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Nun in tears over ‘horrifying’ abuse at Catholic orphanage

Nun in tears over ‘horrifying’ abuse at Catholic orphanage

Sister Ellen Flynn, a nun in charge of a Catholic order, broke down in tears today when she was testifying at an inquiry into child abuse at at Smyllum Park orphanage in Scotland.

According to the BBC Sister Ellen Flynn said “horrifying” accounts of abuse at the Lanark care home were “totally against” everything the order stood for.

She was giving evidence at the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry in Edinburgh.

The inquiry has already heard weeks of evidence about the institution, which was shut in 1981.

One former resident, who was a child at the orphanage in the 1960s, has told the inquiry there was a “culture of evil among religious orders” at that time.

The nun said said that her heart was with the survivors, as she vowed the order would engage with them and the probe to:

Put right what wrongs are found.

The pledge came as she and another witness admitted a variety of historical failures had taken place at the home, including “weak” governance and record-keeping.

Dozens of former residents have testified that they received beatings and were mistreated at the home, run by the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul.

Sister Ellen, who is the current head of the order, said:

For those who are in distress, for those whom we have hurt in any way, our deepest and most sincere apologies. If we can do something about it, let us know.

She and another nun, Sister Eileen Glancy  – who also gave evidence – told the hearing that they wished to amend a previous apology because they now realised that there was “more than a possibility that some abuse had occurred” at Smyllum.

Last June, Flynn denied knowledge of abuse at Smyllum.

We are very apologetic, but in our records we can find no evidence or anything that substantiates the allegations.

According to this report, Sister Glancy said at an earlier hearing that the congregation was at a “complete loss” over what happened to the medical records of former residents and personal records kept by nuns who worked at Smyllum.

Asked by Colin MacAulay QC, lead counsel to the inquiry, if the records had been destroyed, she said:

I think they must have been because they are certainly nowhere in any of our establishments. I presume they must have been destroyed.

Asked about those who said they continued to have emotional difficulties as a consequence of their time in the care of the religious order, Sister Ellen said:

The core of our being is to be there for vulnerable people in distress. I think the core of our being has been wrenched by some of the testimonies. We accompany people who suffer with long-lasting effects of things that have happened to them.

So we feel the impact and for any child that has been abused whilst in our care we would feel the very, very deep sense of regret.

She described the contradictions in evidence between the survivors and the various nuns who described Smyllum as a “happy place” as “completely bewildering”.

The witness also spoke of the order’s “ingrained” values, in particular of serving the poor.

There is a hugely long tradition around how to behave with dignity and respect around children. So I find it really difficult to think that there was something systemic going on.

I can’t speak for the actions of individuals and I’m quite prepared to say that there’s a possibility that many of the punishments occurred.

The nuns also admitted that the order did not properly engage with allegations of abuse when they first emerged in the late 1990s.

Sister Ellen also told the inquiry that the allegations were:

Totally alien. It’s totally against everything that we stand for. We’ve been torn apart by this. I’m not defending us by saying that. I’m finding it hard to understand it.

Obviously I want to stand by these people who have come forward. These were our children. We will respond in whatever way we can to try to put right what wrongs are found.

The inquiry, before Lady Smith, continues.

14 responses to “Nun in tears over ‘horrifying’ abuse at Catholic orphanage”

  1. RussellW says:

    “It’s totally against everything that we stand for”.

    No, it isn’t. For 15 centuries the Catholic Church has been brainwashing and terrorising innocent people. The horrors reported from the Smyllum Park orphanage are typical.

  2. AgentCormac says:

    ‘For those who are in distress, for those whom we have hurt in any way, our deepest and most sincere apologies. If we can do something about it, let us know.’

    FFS, this isn’t about buying the victims an ice-cream and saying we’re really terribly sorry about all that! Maybe they could start by actually taking some action. Such as shutting down the whole rotten, stinking edifice that is the rcc until every last child-abusing paedophile they harbour has been brought to justice by secular courts. But they won’t.

    If we can do something about it, let us know. It really does beggar belief. Too late, the horse has bolted. The damage is done. And it’s still going on. So grow a pair, Sister Ellen Flynn and if you really mean what you say then demand that your church reforms from top to bottom. Starting with the resignations of all its top officials.

  3. Broga says:

    ” there was “more than a possibility that some abuse had occurred” at Smyllum.” But what isn’t a possibility is that medical records have disappeared and cannot be found.

    What is also not a “possibility” is that last June Flynn denied all knowledge of abuse. Now we get all the shallow, formula regrets. Have they offered to pray for the victims yet?

  4. Robster says:

    A similar commission in Australia was a Catholic (plus a roster of other undesirables) undertaking a Cry Fest to imply some recompense for gross, disgusting and severely uncivilised behaviour. We had cardinals, a cabal of bishops, archbishops even regular priests/reverends/preachers and not to forget nuns, lots of nuns and other clerical and lay staff all crying madly in an ongoing attempt to garner some sympathy for themselves and their employing organisations. Sorry, you;re a bunch of crooks and it’s not going to work.

  5. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    Christian churches are full of paedo pastors. The founder of Islam Mo-ham-head himself was a paedo, whose last wife Ayesha was a 6 year old kid. Muslim maulanas openly indulge in sexual abuse of kids in their madarsas. Hindu priests at big religious centres of India like Hardwar, Varanasi etc. are forever on the lookout for women and kids to indulge in sex with. All religions screwing the weak and the vulnerable since, the advent of human civilization.

  6. 1859 says:

    “……The core of our being is to be there for vulnerable people in distress. I think the core of our being has been wrenched by some of the testimonies…..”

    The core of your being was rotten, is rotten and will remain rotten until your organised religion is permanently disestablished. The RCC has for centuries practised a maligned spiritual sadism very akin to spiritual fascism – all under the guise of ‘caring’ for people. Disgusting and unforgivable.

  7. Broga says:

    Nothing will change because those, the great and the good, are the respected of society and the plebs still bow before them. And the great at the good, and we had a gathering of the wealthy scum at the President’s Club gropefest, are those supposed to ensure the changes.

    Orwell’s world of 1984 is here and the millions are kept compliant by junk TV, the spectacle of the royal glitterati and more commitment to voting for competitions on TV than to getting rid of the politicians thieving from them.

  8. Rath says:

    The whole RCC is rotten to the very core. It’s hard to know where to start but one thing is for sure. Deprive men and women of sex by rendering it sinful, forbidden, unholy and dirty will produce in those people depraved and violent tendencies that are then inflicted upon those who cannot defend themselves. How many children have been brutally beaten by hateful sex starved nuns? How many children have been raped by depraved priests? And how many nuns and priests stood by and let it happen and then were complicit in the denials and destruction of evidence whilst hiding behind a facade of pious caring innocence? Go on. Make a guess because no one can put a number to questions like that. My estimate is that nearly all children in the control of catholic institutions were abused and nearly all priests and nuns knew it was going on. Show me a nun that never mistreated a child and I will doubt you. Show me a priest that never molested a child and I will doubt you.

    ROTTEN TO THE CORE. And we let it persist.

  9. Farmer Giles says:

    Name the crime and the Roman Catholic Church is guilty of it.

    And every priest and nun of the Roman Catholic Church is complicit in the systematic Cover Up of the rape and physical abuse perpetrated by unknown numbers of their colleagues upon hundreds of thousands, probably millions, of children unfortunate enough to have fall under their control.

    And as for the congregants … they need to stand up for justice and rip off the shackles clamped around their limbs by centuries of priestly lies, blackmail, threats, violence and coercion.

  10. barriejohn says:

    Farmer Giles: They won’t, for one simple reason. One of my nieces, who is an intelligent young woman who holds down a responsible job, and who is not what most people would call “religious”, lives in mortal terror of “doing the wrong thing”, offending God, and being “punished” after death. This is the source of power for the RCC and others, and that is what makes them impervious to the effects of such horrific revelations.

  11. Farmer Giles says:

    Meanwhile in the USA this is going on.
    The church that thrives in a ghost town – BBC News
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-42781736

    Doesn’t that story make you shake your head in disbelief that people can be so stupid, self-centred, self absorbed and ignorant of what goes on when catholic priests are left alone with children. Shame on them … the fools of Centralia and every other place befouled by the catholic church.

  12. tonye says:

    The only reason the nun was in tears was the fact that her beloved rcc have been caught yet again.

    If she genuinely wanted to make amends she could dip into the vatican’s deep pockets and get the survivors compensation, but we all know that won’t happen.

  13. John the Drunkard says:

    ‘…vulnerable people in distress’

    Obviously does not include unwanted children. They are subhuman tokens to be abused at will, to keep women in terror of enforced pregnancy.

  14. StephenJP says:

    Nobody should be taken in by this woman’s tears and apologies “if” (note, not “because”) there were instances of child abuse at this dreadful place. The Daughters of Charity are engaged in a hard-nosed, cynical process of drawing this business out as long as they can in the hope that as many of their victims as possible will have popped their clogs before the DoC can be held fully responsible for what they have done.

    In cases such as this there is a good argument for seizing the assets of this reprehensible organisation before they can spirit them away into one of the Vatican’s bank accounts. Then, when their culpability is established, they can be liquidated to provide some compensation (however inadequate) for the victims.