Combone Missionaries Attack on Those They Abused?

Joseph Gittos & Comboni Missionaries

12 men, myself included, who went to the Comboni Missionaries Seminary in Mirfield, Yorkshire in the Sixties have said that they were abused by priests of the order while at Mirfield. The Comboni Missionaries paid out a total of £140,000 to them.

However, they have never admitted that the abuse took place, never mind apologized for it and have not changed their processes to make sure that it never happens again.

There are a further 3 ex-seminarians in legal despite with them and we know of others who were abused but don’t want to come forward.

The closest they have come to admitting the abuse is when they said that if anything did take place then they are sorry about it.

Abused Get Attacked

It is one of the sad things about abuse is that when the abused first reveals it, perhaps to family members, it is the abuser often who is seen as the problem and not the abuser. The instinct is to protect the abuser rather than give sympathy to the abused. Psychologists are very aware of this knee jerk behaviour.

The Comboni Missionaries not only won’t aologize for the abuse but they have actually attacked those abused by their Order. An instance of this was in Verona where they tried to criminally prosecute Mark Murray when he went to Verona where his abuser resides, to offer him forgiveness. This was thankfully thrown out of court by the Italian judge.

UK Attacks on the Abused

Now it seems they want to go on the attack in the UK.

I was told on September 23rd that there was a meeting at their house in Glasgow to which some ex-seminarians were invited. The proposal was that they  should recruit some ex-seminarians to go on the offensive against those that were abused. I am not able to say one way or the other if this is correct.

Joe Gittos and Memories of Mirfield

Earlier this week this appeared as Comments on the blog from Joe Gittos who was at the seminary at the same times as us. It refers to a series of articles that I posted of my memories of Mirfield, good and bad. Here it is:-

“Another piece of fiction from Gerry McLaughlin. Marks of 5,4,5 lowest in the history of the college? Don’t make me laugh,I regularly got 3’s. I wish some of the posts on the website were not based on fiction. I have seen Gerry refer to Maurice Eaton and him getting into escapades in 1966, when Maurice had long left Mirfield. I wish some of the contributors to this site would get real and not exaggerate would went on at Mirfield. Having been a seminarian from 1962 to 1967 I have a good insight into what went on at Mirfield and some of the stories written are pure fiction and exaggeration.”

I have no idea if Joe’s post is connected to the meeting in Glasgow or not and if he is part of the action to discredit those who were abused. It may just be coincidence taht this appeared now.

Low Conduct Marks

What I would say is that what I said, in the article, was that I received a low set of Conduct marks which shocked both myself and others. One of the boys said to me afterwards that that was the lowest Conduct marks ever at the school. I said that I felt terrible as being the baddest boy ever at the school. However, I was just describing my feelings on the day. I had no access then, or now, to the historic Condcut marks held by the college. I don’t know if Joe does.

As regards whether Maurice Eaton was still there in 1966 my memory says he was and others have concurred. However, it is possible that he was not the guy on the day of the bonfire in the story. It’s possible that it was John Carey (Titch) who most certainly was there along with Mick Palmer and Mick Wainhouse.

I’m sure that, like the Conduct Marks, Maurice Eaton’s departure date from Mirfield, it will all be on the files held by the Comboni Missionaries.

My Memories of Mirfield

I would say, though, that if that is all Joe found in my dozens of articles of my memories of Mirfield which is incorrect from 50 years ago then I would say that I would be pretty safe from getting Alzheimer’s for a few years yet.

It’s an old trick, much used by politicans, i.e. find one or two things which may be incorrect and then take the leap of saying that this shows that it is all ‘fiction’.

It certainly is not!

Shame on you Joe

If Joe is part of this new campaign to attack those abused on behalf of the Comboni Missionaries he should be ashamed. That’s especially as he revealed, at the reunion, that he had been the victim of some abuse at the college himself, albeit of a more minor nature.

You said, Joe, that you had never told your iofe and kids about it.

How would they feel (and think of you) if they knew that you had possibly become part of a campaign to denigrate those who were abused at the college.

Exaggerated Claims of Abuse</h3>

You said ” I wish some of the contributors to this site would get real and not exaggerate would went on at Mirfield.”

One would presume you mean the accusations of abuse by at least 19 ex-seminarians. How would you know, Joe, if it happened or not? You were never present when it happened.

At least you are not claiming like the Combonis, that it never happened. you just believe, without any evidence at all, that it is exaggerated.

I was there when it happened!

Shame on you Joe!

I never expected this from you.

I would ask you to reconsider.

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The Blue Dog Key Company

Liam Gribben

I received this unexpectedly through email and thought I’d share it.

March Newsletter

Blue Dog was formed by Liam Gribben, who emigrated to the United States from Scotland in 1978. After living in Maine with family for several months, he became a sales rep for Cole National, his first step into the key blank business. In 1982 Cole filed for bankruptcy and Liam began selling keys independently, becoming an Ilco distributor. He actually sold Blue Dog once to take on other work, then bought it back and continued the company until 2016 when he passed away unexpectedly.

Liam was known as a unique character by his customers, having an uncanny expertise in trivia and known to his friends as a remarkable ballroom dancer. While he loved to travel, he detested flying and always made sure he had a friend along on any trip that required an airplane. His customers always found a Trivial Pursuit card or two in every order.

At Framon we plan to keep the Blue Dog Keys story going, researching the hard to find, unique and rare keys that locksmiths need access to. As a key machine manufacturer we will continue to sell our machines and products through our network of locksmith distributors, while Blue Dog will sell directly to locksmiths as it has in the past. The focus of Blue Dog has always been as a secondary supplier to your normal locksmith distributor, specializing in small quantities (there is never a minimum order) of blanks and precut keys. Keep Blue Dog in mind the next time you are looking for a blank that you just can’t find…as Liam used to say, “Yeah, We Got That!”.

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Blue Dog Keys
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My Name is Eddie Roberts. I Was at the Verona Fathers in Mirfield

Eddie (Edwin) Roberts

Who is this visitor to the blog you may ask?

I am now 66 years old and walked the corridors of Mirfield from 1963 to 1967 and then moved up to Allanton  for a year from where I was dishonourably discharged as a result of an unhealthy (still a matter of opinion) encounter with beer and ladies.

I shared the classroom often with John Docherty, Leonard Rowland, and  David Glenday in particular and had a close association with Fritz and Bickers among others.

The list of names would go on. My pride and joy as for  others was pulling on the Inter Milan strip and roaming the right side of the field.

My laundry number was 94!

MC at Mirfield

I was elevated to the lofty position of  MC which was  the pinnacle of my then career, and though I thought it was because of my unquestioned saintliness, in truth it was because I was the worst singer since Moses tried to sing the Ten Commandments and I could swing a thurible like no other.

My class reports had a common theme of “too frivolous in class” and ” must take his duties more seriously ” !

Via a circuitous route through Israel, Saudi Arabia, Canada and Stockton-on-Tees, I arrived in Australia.

Eddie Roberts - a Verona Fathers Mirfield Boy

Eddie Roberts – a Verona Fathers Mirfield Boy

Mirfield Blog

I came upon this blog quite by accident . I was engaged in routine internet activity and like many others suddenly decided to go off task and do a bit of Google research.

Now for some as yet unconfirmed reason I entered Verona Fathers.

What  I found was an emotional tremor to say the least! How was I unaware of what was going on then and now?

Names , my name! and events from an age gone by leapt out of the pages and excited as I was , my heart became heavy as I read on.

Corridors and Dormitories

I have reflected deeply since the discovery and with the benefit of that wonderful friend hindsight, yes the signs were there, the clues were in the corridors and dormitories.

Why not me? Who knows?

I thought till now a routine weigh by an avuncular medically trained Father was quite normal. It  is hard to attach a 66 year old head to a 13 year old kid destined for the papacy.

A Time of Happiness and Fun

As my contact with some of you grows, I think of a time, for me, of happiness and fun, of challenge and camaraderie that forged my path for the future.

I must now dwell on other things, sad things, and my thoughts are with you.

I talked with Gerry recently for over an hour after a gap of around 49 years!

I don’t know the man, yet we talked of happy days, memories plucked from storage in the depths of some cerebral hemisphere.And we still have  a bond, more in common than with some people I have known for decades.

From a land down under, I wish you well and speed the day I don that Inter strip and see you again.

Father Tesfaye Tadesse Gebresilasie – Questions for Comboni MIssionaries Superior General

Father Tesfaye, Superior General of Comboni Missionaries

If I was interviewing the new Superior General I would ask him:-

1. Was Sexual Abuse of Minors discussed at the General Chapter?

2. If so, what was decided?

3. If not, why not?

4. When you talked about the problems that the Order has faced were you including the Sexual Abuse of Minors by Comboni Missionaries at Mirfield in the Sixties and Seventies?

5. If you were not, why not? Do you not see this as a problem?

6. If you were, what do you see as the problem – the actions of Comboni Missionaries who abused junior seminarians or covered it up or the actions of the abused to get justice?

7. In terms of the Comboni Missionaries and clerical sexual abuse, will your leadership continue as before with the same policies and same actions or will you take a new direction?

8. If it is a new direction, what will this direction be?

9. Pope Francis has said in his US trip “The crimes of sexual abuse against children cannot be repeated.” What action will the Comboni Missionaries take to make sure that his wishes are carried out and that no further abuse can ever take place at the hands of Comboni Missionaries.

10. Pope Francis has said that any Bishops involved in the cover-up of sexual abuse of children will be punished. We have already seen how the top Cardinal in the Scottish Catholic Church has been banished. Will you continue the policy of your predecessors and continue to cover up child abuse or will you flush it out into the open?

11. Will the Comboni Missionaries, under your leadership, apologise to those who were abused in the past and acknowledge what happened to them?

12. Will you agree to meet with representatives of the Mirfield 12 and to work with them to make sure, as Pope Francis requests, that this ‘crime’ in his words, will never be allowed to happen again?

13. Will you hand over any documentation relating to the abuse at Mirfield, e.g. records showing:-
– why Father Pinkman was sent away after multiple accusations of abuse,
– why Father Valmaggia was sent away and thrown out of the Order after multiple sexual abuse accusations,
– why Father Roman Nardo was sent so quickly to the Missions after abusing Mark Murray repeatedly and
– why he was brought home from Uganda after accusations of sexual abuse by Mark Murray
– why Michael Riddle was sacked from his job as a lay teacher after accusations of sexual abuse,

to the appropriate authorities, i.e. to the police and the Vatican?

Father Gebresilasie, Comboni Missionaries Superior General

Father Gebresilasie, Superior General of the Comboni MIssionaries

Father Tesfaye Tadesse Gebresilasie Voted New Superior General of Comboni Missionaries

Fr Tesfaye Tadesse Gebresilasie

The Comboni Missionaries have a new Superior General. They are currently involved in their General Chapter XVIII in Rome until October 4th. One of their final acts of the General Council was to elect Fr. Gebresilasie to the role of Superior General of the Order. He is the first African to have held this title.

I think that I remember, from my time at Mirfield, that Daniel Comboni predicted that eventually Africa would bring the missions back to Europe. That prediction has come true in a big way wih the election of Fr Gebresilasie.

He is 46 years old so still has plenty of energy for the role.

He was assistant General in charge of Basic Formation and the provinces/ delegations of English-speaking Africa (except Eritrea) and Mozambique. Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse Gebresilasie was born on September 22, 1969, in Harar (Ethiopia).

Comboni Missionary Confreres

His vote was almost unanimous but he thanked this who had reservations about him saying ” I would like to say thanks to the confreres who have expressed their reservations, their hesitation. I agree with you and thank you, because I myself am afraid, I too have my reservations and my hesitations. So thanks for your realism.”

He said that the Comboni Missionaris were on the side of the poor.

He continued “Our Institute, too, has its problems. Faced by all this, I feel small, a little confrere who has had the experience of the great forgiveness of God and confreres”.

Father Gebresilasie, Comboni Missionaries Superior General

Father Gebresilasie, Superior General of the Comboni MIssionaries

Comboni Missionaries Sexual Abuse of Minors

He didn’t say, specifically, what the problems were but let’s hope that he sees the abuse of minors at the seminary in Mirfield in England in the Sixties and Seventies, and the subsequent cover-up,, and not the cost of litigation and bad publicity from it, as one of the problems facing the Order

He then accepted the role of Superior General of the Order replacing the outgoing Fr. Enrique Sánchez who was a major player in the cover-up of abuse at the Order.

To anoint the new leader of the 1,700 Comboni Missionaries worldwide Fr Sanchez said:-

“I, Enrique Sánchez González, declare the Rev. Father Tesfaye Tadesse Gebresilasie the elected Superior General of the Institute of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

And the Comboni MIssionaries had a new leader.

New Superior General

Is he a new broom who will sweep clean? Will he take the Comboni Missionaries in a new direction?

Will he face the scandal of the sexual abuse of minors at Mirfield in the Sixties and Seventies head on and deal with it appropriately or will he see the abused as the problem as previous Superior Generals, including Father Sanchez, has done?

Let’s hope it’s the former and not the latter.

Father Romano Nardo saying Mass in 2008

Father Romano Nardo saying Mass in 2008 in his home town of Pordenone

The Mirfield 12 wish Father Gebresilasie well and we look forward to a new beginning.

Questions for the new Comboni Missionaries Superior General

Comboni Missionaries Superior General

The new Superior General of the Comboni Missionaries will be elected this week. The Mirfield 12 hope that he will make a clean break with the past and own up to the crimes of sexual abuse of minors and will take steps to work with the abused to make sure it can never happen again.

Here are some questions for the Comboni Missionaries and the new Superior General:-

1. Was Clerical child abuse discussed at General Chapter XVIII?

2. Why was Father Pinkman moved on after accusations of child abuse at Mirfield.

3. Why was Father Valmaggia moved on and thrown out of the Order to a parish in Como after accusations of child abuse?

4. Why was Father Romano Nardo brought back from Uganda in the Nineties after accusations of child abuse by Mark Murray? Why was Mark told that he would never be allowed near children again? Why were these accusations never reported to the police? Why will the Comboni Missionaries not allow West Yorkshire police permission to speak interview him?

5. What do they think of Pope Francis’s latest statement in the USA last week when he said that “The crimes of sexual abuse against children cannot be repeated” and that bishops who cover up sexual abuse of minors will be prosecuted? Do they agree with the Pope? Will they follow his instructions on the matter?

6. Will the new Superior General acknowledge that abuse took place? Will he apologise for it? Will he work with the victims to make sure it can never happen again? Will he pass over all the information that they have about the sexual abuse on their files to Italian and UK police?