CNA Staff August 26, 2020
The Vatican has ruled that the abbot of Ampleforth Abbey in North Yorkshire, England, should not return to his community, four years after he stepped aside during an investigation into allegations against him.
Fr Gabriel Everitt, the abbey’s prior administrator, announced the Holy See’s decision concerning Fr Cuthbert Madden in a letter to the Ampleforth Society, a 16,000-strong group with ties to the Benedictine monastery.
“The Holy See has studied the case carefully, including the external scrutiny of Ampleforth and the fact that Fr Cuthbert’s mandate as Abbot expires in January 2021,” Everitt wrote.
“It does not support his return to Ampleforth as Abbot or as a resident member of the community but wishes him to be free to live in a Benedictine community of his choice with the consent of the host Abbot.”
The ruling was reported by the British Catholic weekly The Tablet on August 25.
Madden was first elected abbot in 2005, then re-elected in 2013 for a second eight-year term. He stepped aside in August 2016 after allegations of indecent assault were lodged against him, while strenuously denying the claims.
North Yorkshire Police investigated the allegations, concluding their inquiries in November 2016. They brought no charges against Madden.
His case was then examined by the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service Review Panel which did not find any sexual misconduct.
The Vatican had delegated the authority to reinstate Madden as abbot to Fr Christopher Jamison, Abbot President of the English Benedictine Congregation. Jamison decided that he could not reinstate Madden and referred the case back to the Holy See.
Madden sought to challenge the decision at the UK’s High Court, but his claims were struck out in January this year after a two-day hearing.
Everitt wrote: “The Holy See has now concluded its review of Fr Cuthbert Madden’s case and has tried to respect the rights of all those involved. They observe that Fr Cuthbert has not committed any canonical delict nor been convicted of any civil crime and that while sanctions were not imposed, restrictions were appropriate as part of normal safeguarding procedures. Those restrictions will now be reviewed.”
He said that Jamison was helping to facilitate Madden’s move to another Benedictine community of his choice. He also announced that the election of a new abbot of Ampleforth would take place in 2021.
A spokesperson for Ampleforth Abbey said: “The Holy See has concluded its review of Fr Cuthbert Madden’s case, referred to it by the Abbot President of the English Benedictine Congregation. It noted that, while it was appropriate to impose restrictions as part of normal safeguarding procedures, Fr Cuthbert has not committed any canonical delict nor been convicted of any civil crime.”
“These restrictions, in line with standard practice, will now be reviewed. Fr Cuthbert sought a review of the process through the English courts who decided that his claims could not go to trial.”
Fr Christopher Jamison, Abbot President of the English Benedictine Congregation, said: “I am pleased that this matter has been concluded and that Ampleforth can now prepare for the election of a new abbot.”
CNA was unable to reach Madden for comment.
Ampleforth College, an independent school also established in 1802, has produced notable alumni such as Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, Rugby World Cup winner Lawrence Dallaglio, and actors Rupert Everett and James Norton.
The school was the subject of a highly critical report by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) in 2018.
Concluding his letter to Ampleforth Society members, Everitt wrote: “At this time, I ask you to remember in your prayers all concerned and to pray for victims and survivors of abuse. Fr Cuthbert would like me to pass on his thanks to you all for your past and continued support of the work of the Abbey and he assures you of his continued prayers.”
“We will now prepare for the abbatial election in January 2021 and I ask for your prayers for Ampleforth as we look to the future.”
THE STRANGE ROLE OF ABBOT GENERAL JAMISON.
Worth Abbey and Worth School were initially created as the preparatory school for Downside. In 1995, Father Andrew Brenninkmeyer was suspended following complaints that he had sexually abused other monks, including Father Jonathan Monckton, who left the monastery in 1987 after no action was taken against Father Brenninkmeyer. Father Moncton was not the only complainant.
In 2001, Father John Bolton was suspended for hugging a boy inappropriately. Father John died on 26 June 2013.The headmaster at the time was Father Christopher Jamison, who is currently Abbot President of the English Benedictine Congregation.
On 5 June 2018, the IICSA determined that its case study of the English Benedictine Congregation would not include Worth School and Abbey because the evidence in regard of Downside and Ampleforth is sufficient to address the English Benedictine Congregation.
This is the most confusing and worrying case.
Abbot Madden was cleared by the police and by a church investigation and yet he is sentenced to not being allowed back to his abbacy and has to move to a new monastery if the abbot there accepts him!
Is this not a case of sentencing a man who has been found not guilty?
Abbot General Jamieson played a big role in allowing Father Andrew Brenninkmeyer to be missing from Worth for a long time when he was in charge of Worth.
AND WHO WAS INVESTIGATING MADDEN?
None other than our own tainted Brendan Coffey of tainted Glenstal!!!
Coffey, the Great Inquisitor of Silverstream was appointed the Visitor of Ampleforth in 2018!
Friends and supporters of Abbot Madden are very angry with Coffey.
Purcell Protector Coffey!
ROBERT HOURIGAN’S LETTER TO THE SUPERIOR OF ROSCREA.
Dear Fr. Malachy,
I am not surprised by the lack of a response to my list of questions directed to the Principle of the Cistercian College, Mr. Grealish. As the monastic superior of Mount St. Joseph Abbey, I presume you will have no objection to my list of unanswered questions being formally submitted to the Minister for Education and her officials. Then, Mr. Grealish can answer those questions to the appropriate officials from that department.
Some, (but not all) of the e-mails evidencing that Abbot Brendan Coffey of Glenstal Abbey was seeking an exculpatory statement on behalf of Dom Richard Purcell, the former Abbot of Mount St. Joseph Abbey were given to Pat Buckley, and they have been published on his blog.
Why was the Abbot of Glenstal seeking an exculpatory statement on behalf of Richard Purcell, the former Abbot of Mount St. Joseph Abbey? Could it be the case that Richard Purcell, did have consensual anal sex in the monastery guesthouse of Mount St. Joseph Abbey with an ex-priest of the diocese of Killaloe?
Would you care to confirm or deny the allegation? Of course, if you deny the allegation, why did the ex-priest speak about the “act” when he was a priest in good standing of the aforesaid diocese? Your profile on the Cistercian College website indicates that your undergraduate degree focused on the area of moral theology, and your postgraduate degree focused on the area of bioethics. Would you care to comment on the moral behaviour of Richard Purcell in the monastery guesthouse? Would you consider Purcell’s actions a form of institutional hypocrisy and contrary to the way of life expected of any Cistercian monk who has professed solemn monastic vows?
This is all becoming very ugly. Of course, this could all be ameliorated by a public denial by Richard Purcell and/or his immediate resignation as the Abbot of Mount Melleray Abbey. The longer the situation continues the more intractable it will become.
Last week, Pat Buckley received a telephone call from an individual who stated that he was calling from the Roscrea area. The gentleman informed Pat Buckley that while Richard Purcell was the bursar of Mount St. Joseph Abbey, he, [Purcell] spent a conspicuous amount of money. The gentleman mused that the spending could be considered reckless profligacy. The gentleman further wondered to Pat Buckley — if Purcell’s spending had been subject to a proper accounting?
If we have learned anything from the experience of the church in Ireland and other parts of the world over the past two decades — financial impropriety often accompanies sexual impropriety.
The individual (I infer that he is a priest) also made a pretty strong statement about the Abbot General, Eamon Fitzgerald, OCSO and that observation will be outlined in due course in a letter addressed to the Father Immediate of Mount Melleray Abbey, Dom Michael Ryan.
If the gentleman who called Pat Buckley is correct that Richard Purcell might not have been accurate with his accounting — would you welcome an independent financial audit of the finances of the abbey and the college covering the period that Richard Purcell was bursar and Abbot of Mount St. Joseph Abbey? If not — why not? Would you be prepared to explain any reticence to the Charities Regulator?
You will, of course, encourage the Abbot General, Dom Eamon Fitzgerald to confirm and deny what will be outlined in the letter to Dom Michael Ryan, OCSO.
If the allegations against Richard Purcell are accurate, would you encourage him [Purcell] to step aside until an independent investigation takes place, and if the allegations are proven to be true; would you support the dismissal of Richard Purcell from the clerical state? If not — why not?
Again, would you be prepared to explain your reticence on this matter to the parents that currently have children studying at the Cistercian College? Will you explain your reticence to the benefactors of the abbey and the college?
Finally, Pat Buckley has indicated he is content to swear an affidavit setting out the salient facts of the conversation with the gentleman.
I am copying this e-mail to the Abbot General (an exercise in futility because of his on-going paralysis), Dom Michael Ryan, the Father Immediate of Mount Melleray Abbey, and Pat Buckley, who will probably publish this correspondence on his blog, because transparency is good for the church.
J Robert Hourigan