Belfast Telegraph

Priest told orphan boy: You are the product of an evil and Satanic relationship

By Michael McHugh

A priest told a former resident of a Church-run children's home that he was the product of an evil and Satanic relationship, an inquiry has heard.

The son of an unmarried mother, the boy lay soaked in urine at night in an attempt to dissuade sexual abusers from "dropping the hand", he told the hearing.

He became a zombie, introverted and fearing the next beating, he said.

He lived at St Joseph's in Termonbacca, Londonderry, run by the Sisters of Nazareth order of Catholic nuns, in the 1950s after being born in abject poverty and abandoned by his parents.

The child was later placed in a dormitory full of youngsters crying for their mothers.

"It would break your heart, you would have to have a heart of steel and cement. I used to join in crying. I had not a clue what 'mammy' meant," he recalled.

The former resident complained about his treatment to a priest after leaving the home.

The response was: "You must never speak about this, you must understand... you and the other orphans are b******s. You are the product of an evil and Satanic relationship. You never had a chance."

The witness said: "That was the day I left the Catholic Church."

The treatment of children in Church-run residential homes is a key concern of the investigation being held in Banbridge, Co Down. It is chaired by retired judge Sir Anthony Hart and is considering cases in 13 residential institutions between 1922, the foundation of Northern Ireland, and 1995.

The witness said: "The truth is setting me free today more than this commission knows. I have come here to tell the truth and as I am reaching out, I am reaching out in healing and trying to forgive, but at this moment I cannot.

"I have waited 65 years to say this. When I was reared by the Sisters of the Congregation of Nazareth it was equivalent to being reared by the Taliban, such was their sadism, their lack of empathy, their fundamentalism, their lack of dignity to the little helpless boy," he said. He was known as '10b'.

"I was truly a feral child, an introverted child. When I came back from school I would be at the window on my own for hour after hour, night after night. I never played as a child," he told the inquiry.

He attended school with the opposite sex. It was also run by nuns, who warned the girls not to speak to "filthy" boys.

"The girls would look down on us like we were nothing," he said.

He wore ragged and inadequate clothing, and claimed lying in pyjamas saturated in urine had left him with a medical condition.

The witness recalled visits of the bishop, his Pope-like gestures and exhortations to pray for the conversion of the Russians, while the boy's immediate aim was wetting the bed to make him less attractive to sexual predators, even though it exposed him to public humiliation. "If I didn't wet the bed, which was very unusual, it was my belief that, what sexual abuser would want to drop the hand or abuse a child that was saturated in their own urine?"

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