonio. My abiding memory is of her forcing a boy who was also in the orphanage to lick ink off the parquet floor he had accidentally spilled. It was beyond savage. My siblings share similar memories. If I wasn't a confirmed aetheist I'd thank god I only attended the school and not the orphanage.

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  7. Thank you for your post 21:38. Yes indeed Sister Antonio was infamous, one of the most sadistic nuns there, we all knew her well. I read years later, on Friends Reunited I believe that she was eventually imprisoned. I do hope so.

    Kindest wishes to you 21:38 and all the best for the New Year.

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  8. Sister Antonio was the nastiest person I have ever known.
    How she was allowed to get away with physically abusing children for years is a absolute discgrace.
    You know who you are who managed to protect her and allow her to behave the way she did( shame on you).
    She was very violent and handed out plenty of beatings.
    I witnessed them and was on the receiving end also.
    Being a 9 year old boy and talking when I shouldn't of done supposedly deserved being thumped around my ear.
    and slapped really hard.
    Ironically the name of the nuns were the sisters of mercy.(joke)
    I was told she broke a child's jaw and was shipped out to Italy to a convent.
    by the parish(nice work arseholes).
    Not Imprisioned at all.
    Disgrace.
    Any what a horrendous human being and the Catholic church is an absolute farce.

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  9. Thank you for your post Chefnun1, and I am so sorry for what happened to you. Sister Antonio was thug, more than a thug, she was a sadist. It is unbelievable that she got away with such violence against small children. Understandable perhaps for we convent kids, who were simply never believed about anything, but strange that the kids who went to school were also battered by her.

    I now put it down to the times Chefnum1. Local authorities were happy to pay religious institutions to take care of society's 'orphans', no questions asked and most people, my dad included, thought the nuns were giving us a kind, caring education. My mum knew better, she was Irish and had been taught by nuns. Not only did she 'prep' me, but she put the fear of God into those nuns who had care of us. On the whole however, most people, parents, social workers, lay teachers, looked up to the nuns with respect. When you dressed up in that garb it is assumed you are a good person. Sadly, as we discovered Chefnum1, that doesn't always follow.

    Kindest wishes to you.

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  10. I (male) was there in the late 60s in Tara House and remember Rands, sisters Consolata and Agnes very well. Nasty pieces of work each of them.

    I have been trying to get in touch with Rosalinda Hutton without success but can be contacted at man.in.switzerland@gmail.com

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  11. I meant sister Antonio of course

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  12. Hello man in Switzerland, what a lovely surprise and I have immediately sent you an email. I have been fortunate, over the past few years, to be in touch with people you, I am sure, will know very well. You will be happy and relieved I am sure, to hear that most have done very well, that is, they have overcome our 'Oliver Twist' beginnings to thrive and prosper. All kinder and more compassionate because of the experiences we endured. We are all united in our belief that no child should ever be put through the cruelty that we were.

    You have an email, man in Switzerland - I would love to hear from you.

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  13. Hello Rosalinda, I've just ordered a copy of your book about St Anne's, though I may have to wait - is it out of print? Anyhow, I was in that convent, as was my sister - I think we were there when you would have been.I'm also a writer - though have not written on my time then. Let me know if you'd be interested in chatting at some point about it? (Oh, I did write a poem about it, about the abuse, its affects, and the discourses that silence). Best wishes by the way, Mike.

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  14. Ps. By the way, the poem is called "suffer the little children," written before I'd read of you .. yes, they seemed to take it as an instruction, not a warning against.

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  15. Hello Mike, apologies for the delay in replying. Naturally, hearing from you has given me much food for thought! My brother and I, were in Tara (the house at the end of the main building between 1968/9 and 1972/3. I was 11, my brother was 12, so we went to secondary schools St. Bernadette's and St. Joseph's. We later moved, the whole house, 'Tara', to one of the new houses, Don Bosco' on Healy Drive. In charge of our house, was Sister Consolata and 'Uncle' Peter Rand. In fact, all we kids who were housed in the dormitories of the main building were moved to the new houses on Healy Drive. From top to bottom as a I remember, was Lisiux, Ancona, Don Bosco and Holy Family. I am sure there was another inbetween, but I've forgotten it, doh!

    Well I hope the above jogs a few memories! :) I have been contacted and met up with quite a few 'former inmates' since my book and you may well find some you know on Facebook. It was a wonderful experience, they still felt like blood siblings, the 40+ years were as nothing, especially when I spoke to Maureen, we were quickly giggling just as much as when we were 13 year old school girls.

    Sadly my book was not a best seller, but I think Random House published quite a few so hopefully it should be available somewhere. I have several excuses, for want of a better word, as to why it wasn't the hit I had hoped for. I broke completely with the misery memoir genre, I didn't give any graphic, salacious details, I didn't embellish any memories and I didn't portray myself as a victim. So, basically, all my own fault, lol.

    Not to mention, I was blaming the wrong people, from an 'establishment' perspective. Forgive me for going all Marxist here, but it has always suited the Authorities (the 'establishment') to portray the parents of children in care as feckless low lives who abuse their kids. Goes right back to the days of 'Oliver'. Of course I don't know what your experience of St. Anne's was Mike, but the nuns and the staff in our house regularly bad mouthed our parents. I thought that was a terrible thing, because it alienated those kids leaving the convent at 16, they didn't even have their families to turn to. Many never spoke to their parents again.

    I never blamed my parents, I think of all my good points, of which there are many, I'm too old to be modest ha ha, and I feel blessed that I had parents who were 'characters', parents who may not have been like those of my friends, but who gave me so much more. Not least, both of them are remember for their big, loud, laughter. Something, you may remember, that was sorely missing in the prison that was St. Anne's.

    And actually, that is how I see it these days, and I'm probably not the only one. The actual, physical, big old Victorian building has been pulled down, though pictures still exist on the net. I don't know what genre you write Mike, but it would have been a great place for a spooky, as I call ghost films! I always think a big old gothic building is integral to a haunted plot, ha ha.

    But I digress. I think the Order of nuns we had, the Sisters of (no) Mercy had originally run St. Anne's as some sort of home for fallen women. I haven't found anything tangible to support that, other than my own 'yeah, that figures' instinct. That is, the punishments endured by the fallen women carried on to the regular boys and girls, the kids of the undeserving poor.

    When I think of the regimented routine we lived under, especially when in the dormitories, it compares to high security prisons and army barracks, where stand by your beds and a badly folded sheet, could mean a night scrubbing floors or loss of all privileges.

    …….continues

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    1. It wasn't until recent years that I began to look at the bigger picture Mike and of course my introduction to the Zimbardo (Stamford University) experiment where students were divided into guards and prisoners. Within days, the guards, formerly normal, regular, students, became power crazed sadists, the experiment had to come to a swift end.

      That 'format' I think, prevailed at St. Anne's, take it up or down a level as you wish. Sadly, those new ideas of the 1960s to make childrens homes more like families, by bringing in single, religious, men to be father figures, turned out to be pretty disastrous on the child abuse front. It attracted not only the sexual predators, but also the sadists, those who got their jollies battering kids. And there were more of them, single men who's new and creative punishments aligned pretty closely to those of the Sisters of Mercy. Our own house father, Uncle Peter, was an ex Jesuit monk and practicing follower of Opus Dei. In his daily sermons he would tell us about all the yucky punishments he inflicted on his own body and how much agony he was in. The nuns thought he was a living martyr. Along with long lectures on how evil women were, especially the whores who wore mini skirts and hotpants (it was 1969) and that men should not be blamed for slashing their throats and leaving them to die in a ditch. I'm telling you, even prisoners on death row wouldn't have to endure that, we, his audience, were innocent kids!

      But back to reality. If you imagine that every Local Authority has so much to spend on let's say, displaced kids, so much allotted to each kid. I was lucky, although I was in a children's home, a convent, my fees were covered by the rich County of Richmond-on-Thames, not Kent, the county in which I lived. Ergo, my County, Richmond, had more money to pay for outings, trips etc, whilst those under KCC, were limited. Maybe they had less displaced children.

      In the 1960's, and of course, all the decades before, local authorities would place displaced children in the cheapest, most efficient, children's homes available. Mostly religious, mostly charitable. Think Oliver with his one bowl of gruel a day. I jest, as always, the answer to every question is money, and of course, it's the economy, stupid. Religious institutions were the biggest providers of childcare, stuffing 20/30 kids into a dormitory and teaching them how to work hard from morning to night, was a win win situation for decades. They weren't rearing future leaders of commerce, politics or industry, they were rearing the fodder. The factory workers, the road sweepers, the girls who would go into the domestic service of others. In their own special way they would indoctrinate the kids they saved to do the menial, blue collar jobs that keep society turning. As the children of the undeserving poor, we were being taught our place.

      As you have probably gathered by now Mike, I didn't adapt to the whole new system very well at all! I never, ever, got the 'faith', 'belief' thing. I used to look around in church, at all the nuns and priests in their religious garb, and wonder htf that made them good people. Even my dear old feisty mum, would become respectful in their presence. I never used to tell her what they were really like, ok, yeah I did on a couple of occasions - and yes, it did result in her grabbing nun by throat - all in book, ha ha.

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    2. I spent too much of my life seeking revenge. I guess that's what happens when you make a passionate, tearful vow aged 14. I wanted to face them in Court, I wanted to write a book. Now I want to slap that whiney 14 year old and tell her 'hey girlfriend, there is a great big beautiful world out there, don't spend another minute on those creeps'. I wish someone had told me that long ago, or maybe someone did, but I didn't listen.

      I don't regret, recording forever, that time I spent in St. Anne's, I can't say it was a unique experience, because so many of us went through it. And I have to say, begrudgingly, that most who did, became stronger adults because of it. I'm actually one of the few failures, lol. Most survivors of St. Anne's have become successes in their chosen fields. Maybe the discipline of getting up at 6.00am and completing all your chores (including going to mass) by 9.00 is a winning formula?

      I jest of course, and do forgive me for waffling. It is such a joy to 'speak' to someone with shared memories, though I know little of your memories right now. I feel that those of us who have lived through traumatic times as kids, develop a shield of armour, an invulnerability that most people don't understand. I wanted to call my book 'The Invulnerable Child', it would have been much more appropriate, but I was talked down by publisher and agent. Sadly, most careleavers, a horrible statistic like 80%, become so institutionalised that they go from care to prison. A much smaller percentage are invulnerable (like Charlie Chaplin), survivors, they learn how to survive on the streets primarily, they learn how to outwit and dance around their appointed caregivers, they learn, from the gut, how to survive. My own mantra came from Exododus, which I read aged 13 while in the care of nuns. A Jewish boy who survives a Nazi Death camp, 'I have been tortured by experts, do you honestly think you can scare me?'. I'm not going to condemn that because it has actually held true throughout my life. Among the vows I made that night as a weeping 14 year old, was that I would never allow fear to torment me again.

      Forgive me for allowing the stream of consciousness to run wild Mike. I don't yet know of your experiences at St. Anne's. For many it was character building - something I didn't get until recent years...…

      Anyway I would love to chat with you. Please do contact me via email Rosalindahutton@gmail.com, and we can exchange numbers. My kindest wishes to you and yours, take care.

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  16. Many many thanks for the reply. I don't know how long I was there. I was very little - but, yes I have some memories, not very good ones at all! (And to this day, the thought of macaroni cheese makes me retch).My sister, Mary, thinks it was possibly a year, maybe less maybe more .. she is six years older than me, and remembers a lot more; including names of some staff and children. She had a pretty horrid time there, beatings and so on. I won't say more on a public space, but if you have an e mail I will share more details.Is my email visible to you? (mikehuett@hotmail.com). Do not apologise for the politics. I too am drawn to Marx, not just economically, but his writings on alienation etc. Of course, the poor are, as Braverman said, the reserve army of labour, and I am of lumpen proletariat stock hahaha .. this is so amusing to me, two marxists from one establishment. Kind of interesting in itself. I am also very familiar with Nietzsche, so i picked up on some of your thinking around religious institutions. Yes, added to which, the languages of victim and survivor are important .. those damn discourses. I think you should read that poem I was on about, the bizarre thing for me, having just read a few of these blogs, is how similar our writing style seems to be! I would be happy to send a sample or two (writers eh? We do need a reader to engage with).
    I will make a cup of magic 'effing tea, as my partner would say.Like you, I need to dwell on things a bit .. Oh, my sister would confirm the night time chores .. washing laundry till the early morning!

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  17. My memory of this school, was that a children's home was on left hand side by and a black girl once be asked me to her birth party. I recall a black guy who let me in. The place was friendly and that girl was always confident.
    The school had 4 and 5 year olds in it, but I remember seeing kids as old as 13. The girls were always playing netball in the playground.

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