PJ Smyth’s Open Letters – A Work in Progress

By | February 7, 2017

My therapist likes to keep thing simple, which is useful for me. She tells me that there is a triangle in abuse: the ‘abuser’, the ‘victims’ and the ‘observers’ (observers are people who knew but never reported appropriately). I personally find it quite easy to think about John Smyth, the abuser. The victims too. But considering the observers is much, much more difficult. Technically speaking, as a victim, I am ‘excused’ from being an observer (no matter how much I feel like one) but the observers in the John Smyth case include my closest family, everyone who has supported me throughout the years.

They also include all the individuals in all the institutions who also know the story but did not report appropriately. Mark Ruston, your friend, in 1982, when he wrote his report in 1982 became an observer because he wrote that he believed that a criminal act had been committed and he was one of the many people, almost 35 years ago, who failed to report to the police. A decision that had terrible consequences. But a particularly well-informed one.

You, archbishop are also an observer. How and when you became one I know that you will want to tell me. And here’s the difficulty about being an observer. You have to ask yourself. “I knew about John Smyth. I become aware about some of the things that this abuser did, I have ‘observed’ them. Can I look myself in the mirror and honestly say that I did everything I could to report to the correct authority all the things that I knew? Did I give the people who might bring the abuser to justice every scrap of information that they might need? And, if I didn’t, then thinking very carefully about this – whose side have I been on, all this time? The side of the victims. Or the side of the abuser?”

It’s a very troubling position to find yourself in. I totally understand this and that was why, when Cathy Newman interviewed me after the showing of Channel 4’s second news report, I said on camera that I wanted to give you some time to reconsider the statements that you’ve made. I’d like to believe that you will find somewhere where you can be alone, without the advice of anyone else other than your own conscience and God. And when you have decided that you would like to talk, I’m now actually thinking that it’s not really important that we meet. In fact, there’s no reason for us to meet at all. Better not to. Because I know that everything that you tell me, you would happily say to the whole world.

Best wishes, and as we victims of John Smyth are always saying to each other – ‘I hope you’re okay’.
The Telegraph (Link)

Dear PJ Smyth: Can you look yourself in the mirror and honestly say you did everything you could to expose John Smyth?

“You, [PJ Smyth]  are also an observer. How and when you became one I know that you will want to tell me. And here’s the difficulty about being an observer. You have to ask yourself. “I knew about John Smyth. I become aware about some of the things that this abuser did, I have ‘observed’ them. Can I look myself in the mirror and honestly say that I did everything I could to report to the correct authority all the things that I knew? Did I give the people who might bring the abuser to justice every scrap of information that they might need? And, if I didn’t, then thinking very carefully about this – whose side have I been on, all this time? The side of the victims. Or the side of the abuser?”

PJ Smyth has now published three “Open Letters.”  He has yet to speak truthfully. You can expect there will be at least one additional “Open Letter,” perhaps more. In due time the truth will be revealed. We shall see just how “firmly committed to reporting any form of child abuse to the authorities” PJ has been.

“If religion cannot tell the truth about itself, it has nothing to say. Hypocrisy – professing one thing and performing the opposite – is the greatest moral violation. In approaching the crisis of clergy abuse, truth must be the preeminent goal. Truth – wherever found, however discovered, whatever it exposes – must be the agenda for any exploration of abuse by clergy. Anything that impedes unflinching directness, honesty, or clear unambiguous communication and confrontation of the facts will perpetuate the secret system in which abuse can continue and flourish.

All concerned citizens have a stake in the honesty of religious leaders. They should be a moral and cultural resource. Religion needs the help of all concerned women and men. Everyone is victimized by a system that fosters or tolerates abuse. It is not unholy or unseemly to be vitally interested in the performance of moral leaders. If religion was taught anything by the German holocaust of the Jews it is that standing by silently does not absolve from guilt. Institutional structures and behaviors are not above question or challenge.”
A.W. Richard Sipe, “Sex, Priests and Power,” page 45

 

 

“I wanted to give you some time to reconsider the statements that you’ve made. I’d like to believe that you will find somewhere where you can be alone, without the advice of anyone else other than your own conscience and God. And when you have decided that you would like to talk, I’m now actually thinking that it’s not really important that we meet. In fact, there’s no reason for us to meet at all. Better not to. Because I know that everything that you tell me, you would happily say to the whole world.

Best wishes, and as we victims of John Smyth are always saying to each other – ‘I hope you’re okay’.”

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[…] In the meantime, here is Todd Wilhelm’s latest post PJ Smyth’s Open Letters – A Work in Progress […]

Andy Morse

Many thanks for posting my Open Letter to the Archbishop at the top of this article and writing about the John Smyth abuse and taking part in the discussion. We (John Smyth survivors) think you might be interested to see the messages and short videos we have posted on Twitter @AndyMorseUK which reflect some of our opinions on the Church and Justin Welby’s involvement in our ‘story’.

Please see a new article citing credible sources indicating that PJ Smyth has known about the allegations of committing criminal acts, facing his father, for decades.

PJ Smyth Has Known About His Father’s Alleged Crimes For Decades

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Dee

Todd/Janna

Is PJ here on a green card?

Christian

“I can think a number of reasons. He is lying to cove his butt. He is lying to protect his father. He is lying because he is now in the States and could be deported if he is found to have covered a crime.
PJ is sinner just like everyone else, including me and you.”

I agree. However, if PJ really is lying about what he knew and when, he has placed himself in an extremely vulnerable position. He claims to know nothing about any of his father’s alleged crimes, not now or at any other time. All it takes to disprove this is one person’s testimony to the contrary, or just one photo, or one document of some sort. He would easily be proven to be a liar. It seems to me he would have chosen a response that would allow plenty of room to maneuver if he were in fact lying.

I grieve deeply for the victims of this abuse and I pray that justice would be served quickly and to the fullest extent. I will continue to pray for the whole truth to be made known and healing for the victims.

Christian

I have read here on this blog that PJ’s published statements have changed. Can anyone here elaborate on this? Did he change, or did he add further detail, did he clarify? I am not seeing the changes….
Thank you

Christian

I respect the perspectives and opinions of all here and I am only after the truth, as I know you all are as well.

If PJ’s open letter proves to be false, then he must/will be dismissed and CLC may very well then close doors. That is how critical this moment is. But why would PJ put himself in this position? Why publish a cover-up letter right off the bat? Why not truthfully tell what he saw and heard and then explain his response to what he saw and heard in a way that demonstrates his innocence?

Sure seems as though a curious, bright 10/12+ year old would have seen and heard something of what was going on in his own backyard. Surely he must have spoken to somebody about it. Later on, he had to have known that his father was arrested in connection to the death of a boy that he knew. It seems so obvious that PJ would have known something. And yet, right away he denies knowing anything about any of it. Why would he do this? What is the truth?

If PJ’s open letter proves to be true, then what would be the follow-up here on this blog? I ask this because there is a post in the archives here on this blog regarding a Mr Caffrey, whose case has been dismissed by a judge. There is no mention of this on his post. This does not mean that he is innocent, but maybe it does?

Deana Holmes

John Smyth was acting in uncomfortable/borderline unacceptable ways up until quite recently:

(quote from “Church-on-Main” in South Africa)
In a statement given to Channel 4 News, which originally broke the story about Smyth’s alleged sadism, the church said some members of its congregation had raised “worrying concerns” about Smyth last September.

It said Smyth made a practice of meeting young men at a local sports club for a game of squash, which was “followed by a shower in a common shower, then lunch over which we were told [Smyth] would make generally unsolicited enquiries about the young men’s experience of pornography, masturbation and other sexual matters.”

Smyth was “offering his advice regarding sexual matters that left the person feeling uncomfortable,” the church added.

Complaints had also been made about Smyth’s “heavy-handed style of leadership”.

(end quote, from https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/feb/09/john-smyth-accused-of-heavy-handed-leadership-at-cape-town-church )

There’s more at the link.

anonymous

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/04/exclusive-archbishop-canterburys-friend-admitted-parents-showered/

“To this end we use Christian names all round, the younger leaders sleep in the dormitories with their campers, and we all (including myself from time to time) have our showers with the boys.”

“We must, however, have good discipline and experience has shown that with so many high-spirited boys we need some form of sanction. I never cane the boys, but I do whack them with a table tennis bat when necessary.

“Such are the opportunities for pranks that I sometimes have to use this fairly liberally to deter high-spirited naughtiness and to ensure obedience and reasonable standards of tidiness.” John Smyth

see
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christian

“So, I guess you could call it all incredible coincidence? He gets out of Africa and runs to the US and suddenly everything is getting international attention?”

As far as timing is concerned, PJ Smyth had no control over the length of time it took to obtain his visa.

Dee

Now I know where the song is coming from. I had your post opening a tab all day and whenever I turned on the sound I kept hearing this song. I kept shutting all my tabs and it kept playing. Boy, am I slow. Perfect song, BTW.

Christian

“I also don’t think that PJ Smyth had any serious interest in running a disreputable Church in the United States until he realized that he might face charges for allegedly helping his father cover up child abuse in the United Kingdom.”

I believe that you have no facts to support this claim.

Deana Holmes

Channel 4 (UK) news had another story about John Smyth tonight, with more evidence garnered from his stay in Zimbabwe. There was also an interview with the Zimbabwean prosecutor who would have brought John Smyth up on charges, but for some (what I would call) shenanigans. And, finally, the report ends with an unnamed daughter of John Smyth stating that her father should leave Cape Town and face the charges piling up against him in Zimbabwe and the UK.

Funny how we’re not hearing anything from PJ in the press.

https://www.channel4.com/news/exclusive-more-church-abuse-revelations

Concerned

I find it hard to observe bloggers brutally circling ‘observers.’ On a scale, you will probably find that observers in this context are also ‘victims’ albeit to a lesser degree. It is likely that ‘to have observed’ was a traumatic enough event in its own right to have caused denial, psychological blocking. Especially in the case of a son / father. Your line toward Pete Smyth risks more damage to a good man’s life and exceptional ministry than it does good to society. By all means, let the weight of the law take its course against perpetrators of horrific abuse, but the inferences you are seemingly intent on drawing are rather brutal.

The juvenile song at the end – a small window into where your heart truly lies – sensation and stirring.