Thursday, 9 February 2012

Father David Pearce

Yes, at the time of writing he is still Father David Pearce. He's due out of prison fairly shortly, having served half of his five year sentence. If he hasn't been laicized by the time he leaves prison, the church will have a responsibility to house him, since he will still be a priest.

I asked Peter Turner whether Pearce had been laicized yet, and if not, whether he would be by the time he left prison. He has written the following in reply.
It is anticipated that by the time of his release from prison Fr David Pearce will be laicised.
Anticipated. Not certain. Especially as it is up to Rome, not the church in the UK. I have a sneaking suspicion that he will still be a priest on the day he comes out of prison. I'll keep you posted on anything I learn on the subject.

UPDATE 10 February
I have just received an email from Peter Turner in which he says "I can now confirm that the laicisation process regarding David Pearce is now completed."


Father Gregory Chillman

Time for a recap. Paragraphs 57 and 58 of the Carlile report stated the following.
57. There remained continuing concerns about what should happen to monks who had been convicted, banned (named in List 99) so that they should not work with children, or otherwise should not have any access to children in the school. This was a concern of mine from the earliest stages of my Inquiry. I have discussed the issue with the Abbot, who was alert to the inevitability of a change from previous practice. I recognise that the sense of responsibility felt by the Community for its Brothers, even those who have strayed and sinned heinously, is considerable.

58. I am pleased to say that the Abbot has accepted that another dwelling has to be found for any member of the monastic community falling within the categories described, and that none is at the Abbey now. This must continue as a permanent policy.
Simple enough. Monks on restricted ministry because of behaviour towards children can't stay at the Abbey.

It isn't just Carlile who made this point. it was previously made by the ISI in its April 2010 supplementary inspection report, and Carlile reported that the issue had attracted high-level interest in the DfE. This is paragraph 68 of the Carlile report.
68. The Department for Education, to Ministerial level, has been following carefully the progress of the ISI inspections. I have reviewed the correspondence. The Minister of State for Schools in July 2010 sought reassurance that all the recommendations the ISI had made would be implemented promptly. This has been done. The Minister was particularly concerned about the arrangements whereby monks, after conviction or being placed on List 99, had continued to live at the Abbey, even under restrictions imposed by the Abbey in consultation with the Archdiocese of Westminster. These arrangements were described as ‘ineffective’ (and the practice no longer continues).
One of the monks mentioned by Carlile as having substantiated allegations against him is Father Gregory Chillman. It indicates that the outcome of an allegation against him was "Deemed inappropriate behaviour, restrictions imposed." At the press conference for publication of the report, the BBC caused a great deal of confusion when they asked where Father Gregory Chillman was now living. It was subsequently clarified that he was away from the Abbey at the time.

Well, he wasn't away for all that long, just long enough for the dust to settle. He has continued to be listed on the abbey website among the monks resident at Ealing Abbey. I thought that might be an error, so I wrote to Peter Turner (the diocesan safeguarding adviser) and he replied as follows.
Fr Gregory Chillman is still residing in the Monastery under restrictions and is not allowed to partake in any public ministry.
So, despite the inspection report of the ISI, despite the recommendation of Lord Carlile, despite the assurances made to the Minister of State for Schools, despite the Abbot being "alert to the inevitability of a change from previous practice", despite Lord Carlile's belief stated in the report itself that "the practice no longer continues", Chillman remains at the abbey under restriction.

What on earth is going on there?