“Father Look at Me”

My trip to Verona was an  important and monumental event for me.  The biggest in my life.  I met, and i spoke with,  Father Romano Nardo , my Mirfield priestly sexual abuser after 45 years.


I was able to ask him to look at me: “look at me, look at me, look at me, look at me, Father look at me”  —  his response “i am not worthy”  



I was able to ask him to try and understand that what he did to me as a child had destroyed a massive part of me.




I can live with what happened to me by Nardo.


However, It is much harder to understand the arrogance and the complete lack of compassion for what the CM’s are continuing to put my friends and my family through.


When my son was coming up to the age of 14 – the same age as i was when i was abused by Nardo – the memories and the flashbacks of my abuse very nearly destroyed me.

I tried to talk with the CM’s about that – they did not want to know.

 The CM’s are not the Church in Verona. They may think they are, but they are not. 

 They are, or should be according to the Gospels, on this world to serve. They have chosen a vocation of service to the venerable, destitute and those in pain and suffering.

 They are here, as we all are, to love. They have chosen to love as Jesus showed them how to.

Jesus did not abuse children, nor condone or cover up the abuse of children.

 We are all on the same journey, with the same end.  When I was in Verona meeting my priestly abuser, the CM’s  journey was not with me. They were in their own shallow, safe and comfortable place that I could not, nor did not,  want to recognise or be part of. 

 “You must move on. ”  “There is nothing here for you.”  “I will pray for you.”  “Prayer is very powerful.”  “if you are waiting for an apology from the Combonis you will be waiting for a long time.”

 Thank you, but no thanks Father Superior of Verona.

 Nardo apologised. 

 The CM’s did not have the guts to apologise. They did not have the guts to listen. If they had, truly listened, with an open and honest heart in the spirit of justice and the Gospels they would have known that their only true response would have had to be one of apology and empathy. That would take courage and that would leave them vulnerable. They had not the guts to do it.Thet sent for their lawyers and the carabineer

 And they still do not have the guts to listen to me and the others that were abused.

 I was informed last week, from a very reliable source, that Father John Clarke would like to apologise to me – however,  his hands are tied –  in other words his lips must remain sealed because the CM’s lawyers have said that is the way it must be.

 The abuse carries on. I, and others,  have to deal with it all every day.

3 responses to ““Father Look at Me”

  1. The Comboni Missionaries have acted deplorably towards those of us who were abused. As Mark says they will be following legal advice. That advice however will be based on what the Combonis have told their legal team. I have no doubt their lawyers have been instructed to protect the Order ‘at all costs’. They couldn’t care less about those still suffering. Their statement to the press about there being “no culture of abuse at Mirfield” was ‘lawyerspin’. It saved them the task of concocting an explanation as to why a very significant number of children in their care were subjected to sexual abuse.
    The Combonis know that we were abused. Fr Fraser & Fr Hicks eventually removed Frs Pinkman & Valmaggia after being repeatedly informed of their abuse. Fr Nardo, another abuser, hides from justice in Verona. Meanwhile Fr Clark is presently going round parishes in Scotland holding ‘Mission Appeals’. The money collecting machine is still intact. There must be individual priests in the order who know it is not God’s work they now perform. Face the unpleasant past as we have, you are running out of time to do what is right. We are here to listen.

  2. Great summation Frank! I often wonder when they are alone in the darkness of a long night when they have trouble sleeping. How difficult it must be for them to reconcile their vows to the role of a priest in the Comboni Missionaries, Johnny Depp said ” You can close your eyes to the things you don’t want to see but you can’t close your heart to the things you feel”. They know in their hearts what occured but prefer to turn away so they can’t see us. All the best Ben

  3. Ben, I don’t know if these particular Comboni Fathers lose sleep for past failures, or their cover-up of child sex abuse. I’d like to think so but I suspect the decision-makers within the Order are made of sterner stuff. There are good priests in the Order I’m sure & young men study today to be future Comboni Missionaries. They deserve a nobler destiny than to be new bearers of that cross of denial, deceit & betrayal. Fashioned by scared old men to conceal their own liability & legal money-men who would assist Satan, if the fee was secure. There is no God being served in that. Our door is open Fathers. What dwells within is a brethren of men helping each other repair damaged lives. Think for just one moment… Where would Jesus want you to be.

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