Frank McGinnis 1952-2019

Frank McGinnis – Rest In Peace

Our friend and colleague, Frank McGinnis, who was at Mirfield from 1964 to 1967 passed away on June 7th 2019. He, along with 11 others of us, was a Core Participant in Theresa May’s Abuse Panel. His daughters, Lee and Clare want to keep on fighting for justice on his behalf. I was going to write a eulogy to him myself as he was my best friend at Mirfield. However, I couldn’t put it better than his two daughters who read out the eulogies at his funeral in Largs Crematorium. Here they are:-

Lee’s Eulogy to her Dad


I have been staring at this piece of paper for the last week struggling to find the words I need to say.  I still haven’t found them.

I could stand here for hours and share the memories we have but it’s too painful for me to even think about at the moment.  All I can say is this.  You have been the best dad.  We are so proud to have had you as a dad, papa, husband, brother, uncle and friend.  You provided us with the most wonderfully enriched lives.

You always said it was luck that things worked out for you in life but it was obvious to anyone who knew you that it took great skill to achieve what you did by not playing their game.  You were a genius who studied the rules meticulously so that you could break them effectively.  The world is a poorer place without you.

Bedtime Stories

Your role as provider was important but it was working on our minds that mattered to you – telling us the most amazing stories at bedtime straight out of your head about the wee magic box and the magic ice-cream van and later, to Jayden, the Felix the cat stories.  Then as we got older it was political discussions we had into the early hours.  Trying to solve the world’s problems.  And you could have done it dad.

The McGinnis Family

Your family meant the world to you.  You knew each of us so completely and utterly and you had the ability to adapt for each of us to whatever our needs were – cars, money, Celtic, boyfriend/husband drama, homework – you were there at every step.  You were our best friend and we are lost without you.

When I was wee you left to go work on the ships for months at a time and I remember just going and sitting under the table crying and I wouldn’t come out.  I have always had that same feeling being apart from you.  No more so than now.

Daddy’s Girl

I was a daddy’s girl and followed you everywhere, lying underneath motors with you and asking you endless questions.  Then Clare appeared with her strong will and rebellious streak.  You were secretly pleased when she stood up to you.  She was so similar to you with her strong convictions and you were so proud.  Andrew was so laidback you just thought he was the best wee guy.  Not a bit of bother.  Only when Celtic bitterly disappointed him did you need to comfort him.  You couldn’t have been prouder when he achieved his first-class degree in Law.

Grandson Jayden

In 2003 your grandson Jayden came along and dominated your life completely.  He followed you everywhere too and words can’t describe how much this wee guy meant to you.  He was your life.  In just 16 years you have imparted so much wisdom and knowledge to him that should keep him going a lifetime.  You were only 67 and we should have had many more years with you but the quality of the time we have spent with you provides some form of comfort.

The Happiest Times

The last few years were some of our happiest times.  You and mum had become the best of friends again, helped in no small part by the wee dug, Bella, who is missing you so much dad!  You were besotted with her and the feeling was mutual.  Your sons-in-law Jamie and Greg and your, for all intents and purposes, daughter-in-law Caroline loved you so much as did your wee surrogate son Alan.  You could not have been more loved dad.

I will miss that warm feeling I would get when I would see you arriving at my house and that pang I would get in my heart when I would watch you walk up the steps to your front door.  We will miss you every single day dad.  None of these words convey the depth of this loss we now feel.

Clare’s Eulogy to Her Dad

Our dad was our hero – always there when we needed him and that was often. We shared love laughter and tears.  He taught us what is right and wrong from his innate moral compass.  Our dad hated cruelty and abuse of power. He always advocated on behalf of anyone who was a victim of any abuse of power, the poor, the abused, those treated unjustly by a system designed to keep power in the hands of those who wield that power for themselves and we will continue that fight.

A Master of Words and Wit

We have the tools but we were not finished learning from the master. And he was a master. He was a wordsmith with a wit that could destroy anyone. Strong, full of love and we knew everyday how lucky we were to have that man as our dad, the kettle always on and a willing ear after a hard day. I was so grateful as I see everyday in my job what not having that safety net can do to kids.

We know what we’ve lost.  My dad understood what was important in life. Family. So not for him any deathbed regrets over how he spent his time.  A big part of us died that day and now Dad we hope that you were wrong and that there is more to all of this so we can all be together again when the time comes.




Sad News – Frank McGinnes’s death

hello everyone my name is brian mcginnis ….i just want to let you know my brother frank mcginnis passed away today june 7 2019 he died suddenly …he never forgot hiis time at mirfield or his friends….he kept the secrets of mirfield only admitting that bad things happened there….please remember him in your thoughts and at your reunions he was my brother and my best friend ….he never really talked about what happened there but i know he suffered while he was there ….i just hope he is at peace now …..if anyone wants to say a few words my e mail is

The Combonis have not reached the stage of needing to address the suffering of the victims of clerical abuse by their priests – they don’t want to, and they believe they don’t need to.

Gerry, It’s true, the dominoes are falling, but only for some.

For some that it falls for, it probably falls because they have realised (or been forced to act) that their failings and their apalling behaviour towards victims and survivors of clerical abuse is catching them up.They, therefore, have to say or do something to protect their image and financial status.

For other priests and orders I believe they want to change and support victims and survivors of clerical abuse and feel guilty at the way the victims have been treated, ignored and suffered for decades.

Unfortunately, I don’t think the Combonis have reached that stage of realisation. I doubt if they will. But, we live in hope, for ourselves and for our children and for many vulnerable children in the world.

It was only a couple of years ago that the superior and the vice superior of the most important house the Combonis have said to me: “you and your lot are all money grabbers” and “if you are waiting for an apology you will be waiting a long time and your wait will be in vain.” This is the attitude that many of the victims of cleracil abuse by religious orders are up against. They reach out to the Combonis and ask for dialogue and express their need to be listened to – and they get silence. A silence that revictimises them.

There has not been a rush from the Combonis to engage with the CSG after the recommendations of the recent February summit in Rome. Why is that? They don’t see the need to. And they don’t want to

It would seem, just like it was 25 years ago, we are an inconvenience to them.

The Italian Catholic Church and, hence, the Combonis are so interwovan with Italian politics – past and present – that , the most important and powerful order in Italy, the Combonis, can ignore abuse and all it has to do is remain silent, and use their obedience vow of omerta.



With Sex-Abuse Summit, Pope Francis Signals a ‘Pastoral’ Approach Father Raymond J. de Souza

With Sex-Abuse Summit, Pope Francis Signals a ‘Pastoral’ Approach
The Feb. 21-24 meeting takes the view that bishops who think as the Pope wishes them to think about their role as shepherds will then do the right thing in tackling sex abuse.

– Father Raymond J. de Souza

As the sex-abuse summit convenes Thursday in Rome, Pope Francis, for the sixth time in six years, will attempt to accelerate the pace and reach of the Church’s efforts to deal with sexual abusers and to protect minors. Those earlier efforts have, in fits and starts, raised both levels of frustration and expectation that this summit will have genuine results.

And as the summit opens, surprising criticism of the Holy Father’s record is coming from Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston, appointed by Pope Francis to head up the pontifical sex-abuse commission.

The Framework of Pope Francis

The summit will operate within a framework of the dominant themes established by Pope Francis. The official program, released Monday, has Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Philippines, speaking on the “smell of the sheep” and Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta addressing “the field hospital.” Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay, India, will speak on “collegiality” in a Church that is “sent out,” while Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago will address “synodality.”

The program puts an emphasis not on policies or procedures, let alone changes to canon law, but on a change in mentality by bishops. The favored themes of the Holy Father are to provide the new directions necessary for tackling sex abuse on a universal level.

The sex-abuse summit thus follows in the same line as the synods on the family and youth, where the emphasis shifted from specific questions of doctrine or moral teaching to the call for a new pastoral approach. The summit takes the view that bishops who think as Pope Francis wishes them to think about their role as shepherds will then do the right thing in tackling sex abuse.

Six Initiatives in Six Years

The summit is the sixth major initiative of Pope Francis on the sex-abuse file. And it opens with his chief lieutenant for sexual abuse, Cardinal O’Malley, expressing his frustration with the shortcomings of the previous five.
In 2013, the Holy Father established a papal commission to advise the Holy See on best practices. Last week, prominent articles appeared that gave voice to Cardinal O’Malley’s frustration, namely that the Holy Father hears the commission’s advice, accepts it, but does not follow through.

The frustration appears to be mutual. Cardinal O’Malley is conspicuously absent from the summit’s program, even though two of his colleagues on the “council of cardinals” — Cardinals Gracias and Reinhard Marx of Munich, Germany — are plenary speakers.

In January 2015, a new panel was set up within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) to hear appeals of sexual-abuse cases, supposedly to expedite matters. Archbishop Scicluna was put in charge. Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Cardinal O’Malley found the decisions of Archbishop Scicluna’s appellate panel to be a “scandal,” as it favored more lenient penalties. On the eve of the sexual-abuse summit, the Holy Father’s top adviser on sexual abuse was at odds with the Vatican’s “chief prosecutor.”
In June 2015, Pope Francis announced a new special tribunal in the CDF to judge cases when bishops were accused of “abuse of office.” The CDF was never consulted on the initiative, and, after its announcement, it was never implemented.

In June 2016, Pope Francis dropped the tribunal idea and instead issued new legislation that gave various departments of the Roman Curia responsibility for investigating and judging bishops who either abused their office or were negligent, especially in regard to sex abuse.
In 2018, on his return flight from Dublin, the Holy Father confirmed that the provisions of his own legislation were not being implemented either, as he had changed his mind and preferred to judge such cases himself, with the assistance of ad hoc panels set up by himself.

Also in 2018, Pope Francis sent Archbishop Scicluna to Chile to investigate the bishops there. After receiving his report, the Holy Father said that his repeated mistakes in Chile were the result of being “badly informed,” even though on crucial matters he had been asked by both the Chilean bishops and mass protests not to proceed.

As a consequence, the entire Chilean episcopate offered their resignations, eight of which were accepted, and two bishops have been dismissed from the clerical state.
In September 2018, after a horrific summer of sexual-abuse news in the United States, and after the complete fiasco of the Chile affair in the spring, the Holy Father announced the sex-abuse summit for February 2019. It is thus the sixth major initiative of the pontificate.
Cardinal O’Malley’s Criticism
Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Cardinal O’Malley complained at the highest levels in Rome that Archbishop Scicluna’s appeals panel had reduced the punishments of priests found guilty of abusing minors. There wasn’t zero tolerance, he claimed, despite the Holy Father advocating just that.
“If this gets out, it will cause a scandal,” the Journal quoted Cardinal O’Malley as telling Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state, and other Vatican officials, citing an unnamed person present during the meeting.

As for the processes to judge bishops, set up in 2015 and 2016 only to be abandoned almost immediately, Cardinal O’Malley told The Atlantic that, despite his detailed proposals, the Pope “was convinced to do it another way.”
“We’re still waiting for the procedures to be clearly articulated,” Cardinal O’Malley said. It was a devastating assessment of failure on the key issue of bishops’ accountability. After two official announcements going back four years, including one that was actually legislated, not even Cardinal O’Malley knows what the Holy Father intends to do. Bishops’ accountability will not be a key part of the summit this week.
It is not clear why Cardinal O’Malley, in the lead-up to the summit, would raise the fundamental questions he did. Yet it certainly indicates a frustration with the role of the commission he heads.
That the summit does not include him as a speaker, nor other commission members on its preparatory council, seems to confirm Cardinal O’Malley’s frustrations over a lack of follow-through.

Indeed, it may be that the commission itself has met the fate of the Holy Father’s other sex-abuse initiatives, which offered a bold beginning only to be abandoned later.

Father Raymond J. de Souza is the editor in chief of Convivium magazine.

By Brian Mark Hennessy of the Comboni CSA Survivor Group. The Undisclosed Nightmare of Abuse In Catholic Religious Institutes

The Undisclosed Nightmare of Abuse In Catholic Religious Institutes
By Brian Mark Hennessy of the Comboni CSA Survivor Group

1. When I was 12 years old a visiting preacher attended my school, gathered all the boys in an assembly, ranted on about the 6th Commandment and told us that we would all be burned in Hell for our ‘impurity’. I was stunned in fear. A group of us gathered later and asked what the 6th was all about. One of us said it was ‘adultery’. I drew the short straw on the Friday to confess first and when I said, in my innocence, that I had committed ‘adultery’, the priest roared at the top of his voice, ‘You must be mad’! In fear I jumped out of the confessional box and came face to face with the full school assembly looking at me in alarm. When I entered the Comboni Missionary seminary at Mirfield in Yorkshire, UK, just a year later, I went to sleep each night with my arms outstretched above the bed clothes saying the Rosary in fear that I might die in the night and go to Hell. Apart from the Catechism and prayers that I had learned by rote, that was the sum of my knowledge of Catholicism at the time.

2. Following an illness at the seminary which required a spell in hospital I was confined for two weeks by a priest, acting as Infirmarian, to a room adjacent to his. He visited me twice a day for two weeks, locked the door, told me to strip off and kneel on the edge of the bed. He kneeled in front of me to carry out ‘inspections’ to see if everything was ‘working properly’ after the invasive hospital endoscopic inspection. I now know that what he was doing is called ‘masturbation’. I was too embarrassed to watch at the time and looked straight ahead and I was unsuspecting – until one day something made me look down. I flinched in shock when I saw the sweat on his bald head, his red temples pumping blood and his eyes staring right into my eyes pleading for my complicity. The priest saw my reaction and immediately left, telling me to return to the dormitory.

3. In the last two decades, a group of some 24 ex-seminarians have claimed that they were victims of clerical abuse when they were minors at the hands of Comboni clerics at the Mirfield Seminary by members of the Comboni Missionary Order (also known as the Verona Fathers). It is accepted that the total number of alleged incidents of abuse will never be known for certain, but, by extrapolation from the statements made by both Victims and Witnesses, the number of those incidents of the sexual abuse of minors, each incident a “crime” in its own right, has been established to be in the region of 1,000 incidents in the period from the late 1950s to the early 1980s. No Inquiries to which the Victims were invited to give evidence was ever heard. No reports were made to the Local Constabulary regarding evidence of crimes against minors and nor were Welfare Authorities advised. It appears also that no action was taken in compliance with Canon Law which required the compulsory reporting to the Vatican of all offences against the 6th Commandment committed by clerics of the Catholic Church.

4. The Comboni Missionary Order was aware that abuse was taking place at the time of the abuse. Information from over 40 statements by Victims and Witnesses reveals that reports were made to priests of the Order on 26 occasions by Victims. The majority reaction by those priests to whom the abuse was reported was negative, ranging from stony silence to expulsion. Ultimately, due to extreme and consistent pressure from students and parents, one priest was “incardinated” to a parish in the Diocese of Como in Italy. Another was sent to Uganda where he was placed in charge of the Catholic Boy Scout Movement and a third was also transferred to Africa where he founded a school which became named after him. In their new appointments, each of them was allowed unmonitored and unfettered access to more minors.

5. In recent years, following civil legal actions, a string of statements were made to the Press by the UK Provincial of the Comboni Missionary Order, expressing great sadness and regret at the allegations ‘if’ they had happened. They suggested that given the passage of time of almost half a century, the truth of what happened will never be known and that there was no evidence of a culture of abuse at the Mirfield seminary. They stressed that the allegations alleged had taken place ‘an incredibly long time ago – and two of the priests who were accused are now deceased – and they simply don’t know what happened at Mirfield and don’t feel that it can be established now’. I, for one, do know that it happened – because it happened to me. Whilst responses are not the same for all those who have been abused by one that was implicitly trusted, there are always persistent, destructive effects that cast mental restraints upon their life and all interactions. These may not necessarily be self- acknowledged and may be harmfully suppressed. In others they flow demonstrably for all to see.

6. Despite attempts by some Combonis to deny the criminality of depraved Mirfield clerics, there were two priests of the Order alive (at the time allegations were raised) who were at Mirfield in that period of time and who did have knowledge of the abuse and have said so. The Comboni Order, nevertheless, has always ignored such unhelpful facts to their denials and has never admitted guilt for any of the offences that they know were reported and did occur. If they looked for the evidence, then they would find it, for their own Rules require that the Order must retain ‘in perpetuity’ all records of incidents of reported sexual abuse in their Secret Archives at both their Provincial Headquarters and their Curia in Rome. They neglected to do a search when I first raised issues about abuse with them and even suggested to me that the cleric concerned was old and was most probably already dead. Actually, he was still alive – and when he did die some years later, his passing was notified in one of their official documents for all to see. The Uk Provincial at the time had fended me off, but had he checked with the Rome Curia of the Order, where he had once himself worked, he would have known the full facts and his then current location.

7. Requests for dialogue and letters from Victims can remain unanswered. One was told by the current UK Provincial that if he rang him again he would be reported to the Police for harassment. Another priest of the Order contacted by a Survivor said that he could not talk to the Survivor ‘because his dinner was on the table and was going cold’. Yet another cleric of the Order, a past Superior General with an appointment at the Vatican, said to a Survivor who rang him, ‘I will listen to you, but I will not answer’! That same Survivor – who travelled to Italy to meet the priest (who had nightly abused him as 14 year old for a period of months) and who forgave that priest in an amicable meeting – was subsequently charged by the Combonis in the Criminal Court of Verona with trespassing, stalking and interfering in the life of the priest (who had abused him was he was a 14 year old child). The charge was thrown out by the Judge as being without any evidence at all – yet the Combonis appealed – and that Appeal was also quashed.

8. The Comboni Missionary Order has established a number of houses within Great Britain since the 1940s. They did so with the permission, as required by Canon Law, of the Bishops in whose dioceses they founded their establishments. The seminarians who attended the Mirfield Comboni Seminary were recruited from parishes within the dioceses of Great Britain. Still today, the Combonis make ‘Appeal’ collections in those parishes of those same dioceses for the upkeep of their establishments and missions. Mirfield seminarians who left the Combonis after suffering abuse returned to the same diocesan parishes whence they came and some remain parishioners today. Thus, the British Diocesan Hierarchy has a hold over the Comboni Missionary Order, despite their separate Canonical structures, and they are perfectly well entitled, under Canon Law, to seek to rescind their permission for the Combonis to continue their existence within these British shores. Despite the Bishops’ ‘magnificence’ in the hierarchical structure of the ancient Catholic edifice, they appear to tremble to do so.

9. Vatican II asked for greater co-operation between Diocesan Bishops and Religious Superiors for the ‘good of the Church’. Some Bishops and Provincial Superiors – who under Canon Law each share an equivalent status as ‘Juridical and Territorial Ordinaries’ are amenable to the desire for a degree of conducive co-operation, but others are not. Catholic Safeguarding Officials made a number of overtures on behalf of the Survivors of alleged clerical sexual abuse by Comboni Missionary clerics to change that Order’s attitude to Victims, but they were ignored as there was no compulsion to take heed.

10. In 2015, I produced a 177 page document on the details of the abuse at the Comboni Missionary Order’s Mirfield Seminary. I sent a copy to all the Bishops of the British Isles and to the Cardinal Prefects of the Vatican Congregations, but there was only one response. It was from an Irish Bishop, who asked, ‘What am I supposed to do with this?’ I had to restrain myself from telling him! I then forwarded a copy to each member of the Comboni Missionary Hierarchy internationally in the forty-five countries in which they worked and in the United Kingdom. I had no response. Ultimately, I forwarded a copy, over a period of two weeks, to every one of the Order’s 1000 priests who had a listed email address. I received three replies. Two said that it was all lies, but eventually admitted that they had not read the document. One old Italian priest did reply. He said that his English was not good, but that he had read the document from cover to cover – that it had taken him three hours – and he ‘felt ashamed’! Yet, he was not able to assist us as he did not want his name to be made known in fear of reprisals by the Order’s Hierarchy. In January 2016, Cardinal Vincent Nichols was persuaded to take a copy of that document and hand it in personally to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He confirmed to me from Rome that he had done so. Three years later there has not been a response from the Vatican.

11. In 2018, I completed an ‘Application for Papal Justice’ in the case of one Mirfield seminarian – under Canon Law 1417 : ‘By reason of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff, any member of the faithful is free to bring or introduce his or her own contentious or penal case to the Holy See for adjudication’. It was handed into the Pope’s Private Office in August 2018 by Father Hans Zollner SJ, who is Director of the Institute of Psychology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and a member of the current Synod implementation Committee. No response was received from the Private Office of the Pope. Thus, when Archbishop Scicluna, Pope Francis’ ‘front man’ on sexual abuse matters, moved from Malta to Rome at the end of 2018 to prepare the issues to be discussed at the forthcoming Synod, the matter of the continued silence of the Comboni Missionary Order was raised directly with him. He immediately arranged for the the two documents referred to above to be passed to the Disciplinary Office of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. We remain hopeful for a response before we depart this world. Approaching my 74th year that chance is increasingly more slim as the years slip by. One of our younger dear friends within our Group of Survivors of Comboni child sexual abuse died just last year without a whisper of regret by the Combonis for the abuse he suffered.

12. The Bishops, who are responsible for the 25,000 or so diocesan priests around the globe, have started to gather in Rome. We know now what exposure the Bishops can face from the communities around them. If they continue to fail in matters of safeguarding, there is an increasingly good chance that both Civil Justice and Catholic lay groups will now monitor and ensure that appropriate Civil and Canonical justice against degenerate clerics will be pursued. In time, hopefully, they face the likelihood that they will all be ‘hauled over the coals’ and brought to account – but what of recalcitrant global Orders like the Comboni Missionary Order of Verona, Italy? Who will monitor their conduct?

13. The rarely mentioned Religious Superiors and Abbots of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Institutes of Sacred Life have been called to attend the Rome Synod in February also. Between them, they control by a vow of obedience, some 750,000 clerics throughout the world (Vatican figures relating to 2015 & published 2017). Those clerics comprise 75% of all Catholic clerics (male and female) and they work in schools, missions, hospitals, orphanages, refuges and youth organizations. Unless mechanisms are established throughout the globe to scrutinise them thoroughly and subject them to invasive processes of continued monitoring by competent authorities (clerical, lay and civil) then child sexual abuse will continue to go undetected and their horrendous crimes will blight the lives of innocents for generations into the future. Therein lays the silent, hidden horror that is yet to be fully exposed. It is not an isolated problem that can be left to chance. There are some 20,000 orphanages under Catholic Religious Orders’ control in Italy and India alone. To our horror and disgust, we all within these British Isles know what can happen in Orphanages when they remain unchecked. If the Catholic Church Synod fails to establish the processes to do so then these establishments must be licensed by the civil authorities throughout the world to conduct their activities and be subjected to rigorous and repetitive processes of monitoring and inspection. Some would say, with a substantial degree of evidence behind them, that the Catholic Church can never be trusted again without such invasive, external regimes of control. The safe futures of millions of the world’s children are truly at stake in this moment in history. Their lives cannot be left to chance.