Repeated Clerical Sexual Abuse by the Combonis is largely the fault of the Comboni Leadership.

BY BRIAN MARK HENNESSY – A Member of the Comboni Survivor Group

It was about 57 years ago when I was locked in the infirmary for two weeks and abused twice a day by Valmaggia – following my few weeks in hospital. I was discharged from hospital because I was well enough again to re-enter my normal routines at Mirfield – despite some residual discomfort. It was Valmaggia’s choice  – and not mine – to be confined to the infirmary. It was Valmaggia’s choice to abuse me twice a day in the guise of medical inspections. 

He already had a long record of abuse stretching back to Stillington. Despite that record of abuse – I was not visited in the infirmary for the two weeks by anyone in authority at Mirfield to see if I was OK – nor was any other pupil allowed to visit.  Valmaggia was given free rein to do as he pleased. The Comboni Hierarchy are all complicit because they already knew that Valmaggia was capable of and that he had sexually abused others.

Yes – it all happened a long time ago – and Yes Valmaggia died about 20 years ago –  after the Combonis released him from the Oder and allowed him to be incardinated into to a parish at Como where he would have had access to more children.

Mark had long reported his abuse by Nardo before Mark went to Verona. He was brushed aside by the UK Provincial and by the Verona Superior with comments like ‘We all make mistakes’ . Clerics in authority – up to Superior General level  (who personally authorised every posting to the Missions)  then intended to send Nardo back to Uganda where he ran a school. The others of us have probably met with similar levels of resistance or examples of being fobbed off. Chris has documented his struggles via the UK Hierarchy route in detail.

In the Comboni Rules in existence – certainly up to a few years ago – those who abused in the Northern hemisphere were simply rapped over the knuckles and sent on to another location – mostly to the missions – to get them out of the way. Pinkman admitted this as much in the History of the Comboni Order that he wrote:-  in which a conversation between the Superior General and the UK Provincial was recorded to the effect that:- worthy clerics should be able go to the Missions and not just be held back – because the priority was that those who ‘misbehaved’  in Europe were sent to the Missions to get them out of the way.

We have many other examples we could sight – but my general point is that whilst most of those who abused us are now dead – we must never accept that we should ‘move on’ – because it is the ORDER and it’s HIERARCHY itself that has and still does simply ‘move abusive clerics on’ today – and Nardo is just one quite recent example of an attempt to send him back to the Missions where he founded and ran a school – and would have been able to avoid prosecution and scrutiny – and continue to abuse children.

I do not have a copy of the latest Comboni Code of Conduct and so I am not up to date – but I anticipate that it has not changed much. The previous three editions are broadly the same and the changes are cosmetic and do not solve the basic issue that these clerics should have NO contact with any children whatsoever – have committed Civil Crimes – and indeed should have been handed over to Civil Police authorities in the jurisdiction in which they offended.

My point is that we are right NOT to ‘move on’ – because the Combonis have not changed. Our issues are also about the Order and the role of Provincials and the Superior General and not just the individual child sexual abusers. We need to make this abundantly clear in any conversations we have at the Vatican or anywhere else – whether those conversations are with Scicluna, the Pope or any cleric of the Curia and worldwide Hierarchy. 

The Comboni’s Hierarchy is as much to blame as the individual Child Abuse Offenders – who should all have been handed over to law enforcement officers for the crimes they committed – and not ‘tolerated’ and just shunted off somewhere else.. The Vatican Curia is also responsible for their decades – indeed millennia – of failure.

The Pope, I understand (correct me if I am wrong) has now determined that cases of abuse should always be referred to the Civil authorities – if I have understood the latest announcements correctly. This should be extended to all past cases where the offender is still alive – and not just new cases. There can be no ‘time expired’ crimes of child sexual abuse washing around in the Vatican Curia – Dioceses or Religious Institutions!

Perhaps Scicluna could be asked to verify this situation for us. I don’t appear to have contact details for him. But at any rate – the methodology of the Superior Generals and the Provincial Superiors are very valid targets of our focus. They are the powers that have blocked us for the past 20 odd years of struggle (however many years it is I cannot remember)! They need to be forced by the POPE to appologise wholeheartedly and publicly for fobbing us off in matters concerning wherever their clerics have committed abuse and in whatever part of the world they have then sent them in the hope that their record of abuse will be unknown. Such announcements in each case (dioceses and Religious institutions) should be compulsory worldwide if not already fully made.

That should all be part of our message to the POPE – and that must for the basis of the fullest apology that is given to us by the Comboni Hierarchy. We must not ‘move on’ until then.

(I must have had a bad dream about the Combonis last night – as this all came flashing into my mind as I woke up)!

Forgive any grammar and spelling issues!

Brian Mark Hennessy


Abuse is like a maggot feeding on a corpse until there is nothing left. They once coveted and abused our bodies and youthful, gullible emotions and now they eat away at our minds and continually destroy us. It is not just the physical ravaging that they inflicted on us but they continue to eat away at our minds – with their betrayal and treachery always gnawing at our emotions, minds and souls.  We were lambs for the slaughter – innocent, unknowing and defenseless. 

The callousness of the Combonis today make it harder to bear. They have no concept of the damage done to our lives. They care not one jot and they simply do not want to understand because ‘Truth’ can hurt and inflict deep wounds upon their own sense of superiority and righteousness.

 It is not new. If you go back in history and look at the priesthoods of the Egyptians, Jews, Aztecs  or wherever – they all failed eventually – because above all else they invented rules, admonitions and punishments and protected the superiority of their priesthood and their control of the minds and bodies of the common crowd . 

Now the Christian Priesthood of every shade and colour is being toppled by their own corruption and the emancipation of the common man from their yoke is marching forward. They will become history in the years to come.

That is why we must continue to play our part in fighting their abuse wherever it happens. Children of the future must be protected – and the priesthood that continues to claim superior exceptional status must be destroyed. 

Jesus Christ was a socialist above anything else and taught equality, fairness and humility. Everything else about Christianity was invented by the Roman Emperors who used Bishops as their administrators. There were once many very different records – Gospels – if you like – of the simple Jesus. Some even represented him as an ordinary man who married like any other man and had children. The Bishops simply chose the ones that suited their aim – banished and killed those who did not agree with them – and from thereon in the Christian Bishops’ Councils of the Church over the ages re-interpreted and elaborated the rule book to suit their own lifestyles and continue their dominance.

We need to treat them like the imposters that they are! Continue the fight!

Archbishop Scicluna

This gallery contains 1 photo.

Archbishop Charles Scicluna, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is travelling to the UK to meet members of the Comboni Survivor Group in February 2020. We hope this will assauge some of the pain we have been living with for decades. Thanks Charles.



Next Steps – 28th October 2019

A preliminary hearing in this investigation took place on 25 September 2019.

The full public hearing will take place from 28 October to 8 November 2019 at the Inquiry’s hearing centre at 18 Pocock Street, London SE1 0BW.

A report on the Archdiocese of Birmingham case study was published on 20 June 2019 and is available to read here. A report into Ampleforth and Downside schools, part of the English Benedictine Congregation case study, is available to read here. A further report into Ealing Abbey and St Benedict’s School, also part of the English Benedictine Congregation case study, is being prepared and will be published on 24 October 2019.

The Inquiry is encouraging all victims and survivors of child sexual abuse to share their experience.

Related links

Criteria for Selection of InvestigationsPolicy on the Scope of InvestigationsGlossary of TermsGuidance for potential Core ParticipantsCore Participant FAQsPreliminary Hearings FAQsA List of Core Participants in the InquiryGeneral Investigations hearing transcript, 26 July 2016Protocol on redaction of documentsRestriction Order 15 August 2016Attending a hearingHelp and support

Child Sexual Abuse in the Roman Catholic Church – The Independent Inquiry Child Sexual Abuse

An inquiry into the extent of any institutional failures to protect children from sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales.

The sexual abuse of children within the Roman Catholic Church has been a matter of national and international concern for many years: the Archbishop of Westminster’s calls for this Inquiry to be established reflected that concern.

This investigation will consider the extent to which the Nolan and Cumberlege reviews of child protection in the Roman Catholic Church improved the Church’s policy and practice. Specific case studies will be identified by the investigation. The first case study will examine the English Benedictine Congregation which has been the subject of numerous allegations of child sexual abuse, including at schools run by the Congregation. The Inquiry will examine the relationship between Orders such as the Benedictines and the Catholic Church in England and Wales and consider how that relationship impacts on child protection. In this way the Inquiry will evaluate whether any failings identified within the English Benedictine Congregation, and within any other case studies identified as part of the investigation, are representative of wider failings within the Catholic Church.

Relevant news

Inquiry announces publication date for Ealing Abbey report

News 26th Sep 2019

Inquiry investigation hearings to be held in September

News 29th Aug 2019

Inquiry publishes report on Archdiocese of Birmingham case study

News 20th Jun 2019

Inquiry updates hearing timetable and announces core participant opening date for investigation into child sexual exploitation by organised networks

News 20th Feb 2019

Next Steps:

A preliminary hearing in this investigation took place on 25 September 2019.

The full public hearing will take place from 28 October to 8 November 2019 at the Inquiry’s hearing centre at 18 Pocock Street, London SE1 0BW.

A report on the Archdiocese of Birmingham case study was published on 20 June 2019 and is available to read here. A report into Ampleforth and Downside schools, part of the English Benedictine Congregation case study, is available to read here. A further report into Ealing Abbey and St Benedict’s School, also part of the English Benedictine Congregation case study, is being prepared and will be published on 24 October 2019.

The Inquiry is encouraging all victims and survivors of child sexual abuse to share their experience.

Related links

Criteria for Selection of InvestigationsPolicy on the Scope of InvestigationsGlossary of TermsGuidance for potential Core ParticipantsCore Participant FAQsPreliminary Hearings FAQsA List of Core Participants in the InquiryGeneral Investigations hearing transcript, 26 July 2016Protocol on redaction of documentsRestriction Order 15 August 2016Attending a hearingHelp and support


Pope: Without The Joy Of The Gospel
One Cannot Be A Missionary

(By Robin Gomes Writing in Vatican News)

Pope Francis on 30 September met representatives of missionary congregations of Italian origin to keep alive in the people of God the awareness of being fundamentally “outgoing”, that is, sent to bring to all nations the blessing of God who is Jesus Christ.

Going out
“May your Institutes collaborate more and more with the particular Churches in order to foster an increased awareness of the “missio ad gentes” (mission to other peoples) and take up again with renewed fervour the missionary transformation of the Church’s life and pastoral activity,” the Pope told some 70 men and women religious of the Comboni*, Consolata, PIME and Xaverian congregations.

The heads of these congregations met the Pope on the eve of the Extraordinary Missionary Month of October 2019 that he instituted in October 2017, to commemorate 100 years of the Apostolic Letter “Maximum Illud” of Pope Benedict XV, that sought to give a new impetus to the Church’s missionary mandate of proclaiming the Gospel. The theme of the month is “Baptized and sent out”.

At a time when everything seemed to lead to the preservation of the existing, the Pope noted, their founders, on the contrary, became the protagonists of a new momentum towards the other and those far away. The Church exists on the road, he said. “On the couch, there is no Church.”

Mysticism of total self-giving
The Pope said it is necessary to rediscover the mysticism of mission in all its fascinating beauty, and a thirst for communion with Christ through witness, which their founders experienced, leading them to give themselves totally. This mysticism, he said, always retains its extraordinary power.

The Holy Father said he was struck by their pledge of being missionaries “sent to other peoples, outside their country of origin, and for life” without any sense triumphalism but welcoming it as an opportunity for discernment, conversion and renewal.

The Pope thanked the missionary men and women congregations for their dedication to their vocation of “missio ad gentes”, which, he said, is inseparably ecclesial because it is rooted in baptism, and linked to their rich charisms that the Lord has called them to.
“Help to keep alive in the people of God the awareness of being fundamentally “outgoing”, sent to bring to all nations the blessing of God who is Jesus Christ,” the Pope urged. By collaborating among themselves, he said, missionary congregations also help the people remember that mission is not the work of individuals, of “solitary champions”, but is communitarian, fraternal and shared.

Mission – a two-way traffic
The Pope said that mission is not a “one-way” traffic from Europe to the rest of the world but thrives on exchange. Territories that once received missionaries are today producing the majority of priests and religious in the Church. This, he said, arouses a sense of gratitude towards the holy evangelizers who with great sacrifices sowed in those lands. It is also a challenge for communion and formation for the Churches and for congregations, trusting in the Holy Spirit who is Master in harmonizing differences.

In this regard, Pope Francis recalled that General Congregation of the Jesuits in 1974, where someone asked if they could have an Indian or an African as Jesuit general. But those days, the Pope pointed out, a general had to be a European. “Today many religious congregations have superiors general from those lands,” he said, noting there is a Latin American Jesuit general today. “The thing has been reversed: what in 1974 was utopia, is a reality today,” he said.

Joy of the Gospel
He told the men and women missionaries that by leaving behind their beloved native country they are proclaiming that with Christ there is always novelty in life, without boredom, fatigue or sadness. “The missionary needs the joy of the Gospel: without this one cannot be on a mission, one does not proclaim a Gospel that does not attract.” “This attraction, he stressed, is the heart of mission” because it is only Christ who attracts


Comment by Brian Mark Hennessy of the Comboni Survivor Group.

The Pope is Talking to the Deaf.
In January 2016, Cardinal Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster took a Document comprising over 200 pages relating to 1000 alleged crimes of child sexual abuse by Comboni Missionary Priests against UK child seminarians to the Vatican. He handed it in personally to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

There was no response to the Comboni Survivor Group whatsoever – not even an acknowledgement of receipt. A Year later Cardinal Nichols visited CDF and reminded them that there had still been no response.

In August 2018 a second document was produced regarding a specific case and it took the form of an application for Papal Justice under the provisions of Canon Law. That document and a copy of the previous document were handed into the Popes Private Office by a Jesuit acting on behalf of the Comboni Survivor Group. By December of that year there had still been no response from the Private Office of the Pope.

In December 2018, Archbishop Scicluna arrived in Rome to assist in the preparations for the February 2019 Synod on Child Abuse. The Archbishop was contacted directly by one of the Comboni Survivor Group. Scicluna immediately forwarded the two documents to the Disciplinary Office of CDF. No response has yet been received 10 months later – not even an acknowledgement of receipt.

At the Synod – the Superior General of the Comboni Missionary Order was present when the Pope addressed Bishops and Religious Superiors from throughout the world in Santa Marta at the Vatican. He looked moved on camera as it was televised and I had hopes that he would then respond to child victims of 1000 alleged crimes committed by clerics of his Order at least commence a dialogue of healing.

However, there has been no outreach by members of the Order to the surviving victims of Comboni cleric’s sexual abuse of UK Junior Seminarians. I use the word ‘survivors’ because in the past year, half a century following the abuse, and after years seeking dialogue with the Comboni Missionary Order, two of our fellow seminarians who were sexually abused have died without a single word of apology or comfort from the Superior General of the Comboni Missionary Order and nor from the UK Provincial of the Order.

I have to conclude that the policy of the Eternal Catholic Church and its clerics is that they are waiting for all the survivors of child sexual abuse at the hands of their former fellow priests are dead in their graves.


NSS raises Vatican’s defiance of abuse inquiry with Foreign Office

NSS raises Vatican’s defiance of abuse inquiry with Foreign Office
Posted: Fri, 27 Sep 2019

The National Secular Society has urged the government to hold the Vatican accountable over its continued failure to cooperate with a British public inquiry on child abuse.

The NSS has written to Foreign Office minister Tariq Ahmad over the issue after revelations at the Independent Inquiry on Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) this week.

Counsel to the inquiry Jacqueline Carey said the Vatican had refused to supply written evidence or send witnesses about clerical misconduct in advance of hearings in October, despite a request to do so.

She told the inquiry on Wednesday: “The Holy See confirmed that it would not be providing a witness statement or a witness to attend the hearing. The Holy See considers that the ‘domestic laws and internal proceedings of a foreign sovereign entity are not the proper object for a British inquiry’.”

IICSA’s request, which comes in advance of hearings into abuse in the Catholic Church due to take place in October, concerns issues including:

• Abuse at Ealing Abbey, in west London, and its associated school, St Benedict’s

• The role of the Vatican’s representative in Britain, the papal nuncio
• The Catholic Church’s wider approach to abuse allegations.

Carey said the Vatican had told the inquiry its officials are “bound by rules of confidentiality and have immunity from being compelled to give evidence or produce documents”.

The Vatican claimed that the papal nuncio to Britain, Edward Adams, had diplomatic immunity and could not be called to testify.

The inquiry also heard that the Vatican had “expressed reservations” about attempts to identify witnesses who could provide evidence about areas of concern which it had not addressed.

In its letter the NSS asked the Foreign Office to “step in to help the inquiry”.
Chief executive Stephen Evans wrote: “We urge you, in the interests of the countless victims of Catholic clerical abuse, to bring all the pressure you can to ensure that the Vatican is not allowed to thwart the ability of IICSA to understand and address the significant institutional failures to protect children from sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales.”

On Wednesday IICSA heard that the Foreign Office’s job was “simply to facilitate the passage of correspondence between the inquiry and the Holy See”.
Explaining the NSS’s decision to write the letter, Mr Evans said: “The Catholic Church’s continued failure to cooperate with the IICSA inquiry is unacceptable and again exposes Pope Francis’s empty rhetoric on tackling child abuse. In these circumstances the government must be prepared to pressurise the church’s hierarchy to change its ways.

“And ultimately the government should be prepared to reconsider its relationship with the Vatican. A religious authority is claiming diplomatic immunity to prevent a British public inquiry from fulfilling its legitimate remit concerning child abuse which took place within the UK. It can’t be allowed to defy justice so brazenly without consequence.”

In February it was revealed that IICSA had written to the papal nuncio several times to request a statement but had received no response.

At the time the NSS wrote to prime minister Theresa May to urge her to put pressure on the Vatican over the issue. The society did not receive a response.
The pope also promised to take “concrete measures” to tackle abuse in February.

Frank McGinnis 1952-2019

Frank McGinnis – Rest In Peace

Our friend and colleague, Frank McGinnis, who was at Mirfield from 1964 to 1967 passed away on June 7th 2019. He, along with 11 others of us, was a Core Participant in Theresa May’s Abuse Panel. His daughters, Lee and Clare want to keep on fighting for justice on his behalf. I was going to write a eulogy to him myself as he was my best friend at Mirfield. However, I couldn’t put it better than his two daughters who read out the eulogies at his funeral in Largs Crematorium. Here they are:-

Lee’s Eulogy to her Dad


I have been staring at this piece of paper for the last week struggling to find the words I need to say.  I still haven’t found them.

I could stand here for hours and share the memories we have but it’s too painful for me to even think about at the moment.  All I can say is this.  You have been the best dad.  We are so proud to have had you as a dad, papa, husband, brother, uncle and friend.  You provided us with the most wonderfully enriched lives.

You always said it was luck that things worked out for you in life but it was obvious to anyone who knew you that it took great skill to achieve what you did by not playing their game.  You were a genius who studied the rules meticulously so that you could break them effectively.  The world is a poorer place without you.

Bedtime Stories

Your role as provider was important but it was working on our minds that mattered to you – telling us the most amazing stories at bedtime straight out of your head about the wee magic box and the magic ice-cream van and later, to Jayden, the Felix the cat stories.  Then as we got older it was political discussions we had into the early hours.  Trying to solve the world’s problems.  And you could have done it dad.

The McGinnis Family

Your family meant the world to you.  You knew each of us so completely and utterly and you had the ability to adapt for each of us to whatever our needs were – cars, money, Celtic, boyfriend/husband drama, homework – you were there at every step.  You were our best friend and we are lost without you.

When I was wee you left to go work on the ships for months at a time and I remember just going and sitting under the table crying and I wouldn’t come out.  I have always had that same feeling being apart from you.  No more so than now.

Daddy’s Girl

I was a daddy’s girl and followed you everywhere, lying underneath motors with you and asking you endless questions.  Then Clare appeared with her strong will and rebellious streak.  You were secretly pleased when she stood up to you.  She was so similar to you with her strong convictions and you were so proud.  Andrew was so laidback you just thought he was the best wee guy.  Not a bit of bother.  Only when Celtic bitterly disappointed him did you need to comfort him.  You couldn’t have been prouder when he achieved his first-class degree in Law.

Grandson Jayden

In 2003 your grandson Jayden came along and dominated your life completely.  He followed you everywhere too and words can’t describe how much this wee guy meant to you.  He was your life.  In just 16 years you have imparted so much wisdom and knowledge to him that should keep him going a lifetime.  You were only 67 and we should have had many more years with you but the quality of the time we have spent with you provides some form of comfort.

The Happiest Times

The last few years were some of our happiest times.  You and mum had become the best of friends again, helped in no small part by the wee dug, Bella, who is missing you so much dad!  You were besotted with her and the feeling was mutual.  Your sons-in-law Jamie and Greg and your, for all intents and purposes, daughter-in-law Caroline loved you so much as did your wee surrogate son Alan.  You could not have been more loved dad.

I will miss that warm feeling I would get when I would see you arriving at my house and that pang I would get in my heart when I would watch you walk up the steps to your front door.  We will miss you every single day dad.  None of these words convey the depth of this loss we now feel.

Clare’s Eulogy to Her Dad

Our dad was our hero – always there when we needed him and that was often. We shared love laughter and tears.  He taught us what is right and wrong from his innate moral compass.  Our dad hated cruelty and abuse of power. He always advocated on behalf of anyone who was a victim of any abuse of power, the poor, the abused, those treated unjustly by a system designed to keep power in the hands of those who wield that power for themselves and we will continue that fight.

A Master of Words and Wit

We have the tools but we were not finished learning from the master. And he was a master. He was a wordsmith with a wit that could destroy anyone. Strong, full of love and we knew everyday how lucky we were to have that man as our dad, the kettle always on and a willing ear after a hard day. I was so grateful as I see everyday in my job what not having that safety net can do to kids.

We know what we’ve lost.  My dad understood what was important in life. Family. So not for him any deathbed regrets over how he spent his time.  A big part of us died that day and now Dad we hope that you were wrong and that there is more to all of this so we can all be together again when the time comes.