Father Enrique Sanchez and Father David Glenday.
I would like to talk with you – you would not want to talk with me, I am sure of that. However, it is you, the representatives of the Comboni Missionaries, that should be offering the hand of reconciliation and pleading for forgiveness and not me.
I sometimes think how I would talk with – and how he would listen and how he would respond – to Father Peter Zuani, my Comboni Missionary Novice Master. I believe his response would have beeen totally different to yours. Father Peter was one of the most spiritual and holy men that I had ever been blessed with knowing.
There were many times – as so many of you must know – that I spent talking and praying with Father Peter about my vocation to the religious life. And there were times when I was on the cusp of telling him I had no vocation. There were times when I wanted to – was desperate inside to – tell him about the sexual abuse that Nardo had done to me. And yet, as a missionary Comboni Brother I was being sent to the very country that my abuser had been living in since 1970. I was living a lie, and I was too frightened to tell anyone or do anything about it.
I believed – irrationally – that because I had been sexually abused by the Comboni Missionary, Father Romano Nardo, I too, would go on and become an abuser of children. The fear that accompanied me when I thought about it, directed me in becoming a Comboni Brother. I too, just like Nardo was, would be kept safe and protected when, and if, I started abusing children.
It is probably now to late for talking, at least to me.
The abuse inquiry has begun. Today it is Day One for Judge, Lowell Goddard. It will be a Statutory Inquiry.
Pope Francis has recently appointed Bishop Scicluna to work on addressing clerical abuse in the Catholic Church – http://www.ibtimes.com/who-bishop-charles-scicluna-pope-appoints-former-sex-crimes-prosecutor-lead-new-panel-1790168
Bishop Scicluna was also involved in similar work when Pope Ratzinger was in place.
I telephoned Bishop Scicluna in Malta last year. Bishop Scicluna informed me that he would be meeting Pope Francis the following week and he would raise, not only my situation, but also the situation of a number of my fellow seminarians that were also abused at the Comboni Fathers junior seminary in Mirfield in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
I also arranged a telephone meeting with him when he was sent to Scotland last year to investigate the clerical abuse that took place there. That meeting/conversation with me never took place – no excuses, no apologies – I was just kept waiting and hoping.
Kevin and I are still waiting for a reply to his – Kevin’s – letter, which I have copied below.
The correct email address was used – it was, in fact, the same email address that the Bishop had been using when he emailed me.
Dear Bishop Scicluna
My name is Kevin Deignan I was a seminarian at Mirfield with Mark Murray . I understand that Mark has been in contact with you to seek help in achieving some kind of closure for himself after the abuse he endured at the hands of Romano Nardo , and the mental abuse he is still suffering through the inaction of the order.
Prior to Mark’s disclosure to me 3yrs ago I considered my time at the seminary to be a totally positive one. I believed that the small community of priests who were entrusted with our care and wellbeing were amongst the most principled people I had ever met . After Mark’s revelation other people came forward and for me the illusion was shattered. Not one of these principled men could , for whatever reason , do the right thing .
As a naïve 11yr old boy I could not see , nor understand ,what was happening. I let a good friend down. As a 58yr old,worldly wise man, I will not let him down. I am trying to give Mark and his family as much support as they need to get through these difficult times. To this end I decided to contact you.
My main concern is that if nothing positive comes from his contact with you this will have a crushing effect on him. Mark has battled on in isolation for over 15yrs exploring all options to reach the closure he needs and deserves . Mark’s efforts have been thwarted by the order at every turn . Token gestures have been made to try and placate Mark while protecting the order and giving sanctuary to the abuser . The order’s actions ,or rather their inactions have forced Mark to look for a legal assistance .
I can only think that the order’s reluctance to meet Mark’s requests was due to fear of litigation but through their inaction they have brought about the thing they feared, Mark seeks closure not financial gain .
In all honesty I can say that I have had little faith in the church in matters of abuse within it’s ranks . There has been a lack of transparency and a reluctance for independent investigation . I am no longer a practising catholic . I was amazed by the fact that Mark and his family , until recently, were practising catholics . However on reflection this is not so strange as Mark was very devout as a young seminarian . I believe that it was this devout side of Mark , as well as several other young men , that Fr Nardo exploited. Nardo would often refer to passages from the bible to justify his action. The washing of Peter’s feet by Jesus would give him justification for intimate contact . The words ” suffer little children who come unto me ” would take on a completely different meaning .
I believe that you can bring pressure to bear that will ultimately give Mark the closure ,and his family the peace they deserve. The question is “ do I believe this will happen ? “ in truth the answer is no. Pope Francis is giving me hope ,a principled man. Can he guide the church to make the changes that will bring the disillusioned back to the fold ?
Mark hopes that something will come of this contact , but I would ask , no empty promises , honesty and fairness is all Mark asks for.
Your’s faithfully Kevin Deignan