Salford Bishop apology over St Bede's school abuse
- 15 March 2011
- From the section Manchester
The Bishop of Salford has apologised over allegations of sexual abuse at a leading Manchester Catholic grammar school during the 1950s and 60s.
Former pupils of St Bede's College, which became independent of the Salford diocese in the mid-1970s, have reported abuse by Monsignor Thomas Duggan.
The allegations against the priest, who died in 1968, are being investigated by the Catholic Safeguarding Commission.
The Bishop said he was "deeply sorry for the pain and distress reported".
Allegations made by 57 former pupils include reports that Monsignor Duggan ordered boys to strip before caning and touching them at the school on Alexandra Road, Whalley Range.
Monsignor Duggan was Rector of the school and was senior to the headmaster, responsible for setting the curriculum and discipline.
Bishop of Salford Terence Brain said: "I am shocked and saddened by the complaints from some former pupils of St Bede's College which have been brought to the attention of our Safeguarding Commission.
"The complaints have been made against the late Monsignor Thomas Duggan and relate to the period of time from the 1950s to the mid-1960s, when St Bede's was a diocesan school.
"Although it is not suggested that there was a culture of institutional abuse at St Bede's, nevertheless the abusive behaviour which has been reported has no place within the Catholic Church.
"I acknowledge and am deeply sorry for the pain and distress reported to have been suffered by those affected."
Singer and comedian Mike Harding was a pupil during the period and was beaten by Monsignor Duggan, but not sexually abused.
He has accused the Bishop of not making a full apology.
"It's just disgusting that the diocese won't bring itself to make a a fulsome apology and that the Bishop will only refer to it as 'reported' abuse in his statement," said Mr Harding.
"Everybody knew that if you were sent to Duggan you were going to get felt up and beaten.
"People say 'why didn't boys tell their parents?' But you've got to understand the level of obeyance to priests that Catholics had in Manchester during that period.
"It was incredibly powerful and Duggan would tell them that they either take a beating and whatever else he wanted to do to them or they were expelled - and nobody could face telling their parents they'd been expelled."
Victims who have not yet come forward have been urged by the Bishop to contact the Diocese.