Tuesday, 15 May 2018

The St Mary’s Subsistence Appeal

The St Mary’s Subsistence Appeal

This is an urgent call for funds for the Benedictine Community of Farnborough Abbey. By St Michael's Abbey Trust

Apparently they are unable to cover their "humble" living requirements! 

They need to renovate some cells. Apparently some already renovated have en-suite exactly like the one pictured here!

Perhaps Abbot Cuthbert Brogan should cut back on his trips to Eastern Europe and elsewhere if they are so hard up?

One feels sorry for any household experiencing financial difficulty and the intense distracting disturbance that causes. Many households are going through such times, but not many live the lifestyle of the Farnborough monks and especially the Abbot himself! One might have more sympathy if, after a return to genuine stability and primitive observance, they are still struggling, but right now, brass neck does not even cover it! I think it is ordinary people in the struggle of their everyday that live a real austere life. As things stand this appeal is an insult and I hope few literally buy into it!

Monday, 19 March 2018

Extraordinary Ordinary V Ordinary Extraordinary

Cardinal Keith O' Brien has died R.I.P. When Mau died, The Dalai Lama discouraged celebration. Jesus would have too, encouraging us to pray for our enemies. I would not wish to cause any further pain to anyone hurt by O'Brien but with the previous examples in mind, we should now pray for him. This in no way seeks to imply that those hurt shouldn't have had justice in seeing him removed from high office or that anyone yet to come forward shouldn't have their stories heard and cries for justice met. Yet according to today's SKY News "When the scandal peaked in 2013, he stepped down from his post as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh." so it would appear he had the conscience and honour to do the right thing and go, rather than to try and stick it out UNLIKE some we know!
How do the two match up?

 "Cardinal Keith O'Brien was alleged to have engaged in inappropriate activity involving four men - three serving priests and one former priest."

Abbot Cuthbert Brogan I know engaged in inappropriate activity with me, but let's for now, just leave it at the same "Alleged" level as the late Cardinal's.

"The allegations dated back to the 1980s."

Abbot Cuthbert Brogan began grooming me in autumn 1987 and elicited a sexual response by summer of 1988.

"When the scandal peaked in 2013, he stepped down from his post as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh."

Abbot Cuthbert Brogan over a year later has NOT stepped down.

"At the time, he said: "My sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal."

Abbot Cuthbert Brogan has made no public statement and in this respect his response is more typical and highlights perhaps that with his humiliation, the late Cardinal was prepared to take responsibility for his actions.

"He was succeeded, temporarily, by Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, who said the episode had damaged the "credibility and moral authority" of the church."

And Abbot Cuthbert Brogan's episode(s) ????

"After stepping down, Cardinal O'Brien retired from public life and moved to the north of England."

Abbot Cuthbert Brogan remains in situ and continues to attend public engagements.

"Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews and Edinburgh said: "In life, Cardinal O'Brien may have divided opinion.
"In death, however, I think all can be united in praying for the repose of his soul, for comfort for his grieving family and that support and solace be given to those whom he offended, hurt and let down"
"Support and solace be given to those whom he offended, hurt and let down!!??"
 With regard to Abbot Cuthbert Brogan....YEAH...Still Waiting...Waiting.... unless you mean nice letters from prelates without hierarchical authority and nothing from those that do!
"Catherine Deveney, the journalist who broke the story about Cardinal O'Brien's abusive behaviour, told Sky News: "On a human level, it's sad that he has died and we must have regard for his family and friends. "But we can't forget the serious issues within the Catholic Church that he represents. His behaviour was a symptom of corruption in an organisation that lost its way.
"I would never criticise him for being gay or for his own lifestyle choices, but the hypocrisy of saying one thing publicly and doing another privately is an abuse of power that's symptomatic of a wider abuse in the Catholic Church."
This final paragraph, not surprisingly, is as appropriate with regard to Abbot Cuthbert Brogan as it was to The Late Cardinal Keith O'Brien R.I.P.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Holding Space

It's always comforting and encouraging to receive messages of support and I would like to express my profound thanks for them! I will use this particular blog post to chronicle all such correspondence (after first seeking permission / redacting / editing etc), so please check back for updates.

Dear Tom,
I wanted to drop you a short email. I came across your story when I was looking online after a visit to Farnborough to visit the Imperial Vault on a Saturday afternoon tour. (I’m gay, Catholic). I’m a history nerd so I enjoyed my visit, though I was struck by the decay in the place and by how much nature was taking over. Something didn’t add up either and I felt a bit strange about the young overseas monk in the gift shop who could hardly take his eyes off his computer screen. I was therefore not entirely surprised when I read your story which, though it may make no difference, I believe implicitly.
Though I can remember being 18+, gay and the pressures that such an orientation created in those days, with a layer of religion on top, and I remember the enthusiasm with which I entered into a long term relationship at university. I can see therefore how unhealthy the situation might have been for you and how the culture at Farnborough may have allowed for spiritual and physical/sexual manipulation which was not right. I’m sorry that this seems to have had such a lasting effect upon you and, though it may be against the teaching of the Church, I hope that you are ultimately able to find a spiritual and physical relationship in which you are happy - or be at peace with the fact that you do not. Abuse of any kind, particularly by those who are themselves damaged or in a position of power, is wrong.

I just wanted to write, without being presumptuous, to say that you are right to tell the Church authorities how you feel about Abbot Cuthbert and the harm you feel he has done to you. The way you’ve been ignored is shameful by men of the Church who, even if they did not want to get involved with something outside their remit or authority, should have reached out with some compassion. Abbot Anselm certainly showed this; what an indictment that others did not.

Unfortunately in the last fortnight I have been contacted by somebody else new, who has been deeply traumatised by their association with Abbot Cuthbert Brogan! Though managing to get on with their life, it has not left them and becoming aware of our campaign though in many ways re-traumatising, will, please God, be the start of a more cathartic process of healing.
Of course Abbot Cuthbert Brogan could hasten this healing by, of his own volition, stepping down as Abbot, leaving Farnborough Abbey, making a wholehearted public apology and committing himself to a life of prayer and penance as an ordinary monk in another monastery, assuming no criminal case be ever proved in which case he may well have to swap a monastic cell for a prison cell!
I'll finish this post with an appeal to any men / friends & family of any men, especially young men, thinking of trying their vocation at St. Michaels Abbey, Farnborough....Please Don't!

Not yet......

Sunday, 7 January 2018

De uno anno

During the late autumn of 2017 it was suggested on +Pat's "Thinking Catholicism" blog:

"Anonymous12 November 2017 at 11:26
Tom, did you consider contacting the Abbot Visitor for the English Province of the Subiaco-Cassinese Congregation, Abott Anselm Atkinson, Pluscarden Abbey, Elgin, Moray, Scotland IV30 8UA? Tel: 01343 890257. Email: monks@pluscardenabbey.org

Or the Abbot Primate OSB, Abbot Gregory Polan, Sant’ Anselma, Piazza dei Cavaliere di Malta 5, 1-00153, Roma. Italia. +39065.791267. abate@anselmianum.com
-----Original Message-----
From: Pluscarden Abbey <monks@pluscardenabbey.org>
To: Abbot Anselm Atkinson
Sent: Mon, 13 Nov 2017 10:15
Subject: Fwd: Abbot President Subiaco - Cassinese Congregation OSB

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Tom Wood <tgwood9@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Nov 13, 2017 at 12:06 AM
Subject: Re: Abbot President Subiaco - Cassinese Congregation OSB
To: monks@pluscardenabbey.org

PS: Prayers and good wishes for a speedy recovery as I read online that you have been very unwell.

On 13 November 2017 at 00:03, Tom Wood <tgwood9@gmail.com> wrote:
Dear Abbot Anselm, It was recently asked of me, had I emailed you as English province visitor? In checking I realise I was remiss. Please may I now include you in this correspondence.

 Kind Regards,

 Tom Wood.

to me
Dear Tom,

Please pardon the delay in answering your e-mail. And thank you for your prayers. As you note, I have been unwell but am on the mend.

Certainly you may include me in your correspondence with our Abbot President. I note that it would not be appropriate for me to actively enter into a matter that is in the hands of my own Superior (the Abbot President), so I shall not contribute any comments of my own.

With all best wishes,

Abbot Anselm

Tom Wood tgwood9@gmail.com

Dear Abbot Anselm,

 Dear Father, there is absolutely no need to apologise!

It was a huge consolation to me that I should receive your reply in only a week. In truth, I did not think I would receive a reply. Not to impugn your integrity you understand, but as you may have noted, it is between 7 and 10 months that I wrote to The Abbot President and then to the congregation for religious and The Abbot Primate and I have received no response from any of them, so your reply means a lot.

 I am glad to hear you are on the mend and might I add how much I enjoyed watching your community on the TV recently. Your bells have a harmony that truly extends beyond the aesthetic.

 Kind Regards,


Abbot Anselm Atkinson.

Forwarded conversation
Subject: Abbot President Subiaco - Cassinese Congregation OSB------------------------

From: Tom Wood <tgwood9@gmail.com>
Date: 9 January 2017 at 22:46To: s.ambrogio@tiscali.it

Dear Abbot Guillermo Arboleda Tamayo OSB,

 Regarding Dom Cuthbert Brogan OSB Abbot Of Farnborough.

My name is Tom Wood and I was clothed and simply professed at Farnborough UK, during 1988 / 89, becoming, until dispensation, Dom Thomas Wood OSB, sharing my novitiate with the current Abbot.

For many years I believed that Dom Cuthbert and I were peers who fell short of our commitment to celibacy, but whereas I wanted to leave, he wanted to stay. I therefore saw it as my duty to protect him from any scandal within my gift, which I did. I now with the benefit of my years, see things very differently and believe my self to have been sexually manipulated by this man and not just sexually abused but damaged in my adult development in a way that has scarred my life, particularly in my difficulty to form close relationships or to clearly perceive my sexuality.
 All this I would have tried to offer up, were I to see Dom Cuthbert as a humble penitent Man, quietly working to edify and grow his monastic house. I could even accept that he might have become a beloved and respected superior, father in Christ.

 Unfortunately I have found a vain, self promoting, narcissistic man who rather than grow his community has brought it to nigh extinction! He travels the world photographing himself fine dining and seeing the sights. His 19th century religious practices belong in a museum. And to top it all he presumably has charge of the formation of young monks and has demonstrated no conversion of life, in fact his worldly obsessions demonstrate the exact opposite! One has to consider that he may have and may be continuing to hurt others as he hurt me.

 I have written the experience as best I remembered it here:

Please remove this Man from office and replace him with a devout man and give Farnborough a chance to recover and once more be an apostolate of faith, hope and charity, a beacon in the community and by it's presence, location and liturgy succour the souls of those who walk in it's grounds and live and worship within it's once again hallowed walls.

 Kindest Regards,

 Tom Wood.

Dear Reverend Gentlemen,

 Over three months ago I emailed the Subiaco - Cassinese Abbot President, a copy of which is forwarded here.
 I am disappointed to have received no response. Portsmouth Diocese have informed me that it is not a safeguarding matter for them and the UK Police, Hampshire Constabulary, confirm that in respect of Dom Cuthbert's involvement with myself, no crimes have been committed, however if you agree with my belief that Dom Cuthbert in seeking or not ruling himself unsuitable for high office demonstrates a lack of penitence and conversion of life, perhaps it is within your gift to remedy the situation and ensure that he no longer has any overall responsibility for the formation of novices / monks or as far as possible, from causing spiritual harm to anyone at all. I have been informed that Abbot Cuthbert's "Extraordinary" status may suggest that his religious superior is La Congregazione per gli Istituti di Vita Consacrata e le Società di Vita apostolica and not knowing which department I should address, have copied you all in and also the Abbot Primate of The Benedictine Confederation of Congregations.

Thank you in advance for giving this matter your serious attention.

 Yours Sincerely,

 Tom Wood.

(If you are unable to access my full story on facebook, here is another location.
The Vatican.

Tom Wood tgwood9@gmail.com

to s.ambrogio, abate, ufficiovitacon., vitamonastica, governoistituti, disciplina, approvazioneis.
Dear Reverend Gentlemen,

 Between seven and ten months have elapsed since I contacted you. It was recently suggested to me that I should have contacted The Abbot Of Pluscarden as he is English Province Visitor. This I have done and he kindly responded to me about one week later. As you can read, he is unwilling to comment as the matter is in the hands of your good selves and / or The Abbot President. Are we correct in that understanding?
I was touched and pleasantly surprised to receive Abbot Anselm's reply as I had not expected one.


 Tom Wood.

 Abbot Guillermo.
Abbot Gregory Polan.

Abate Primate abate@anselmianum.com

to me, s.ambrogio, ufficiovitacon., vitamonastica, governoistituti, disciplina, approvazioneis.
Dear Mr. Wood,

Greetings of peace from Sant’Anselmo in Rome. As you may or may not know, the office of the Abbot Primate is not the same as that of the Abbot General of an Order or Congregation. I do not have the power or the responsibility of intervene in such cases as you mention in your e-mail. However, I want to comment that I am very sorry for your painful and hurtful experience, while a monk at Farnborough. It is very sad for me to hear of such experiences, especially when the pain continues to fester in your life. Truly, I am sorry for your deep pain and lasting hurt.

It is the Abbot President of the Congregation to whom you should be in contact, and I note that he is listed among your correspondents. I know Abbot Guillermo as a good and honest man. I do not know if he has looked into this matter you describe below; he carries a heavy load as Abbot President of the Subiaco-Cassinese Congregation with several provinces.

I close this note with prayer for the healing grace of Christ to come into your heart, to bring some resolution to your situation, and find the peace which all of us look for in our pilgrimage through this earthly life.

Sincerely in Christ,
Abbot Gregory Polan, OSB
Abbot Primate

Tom Wood tgwood9@gmail.com

to Abate, s.ambrogio
Dear Abbot Gregory,

 Thank you for your email.

"Especially when the pain continues to fester in your life."

Why wouldn't it?

 I was totally unprepared for someone like Cuthbert Brogan, it's just a shame that the same was probably true of the community! By accident or design they mistook charisma for narcissism! Given that I may have become the inclusive liberal that I am today anyway, at the time I was, before Cuthbert's influence, trying to keep faithful to Church teaching and intent on exploring intimacy with my brethren as a celibate. I describe in my account an incident early on which was challenging and which I felt more integrated after reflection. My strength and shield was my self esteem and my piety. Cuthbert acted out exaggerated  poses of Saintly images and generally ridiculed my piety whilst at the same time filling my head with stories of gay life. With my piety gone and with it my self esteem I was then dependant on him for my identity...

 Perhaps you might advocate on my behalf with the man you vouch for, Abbot Guillermo?

"I close this note with prayer for the healing grace of Christ to come into your heart, to bring some resolution to your situation, and find the peace which all of us look for in our pilgrimage through this earthly life"

 Ultimately I aim to focus with the mystics that "All Is Well" which is where for me, forgiveness abides, however as you rightly point out, we are journeying together on this earthly pilgrimage and there are temporal matters that God will attend to, but if we would follow His Son, shouldn't we be attentive to the cry's of the dispossessed for justice?

 I understand that Cuthbert as chair of the trustees that in effect own St. Michaels, physically removing him might not be possible, but The Church could and should remove it's canonical status as a Benedictine Abbey and laicize Abbot Cuthbert or give him the choice of becoming a simple monk in a foreign house.

 I would like to say that a public apology would suffice, but it's the fear that others may have been hurt and that the potential exists for others to be hurt that strengthens my resolve to implore that he must be put genuinely beyond harms way.
My blog is not enough, it goes some way in that anyone considering going there may be forewarned and forearmed, but unless The Church officially acts to sanction him, I can be credibly dismissed.


Tom Wood.

(Copy to Abbot President)

Abate Primate

to me

Dear Tom,

I am presently “on the road” and will return on Saturday evening. I will make it a point to talk to Abbot President Guillermo about your situation. 

I can hear the deep pain in your writing, and again, I can only express my sorrow and sadness for this profound distress you experience. I promise you a remembrance in my prayer.

Sincerely in Christ,
Abbot Gregory

Tom Wood tgwood9@gmail.com

to Abate
Dear Abbot Gregory,

Thank You!
Nothing from the "Good & Honest" Abbot Guillermo, meanwhile at Farnborough Abbey, life would appear to be carrying on as normal!