J.R.R. Tolkien’s priest son a focus of UK abuse inquiry in Birmingham archdiocese [In-Depth]
St. Chad Cathedral in Birmingham, England. (Credit: Tony Hisgett/CC BY 2.0 via Flickr)
LEICESTER, United Kingdom — Allegations of abuse lodged against Father John Tolkien, son of Lord of the Rings creator J.R.R. Tolkien, were discussed on Monday and Tuesday by a British government inquiry into abuse into the Archdiocese of Birmingham.
The priest, who died in 2003, was accused of making a group of boys strip naked during a camping trip in the 1950s, as well as abusing a child seeking help with his reading skills.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse is this week examining the Archdiocese of Birmingham’s response to historic allegations made against several priests, including Tolkien.
The inquiry was established by the British Home Office — which oversees similar areas as the U.S. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security — but is independent and does not answer to the government.
The panel recently released a report on serial abuse in two Catholic prep schools in the north of England.
Birmingham Archbishop Bernard Longley will be testifying before the inquiry this week; Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, who headed the Birmingham archdiocese from 2000-2009, became ill at a Remembrance Sunday event and will not be able to offer testimony.
During his time as Archbishop of Birmingham, Nichols paid out several settlements for alleged victims of Tolkien, who consistently denied the charges against him.