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Power to Abuse, Sunday November 5 2000


Your programme was very well done and provided an excellent public service. I understand that Archbishop Ward was previously known as Fr. Aloysius, he is/was a Franciscan, and he worked in a number of other areas of both England and Wales, including, for example Peckham. I too am puzzled as to his motivation for seemingly being 'nave' regarding some of his indefensible actions when he clearly failed to protect children from persons he had to suspect as, at very least, high risk potential abusers. His lack of knowledge and application of his own diocesan guidelines are, in my view, incredible.
C Kearney
Ireland

I happen to have known both Joe Jordan and Archbishop Ward, though only superficially in both cases. Jordan was and is an extremely manipulative and convincing character, and, among other things a superb actor. I was present for one day of his trial, and was quite taken in by his behaviour in the witness box. He was a picture of outraged innocence. Before his ordination, as your programme suggested, he cultivated the persona of a bluff football-loving 'lad' without a shadow of sexual deviance about him.

Let us not take the condemnation of the Archbishop too far - he is not a criminal

Alexander, Rome
He took in so many people - it is hardly surprising that he was able to pull the wool over the eyes of both Mgr Toffalo, his Rector at the English College, who recommended him for ordination, and the Archbishop who ordained him. Both men were deceived by Jordan - they should have been far more aware, as Bishop Budd was, of the dangers involved. In this lies the Archbishop's principle failing: he did not listen to advice, and he trusted too much to his own judgement, which was shown to be disastrously faulty. But please, let us not take the condemnation of the Archbishop too far - he is NOT a criminal, but rather an all too fallible human being. Having said this, others have paid for his mistakes - in this case, most terribly, innocent children - and as a result I feel that the only apology he can make is by offering his immediate resignation to the Pope. I would think better of him if he were to do this, and it would be in his own interest to do so. However, the intemperateness of some of the comments I have read vilifying the Archbishop's character make this outcome less likely rather than more so. It does not help the case to overstate it, as some of your correspondents undoubtedly have. Perhaps Fr Philip Dixon's comment is the most accurate - the Archbishop has shown himself to be way out of his depth. But he is not an evil man. All this of course raises important questions about the way the Church selects its bishops and Archbishops, and indeed seminary staff and seminarians.
Alexander
Rome

Priests abusing the trust children and parents allow them is an awful thing. But at least you - Panorama - got to them and exposed them. Good job, keep digging
Liam Duddy
London

All I can say is I am disgusted and very upset of what I have just watched. As I have suffered from abuse I know how it feels that someone you trust is so evil and twisted to put anyone through what I experienced. Let alone any priests. And Ward does not deserve to be in the house of god after what sins he has done in not stopping such animals. Eight years is nothing compared to how myself and other victims feel. Our pain will last forever no thanks to nature rejects.
Louise
Redcar

I am worried that with the new government regulations coming in youth organisations will not be able to vet applicants. The Scout Association estimates that it will have to spend up to 750,000 on enquiry procedures next year. Why doesn't the Home Office make this information free to the organisations that desperately need accurate information.
Mark Bowell
Daventry

I work in a supportive capacity with survivors of child sexual abuse. I also work with paedophiles in confronting their behaviour and challenging them to take responsibility for their actions. Your programme further confirms that there are societal obstacles to eradicating child sexual abuse. It is now fast emerging that as well as those who unwittingly provide comfort and support for paedophiles and their activities there are those who knowingly and quite deliberately provide pathways for paedophiles to fuel what is a national health epidemic. Paedophiles who have been caught often tell me that they are just the tip of the iceberg and that there are those in powerful positions in society who can never be caught because few will believe that those who hold high office can behave in such a way and, of course once in such positions powerful paedophiles obtain help from their powerful colleagues to escape detection and/or prosecution. It is thanks to the media interest that these matters are finally being aired and debated. Despite what some professionals say, survivors not only obtain great comfort and support from the media interest it is also giving many the courage to come forward and expose those who have hidden behind the secrecy and shame of society.
Leslie Bedell
Toomebridge

Only the Pope can retire John Aloysius. Priests are not vetted properly in the seminaries today.

A married priesthood would not solve all the problems, but would be a good start

M Hubert, Monmouth
There are so few coming forward for the priesthood, that the Church is getting desperate for them - any of them! The Church needs to look at other issues and see how to attract men to the priesthood in today's society, which is a lonelier job than it was fifty years ago. A married priesthood would not solve all the problems, but would be a good start. Also, there are about 100,000 married priests around the world, many of whom would be glad to serve on the parishes, but they cannot unless the parishioners ask for them to serve in the absence of enough priests to do so. These men are not perverts, or corrupt, they made an honest decision to marry and leave the priestly ministry rather than live lies. They deserve a chance.
M Hubert
Monmouth

We should not be quick to tar every priest with the same brush, that is common sense. Nor should those accused falsely be in any way held in lower esteem: imagine if teachers knew that even proven false accusations would end their careers. More important, I feel, is the issue of the way the Catholic Church views its priests and student priests. Believe it or not they are not considered employees: so the Church never claims legal responsibility for their actions. This must change. Also, we must ask why human rights legislation is not applied to the Church. The Government should act to see that the Church - which above any other organisation should be a model for such practice - treats its priests in a proper way.
Pauline M
Wigan

As a young catholic I have been brought up to live by example of those who present themselves as representatives of my religion. With figures such as John Ward it is no wonder that the number of church-goers especially in younger members of the community has decreased. As far as I am concerned he is just as responsible for those terrible acts as those that actually committed them. He should resign immediately in order to preserve what faith is left in catholic priests before more harm is done.
C. Tucker
Cardiff

While it is clearly vital that the role of Archbishop Ward be examined following the case of Father Jordan, the Archbishop is surely not the only Catholic official who should bear responsibility for having allowed Jordan to be ordained. Did Cardiff Archdiocese accept Jordan for ordination without a recommendation from the Rector of the English College - the man responsible for Jordan's priestly training? Did the Rector, a priest of Plymouth diocese, recommend Jordan to Cardiff in spite of the concerns of Bishop Budd of Plymouth? Did those responsible for Jordan's pastoral training have encouraged him to gain experience through developing ministries in schools and to children preparing to receive the sacraments? Did they have access to Jordan's file, where details of the previous court case must surely have been available? Was the Spiritual Director of the English College - now the Secretary of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales - unable to perceive the problems in Jordan's psychological make-up?
Nick H
Cambridge


I'm sad to say I would not trust any priest to be alone with my children

Mary Miletitch, Orleton
I believe the Archbishop's head should roll..lack of remorse, hiding the truth and then lying about it all...I am a practising Catholic, my two young children are practising Catholics but these issues cause me great concern, and, I'm sad to say I would not trust ANY priest to be alone with my children and all because the Catholic church cannot or will not put their house in order!
Mary Miletitch
Orleton

One of the defenders of Archbishop Ward from up here in the North east is also an unremitting critic of a very brave Edinburgh priest, Father Steve Gilhooley. He suffered sexual abuse at the hands of priests while he was a youngster and is now coming to terms with it through the writing of a book about his experiences. Some in the Church consider this a betrayal since in naming those responsible he is allowing outsiders to pass judgement on further Catholic wrongdoings. As a Catholic I respect and salute his honesty. I wonder if those Catholics who have bleated on about the anti-Catholic nature of last Sunday's excellent programme will greet his revelations in the same way.
Susan
Newcastle

The National Association for People Abused in Childhood is a new charity currently being set up to support and help adults who were abused as children. As someone abused by catholic priests myself I totally support the efforts of the excellent Panorama team for bringing this subject to the fore. All abuse is unacceptable. Abuse by clergy is evil beyond doubt. As a charity we are aware of the very many people who's lives have been destroyed by abuse. However, when that abuse is carried out in the name of 'God' then peoples faith is also destroyed. A double 'whammy' that some will never recover from. We would echo the comments made by one of your other correspondents that we must never forget that most child abuse takes place within families however Archbishop Ward epitomises for many why so many clergy cannot be trusted and I agree with other comments that this man be not only removed from office but be the subject of some intense investigation. He is clearly dangerous. Anyone wishing to contact the national association may do so by writing to NAPAC, 42 Curtain Road. London EC2A 3NH. NAPAC is planning to launch a national information line for adults abused in childhood and that will hopefully happen in the New Year.
Peter Saunders, Founder - NAPAC
London


I cannot believe the actions of the Archbishop - He acted against every guideline of the Church's procedure on abuse

CGS, West of Scotland
As a practising and committed Catholic, I have to congratulate you and your team on a very well presented, well-balanced programme. Like so many others I cannot believe the actions of the Archbishop. He acted against every guideline of the Church's procedure on abuse. He should resign immediately.
CGS
West of Scotland

I am relieved to read that I'm not the only one who heard alarm bells ringing when Archbishop Ward squirmed on the hook, but surely if we do not insist on an investigation into his motives are we not as guilty of turning a blind eye as he is?
Jan Sherry
Isle of Wight

I have written to the Papal Nuncio on 3 occasions about the low morale and lack of audit & supervision within the Cardiff archdiocese. Cronyism is a big curse with autocracy at the top. The men attracted to high office around the archbishop are of poor quality and against this background stupidity and culpability flourish. We live in a pluralist secular society with a free press. As a practising Catholic with more than 1500 years of documented Christianity behind me, all I can say that any Catholic who is shocked by the revelations in Panorama and who criticises the notion that any bishop is accountable is a poor apology for a catholic given what Christ's attitude was to hierarchical structures.
Andrew hubert von Staufer
Monmouth

Am I correct in my understanding that according to the Catholic Church's Guidelines on abuse issues, when an allegation of sexual abuse is made against an ordained, lay, paid or volunteer, church worker, if the investigation is later dropped or formal charges are dropped, then a question mark still remains over that person's head? In the case of an ordained person this means that he should not be allowed to return to his official duties. If this is correct why then is Archbishop Ward still in office as he was investigated regarding an alleged rape? It seems that double standards are still being practised.
Shaun Baldwin
Preston

As someone who studied with Joe Jordan I found the programme very disturbing.

The public should not be misled into thinking that paedophilia is a problem found exclusively amongst priests

Andrew Stringfellow, Rome
Obviously an excellent job was done by Panorama in terms of gathering information, but something very important was lacking. People need to know more about what makes abusers such as Jordan tick, and they also need to know that over 95% of registered abusers are within families. I'm not trying to defend anyone involved in Jordan's case, but the public should not be misled into thinking that paedophilia is a problem found exclusively amongst priests. The church has a lot of work to do in order to prevent this type of abuse occurring again, as does the whole of society.
Andrew Stringfellow
Rome

I am both amazed and saddened by the scale of abuse that is and has occurred within the church over the past decades. I'm pleased that the BBC and Panorama have chosen to unearth such horror. Once again I will gladly pay the TV licence fee if your programme continues to pursue the dark and harsh worlds of the evil perverts and criminals who continue to purge our young and innocent children. May God have mercy on their souls.
K Morgan-Jones
Pontypridd

I helped to draw up the Church's Guidelines in 1994, and worked on a later commission that produced "Healing the Wound", published by the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales in 1996. I also wrote in the Catholic press on issues relating to child sexual abuse, gave workshops for diocesan priests and lectured in seminaries in England and Spain. I drew on my own experience of sexual abuse in childhood. I thought this programme was excellent. There is, however, a point relating to the case of Fr John Lloyd that may be worth drawing to your attention. I believe that, following his conviction, the Pope forcibly laicized him (removed him from the priesthood). I saw a report (very brief) in The Tablet around that time. If this was the case, it is the first time a priest has been forcibly laicized following a conviction for child abuse, and the first time the Pope has intervened, over the heads of the local authorities. The removal of such priests from the priesthood is something that I personally would like to see as an automatic consequence of such a conviction. Many survivors of abuse by clergy, their families and communities, would also like to see abusers automatically removed from the priesthood.
Felicity ("Tracy") Hansen
Tobermory, Isle of Mull

Archbishop Jordan should go. It is the duty of the Pope to do something about this mess. How can anyone have any respect for the catholic religion when this kind of thing is so obviously going on and being ignored? There are so many hypocrites in the church how are we ever to know who are the truly good ones? If the pope doesn't do anything about the so-called "Archbishop" then he should go, because he is obviously condoning what is happening.
Cathy Rigley
Streatham


Archbishop Ward should be stripped of his title as he is obviously unfit to do the job

Mrs L Reilly, Essex
Your programme has made me very sad and very very angry! Archbishop Ward should be stripped of his title as he is obviously unfit to do the job. He is 100% responsible for what happened and I, as a catholic Mother of 3 children, will not be setting foot into a church until he is no longer Archbishop.
Mrs L Reilly
Essex

After watching this programme I find it difficult to believe that Archbishop Ward is answerable only to the Pope. Your investigations must contain sufficient information to encourage the civil authorities (the police) to investigate the Archbishop further. His position must be untenable. If he will not go, he must be removed.
Ken Jackson
Swansea

What the programme highlights is the need in the Church for reappraisal of selection procedures for future priests, an honest discussion of sexuality and its abuse in seminary formation and the appointment of competent, honest and professional rectors, bishops and spokespeople within the Church. Bishop Budd has shown he possess these qualities.
P McDermott
London

I believe that Archbishop Ward must resign in order to try and regain some sort of standing for The Church in Wales. It is as simple as that.
Tony
Cardiff

Wonderful programme that needed making - why was this left unchecked for so long?
James Griffiths
Cardiff


I fail to see how one can lose faith with a whole church based on the actions of a few men

Ann Pyatt, Reading
As a catholic I was disgusted at the complacency displayed by the archbishop of Wales. He should be forced to resign at once. The Church must be seen to do everything to regain the trust of the parishioners.
Kathy Toyloco
Northampton

I fail to see how one can lose faith with a whole church based on the actions of a few MEN! There are thousands of trustworthy hardworking priests within the church. What the Catholic church needs to do is stop with damage limitation measures and tackle the problem head on. Like the Archbishop the church still seems to be guilty of living in the past. The church needs to become street wise!
Ann Pyatt
Reading

His Grace, the Archbishop of Cardiff, displayed tonight that he is manifestly unfit to remain in post. If, as he said, he acted in all innocence, then his naivety renders him unable to form an educated opinion on ordinands. He had warnings from fellow bishops and co-trainees of the guilty (inter alia) and yet his arrogance or stupidity allowed him to inform a suspect of the potential charges. Most other citizens in similar circumstances have faced a charge of perverting the course of justice. He should, henceforth, be addressed as Your Disgrace.
Keith O'Brien
Walsall

I am appalled at what this programme has uncovered and feel that the catholic hierarchy must be accountable. We are taught to be honest and one clearly is left with the feeling that not everyone in high positions in the catholic church is honest. The abuse of children is such a grave issue that surely the slightest suspicion should be fully investigated. If not, then why not? Could it be to cover up further unwholesome truths? I know personally of a family destroyed by a paedophile deacon, Sam Penny, who similarly bullied and abused altar boys and was simply 'moved on' when complaints were made so that his abuse continued elsewhere. But what is even worse and what adds insult to injury is the high level lies and cover ups and denials of information which ensued. Your programme highlighted a serious and real issue and I hope will continue to do so in order to protect innocent children and innocent 'genuine' priests.
M. Grandon
Birmingham

Excellent programme - It is beyond belief how nave the Catholic church has been. It remains to be seen how many more of these cases are going to be exposed. I'm certain there will be more. It's sickening to see such trusted people abuse their position in society. The church needs drastic reforms to ensure it is more accountable to society at large and not just one man. It makes a mockery of the phrase 'trust in God' - yeah right!!!
Simon Powell
Dunstable

Phil Parry failed to ask some crucial questions. Who 'advised' Ward to inform Jordan that allegations had been made? Has he ever even read the Churches own guidelines? Why has Ward not been subjected to paedophile-specific assessment? What would Ward have regarded as danger signs? What made him think he was qualified to ignore numerous warnings about Jordan and conclude that he was of suitable character to be a priest? Does he think that forwarding parishioners confidential letters of complaint to the priest being complained about is a fair or effective way of dealing with complaints? Doesn't, "If I'd known he was a paedophile I would never have laid hands on him" sound extremely dodgy?
Zoe
Chichester

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