It’s true, only found out yesterday. Whole grim tale to be written up shortly. Watch this space!
Just because a new pope has taken over at the Vatican, it does not mean that all the Catholic church’s old problems are no more. They were just swept under the carpet: there was no miracle. Searing indictments from the Irish government on the extensive nature of priestly paedophilia in that land, a frank and hostile U.N. report, pledges from within the church itself are all to no avail. Catholic priests are still abusing children entrusted to them, and still filling up their hard drives with kiddy porn images.
Here are a few of the details of a case in my local paper in North London this week.
Name: Friar Timothy Gardner
Religion: Roman Catholic
Residence: St Dominic’s Priory, Gospel Oak
Positions: (1) Chaplain at the Royal Free Hospital, Hampstead, (where I am an outpatient);
(2) advisor to the Catholic Education Service, and lobbiest of the government on their behalf;
(3) teacher of Religious Education at Maria Fidelis Catholic School, Somers Town, London;
Charge: possession of over 5000 prohibited ‘depraved’ images of child abuse , some graded in the most extreme category, including one of a nine year old engaged in a sex act with a dog.
Members of his congregation, who attended the sentencing to support Gardner, broke down in tears as details of the sickening images were read out in court. His computer password was ‘so revolting’ that the judge said it should not be read out in court. Gardner admitted making indecent images as well as possessing.
8 month suspended sentence;
participation in a treatment programme;
name placed on sex-offenders’ register for 10 years;
no ban on contact with under sixteens;
no ban on returning to work in the church.
So, justice was done (if you can call it that.) In a secular court. It’s a lenient sentence, but as a ‘senior figure’ in catholic education in London he has harmed the church and his own prospects immeasurably. If it had been dealt with in secret by a bishop, as always used to happen, chances are no-one outside would have learned of his proclivities, and he would have returned to work with no more than a slap on the wrist. The worst he might have expected was being moved to a different area.
A clue to why RC priests so often don’t practice what they preach was given in a recent TV documentary on Vatican scandals. When you have on your robes and dog collar, you are a man of God; when you un-robe after the service you are an ordinary sinful human being again and have carte blanche to violate all the church’s precepts (as long as you don’t get caught!). It’s all a priestly act.
- How would you feel if you were a parent of one of his pupils at Maria Fidelis?
- Can you ever trust the Catholic education system again?
- How would you feel if your kid was in a ward at the Royal Free and got visited by him?
- Do you think it fair that another Catholic priest, Fr Martin Newell (inteviewed by Zingcreed in ‘Now that’s what I call practical Christianity #11 Jailed Priest’), did get a custodial sentence in a London court at the same time for protesting outside the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall and writing peace slogans on their wall with charcoal? One month in Wandsworth prison!
- Above all, what do you think about the thousands of children world wide, manipulated and photographed and abused so some rich white westerner can get his rocks off?
- Do you think the Catholic Church will ever grasp the nettle on this one?
“Paedophile religious teacher spared prison” The Hampstead and Highgate Express 3 April 2014
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