Comboni Missionaries and Pope Francis’s Attitudes to Sexual Abuse

Comboni Missionaries (Missionari Comboniani)

We received this from Danny Sullivan who is the Chair of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission for England and Wales.

A clear statement from the pope

The Roman Catholic church will always be judged on how it engages with victims and survivors of abuse (“Sins of the Fathers”, Magazine). Unfortunately, the account of the experience of victims in relation to the then Verona Fathers (now Comboni Missionaries) reflects a stark difference of attitude from that of Pope Francis.

I was present at the mass where Pope Francis addressed all victims and survivors of abuse in a Catholic church setting.

Where the leader of the now Comboni Missionaries indicates that if anyone (and note the qualification) has been hurt by one of its priests his thoughts and prayers are with them, Pope Francis identified the experience of survivors of abuse and humbly asked forgiveness.

He even more profoundly begged forgiveness of those who were not believed or listened to and he praised the courage of survivors in coming forward, recognising how difficult that is in itself.

Evidence shows that paedophiles have on average at least four victims and often significantly more the longer they remain undetected, a profoundly painful reality that all of us in the Catholic church need to recognise.

Victims and survivors of abuse will only believe statements from the church when private practice matches public pronouncements.

Pope Francis this year, by approving the removal from ministry of an archbishop accused of abuse who was a papal nuncio and placing him under house arrest and subject to trial in Vatican State, is making a clear statement of intent to all victims.

“The sins of our fathers” shows just how far we yet have to go. Thank you for publishing it.

Danny Sullivan

Chair, National Catholic Safeguarding Commission for England and Wales

2 responses to “Comboni Missionaries and Pope Francis’s Attitudes to Sexual Abuse

  1. I have had conversations with five other men that were at the Comboni Missionaries seminary at Mirfield and were apparently abused by Father Romano Nardo. It would appear that Danny Sullivan’s statement about the number of victims an abuser abuses is correct.

    Romano Nardo lived at Mirfield for a very short time before moving to Uganda where he lived for twenty five years as a missionary in a remote parish.

    Nardo was recalled back to Italy as a result of my letter to the Comboni Missionaries (Missionari Comboniani) in 1996.

    I hope that Danny Sullivan’s statement about the number of children an abuser could abuse over an “undetected” time is incorrect.


  2. The Comboni Missionaries have a long way to go to comply with the directive of Pope Francis in relation to restitution of child abuse in the case the “Mirfield 12”, abused by priests at their Mirfield UK seminary in the 1960s 70s and 80s. How can they continue to make the abused suffer longer?

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