Friday, 27 April 2018

MAYNOOTH ABUSE 2



From: President - SPCM <president@spcm.ie>
Date: 25/04/2018 20:20 (GMT+00:00)
To: xxxxxxxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Your Email of 19/4/2018

St Patrick’s College
Maynooth

Co Kildare, Ireland
Telephone: +353-1-708 3958
Fax: +353-1-708 3959
E-Mail: PRESIDENT@SPCM.IE

PRESIDENT’S OFFICE

Dear Xxxxxxx,

Thank you for your e-mail dated 19/4/2018. It is my understanding that you have already disclosed to the College any information in your possession about any event that occurred during your time in the College which you consider to have been abusive. Nothing that was disclosed by you was considered to constitute wrongful behaviour towards you. The designated liaison person appointed within the College would have no role in relation to any matter pertaining to the time you spent here as a seminarian. Accordingly, it would serve no purpose for me to supply to you the contact details of the designated liaison person.

As has also been stated to you previously, it is the policy of the College to report any complaint of criminal wrongdoing to An Garda Siochana. If you believe that you were the victim of a crime whilst you were a seminarian in the College I encourage you to make a complaint to the Gardai so that it may be investigated in accordance with due process of law.

I am genuinely saddened that you continue to hold painful memories of the time that you spent in this College.

Yours sincerely,
Michael Mullaney  

Coláiste Phádraig, Má Nuad, Co. Chill Dara

---------------------------------------------- 
xxxxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxxxx
Thu 26/04/2018, 06:18

Dear +Pat, 

Thank you for this morning's blog. Please see below correspondence between Mullaney and myself last night. 

Just to note, I also wrote to the bishops of each seminary counsellor responsible for covering this up. The standard response is that what a priest does while on loan to Maynooth is outside the remit of the Diocesian bishop. It has also been stated that when loaned to Maynooth they enter into a private employment contract that prevents the bishop from recalling them. (So much for a promise of obedience on the ordination day!!). 

Many thanks, 
Xxxxx

xxxxxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Date: 25/04/2018 22:11 (GMT+00:00)
To: President - SPCM <president@spcm.ie>
Subject: Re: Your Email of 19/4/2018

Dear Michael, 

Your email is misinformed. I did meet a [former] safeguarding officer from your instutution however there were a number of shortcomings;
1. I was not allowed speak freely;
2. I was asked leading questions unrelated to my complaint
3. I was not allowed to present a psychological report confirming that Xxxxx Xxxxxx had subjected me to systematic dysfunctional formation amounting to psychological abuse
4. One safeguarding representative was unable to follow the conversation, as displayed by his belief that xxxxx xxxx was a person [rather than a place]. 
5. Not one witness named by me was contacted. 

What happened and all evidence presented was simply ignored, it was not even looked at. 

In his closing days in Maynooth Hugh Connolly wrote to me regarding xxxx's death. In conversation afterwards he apologised to me, admitted that I had been wrongly treated during my time in Maynooth. I asked for that in writing but he said the Trustees would not allow that. 

I have been the victim of psychological abuse in Maynooth. This has been systematically covered up by senior management and Trustees. 

You might be saddened that I have to live with the consequences of your vile institution while you offer no actions to redress your Institution's failure and cover-up. 

As for going to the gardai - that is not the college's policy. In 2007 I suggested to Hugh that I would do just that. He told me he would ensure that he would make sure "that it would be more embarrassing for me than the college". 

I would have thought that as priests ye would have a better sense of Christian duty, especially to young forthright men coming to a seminary. 

Sincerely
Xxxxxx Xxxxxxx


 PAT SAYS:

Here we have a former seminarian of Maynooth who clearly insists that he was psychologically damaged by a certain priest when he was a seminarian in Maynooth.

I know the name of this priest and I have heard from many seminarians that he had a foul tongue and that he treated seminarians to daily verbal and psychological abuse.

This young man needs closure and healing. But instead of offering him that the Church authorities are compounding his suffering by giving him the runaround and by firing legalisms and nonsense in his direction.

Michael Mullaney was ordained to bring the compassion and healing of Christ to those he met and ministered to.

Instead, he is writing as a cynical lawyer might to this wounded man.

And Mullaney says he regrets that Xxxxx has unhappy memories of Maynooth!

Is he kidding?

Many former Maynooth seminarians were marked for life by the place!


The whole incident shows that Maynooth was a cesspit of all kinds of abuse and the sooner it is closed the better.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

ABUSE - MAYNOOTH





A BLOG READER YESTERDAY ALLEGED THAT HE HAD REPORTED HIS ABUSE BY A PRIEST STAFF MEMBER TO THE MAYNOOTH PRESIDENT MICHAEL "FANNY" MULLANEY.

He says that he was abused by a Maynooth priest staff member and had written to Mullaney a week ago requesting the contact details of the Maynooth Designated Officer.




THE MAYNOOTH ALLEGATION:

When Mullaney received a complaint about a priest I imagine that his first action would have been to copy the complaint to the priest's bishop.

If they were doing their job properly both Mullaney and the bishop should have immediately reported the complaint to the Garda and the other civil authorities. 

In fact, the complainant, in this case, had a meeting with the priest's bishop BEFORE he wrote to Mullaney.

The bishop's response was most curious: "AS THE PRIEST WAS WORKING OUTSIDE THE DIOCESE IN MAYNOOTH I HAVE NO CONTROL OVER HIM"!

But it was the bishop who sent him to Maynooth in the first place!

AND the bishop could withdraw him from Maynooth at any time!

AND it is the bishops who own and run Maynooth!

As pastors, the bishop and Mullaney should also have immediately contacted the complainant and offered them an urgent meeting and invited them to bring a support person with them to that meeting.

In Mullaney's case, to leave a complainant without any response or contact for a week is a sign that people in the Church have not yet learned the lessons of the mishandling of abuse complaints.

An alleged victim should be contacted at the earliest possible moment and offered a listening ear and a range of support measures.

In the meantime, the priest is no longer in Maynooth but has moved on to another type of ministry where he is caring for people even more vulnerable than seminarians.

Are we now seeing the beginning a NEW MAYNOOTH SCANDAL that will finally kill off this disgraced this institution?


MULLANEY


My advice to the complainant is to write a detailed account of his abuse and hand it over to the Garda.

I think he should also employ a solicitor to sue Maynooth, the diocese and the priest in question.

He should also notify the priest's new place of ministry.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

ALFIE EVANS

 ALFIE EVANS - PLEASE JUST STOP!

British Medical Journal April 24, 2018, by Iain Brassington




Last summer, as the Charlie Gard saga was unfolding, was a slightly strange time to be a bioethicist.  Perhaps fortuitously, I was out of the country as matters began to gather pace; I was able to post a couple of blog posts (like this and this), but could generally keep my head down until I’d had time to work out clearly what was what.  Eventually, I felt that the time was right to respond to requests from the media for comment.  Dominic Wilkinson did sterling work on that front, too.  I’d like to think that, between us, we did a pretty good job (he better than I, for sure) of explaining what the moral and legal arguments were, and which were the stronger ones.

Alfie Evans is a child whose position is, on the face of it, very similar to Charlie’s.  I’m not going to rehearse the details of his case here.  Suffice it to say that he is terribly unwell, and supported by a ventilator.  The medical team treating him at Alder Hey hospital in Liverpool has decided the further treatment would not be in his best interests.  This is disputed by his parents.  As a result, his case has been heard on multiple occasions at all levels of the legal system: it’s been to the Supreme Court twice.  Today (as I write this on the evening of the 23rd), the European Court of Human Rights rejected Alfie’s parents’ latest petition.


ALFIE'S PARENTS


From what I can tell from the media coverage and the court reports, the decision to withdraw treatment from Alfie is wholly defensible.  I would not support his parents’ ongoing legal battle; I think that they should drop it and that by not doing so, they risk prolonging their son’s suffering.  I take it as a given that this is not their intention.
On that front, then, there’s not a great deal to say.  But.

There have been reports of supporters of Alfie protesting outside the hospital, which has made things intimidating to other patients and medical staff.  There’s a Facebook status update doing the rounds from a woman who claims to have a child in Alder Hey – and why would anyone doubt her? – who reports that there’re people suggesting that Alfie’s supporters should set off fire alarms in the hospital.  The BBC has reported that people have tried to storm the hospital.  (As several people have asked: What would they do then?)

And, ramping up the weirdness, as I write this – it’s a touch before 9pm now – I learn that the Italian government has granted citizenship to Alfie… for some reason.  There have been offers from Italian doctors to keep Alfie on a ventilator, so presumably, the idea would be that, as an Italian citizen, he’d be protected by Italian law.  But I’m struggling to make sense of this, what with him being in Liverpool.  Whatever Italian law has to say on the matter of withdrawing treatment is moot; and – as reiterated in the Court of Appeal last Monday – the Courts are satisfied that the withdrawal of treatment and provision of palliative care should take place at Alder Hey (see paras 21 and 25, and passim).

I’m also a touch curious about how Italian citizenship law would work here anyway.  The law itself is visible here.  Most of the criteria have to do with descent, marriage, or residence.  However, Article 9.2* says this:

By decree of the President of the Republic, having heard the Council of State and following a decision by the Council of Ministers, upon a proposal of the Minister for the Interior, in consultation with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, citizenship may be granted to aliens where they have rendered an outstanding service to Italy, or where an exceptional interest of the State exists.


ALFIE'S DAD WITH POPE FRANCIS


I take it as read that Alfie has not rendered an outstanding service to Italy.  It must be, then, that it is in the exceptional interest of the Republic that he be a citizen.  But what interest could that possibly be?  A state might have an interest in protecting its citizens abroad, but it’s hard to see how it might have an interest in making them citizens in the first place.  And would the same interest be found in any and every seriously ill or imperiled child?  This would be important to know for the refugees who’re still being picked up from the Mediterranean and some of whom at least wind up on Italian soil.

Or… and stick with me on this… it might be that the relevant ministers have seen an opportunity here.  They know that offering Alfie citizenship won’t make any difference; it's therefore an easy win for them politically.  They look magnanimous, leaping to the aid of a dying youngster.  Nothing at all will happen to the dying youngster in question, of course, but the gesture has still been made.  The Italian elections having been held three weeks ago is a slight wrinkle in the theory – it’s not like there’s electoral capital to be gained – but I don’t have the imagination right now to come up with another explanation.
If there’s anyone out there with expertise on Italian politics and immigration law, please do drop me a line; I’m baffled.

Where’m I going with this?

OK: look.  The legal question is straightforward, as is demonstrated by the lack of difficulty the courts at all levels have had in ruling that treatment may and should be withdrawn.  The moral question is also straightforward, I would contend.  If there is a risk that Alfie is suffering, treatment should be withdrawn; if it is doing him no particular good, there’s no reason to keep it, and so it should be withdrawn on pain of being arbitrary (and, to be blunt, to release resources).

Medical ethics is primarily about the moral standards incumbent upon medical professionals.  But I don’t see why it should be about that entirely.  It’s also about more general moral reactions to medical possibilities and procedures, and about the moral evaluation of the context in which medicine happens.  So I don’t think that I’m stepping out of line from the aims of this blog (whatever they are – I think we’re still making them up as we go) by expressing this stuff.

My worry here is that even more than in the Gard case, what we see here is a child being bounced around to satisfy the desires of a number of adults, most of whom have nothing at all to do with him beyond membership of a couple of Facebook groups.  I’m reluctant to criticise Alfie’s parents, because – though I think they’re terribly mistaken – they’re clearly committed to their son.  Those outside the hospital, on the other hand, are much more open to criticism.  I’ll go further.  There is something grotesque about the protests, and about the Italian move.  Mawkish.  Saccharine, but with a threatening undertone.  It’s horrible, irrational, indefensible, and – for want of a better word – nuts.  It would be a morally better world without these responses.  But, I suppose, even their protests have something at their core that is not wholly without merit.  These are people who do care, notwithstanding that they’re showing it in a deeply counterproductive way.
Lowest of the low, though, are politicians who’re weaponizing the case, whether they be in Italy, or here.  Tory MP Edward Leigh has just tweeted this:

A UK hospital is holding an Italian citizen hostage and intends to deprive him of life-giving treatment against the wishes of his parents. @BorisJohnson & @foreignoffice must act quickly to let Alfie live. https://t.co/rJtMBGXhzs @ItalyinUK #AlfieEvans #AlfiesArmy
— Sir Edward Leigh MP (@EdwardLeighMP) April 23, 2018


I’ve taken a screenshot, for when – almost inevitably – the tweet is deleted.  In the meantime, let’s just satisfy ourselves by pointing out that his intervention is either culpably misinformed (on the basis that MPs have a duty to think before they tweet) or culpably duplicitous; and either way, it’s utterly contemptible.  And when there are stories of staff and patients at a hospital facing physical intimidation, it’s dangerous, too.

PAT SAYS:

This is a very tragic and sad case - especially for Alfie's mother and father, Tom and Kate.

Of course, they want to do everything they can to preserve the life of the little baby boy they brought into the world.

Many of have had to face the eventual death of a loved one after we had exhausted all the roads - medical and otherwise - to saving their lives.

When we lose that person not only is there great sadness and grief but there is the overwhelming sense of having failed to save them.

Losing a child must be one of the greatest losses of all.


But on this occasion, I must agree that the doctors and the courts have made the right decision.

People like the pope, the Italian government, and the protestors have not helped.

They all have their own agendas.

The doctors and the courts only have one agenda - that which is in the best interests of Alfie himself.

In cases like this, we need the courts to step in and make the right decision on behalf of the suffering person.

Of course, I fully believe that Tom and Kate's agenda is love.




SCANDALS IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

A GOOD OPINION ARTICLE ON SCANDALS AND WHAT THEY MAY BRING ABOUT


WEB-SCANDALS-CATHOLIC-CHURCH.Leaders in the Catholic Church, like leaders in any organization, hate scandals. They wish that they never happen, and when they do, they try to deal with them internally so as not to get a lot of bad publicity.

The problem is that they usually make a mess of it. Any attempt by the church to try to limit publicity is seen as a cover-up.
A better strategy would be to recognize that scandals represent bad news and good news. The bad news is that something bad happened; the good news is that the perpetrator got caught. Scandals should be seen as an opportunity for the church to show it can act responsibly in the face of a scandal because scandals are an inevitable part of life.
And there have been lots of scandals. The worst, of course, is the sexual abuse of children by Catholic clerics. This criminal abuse has been devastating on children, and attempts by church leaders in the past to cover it up have made matters worse for the children and their families as well as the church.
When accusations of abuse are raised, church leaders need to cooperate with law enforcement and follow the procedures that have been laid out by the church to deal with such accusations. Not only do church leaders have to do this, they have to be seen as doing it by the media and the public.
The latest church scandal has involved the Vatican nunciature or embassy in Washington, where one of its officials has been accused by the United States of violating laws relating to child pornography. It presents a case study of what to do and what not to do.
On the positive side, the Vatican did issue a press release acknowledging that the U.S. State Department had notified it of a possible violation of child pornography laws by an official in the nunciature.
This is certainly progress from the days when reporters would have only gotten a "no comment" from the Vatican. But, for the most part, the Vatican is making a mess of it. The Vatican followed the old, failed strategy of saying as little as possible rather than getting all of the story out at one time. Today, professional PR firms recommend getting all of the bad news out as soon as possible in order to limit the number of follow-up stories.
The silliest part of the press release was its refusal to name the official who was accused by the State Department. Since the press release said that the official had been recalled to Rome, it did not take long for the media to find a list of nunciature officials and then discover which one is no longer in the United States. By not naming the official right away, the Vatican gave the appearance of a cover-up. In addition, it temporarily put all of its nunciature officials under suspicion. Not good.
Second, there was no specificity in the accusation. Was it possession of child pornography or production or distribution? Both Vatican and U.S. criminal laws make these kinds of distinctions. I presume it was possession, but since the Vatican did not say so, the media were forced to discuss the various possibilities, making the story worse than was necessary.
Third, the Vatican press release gave no explanation of how the official would be dealt with other than to say that "The Promoter of Justice opened an investigation." This was made worse by adding, "investigations carried [out] by the Promoter of Justice are subject to investigative confidentiality."
After decades of dealing with the sexual abuse crisis, it is hard to imagine a worse press release in the 21st century.
First, it should have begun by saying that any accusation of child pornography is taken very seriously by the Vatican and will be thoroughly investigated. It could have noted that possession of child pornography is a violation of church law as well as a violation of the Vatican City criminal code to which Vatican diplomats are held accountable as if the crime were committed inside the Vatican itself.
Thus, the accused will undergo two investigations, one by church officials for a violation of church law, and a second by Vatican City officials for a violation of its criminal statutes.
If he is found guilty of violating church law, he can be laicized (expelled from the priesthood) and never be allowed to act as a priest again. If he is found guilty of violating the Vatican City criminal code, he can be imprisoned and fined.
Nor was anything said about the current status of the accused, except that he is in Vatican City. The press release should have said that he is currently suspended as a priest and diplomat while the investigation takes place. It could have added that he will be confined to the Vatican and will not have unsupervised access to children or the internet until the investigation is over. This is the kind of information people want to know.
None of this was explained in the press release.

WEB-SCANDAL-CATHOLIC-CHURCH3.jpg

The case of Archbishop Józef Wesołowski, nuncio to the Dominican Republic, shows what happened in another recent case. He was nuncio to the Dominican Republic until August 2013, when he was recalled to the Vatican after accusations of the sexual abuse of minors. In June of 2014, he was laicized after an investigation and trial by the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith. A year later, he was indicted by Vatican City prosecutors on allegations of possession of child pornography. He was found dead of a heart attack on Aug. 27, 2015, before the criminal trial could take place.
It is way past the time when the Vatican can proceed in secrecy at its own pace without any transparency. Because of the church's bad record in dealing with sexual abuse, the Vatican has to be forthcoming with information so that the media and the public know there will be no cover-up.
This is especially true in the current case, where the Vatican has invoked diplomatic immunity so that the official will be tried under Vatican law rather than U.S. laws. Even though the U.S. would not want its diplomats tried by a foreign power, the Vatican's use of this immunity will not go down well in the United States. There are legitimate arguments in favor of diplomatic immunity, but they will not be listened to if the Vatican is not transparent in showing it can and will responsibly deal with the case.
There are other interesting stories for the media to pursue. For example, how did the nunciature official come to the attention of the U.S. government? Was it through a sting operation? Did he access a child pornography site being monitored by the FBI? Or was the nunciature being spied upon by the FBI, CIA or NSA?
Whatever the source of the government's information, the accused is still innocent until proven guilty under U.S. and Vatican law. But there will also be a trial in the court of public opinion, and so far, the Vatican is losing in that court, where the church is judged guilty until proven innocent.
[Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese is a columnist for Religion News Service and author of Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church.]

Monday, 23 April 2018

WHAT GOD THINKS ABOUT WOMEN

YESTERDAY AT THE ORATORY IN LARNE WE DECIDED THAT WE WOULD HAVE A MASS TO CELEBRATE WOMEN.

I ASKED ONE OF OUR WOMEN MAUREEN - A WIFE AND MOTHER -  TO SPEAK ON THE THEME: "WHAT GOD THINKS OF WOMEN".
JESUS AND MARY MAGDALA



By: Maureen Woods. The Oratory. Larne.

When Pat asked me to talk about what God thinks of women initially I thought where do I start? But once I gave it some thought I wondered where do I stop? I realized that we could spend a week and not even skim the surface. I could not even begin to cover all that God thinks about women so I’m just going to talk about a few of the thoughts I have had during the week. The bible is full of stories of what God thinks of women, but even more so what he thinks of us women is shown by his presence and influence in our lives on a daily basis. This shows what he thinks of us in meaningful and practical ways. In the world today there are many inequalities and women in some places are still regarded and treated as second-class citizens. God has shown that he regards women highly and with great respect.




God thinks women are capable and can be relied upon to do what is needed, he thinks we have a can-do attitude and although maybe initially reluctant we will step up to the mark and do what is required. This is clearly evidenced in choosing a 16-year-old girl to give birth to his son. Today in the 21st century that would be a big that would be a big ask, how much more so all those years ago when the world’s view of women was much more conservative. But Mary did step up and although we probably don’t think about it much women today all step up each and every day and do their best to do the right thing. All the daily things we do and say have an impact on others, be it a smile or hello to the stranger me meet, the time we make available out of our busy lives to enrich the lives of others such as making that telephone call or visit or Carole baking her lovely cakes and buns week in week out.




I think the story of Mary also shows that God thinks women are special and can be trusted to carry out vital roles. He values women respects women and hold women in high esteem. It is hard to comprehend a more crucial job than Mary’s of giving birth to his son. Likewise, I think the fact that women have been given the privilege of carrying a baby for nine months and be one of the key people in that child’s life shows that God thinks women are special and the trust that he has in us to look after his children on earth. As all mothers know the first time we hand over our children into someone else’s care is a moment we never forget, God places his children on earth into our care, how special and trusted we must be by God to bear children and then have the honour of having such a significant place in their lives.

Again the story of Mary shows that God thinks women are resilient and courageous. She was there at the start his life, at Calvary and his Resurrection. Although women were regarded as unreliable witnesses in court, Jesus gave women the honour of being the first to witness the Resurrection. This again highlights that God thinks women are special and holds us in high regards, like us I imagine that Jesus would have wanted special people at his happiest and saddest occasions. The courage Mary must have had to bear seeing her son crucified is hard to get one’s head around. But she showed great courage and resilience and likewise so do we. God thinks women are strong and have the endurance to deal with what comes our way. We all have our mountains to climb, sometimes it’s not a big challenge, it’s maybe a gentle slope or one we’ve climbed before and are able to so with ease. But sometimes it can feel like we’re facing Everest, depending on the circumstances getting out of bed and facing the day can in itself be the greatest of challenges but we have all persevered in the most testing of situations and have arrived at the peak eventually albeit a little battered and bruised sometimes physically, sometimes mentally, sometimes both. Many women I know do not give themselves enough credit for the courage and resilience they have, they listen to that inner voice that questions their abilities and erodes their confidence. I think God would want us to acknowledge that most of the time we try to do our best, we are not perfect but we try to learn from our experiences and do even better next time. God wants us to remember what we are worth, he will never forget our worth. He would want us to give ourselves a pat on the back, instead of beating ourselves up. We have all had our share of burdens and will continue to do so, we just need to remember that God does not just think that women are strong, he knows that we have the endurance to deal with what comes our way, we just need to own that thought too.




Contrary to the thinking of the time God did not think women were inferior, he treated women with equality. This is shown in many of the bible stories, such as in (Luke 10:38-42) the story of Martha and Mary shows Jesus’ acceptance of Mary’s wish to learn. She sat at his feet while Martha carried out the role of providing hospitality. The way Jesus responded to women was in an inclusive way. Yet today in many churches many women feel invisible and unheard. Thankfully that is not the case at the Oratory, we are all encouraged to voice our opinions, so thank you, Pat, for the opportunity to speak today.

I’ve mentioned just a few key things that I feel that God thinks about women, it’s only the tip of the iceberg, there are so many more. God thinks women are unique, special, courageous, resilient, trusted, worthy, capable individuals. We are unique, exceptional people and should value ourselves as God does.

 I’d like to finish with a poem which I feel helps to sum up what God thinks of women. It’s called Women of Courage and was written by Kathy L. Goings:



Women of courage, women of strength,
Women of faith and devotion.
Mothers of children with spirits so strong
Who may have unbridled imaginations.
Women with losses, women who love,
Whose strength and whose courage comes from above,
Whether they're mothers; or loving Aunties,
It's plain to see Jesus’ love shines through them.
Women I work with, women I know,
Whether at church, or other places I go.
Women whose spirits are battered by pain,
But Christ lifts them up, and they go on again.

They are women, women of courage
They are Christians, towers of strength.
They are women who put Jesus first in life
Show’ring His love on all those they greet. 




Saturday, 21 April 2018

MAGHABERRY PRISON - ECCLESIASTICAL VISITS

Mr. Nicholar Perry - Dept of Justice N.I.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx





18th April 2018

Mr. Nicholas Perry CB
Permanent Secretary.
Department of Justice.
Northern Ireland.

Dear Mr Perry,

Ecclesiastical visits Maghaberry Prison

You may or may not be aware that I was recently refused an ecclesiastical visit to a long-standing parishioner of mine who is a prisoner in HMP Maghaberry? I have looked after him as a clergyman for well over 20 years now. He is Xxxxxx Xxxxxx Xxxxx and his prison number is XXXXX. He also has mental health issues and I know that he has presented the prison staff with very difficult challenges since he went there on remand some weeks ago.

He had made a formal request to the prison authorities for an ecclesiastical visit.

That visit was refused by Resident Governor David Savage.

My local MP, Mr. Sammy Wilson, called Governor Savage and was quite shocked when Mr. Savage told him that he had refused the request for an ecclesiastical visit having been asked to do so by the Roman Catholic chaplains at Maghaberry!

Mr. Wilson has since appealed the refusal to the Prison Governor Mr. David Kennedy and to date we have had no reply.

A PRECEDENT:

I am no longer formally a member or a cleric of the Roman Catholic Church and I have no expectation that the Roman Catholic chaplains would facilitate ecclesiastical visits from me.

I am however a clergyman of 42 years standing – 40 in Northern Ireland and during that time I have regularly visited all the prisons.

Upon my rupture with the Roman Catholic Church in 1985, the then Roman Catholic chaplains immediately refused to facilitate ecclesiastical visits for me.

At the time I contacted the late Dr. Ian Paisley and he spoke to the N. I. Prison minister at the time – Mr. Nicholas Scott – and an arrangement was set up whereby I was able to have my ecclesiastical visits.

So, there is a political and religious precedent to me visiting N. Ireland prisons as Bishop Pat Buckley of The Oratory Society.

A RELIGIOUS BODY:

The Oratory Society was established in Larne in the mid-1980’s as a “religious body”.

Other government departments regard The Oratory Society as a “religious body” – for example, The Oratory Society is regarded as a “religious body” by the Registrar General of Marriages for Northern Ireland.

It would be most strange for one branch of government to recognize The Oratory Society as a religious body – and another branch of the same government to refuse to recognize it.

RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION:

For the N. I Prison Service to refuse to allow me ecclesiastical visits to my parishioners is an act of religious discrimination that contravenes not the Human Rights legislation but the Code of Good Practice of the N. I. Prison Service.

Article 9 says:

Freedom of thought, conscience, and religion

1.    Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.

2.    Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

The Code of Good Practice of the N. Ireland Prison Service says:

Examples of good practice


The prison service has a duty to provide for the pastoral needs of prisoners of other faiths and a register of pastors and ministers of minority faiths, willing to provide pastoral care for prisoners, is maintained.

When the need arises, prisoners registered as other faiths for which no chaplains are appointed, may on request receive a visit from a Pastor or Minister of their own religion.


In the context of Article 9 and the prison Code of Practice Governor Savage was clearly in contravention of both the spirit and the law. I am at a loss to understand how he did not realise this.

I respect the N. I Prison Service and the important work they do. In my 40 years of prison visiting, I have never once made any problem for the service.

It would be a great pity if circumstances forced me to take a judicial review or a European court case in order to solve this very simple matter. I have no wish to do this and would want to sort it out amicably and at the earliest stage.

In fact, I believe my ecclesiastical visit to Mr. Xxxxx would enable me to persuade him to fully co-operate with the prison staff and authorities in such a way as they could then help him. And that is my firm intention.

Can I reiterate I have no desire to irritate anyone in Maghaberry Prison, including the chaplaincy team? I simply want to have an ecclesiastical visit as the senior pastor of The Oratory Society to one of my long-term parishioners.

To achieve this, I am prepared to contact anyone I am directed to contact to arrange such visits and to behave impeccably, as I always have, during prison visits.

I would be most grateful if you could look at this matter for me urgently and help me to resolve it.

I hope to hear from you very soon on the matter.

Sincerely yours,


(Bishop) Pat Buckley
Presiding Bishop. 
The Oratory Society.


Copy:
Mr. Sammy Wilson MP



FOLLOW UP EMAIL TO MR. PERRY - APRIL 19TH

AFTER PRISON MONITORING BOARD DREW MY ATTENTION TO THE PRISON RULE BOOK





MR NICHOLAS PERRY CB

Dear Mr. Perry,

I wanted to draw your attention to the following rule from Prison Rules Northern Ireland 2010- Rule 62:

Visits by other ministers:

62. –(1) Where a prisoner belongs to a denomination for which no chaplain has been appointed the governor shall do what he reasonably can, if so requested by the prisoner, to arrange for him to be visited regularly by a minister of that denomination.


This rule was brought to the attention of the Maghaberry Governor yesterday by a member of the Independent Monitoring Board.

Warm wishes,

+Pat Buckley

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As promised I am keeping my Blog readers up to date on this Human Rights / Religious Discrimination story and will continue to do so.