Sean Jones

My Kerry clerical connections have told me in recent times that the bishop RAY BROWNE, made Sean Jones sign an affidavit before ordaining him.

I’m told that in the affidavit he had to swear that what was being said about him on this blog was untrue.

I’m further informed that there are priests in Kerry who have been assigned to keep a very close watch on everything?

I have never heard before of a priest having to sign a pre ordination affidavit.

RAY BROWNE was obviously covering his “flank”.


But as me Da used to say: “When you’re used to wearing shoes it’s hard to go in your bare feet”.

Browne is not liked in Kerry. He has the personality a turnip – and that’s been unkind to turnips!


Cuthbert Madden

Seminar: Some insights towards applying the vision of Vatican II into monastic life

I was surprised to be asked to give a paper during the Abbots’ Congress on the question of applying the vision of the Second Vatican Council to monastic life today – but after some consideration I thought that I should at least try!​ I am not an academic, I am a simple abbot who is trying to understand what is happening in the community committed to his care – so please do not expect a thoroughly researched paper: these are some reflections based in my experience as an abbot for the last eleven years.​ In these reflections I have tried to explain why I think that the documents of the Magisterium have something to contribute to our search for an appropriate contemporary expression of the monastic instinct.

My abbacy has been marked by two phenomena which I have sought to understand: the sexual abuse of children by monk-priests of the community and the departure from monastic life of men who have been solemnly professed, and in some cases ordained, for ten or more years.

The day after my election in 2005 saw the arrest of the first of two monks who were eventually convicted of the sexual abuse of minors.​ In the last eleven years other offenders in our community from the past have been uncovered.​ I have repeatedly returned to two questions: ‘what led to this offending?’ and ‘how was it possible for this behaviour to go unchallenged?’​ My hypothesis is that there was something gravely disordered in the communion within our monastic community.​

Whilst I expect that some men in the monastic community will leave during the course of their postulancy and noviciate or at the end of their period of temporary vows, I do not expect men to leave in significant numbers after Solemn Vows.​ At the time of my election nine men in a community of 92 were living away from the community and its works and others have left subsequently: why?

Needless to say, I cannot give a clear answer to the questions I have asked – but asking these questions led me to search for some understanding – and I would like to share the fruits of that search.

Perhaps naively I assumed that the unsettled state of the Church and of the world from the 1960s onwards was to blame for the problems I was seeing in the community.​ I also noted the increasing size of some communities which returned to the structures and practices of the 1950s.​ I wondered whether the Second Vatican Council might be part of the problem.​ But then I started analysing the data in my own community.

I have to tell you that I can now trace the sexual abuse of minors by members of our community back to monks who were professed in the 1920s.​ I have met with and listened to some of the survivors of abuse who were abused by members of the community in the early 1950s.​ The sexual abuse of minors in my community is not a post-Vatican II phenomenon.

I have researched the departure of men in Solemn Vows from our community since 1885.​ Only 5 monks left from Solemn Vows between 1885 and 1940.​ Then a change occurred and men started leaving after Solemn Vows.​My analysis shows that the largest percentage of departures was from monks who made their Solemn Profession in the decade 1951-60.​ One third of monks making Solemn Profession in this decade eventually left monastic life.​My hypothesis is, therefore, that there was something wrong in monastic life in England, perhaps in the West, before the Second Vatican Council.​ This was a controversial hypothesis in my own community where the 1950s were regarded by many older brethren as the golden years from which we have now fallen away.

In this context it is helpful to read the four volumes of the Congressus Generalis de Statibus Perfectionis (First General Congress of the States of Perfection), which was held in1950.​ This Congress considering Religious Life describes many of the issues which are by convention associated with the years following the Second Vatican Council.​ By way of a few examples it describes the intrusion of the world into the cloister and into the cell, the refusal by religious to account for the expenditure of money, and a personalist account of obedience in which the superior has to earn the respect of the monk or nun before obedience to instructions follows.​I suggest that the General Congress of 1950 makes it clear that religious life in the Catholic Church was already in ferment in the 1940s: in this respect my own community was simply part of a more widespread picture.


It is interesting that Dom Cuthbert says that he has considering

1. The abuse of children by priest monks.

2. The departure of monks with solemn vows.

The day after his election four monks were arrested.

And it’s interesting that he points out the problems of the 1940s and 1950s rather the 1960s.



It is now 78 days, over 11 weeks since Purcelk was reported to his abbot general, Father Imnediate and Phonsie.


This is the RCC way.

Jesus wept!