Comboni Missionaries (Missionari Comboniani)
Recently 10 men who had been at the Comboni Missionaries seminary in Mirfield, Yorkshire in the Sixties and early Seventies, received a payment of £90,000 between them for the abuse. The Comboni Missionaries (known as Missionari Comboniani) in Italy, through their lawyers, are saying that this is just a bean count and the cheapest way of solving the problem. They do not admit that it happened and make no apology.
The awards in the UK are small. In Ireland, I’m reliably told, payouts would start at £40,000 per person for the most minor sexual abuse. In the USA, recently, a payment for abused seminarians numbering 14 ran into the millions of dollars. Those who are abused by priests in the UK are then abused by the system. The sums, mostly around £7,000 and £8,000 do not nearly compensate for the abuse that took place, and, in many cases, the ruined lives afterwards.
Don Enrique Sanchez
We hear from the Comboni Missionaries in the UK, and Missionari Comboniani in Italy, that they believe our motive is money.
I remember telling my lawyers “I would have been much better putting the time I have spent on this Comboni Missionaries abuse case into my business. Indeed my business is suffering because of it”. One of them replied “You’d have been bettter off working in McDonalds”.
Many, many emails were exchanged between the 10 of us and I can honestly say that money was never mentioned until it came to the time to settle the case. Some of the 10 wanted to go to court with the resultant publicity. We were advised by our lawyers to settle (as 90% of all cases are) and we decided to take their advice.
Tacit Admision of Guilt
To us, it was not an actual admission of guilt but we would leave it to people to decide. We felt that if the Comboni Missionaries strongly felt that no abuse had taken place then they would have fought the case to preserve their reputations and that of their priests.
We reckoned that the general public would come to that conclusion too. If we fought the case and lost (and it was many years ago and both priests are dead) then the Comboni Missionaries would have got away scot free for all the abuse that occurred over the years and for all the cover-ups that took place and are still going on. A partial victory is better than a potential defeat.
Missionari Comboniani and our Motives
So, if the Comboni Missionaries, and Missionari Comboniani, were right as to our motives, and that we were doing it just for the money then as soon as we got the payment, we would stop and take up our personal lives again.
Instead we have stepped upour campaign. Pope Francis has recently made an apology to all those who were abused by the Catholic Church. he said that things must change. That has not percolated through to the Comboni Missionaries or to the Missionari Comboniani in Rome. They still refuse to apologise or to even admit that it happened – even after so many lives were ruined.
Therefore, as they won’t admit any abuse or to apologise, we must continue our campaign to make people aware of the abuse that has taken place so that it can’t happen in the future. This is for all the other 11, 12, 13 and 14 year-old boys that the Comboni Missionaries and Missionari Comboniani come into contact with. After all, if they don’t even admit that abuse took place then it would be much more difficult to stop it taking place again. How can you fix something that you don’t even know is broken?
When Will Missionari Comboniani Admit and Apologise?
Perhaps, one day in the future, they may follow Pope Francis (and the Franciscans) and make a full apology to those abused by members of their order. Recently, the Franciscans in America made a full apology to 14 boys abused by their order. Until those days, when Don Enrique Sanchez and Missionari Comboniani in Rome will follow the example of the current Pope and the Franciscans, then we must continue to make people aware of what they got up to. We would be failing all those young lads out there who come into contact with them, if we didn’t.
All those years ago we thought of them as our moral guardians, as holy men. Now we think of them as abusers, coverers-up of abuse and hiders of serial sexual abusers of young boys. We feel it is our moral duty to stop these abusers. Pope Francis appears to agree. It is they who are out of step and not us.