(By Brian Mark Hennessy)

It goes without saying, that in matters of “concealment” playing the “long game” requires a strategy. If the latter is missing, it can go horribly wrong. The most fundamental difficulty with such a venture, especially if you are trying to conceal a matter of “guilt” or “complicity” for which there is evidence, is that one day your calumnious version of the “truth” may suffer from a very nasty shock called “exposure”. So the lie that you are trying to conceal, perhaps for as long as eternity, had better look like the “rock solid truth”. Lies will come back to haunt you if they are carelessly wrapped in the need for constant “denial”, impenetrable silence or the fog of obfuscation. Fog, you probably know quite well, has a habit of disappearing as quickly as it descends – and silence can easily be obliterated by a torrent of chatter. A well-planned strategy in the game of concealment may work for a while, but it might also unravel much faster than you could ever have envisaged possible. That is because in “time”, even a very long time, not you, but your successors, who know of the “calumnies” that once hid your denials of the “truth”, may not consider that it serves “their long game” to preserve “your long game” any longer. There is also that outside chance that an unexpected and unforeseen occurrence may devastate the walls and foundations of your well-structured, seemingly “impregnable” strategy. Concealment can be a very wearisome, protracted and messy game of uncertain and often complex, entangled outcomes. That is why initial, humble admissions of the truth are always the safer course as they ensure a speedy, albeit sometimes grubby, termination of the issues. Yet, this most simple and obvious of facts remains routinely ignored.

Forgive the long convoluted preamble, but most readers will have experienced that there are many examples of concealment in the history of great institutions that, in the course of time, the new faces on the block have sought either to downplay or to admit. Their tendency is to “bare their breasts” of an institution’s past sordid events when most of the original players in the transgressions and the subsequent, inevitable “cover up”, have disappeared into anonymity by being deceased or replaced. The trick for the new “honest” regime is to be able to “wash their hands” of the events by saying “Well, look, chaps, I am being honest about the facts, but I wasn’t around at the time. It was that inexcusably rotten lot of misguided liars before me who dunnit!” This strategy usually works quite well because at the moment that the stark, but unsurprising, truth is divulged, nobody will be around to carry the can. Most importantly (and the major benefit of a successful long game) is that nobody is around to claim damages from them either. It is assumed at that moment that everyone wins because the truth is “out” and some sort of fabricated apology has been made. In fact, it is only the institution itself that wins because they earn reputational points for being good guys! Everyone else is dead. Well, that is the theory, but does it always work well in practice?

Not always – because there is such a notion as the long term “reputation” of the institution to be considered! Moreover, any institution that repeatedly finds itself in the situation that it has to humble itself and apologise for its grievous and often hideous past crimes begins to look distinctly like an infamous den of atrocious sadism and chronic corruption. A brief look at a few examples from the recent annals of the Catholic Church can well illustrate incidents when the common-place long term Catholic strategies of denial were eventually exposed, or perhaps put more aptly, were “extracted” from them with all the pain of a dentist’s wrench. I do not have to go into much detail to illustrate the point. We all now know of the horrors of the Magdalene Nuns’ factory workshops that incarcerated women in regimes of forced labour in Ireland. We have heard in just recent years of the notorious complicity of Catholic priests and Nuns in Spain in the trade of selling off new born babies, reported to their mothers as “still born”, in order that those babes could be brought up as young Fascists of the Franco Regime. The abuse, by forced castration, of young choir boys to provide for the once fashionable castrati in the Catholic Church, even early in the last century, is another case of attempted cover up of an obscene and cruel practice. Indeed, I am a witness to this practice because one of my school fellows at St John’s Cathedral in Portsmouth was an acknowledged castrato at a time well beyond all the voices of the rest of us had raucously broken – and a century after the Vatican asserted that the practice of castration to produce castrati had ceased in the 19th Century. Nevertheless, despite denials, the Catholic Church forced castration of boys did not end there. A more sinister case of castration was ordered by Church authorities of the young sixteen-year-old Amsterdam boy named Henk Heithuis (1935-1958) who was in care at a Catholic Order’s school for boys. There Henk was abused by a priest – and when he complained, he was labelled as a homosexual and accused of seducing the priest. He was sent, subsequently, to a Catholic psychiatric unit and there he was brutally castrated as a treatment for his “perceived” homosexuality – and then discharged whilst still suffering from the resultant very serious psychiatric and medical conditions.  Thus, despite what appear to be the Vatican’s current efforts to reform, at the very mention of the “Catholic Church”, the words “cruelty, chronic and endemic corruption” effortlessly rush to the forebrain’s of a goodly proportion of the World’s population. The restoration of “reputation” is the very longest game of all the “long games” – and whilst the Catholic Church continues to add shame upon shame, they will permanently remain a geological eon away from achieving it.

The list of abject cruelty is truly interminable, but to it, we must add the rampant, sordid, historical and omni-present crime of child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. It is a history of grim proportions and multitudes of victims, both living and dead, who have never had justice and never been able to bear witness to their personal tragedies. Instead, those victims have borne the brunt of downright lies, denials, obfuscation and silence by both those who abused them and those who covered up the abuse in order to save their own arrogant, narcissistic clerical institutions from widespread condemnation. We must not forget to mention, of course, that it is also in order to save themselves from litigation for compensation. What the institutions of the Catholic Church have not even started to achieve is the salvation of their reputation, but even that, in time they believe, will mend and by then they hope that the strategy for the “long game” will have reached its planned conclusion.

So it is, that even today, such victims whose lives have expired by age and illness and stress and suicide, continue to pass on to another world of perpetual silence. They can speak no more. That is also a much anticipated outcome of the “long game” strategy of the eternal Catholic Church. They know that every Victim is a temporary phenomenon and their accusers will, in time, accuse no more. They also believe that the names of the cruel, abusing clerics will likewise fade into history and be of no further concern nor embarrassment to them. They think, happily, that all will be done and dusted and put to eternal rest by “Old Father Time”. Yet, there are unforeseen exceptions to this general rule. Notably, one such exception is the case of the sexual abuse of child seminarians by Comboni Missionaries at their Mirfield seminary. The latter institution’s vain and forlorn hopes of future anonymity for all concerned will, most surprisingly for the Combonis perhaps, not come to pass. Why is that?

Well, I did warn above of the possibility of an unforeseen intrusion in the strategy of the Order’s “long game” that might just shake their walls sufficiently to set them tumbling down. In fact, it has already happened to a significant degree, but the Comboni Missionary Order of Verona, Italy, have probably not heard of any rumblings just yet. The rupture of the Combonis’ long term strategy has been a silent event which, contrary to all their anticipations, will have an increasing impact as time passes. The cause of the rupture is that someone, not even directly involved in the events that the Combonis have sought to conceal “ad infinitum”, has devised their own “long game’ with an indestructible strategy – and it is called the “Government Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in the United Kingdom”. We all know, of course, that this Inquiry, which has been constituted, fundamentally, to learn lessons for the future safety and care of children, has had a rocky start. Some even dare to hope that it will never get back fully on to the rails. I doubt that that hope will ever come to pass. Yet, apart from the slow-starting Inquiry itself, the UK Government has already established another totally separate “long game” – and that is called the “Truth Project”.

The strategy here is that Victims and Survivors of and Witnesses to Child Sexual Abuse are able to commit to perpetuity the events that they have suffered at the hands of named Child Sex Abusers and Institutions. The current estimate of those who have made testimonials to the Truth Project is vast. Some 30,000 statements are projected in the medium term and it is envisaged that this may rise to 300,000 ultimately by 2020. These testaments relate to events which have been covered up, glossed over, disguised, concealed and hidden by Institutions. Amongst those Institutions of the Catholic Church that were obliged, but failed to protect and care for victims when they were children, is the Comboni Missionary Order’s Seminary at Mirfield, Yorkshire, England. I and many other ex-seminarians of that establishment at Mirfield have already submitted witness statements to this Truth Project. By doing so, the “long game” of the Comboni Missionary Order’s silence and obfuscation has been monumentally eclipsed by the “much longer game” of the very Victims of their abuse and cover up.

When I die, presumably at some time in the next decade or so, my Witness Statement will still be there in the annals of the Inquiry for all to see. Whilst I may not see justice in my life time and nor even the meanest admission of sorrow for the abuse that I suffered from the Catholic Order of Comboni Missionaries, my witness statement will not fade even when Ilkley Moor’s worms will have “come to eat me up”. So too, I note with insightful emphasis, that what will gather unexpected longevity in the Truth Project’s findings, will be the names of those accused of the crimes committed against myself and my young companions. In addition, those priests of the Order who were aware of the abuse at the time that it was committed and those in the decades since (such as a string of Superior Generals of the Order) who have continued to stay silent and to conceal or deny the truth, will discover that their names have also been permanently and justifiedly “incarcerated” within the inky bars of the bold type of the documents of the Truth Project. Their “long game” strategy of contrived obfuscation, lies, silence and the betrayal of the childhood innocence of myself and other boys at the Mirfield seminary has been a profound miscalculation. Neither their betrayal of the young boys in their care and nor their names will ever be forgotten.

As for the future, well, for my part, at this late stage in my life, I no longer wish for, nor need, any vacuous, insipid statements of apology from clerical lips that have been fouled by decades of constant prevarication. I see the Truth Project now as a monument to my “empowerment” and the only monument I seek. Yet, by default, it is also a permanent monument to the criminal and shameful conduct of the Comboni Missionary Order of Verona, Italy.

Religious Privilege Undermines Abuse Victims’ Access to Justice

Religious Privilege Undermines Abuse Victims’ Access to Justice

By Richard Scorer

(Richard Scorer is a specialist child abuse lawyer at Slater & Gordon. In this article, published in the National Secular Society in August 2016, he draws attention to organisations seeking more lenient treatment over child abuse-connected matters because they are religious and makes the case for no concessions being given).

Which is more important: religious freedom, or safeguarding children from abuse?

Should churches and religious organisations be exempt from secular standards of child protection? Two recent court cases involving the Jehovah’s Witnesses raise this issue in its starkest form.

Some background. Over the past two decades a significant number of abuse cases have emerged in the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Clients of mine who allege they have been abused within the organisation describe a culture which is profoundly collusive with child abuse. It’s hard enough for abused children to speak out in any setting; in the Jehovah’s Witnesses, it’s bordering on the impossible. The organisation is notorious for its “two witness” rule: anyone who accuses an adult of abuse must have a corroborating witness. Since the vast majority of child abuse occurs in secret, the effect of this rule is to silence abuse victims. Moreover, if there is no corroborating witness, the complainant is often treated as having made a false accusation. This leads to the complainant being “disfellowshipped”, or ostracised by other Witnesses. A terrifying prospect if, like most children growing up in the Jehovah’s Witnesses, your entire family life revolves around them. In this way, victims say, the culture of the Jehovah’s Witnesses facilitates and protects abusers.

The two legal cases have opened a window into this culture. The cases involve the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, the legal entity through which the Jehovah’s Witnesses operate. One case concerns the Watch Tower Society’s liability to pay damages to a proven victim of abuse. The Society sought to argue that its devolved structure means that it cannot be ‘vicariously liable’ for the actions of its officials who abuse children. The Watch Tower Society’s defence failed at first instance in 2015, and its attempt to take the case to the Court of Appeal was dismissed last month.

This is a variation of the argument advanced by the Catholic Church, which maintained for many years that priests were not employees and therefore the Church could not be liable for their actions. The Catholic Church’s long running battle to evade responsibility on that basis ended in failure in 2012.

Meanwhile, in 2014, in response to emerging allegations of child abuse, the Charity Commission instigated a statutory inquiry into the Watch Tower Society’s approach to safeguarding. Quite reasonably, the Commission wants to understand whether the Society’s trustees have fulfilled their safeguarding responsibilities under charity law. Also, the Commission sought production of relevant documents. Rather than cooperate with the inquiry (as one would expect of an organisation with nothing to hide), the Society applied for a judicial review at the High Court to try to abort the inquiry and resist the production order. The Society argued (amongst other things) that the Charity Commission was “interfering with (the Society’s) rights of freedom of religion under article 9 of the Human Rights Act… by commencing an inquiry with a view to changing Jehovah’s Witnesses’ religious practices“.

In other words, if the purpose of the Charity Commission inquiry was to ensure that the Society is complying with secular safeguarding norms, this violates religious freedom.

In March this year the Watch Tower Society lost its application for judicial review. But as often seems to happen in English law when an issue of serious social importance falls to be decided, the matter became bogged down in an obscure technical argument; on this occasion, about whether the Society had pursued the correct legal avenue in seeking to challenge the Commission’s decision. The Court of Appeal decided that it hadn’t. The Society’s subsequent attempt to pursue the matter to the Supreme Court also failed. The underlying question- which comes first, religious freedom or the protection of children from abuse- will have to wait for another day.

Following the Court of Appeal decision, the Charity Commission urged that the Watch Tower Society “engage constructively” with the inquiry. Anyone affected by safeguarding issues in the Jehovah’s Witnesses should contact the Commission’s lead investigator; a number of my clients are providing input to the inquiry. But the Society simply said that it was “looking at the ruling carefully and evaluating where we can go next”. So we can probably expect more attempts to stall the inquiry and resist proper scrutiny. But at least these court cases have had a beneficial side effect: they are raising public awareness both of the issue of child abuse in the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the wider issue of religious organisations and churches pleading a religious justification for evading basic norms of child safeguarding.

The Catholic Church in Australia for example, (but not Britain) has successfully evaded being sued for clerical abuse for decades on the ridiculous premise that it is not a legal entity – which has not stood in the way of it operating bank accounts or receiving legacies.

In Australia, hearings in the Royal Commission on child sexual abuse exposed the Witnesses’ culpability in protecting abusers in a devastating fashion; the Royal Commission heard that their safeguarding procedures were “woefully deficient”.

Here (in the UK), the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, now chaired by Professor Alexis Jay, needs to link with the Charity Commission inquiry and undertake a thorough investigation into culture and practices within the organisation.

If the Jehovah’s Witnesses imagine that they can escape scrutiny of their safeguarding failures, I am certain they will be proved wrong. The courts have certainly given them short shrift. But in exposing what has happened, we need to nail the central issue once and for all: child protection is more important than religious expression.

Religious organisations need to obey the law of the land, just like everyone else. When it comes to child abuse, religious exceptionalism needs to stop.

(Note: Paragraphs in bold type were selected from the original text by Brian Mark Hennessy and do not appear in bold type in the original article).

(Brian Hennessy further comments that: Readers of the Mirfield Memories Blog (Comboni Missionaries – A Childhood in their Hands) may wish to ask why is it that the Charities Commission rejected, almost without comment, two complaints made to them by Brian Hennessy and Kevin Scullin in regard to the Comboni Missionary Order’s non-compliance with its stated Charity Commission Account mission, its misuse of Mission Funds in the settlement of legal cases, (and in respect to this article) – why the Order totally rejects all safeguarding procedures of the Catholic Church in the United Kingdom – to which they are bound! Was it merely because the Charities Commission was reluctant to become involved because they wanted to avoid a charge from the Comboni Missionary Order that they were “interfering with rights of “freedom of religion” under article 9 of the Human Rights Act ?” If that is the case – then they have opted also not to fulfill two of their primary obligations which are to ensure that funds accrued for charity are not being misused and their donors have not been misled!).



“While Churches fail to deliver the messages of the Gospels by their example, rather than by their hollow words, the People of God will walk away from them. They will both seek and find their Redemption elsewhere, in direct good works and help for the poor, destitute, old, sick and those in need of comfort in the countless corners of this world which suffer from war, strife and natural disasters. In this day and age, Christians of all creeds are less and less prepared to have their contributions to the needy of the world “creamed off” to allow clerics to live a life of relative luxury, fight legal cases against the victims of clerical sexual abuse – and indulge in corruption – which is the only word that can aptly define both child abuse and the protection of paedophiles by the Heads of Religious Orders and Bishops of Dioceses. So the children of God are already walking away from Church doors and they will continue to walk. They know that men who live in palaces are not pricked by the suffering at their doors and that they live a life that is in denial of the humble life of the Gospels that they preach. The People of God will only start to listen again when Bishops vacate their palaces, when the profane and excessive material wealth of the Church is sold and all the proceeds are given to the poor and needy. They will listen only when clerics of all ranks get out into their communities which they serve – and live within those communities in modest housing, in the shanty towns and in the slums of this world – and endure the same hardships, toil and longsuffering of the world’s under-privileged and impoverished peoples. That is what it will take for the people of God to start to listen again – and re-trace their steps.”

I wrote those words a year ago. However, I did not expect any clerics to take heed of what I wrote. In the last few weeks, I found it comforting that someone else said something similar in criticism of priests and bishops. His words, as reported by the National Catholic Recorder, were, “The world is tired of enchanting liars, fashionable priests and bishops. The People of God have a ‘scent’ and they retreat when they recognize narcissists, manipulators, defenders of personal causes and standard bearers of worthless crusades. It’s a horrible thing for the Church when its pastors act like princes. Yet, we need Pastors, but may they be fathers and brothers, may they be gentle, patient and merciful; may they love poverty, interior poverty, as freedom for the Lord, and exterior poverty, as well as simplicity and a modest lifestyle; may they not have the mindset of princes”.

That “someone else” was Pope Francis – and he is persistent with these themes. Last week it was reported in the UK Catholic Herald that at his weekly audience he said that, “Clergy who use their position for personal gain rather than to help those in need do not follow the spirit of Jesus who took upon himself the sufferings of others. Jesus often would rebuke such leaders and warned his followers to ‘do what they say – but not what they do’. Jesus was not a prince. It is awful for the Church when pastors become princes, far from the people, far from the poorest people. That is not the spirit of Jesus who had tenderness toward the poor, the suffering and the oppressed and whose invitation was, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” Jesus is not a master who severely imposes burdens upon others that he does not carry himself. Jesus was a pastor who was among the people and among the poor with whom he worked every day.”

I write these words in the Philippines where, in the midst of a wealthy and upward economy, poverty is still the lot of the masses – and where a multitude of underfed, barefooted children of the poor are on the streets by day and also by night for they have no bed nor shelter. There they beg and hustle and offer their limp bodies for adult abuse for a few pesos in order to survive until the next day. “Do you like me?” they ask imploringly and pitifully as you pass them in the street. The same uneducated, abandoned children watch hopelessly and helplessly as their parents die young from the result of crime or from sickness – simply because they have no funds for the basic medicine to stave off the effects of common illnesses. There, on the street, they sleep on the pavements and sniff glue to obliterate the pangs of hunger and the distress and hopelessness of neglect. The underpasses are where rejected amputees with home-made crutches find shelter, where infants of pre-school-age lead the aged blind to beg. There, countless young boys, not even in their teens, are routinely rounded up and cast into prison without charge for months for the most menial of offences such as begging or stealing a crust to stave off their hunger. Incarcerated communally with adult men, they become the prey of those intent on brutal, sexual abuse that will cast long, dark, sinister shadows over the remainder of their lives.

Yet, cheek by jowl with some of the poorest neighborhoods in Metro Manila, the smiling Cardinal Luis Tagle of the Church in the Philippines heads the richest and most cash-laden Archdiocese in the world. So much so that he was not able to remember, or even provide a close estimate, of quite how much money he did have in the coffers of his Archdiocese when asked by Stephen Sackur of the BBC in a “HardTalk” programme. He suggested, lamely, that Sackur looked on the Internet. I tried to find out myself with a bit of research. The information was not up to date – and nor was it presented by the Catholic Church – but it was garnered from the Philippine Stock Exchange by a group of disenchanted, Catholic financial experts. What was discovered was the mere tip of the ice berg. The data demonstrated that (in 2011) the Archdiocese had – as just one of its many investments, 300 million shares in banking – and together with other dioceses, the Church was within the top 100 investors in some 40 major companies engaged in such pursuits as banking, mining and construction. We do not know, however, how much more is invested in private entities, in companies outside the Philippines, in bonds, in time deposit accounts, or in real estate properties, but it is not just millions – it is billions. If you look carefully, you will also discover that at least one individual princely Bishop had both “Church:” and “private” funds of money stashed away in stock market investments.

Whilst the Cardinal was sitting on all this capital investment prior to the visit of Pope Francis in January 2015, one wonders why the Archdiocese of Manila needed to set up a fund seeking contributions from their parishioners for the repairs (that were said to have cost 200 million Pesos) for the Cardinal’s Cathedral in Intramuros (historic Manila). Yet, that is what they did. The Church will defend itself from the criticism of being “cash rich”, of course, and it will do this, most probably, by saying that in order to dispense welfare to the poor and needy of the world, it needs to produce the funds by investments to achieve it. That is a theoretical financial “truth” that I could not deny. Yet they do not divulge any details of income and expenditure – and so whether or not they do expend any money on the countless poor for housing, food, healthcare and education is not known. I could find no institutions listed, apart from two orphanages in Manila, that might fall into the category of charitable donations. On the other hand, the number of fee-paying Catholic schools in the Philippines is well over 100 – and fee-paying Catholic hospitals and clinics are also plentiful – but, they are for the wealthy – even the middle classes would struggle to afford the fees of the most of them.

The very bottom line is, of course, that being sensible with money and investing it for good causes does not require the prelates of the Philippines themselves to live like princes, it does not require them to live in grand houses like millionaires and deal privately in the financial markets, nor does it necessitate them owning vast diocesan estates – and, most certainly, it does not sanction them to grow portly whilst a multitude around them, who like street dogs, are literally scavenging through the garbage to find a bone to chew upon. I have seen them doing just that outside the popular fried chicken outlets.

So, until the cash-rich Church in the Philippines provides the laity with accurate, up-to-date financial information on how their money is being used, their Bishops can be harshly criticized with justification. After all – it is not the Bishops’ money to spend on themselves and their entourages. It is the “Church’s” money held by them in trust. The vast majority of that “Church” are the laity. Harsh criticism is especially justified when there is no evidence that any of their fabulous wealth is being utilised to alleviate the dire state of poverty outside their very church doors. In my book, that is called neglect on a scale that is equivalent to the gravest abuse of their priestly mission. If that is not the case, then I misjudge them, so let them publish the independently audited facts of their income and expenditure – both on official Church business and their private household expenses. I guess in advance that it will not be difficult to spot the cavernous, immoral disparity between their lifestyle and that of the destitute street ragamuffins who are in a state of serious physical underdevelopment for their age – due to the absence of even the most minimal of regular nourishment and healthcare.

One should note also, that whilst the Philippine Catholic Church does not condone any excesses and failures of the State, neither do they risk preaching against it in the pulpit. The reason for that is simple to understand (if you are an economist) for any Church edifice that is used to highlight matters of the conduct of the State – could be deemed by the State to be a “political entity” used for a “political statement or purpose”. That could lead to the parish or diocese being taxed on its income. It is true that the Bishop’s Conferences have made critical representations to the State in documentation in both past and present – but very few laymen will be aware of such documents. The silence of clerics in the pulpits in important moral guidance for their flock, therefore, ensures the continued liquidity of Church property – at the expense of the moral education of the populace. It is little wonder, indeed disastrous, that the vast proportion of Filippino Catholics do not make informed and cognizant moral decisions in so many pressing issues that face them in their lives today – and which are currently being reported worldwide. Such a lack of moral leadership for the sole purpose of defending “Mammom” is a part of a widespread and sinister culture of clerical self-interest – for the sake of their own preservation as a vibrant, financial institution. The result of this failure, most regrettably, is the moral decline of a whole nation which does not understand the perils that lie upon the road they willingly travel today.

In my three years in the Philippines, said to be the most Catholic country in the world, I have never seen a priest on the streets outside the doors of where I live or in the thriving city hubs. You will see them Sundays, of course, saying Mass in the local shopping malls – and of course gathering in a collection. Apart from that, they hold court only in their churches where they dictate to the desperate how they must lead their moral lives. Pope Francis certainly understood this situation in advance of his visit in January 2015. He castigated Filipino priests for failing to work for the poor in the streets. More recently he said about clerics that “Jesus is not a Master who severely imposes burdens upon others that he does not carry himself. He was a Pastor who was among the poor and He worked every day with them.” Yet, the Philippines remains a hell for countless thousands of children who are born – and then abused, physically and sexually, and then discarded by callous adults. Some parents even discard their own children because they are only able to feed a limited number of mouths. Thus, when another is born into this world, the oldest child in the family, whatever age or sex – and even before they reach their teens, are cast out to fend for themselves. Such infants are products of a ridiculous Dogma decreed by a Church that has not yet been able to grasp that God gave us a brain as well as genitals – and so this brainless Church infamously continues to claim that the use of condoms is forbidden on pain of Divine retribution.  The result is more homeless, neglected, abused, sick and wretched kids. That is Church abuse in the form of sinister dogmatic power piled upon the inexcusable abuse of neglect.

When Pope Francis came to Manila, these homeless and hungry castaway children were rounded up and bussed away out of site. The Shepherd of the Catholic Church was not allowed even to see them, let alone to walk amongst them – the most vulnerable of his flock. Cardinal Tagle did not object to their absence from the scene. He wanted to show a vibrant, cheerful and healthy Church to his guest. Neglect of street kids by the mainstream of the Philippine Church is a grave injustice that leads to both physical and psychological abuse. Yes, neglect is a form of abuse when you have a stated sacred mission to the poor – and you ignore it – and when you have the wealth to do something truly significant about it – but you do not. The Church is not listening to this Pope. Did he not state that, “There is no place in the Church for those that abuse a child.”  Yes, the Pope was talking about sexual abuse – but any abuse of children is equally reprehensible.

Dwelling for a moment on the sexual abuse of children, it has to be said also that the clerics of the Philippine Church, like so many other Bishops and Religious Orders worldwide, continue to sordidly protect and foster criminal, paedophile clerics amongst them, whilst they malevolently neglect the crimes committed against Victims by those very same errant priests. Here in the Philippines even the parents of abused children are told that the sexual abuse of “their” children is a “Church” matter and it is not for the laity to meddle in Church affairs”! I am not over simplifying! I read that exactly as stated by the Manila Diocesan Canonist in a Catholic news Bulletin in 2014. What they are saying, in fact, is that only the Clerics “are” the “Church”. Poppycock! Pope Francis would describe such a response of the Philippine Church as “Clerical arrogance and narcissistic clericalism”– but then this is Manila – it’s a long way from Rome – and, to be even more ironic, we are only talking about child victims of sexual abuse and destitute street kids – those annoying dregs of humanity who keep thrusting themselves by the thousands in our faces – and so who cares?

I fully believe that by “gut instinct” Pope Francis is on the right page – indeed the same page as all victims in this world and especially the page of victimized children. That is comforting to a degree. Yet, the Pope does not have full control of the Vatican curia – and nor the clerics in dioceses and Religious Orders. He cannot achieve all that is required, realistically, but he must at least try to ensure that the Bishops who govern the Church and the Superiors General of the Orders of the Church – are men of the Gospels – and true men in their hearts, who, with his leadership, can shake the dead wood from out the Church’s many branches. Ruthless pruning now will produce a rejuvenated tree in the new Spring. It is an urgent need – for the Church, as a clerical institution, has currently forfeited the good will of the lay Church that Christ founded. Those laymen and women are as integral to the Church as are the clerics who arrogantly and falsely claim it to be their own personal heritage and realm.  The Pope must put these clerics back in their place as servants of the Church, not it’s Masters.

For the moment, Pope Francis must face the fact that the traditional trust between clerics and laypersons has dissolved almost totally. Being on the same page as the Pope is comforting, but it is tainted by nothing other than the grave “discomfort” of knowing that what Pope Frances says – is not what his clerics deliver. The Pope must act and set out boldly and clearly, in the short time that he has, a root and branch radical reform programme. The Catholic Church must start to deliver for the most vulnerable in the Church – who are children. Whether those children are victims of sexual abuse, physical hardships, parental and clerical neglect, poverty, incarceration in prisons where they do not belong – or beatings on the streets of Manila – they must be cherished and not discarded as flotsam and jetsam amongst the turbulent seas of cruel, avaricious, selfish humanity. Make no mistake – and Pope Francis knows this well – that the latter “selfish humanity” includes, to the disgrace of the Catholic Church, so many Catholic prelates, clerics and religious who, whatever habit they wear and whatever their role in the Church, are demonstrably idle, indolent and undeserving of their daily bread.


No 5237/15 R.G. notizie reato

No 16/111 R.G. G.I.P



The Justice, Luciano Gorra found:

That the apparent superfluous nature of the themes of investigation presented by the complainant (Comboni Missionaries acting as the Legal Guardian of Padre Romano Nardo) – was nothing more than a re-run of the matters they had already stated during the original hearing of the complaint – and that that (the absence of any new evidence), in itself, makes the case of the complainant inadmissible (in this preliminary hearing that has been convened following an  appeal against dismissal by the Comboni Missionary Order).(It is confirmed, therefore,) that the Prosecutor’s original request (for dismissal following the original submission) appears to be reasonable, but nevertheless must be fully understood for what it is. (See the following):

Of consideration is that, in particular, the first time Mark Murray (the Victim of alleged abuse by Padre Nardo) entered the Missionaries Centre, where the interview took place with Padre Romano Nardo with (Murray’s) objective of video-recording the event, he (Mark Murray) was duly authorized entry by the concierge staff (and thus trespass cannot be alleged). Similarly, in relation to the subsequent visits by Murray to the house of the African Missionaries where Padre Nardo was hospitalized, Murray’s intentions were only to have meetings regarding the complainant (Padre Nardo) that the Victim (Mark Murray) had said had sexually abused him 45 years before at the seminary – thus ruining his life.

Murray was instructed to leave the institute at one point (by the Vice Superior) and an additional member of the Religious Community (believed to be a lay member of the Order) was called to ensure that he (Mark Murray) left. Despite the alleged difficulty they (the Comboni Missionaries) had in ensuring that Murray left the premises, the substantive ingredients necessary to prove an offence under Article. 612 were not substantiated by the complainants (the Comboni Missionaries). Moreover, these issues were related to (three) individual episodes that occurred in a very short period of time and were thus devoid of any known habitual pattern (that would indicate an offence of stalking).

Murray’s actions, moreover, were justified (and thus interfering in the life of Padre Nardo cannot be alleged) by his intention to personally express the degree of his suffering that was caused (in the first instance) by the alleged sexual harassment. His actions were also justified (in the second instance) by his (Mark Murray’s) willingness to forgive (and his actual forgiveness of) the alleged perpetrator (Padre Nardo) of that original alleged abuse .

The Judge of the Preliminary Hearing

LUCIANO GORRA  (Signature)


(Translated and paraphrased for understanding by Brian Mark Hennessy. Italic Words in parenthesis have been added to assist those unfamiliar with the case with their understanding of the events).




Mark Murray, from St Asaph in North Wales, has had all allegations brought against him by the Italian Priest, Padre Romano Nardo (Comboni Missionary Order),  dismissed by the presiding Judge at the preliminary Court Hearing at the Verona Criminal Tribunal on 14th September 2016. Murray did not attend the proceedings.

The hearing had been convened following an earlier dismissal of the case by the Tribunal Prosecutor and a subsequent Appeal against that decision by the Catholic Comboni Missionary Order of Verona, Italy.

The allegations against Murray were “trespassing, stalking and interference in the private life of Padre Romano”. Both the original Prosecutor of the Italian Criminal Tribunal and the Judge at the Preliminary Hearing following Appeal dismissed all the allegations as unfounded. In doing so they supported the actions of Murray to visit his alleged Abuser, detail to that Abuser the life-long effects he had suffered from the abuse and Murray’s act of forgiveness to his Abuser.

Murray is taking legal advice on issues relating to the presentation of false evidence by the Comboni Missionary Order and their attempts to defame his character.  The Order have GB bases at Sunningdale in Berkshire, Leeds , Glasgow and Dublin. The Order in the UK have not commented upon this specific case albeit they have treated Murray with contempt in the past and refused to talk to both him and other seminarians about the sexual abuse they suffered at Mirfield in UK.

Despite his innocence of all charges, Mark Murray has been tendered Court Fees by his Defence Lawyer,  for acting on his behalf.


The Italian News outlet, “La Repubblica” co-operated with Murray’s visit to Verona and produced two short film recordings and press reports – which are available on request, as is also a copy of the summons notification, from Murray listed in ‘Contacts” below. The films were shown on Italian and UK television outlets and there was substantial press coverage following the visit. La Repubblica’s accredited Vatican correspondent, Marco Ansoldo, has also received a separate summons on different charges relating to his coverage of Murray’s visit to the Order’s Verona House.

The Comboni Missionary Order settled – “out of Court” and “without any admission of guilt” – civil cases brought by Murray and seven other ex-seminarians in 2014. The cases were all in relation to allegations of historical child sexual abuse by three Religious members of the Comboni Missionary Order at their Seminary in Mirfield, Yorkshire, England. Other cases are or have been in the process of litigation.









(By Brian Mark Hennessy)

Call it euphemism, circumlocution or genteelism, the title of this tome is hardly what you would expect to find in a Religious Order’s Code of Conduct that deals with the subject of Child abuse. Nevertheless, that is exactly what it is – and if any reader is interested in studying it – I can make an analysis of this Code available to them. The Code was produced in 2005 by a committee of Comboni Missionaries headed by Father David Kinnear Glenday.

David was a good friend of mine when I was a young seminarian at the Comboni Missionaries’ St Peter Claver College in Mirfield, Yorkshire, England in the late 1960s. He is a Scot with a large sense of humour. I went on to the Novitiate at Sunningdale in Berkshire as I was more senior to David and I have not seen him since. After a couple of years, I left from there as I struggled to understand myself following incidents of continual sexual abuse by a priest over a period of two weeks when I was admitted to the infirmary at Mirfield – and then at Sunningdale being forced to witness meetings between a priest of the Order and a nun of a nearby convent as they expressed their love for each other – playing “footsie” beneath the table and holding hands over the table at which I also was required to sit. David, to get back to him, became the Provincial of the London Province, the Superior General of the Order and is now the General Secretary of the Union of the two hundred or so Superiors General of male Orders of the Catholic Church at the Vatican – and he is also a member of a Pontifical Commission. He is doing fine, obviously, for now – but he has certainly changed since he was the lad I knew.

It was David who, as I have already said, headed the Committee that re-wrote the Code of Conduct. He may not have invented the shamefully euphemistic title of the section dealing with matters of child sexual abuse in the Code, but he certainly was responsible for perpetualising its existence. The Code as a whole has some 24,000 words. I read it carefully and produced an analysis of the language and discovered that there was a problem of imbalance within the overall text. For example, it used the word “Truth” on just 10 occasions, but it used the word “Scandal” – in the context of avoiding it – 19 times. “Truth” and “Scandal” are hardly compatible bedfellows in the same context. It uses the word “Sin” on 47 occasions, but in all the 24,000 words of the Code, the word “crime” is not used even once. That is a remarkable omission in the context of the fact that within that Code of Conduct there is a very full chapter that deals with Child Abuse – which in international law is a “crime”. Indeed, in the document entitled, “The UN Convention Against Torture”, child abuse is described as a “form of torture on account of its cruel, degrading and punitive nature” – and the Vatican has accepted that definition. I cannot help but note that, in the context of child abuse, that “crime” may be a “sin” in theological terms, but in a document that deals with “child abuse”, the word “crime” should be used to describe it. Steeling sweets is a “sin”. Stealing innocence is a heinous, inhumane and depraved “crime”.

Why do I mention this now? Well, in the past week we have heard two people, who in my book have considerable dignity and moral authority within the Vatican, discussing this very matter of “sin” and “crime”. They came at the subject from different starting points and appeared to be saying opposite things. They were not, in fact, I am certain of it, but the problem is that those listening – who live in opposite camps of a great divide on the subject of how “clerical child abuse” should be managed in the Catholic Church – might be able to draw the conclusions that they wish for, rather than those intended by the speakers. I will explain.

Marie Collins is an Irish laywoman and a member of the Pontifical Council for the Protection of Minors. Marie is also an abuse survivor and is confident, where some others are not, that the Commission, under the guidance of Cardinal Archbishop O’Malley of Boston is on the right track. Marie admits that they have not won all the battles that they had wished for. One such example is the disinclination of Pope Francis to authorize the establishment of a tribunal to judge whether or not negligent bishops, in the matter of managing child sexual abuse, should be dismissed. In an interview with the National Catholic Reporter, Joshua McElwee, Marie expressed some reservations about whether or not new powers to be given to the Curia Congregations would actually lead to more accountability. Where Marie was more hopeful was in the matter of advice given to new Bishops attending formation courses at the Vatican. These meetings presented the chance, Marie explained, to impress upon these new bishops from around the world “the importance of treating a perpetrator (of child sexual abuse) – not just as a sinner – but as a criminal who is a danger to children” – and that these criminals do not only harm their victims, but the entire Church around the world.

I believe that Marie was expressing the convictions of the whole Commission on these matters and what she said was most astute – for it reflects most specifically that the Bishops and Orders of the Church – like the Comboni Missionary Order of Verona Italy – show no balance in their treatment of clerics who abuse children. They smother abusing clerics with copious pious filial love whilst protecting them from the allegations of the Victims against whom the abusing clerics committed crimes. They seek to avoid – often at considerable length and cost – the criminal justice processes to which the Victims are entitled. Some, such as the Comboni Missionary Order of Verona, Italy, have even attempted to defame a Victim in the Courts with criminal charges in the recent past – in their extreme anxiety to protect the Abuser from the criminal processes that the “World” demands. The Catholic Church, despite what some of its adherents seem to believe, cannot appeal to an extraterrestrial body in the basic human rights matter of child sexual abuse. Yes – forgive the cleric of their sin if he or she is contrite – but yield the cleric up to Civil Justice procedures to pay the human price that the civil legal jurisdictions of the world demand for a crime. During the process of a trial and after – yes – assist the cleric spiritually if the cleric wishes – but they have no right to protect the cleric from that process. Should they seek to protect the cleric – they also condone the crime – and that is what the Comboni Missionary Order have done: a series of their Superior Generals – from Glenday to Sanchez to Tesfaye – have condoned crimes of child sexual abuse by protecting the alleged criminal from justice.

I said there were two persons of singular dignity and moral authority at the Vatican who, in the last week, had approached this matter of sin and crime from opposite ends. The second was Pope Francis. This last week he said, “Judging and Condemning a brother who sins is wrong. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. We do not have the power to condemn a brother that errs”. Now – it would be very easy, but categorically wrong, for some eager clerics to extrapolate from that statement that, for example, it was merciful and therefore, quite right to protect an alleged paedophile priest from justice because he had already expressed sorrow for his sins. If they do believe that – they are simply kidding themselves! That is not what Pope Francis is saying at all, but he does go on to say that “Mercy expresses itself above all in forgiveness”. Again – Pope Francis is not talking specifically about the forgiveness that a Confessor imparts to a Sinner confessing. He is talking about the forgiveness by a Victim of a transgression to the very person who had transgressed against that Victim.

That leads me to reflect for a moment on the recent visit to Verona in Italy of Mark Murray, an alleged Victim of a priest, Father Romano Nardo of the Comboni Missionary Order. Mark Murray went to see his abuser at the Verona Mother House in order to understand why the priest abused him as a 14 -year-old child. He spoke quietly in the Chapel with the priest, alleged to have abused him, and that priest expressed his profound sorrow to Mark Murray – who then forgave him. That is the bountiful Christian mercy and forgiveness of which the Pope spoke.

The surprise reaction of the Comboni Missionary Order’s Superior General and Curia to Mark Murray’s visit to Verona, however, (not Father Romano’s reaction – as far as I am aware), was to allege three criminal acts against Mark Murray in the Verona Criminal Court: stalking, trespass and interference in the personal life of Father Romano Nardo. The Judge at the Tribunal Proceedings wanted to archive the allegations as they were insubstantial, but the Comboni Missionary Order insisted on an appeal against the Judge’s decision. At a subsequent hearing, the Judge threw out each of the charges stating there was no criminality involved at all in the visit of Mark Murray to his alleged abuser.

“The Christian must forgive”, the Pontiff has exhorted, “Why? Because he has been forgiven”. Mark Murray showed himself to have Christian virtues by forgiving Father Nardo. Contrary to what Pope Francis was saying, however, the Comboni Missionary Order has sought, for two decades, to protect the Alleged Abuser from rightful Justice – and now mercilessly tried to trash the Victim. This surprise reaction of the Comboni Missionary Order to try to defame a Victim of child sexual abuse, Mark Murray, with false criminal charges begs the question: To what creed do the Comboni Missionary Order adhere? Their actions are most certainly not within Christian traditions and teaching – and I sincerely doubt that Pope Francis would approve of their false, defamatory and vindictive actions. Somebody at the Vatican needs to do something about these errant priests.







(By Brian Mark Hennessy)

With penetrating clarity and absolute authority, Pope Francis gave a speech in Santa Marta in 2014, and said that, “there is no place in the Church for clerics who have abused children”. His words rang loud, chiming bells of hope in my mind that here was a man who understood in his heart how pernicious and evil it was for an adult to abuse a child. When I now think back on his words, I feel somewhat amazed at how momentous they appeared to be about a matter which was so downright obvious to the vast majority of people in the world – and not just to parents – but to most adults who had ever given it a thought – and, of course, to the countless children who had been abused! On reflection, my surprise – and even inner joy at hearing him say it – was down to the simple, sad fact that I had never ever heard a Catholic Cleric, let alone a Pope, say it before in such a blatant and brazenly obvious way.

Pope Francis has said many other things since that time in the early few years of his papacy that have had a similar effect on me – and I presume he has prompted a like reaction in many others. It has given many hope that the Pope, who has the leadership of the Catholic Church in his hands, is truly on the path of change. This matters – not just for the Catholic Church – but for the moral guidance of many others in the world also. It suggests, in addition, that this Argentinian, non-Curial, diocesan prelate is now listening, not so much to the dogmatic, scarlet-hatted prelates that frequent the old palaces of the Vatican Curia, but to the Christian men, women and children in the streets – the people with whom he is much more familiar – and the streets he identifies as the place where he also belongs. He, and not the Curia “Old Guard”, understands that the laity are suffering the burdens of centuries of dogmatic indoctrination that has sought to compel them to live constricted and at times almost un-natural lives. The Church has historically dictated to them consistently and without offering any alleviation for their plight in the face of distressing circumstances that were not of their making. It has burdened them with demands on the decisions they make at times of misfortune – and warned defaulters of unpleasant retribution for failures.

To get his message across, the Pope has had to talk directly to his flock and over the heads of the Curia and their traditional, strictured, theological interpretation of dogma. This has been a most effective operation – for the Pope knows that his Curia dogmatists are a “turn off” in this modern age. The last thing the laity needs is a message, accompanied by the severe penalties of damnation and the eternal Bosch-like fires of Hell, which the dogmatists unstintingly attach to any failure to comply. The Pope recognizes, but the Curia do not, that for countless multitudes in this world, the achievement of the perfection postulated by theoretical dogma is often both incongruous and incompatible with the realities and the daily hardships of basic survival. Those realities are a way of living that the Curia Old Guard, imbibing and sleeping in their princely palaces, do not comprehend because for the most part, quite probably, they have never had to face and nor endure those hardships for any time much longer than a brief, afternoon pastoral visit.

Hence we now have discussions with the laity, un-envisaged before the arrival of Francis, about divorce, abortion, homosexuality and communion – and so on. Francis understands that life is a journey and that true perfection is unattainable for most. His simple message to his flock is to keep walking, even to limp and to crawl, down that road that points to perfection as best they can, within the circumstances of their individual lives, and with the constant aim, rather than any real expectancy being placed upon them, of reaching the destination.

It is regrettable, given the above, but quite unsurprising, that some of the Curial Princes of the Church are fighting a rearguard action against both the Pope and the faithful to whom he appeals. The old heads in the Curia are unaware that the vast number of the informed and educated of those admiring throngs of Francis believe that they have an undisputed and inalienable right to be able to discern what is right and wrong for themselves. Yet, the Vatican “scarlet hats”, for the most part, remain entrenched in the past and there are many of them, it seems, who are most reluctant to end their traditional ability to dictate, to scold, to ex-communicate and to damn. Who would relinquish such power, that has been invested in them for centuries, over the many millions of their followers in the world? Without the dogma-subjugated, vast throngs of believing faithful throughout the history of “Peter’s Pence”, who would, in the future, continue to fund the princely lifestyle that those prelates enjoy? The wearers of fashionable scarlet socks know that it was the big sticks of “dogma” and “everlasting fire” that maintained the Curia princes in a lifestyle of luxury in the past. So in their unwitting minds the faithful must continue to be subdued by their incomprehensible, doctrinal interpretations of “God’s Law” and kept in line by the fear of excruciating punishment. Only thus can the masses be denied the exercise of their own right to discern good and bad for themselves.

Unfortunately, for these intellectually sterile, reptilian relics of history at the Vatican, it may be an unpleasant surprise to know that the informed and educated laity both know and assert that their soul and their conscience belongs to them and to nobody else. The greater number of the faithful – which is the world’s abject poor who wearily struggle through life wondering how they will feed tomorrow the large numbers of children that they bore yesterday, in accordance with Church Rules, are forgotten. They, remain down-trodden and often de-humanised by miserable circumstances in both the foul-flooded slums and the rain-parched deserts of the world today – as did their forebears in the inescapable biblical, sore-bandaged, leper colonies. They act, for the most part, in accordance with necessity and the ungracious rules of survival rather than dogma. There is a disconnect, therefore, that has not yet penetrated the minds and the luxurious style of life of the Vatican cascades of isolated, enclaved male dignitaries that arrogantly tell the rest of the world how to behave. Thus, the Curia is, collectively, the downside to the hopeful words that the Pope utters day by day.

Those quiet, unseen Curia “dogma-worms”, secretly munching away at the paper piles left to rot in Vatican “in-trays”, leave me with an uneasy feeling that for them, the whole of Christianity is just a game of theatrical charades. It is a scene complete with its Cathedral stages, its saints, torture, blood, haloes, rites and rituals, its candles and incense, its colourful, richly embroidered, swirling costumes, its promises and its threats, its pledges and betrayals, its dogmas and its stories of angels and devils – and of purgatory, heaven and hell. It is a stage of unending drama upon which, in their minds, the curtains will never be drawn. Yet, that is a dangerous misconception for, whilst they stand still in glorifying in their eternal, fantasy world, the real world is transient – here today and gone tomorrow – and ever-changing at an alarming and increasingly hectic rate. Thus, their reluctance to deal judiciously, decisively and with alacrity with urgent matters such as the contagion of clerical child abuse within their realm has already seen, and in the future may well see a further and irreversible shift in their former fortunes. The more tardy they are in putting right the wrongs thet they have committed, condoned and hidden – the more rapid is the decline in their relevance. They sit on their fumbling hands in peril of being consigned to a chapter in the annals of history – fittingly entitled, if Edward Gibbon can be resurrected to complete his task, as: “Part Seven – The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Church”.

We return, therefore, as we must, to add to this dire picture the Curia’s specific failure to provide any consistent, visible, coherent, practical outcomes to what Pope Francis said so early on in his Papacy: “There is no place in the church for clerics who have abused children”. The Comboni Survivors (known originally as the Mirfield 12) have written endlessly to prelates of the Catholic Church to act on the commitment of Pope Francis to rid the Catholic Church of all clerics who have abused children. The survivors of child sexual abuse in the seminary of the Comboni Missionary Order at Mirfield, Yorkshire, England have compiled witness allegations to some individual 1000 crimes of child sexual abuse in a volume of near 200 pages – and that evidence includes the facts of the protection of a living, allegedly paedophile priest. This volume was distributed to all the Bishops of the British Isles and to Bishops’ Conferences throughout the world. Cardinal Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster took a copy by hand to Rome and gave it to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He confirmed to me, bless his scarlet socks, sash and cap, that he had done so.

The allegations of the crimes of this paedophile priest have been buried by the Catholic Church for nigh on half a century since the Order were first aware of them. Their immediate reaction was to send him to the Missions in Uganda to get him out of the way. He stayed there for decades (hopefully he was not abusing even more innocents) until he was finally brought to account two decades ago at the insistence of one of his Victims. His admissions at that time – downplayed and reduced in correspondence to the victim as “inappropriate actions” should have been reported to the Vatican immediately. Yet, even after admissions of wrongdoing those two decades ago, the Order has continued to give him sanctuary from full investigation and arraignment before a civil or canonical court. The priest remains wanted for questioning about crimes against a child by the West Yorkshire Police in the United Kingdom. The UK Crown Prosecution Service has sought his extradition on a number of occasions. It is believed also, that the Order never reported him to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at any time in the past fifty years and so it is certain that he has never been brought before a Vatican Canonical Court. If he had been, he would have been defrocked long ago and cast out as the criminal he is alleged to be. Even then – that would have been a lenient outcome – for he would probably have received a pension from the Order (provided in their Rules for such miscreants) and also escaped the long prison sentence that any civilian court would have imposed upon him for his alleged heinous crimes.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith have had the information regarding this priest, provided by the Comboni Survivor Group, in their hands for almost a year. Within the text of that document it is detailed with clarity that this living priest of the Comboni Missionary Order, who is alleged to have committed crimes of child sexual abuse in the guise of religious rituals against a young seminarian, then aged 11 years, has had no action taken against him by the Order. Almost the last words heard uttered by the Order about this priest were, “We all make mistakes!”, as if that casual, verbal shrug of the shoulders should both be the end of the matter – and the signal to the Victim that it is time for the wretchedness that has excrutiated and brutalised his psyche since childhood should now, in a flash, be forgotten. Life is not like that.

I do not expect that Pope Francis has ever heard of this case that I have related, but his Curia officials most certainly have. They have neither acknowledged receipt and nor responded. This is not just abject discourtesy to the Writer, the Victim and the Comboni Survivor Group, it is also a grievous sleight both to the Cardinal Archbishop who took the trouble to present it to them – and to the clearly expressed will of Pope Francis. The Curia is sitting on its hands – as it has done for centuries – and, therefore, they are not just a part of the historical problem in cases of child sexual abuse – they are also the current problem. Their inaction, believe me, reflects their declared independence from anything Pope Francis says and does. His Church is in the Curia’s hands. Our only remaining hope is that Pope Francis reads this blog – and then diligently undertakes the much needed firing and hiring process within the Curia. Pope Frances must ‘have done” with words of benevolent encouragement – and reveal his skills as an incisive surgeon.