By Brian Mark Hennessy

A short while ago we reported in this Blog that an Italian priest had disappeared. Those familiar with this site will know that story well as it concerned the disappearance of the Comboni Missionary Priest, Romano Nardo, but for those unfamiliar with the case I repeat the bones of it again here:

The Comboni Missionary Order has resisted attempts by the United Kingdom’s West Yorkshire Police to have an Italian priest extradited to the United Kingdom to face criminal charges. That priest named, Romano Nardo, a native of Prata di Sopra in Pordenone, Italy, had been dumped out of sight in Uganda at the Aduku Mission in the Diocese of Lira from the time that his abuse of a fourteen year old junior seminarian was discovered at Mirfield in England. In that Uganda Mission, obviously, he had unchecked access to even more children for decades. Following his exposure as a priest who had abused boys at the Mirfield seminary, he was moved from Uganda to Verona in Italy. After his discovery there in 2015 by one of his former victims, he was again moved to a secret place of hiding where he remains today under constant guard in order to prevent the possibility of his discovery by the Italian press and media – and extradition to the United Kingdom. To all intents and purposes, Don Romano Nardo has disappeared.

Now, according to the Italian organization Rete L’Abuso, which tracks the movements within Italy of priests accused of the sexual abuse of children, Don Gabriele Martinelli, who is accused of abuse of junior seminarians at the Vatican St Pius X Junior Seminary, has also disappeared. Martinelli was only ordained in July 2017! Apparently, the priest, whilst still a senior seminarian at the Vatican had a casual relationship over a period of time with at least one other boy younger than him and aged just 13 years. According to eye-witness accounts, however, there were other victims of Martinelli at that same Vatican seminary.

Given that the seminary is located within the Vatican State this places Pope Francis in a difficult situation for he, as head of both the Vatican State and the Catholic Church – and the Pope has declared that he has “No Tolerance” and that “There is no place in the Catholic Church for those clerics who abuse children”! In addition, what will Pope Francis ask of the Bishop of Como, for according to the reports, witnesses to the abuse have also stated that the abuse was reported to the Bishop of Como before Martinelli was even ordained.

The Diocese of Como has been forced to issue a report regarding the accusations and stated that, “The accusations made were investigated by the relevant ecclesiastical officials and the priest’s canonical superiors had evaluated Martinelli and his behavior prior to his ordination. The Bishop of Como, having taken note of the outcome of this inquiry, all the assessments of Martinelli’s personality and the vocational journey of the seminarist, then made the decision personally to proceed with the ordination of Don Martinelli”
Following his ordination in July, Don Martinelli was sent to work in Valtellina, Lombardy in the Diocese of Como. Attempts have been made by journalists to contact Martinelli there, but he has not been seen in the town or country surroundings. So where has this priest been “disappeared” to? Has he been “dumped” somewhere else in the diocese by the Bishop of Como? Curiously, we should note, Como is also the diocese where Father Domenico Valmaggia, a Comboni Missionary Priest accused of abuse of many Junior seminarians at Mirfield in England, was “dumped” in the 1970’s! They are obviously not very “choosey” about their clerics in the Como Diocese – and presumably – have very little regard for the welfare of children also!

(Note: Passages of this article were produced from reports on the subject by the reporter, Susanna Zambon writing for “Il Giorno” and Francesco Zanardi, President of “Rete L’Abuso”. The information regarding Don Romano Nardo was published in the Pordenone “Il Gazzettino”. This Blog, “Comboni Missionaries – A Childhood in their Hands” accepts no responsibility for errors in reporting by third parties).

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