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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Priests should face Criminal Charges for not Reporting Abuse Heard in Confession

Priests should face Criminal Charges for not Reporting Abuse Heard in Confession

By a Staff Reporter of the Catholic Herald: posted Monday, 14 Aug 2017

(Paraphrased by Brian Mark Hennessy)

The report by the Australian Inquiry has called for legislation to criminalise priests who fail to break the seal of the confessional. It states that Priests who do not inform the police after learning about child abuse in confession should face criminal charges, an Australian inquiry has said. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommended all states and territories in the country should introduce legislation to punish priests for not breaking the seal of the confessional.

“The right to practice one’s religious beliefs must accommodate civil society’s obligation to provide for the safety of all. In particular, such reports must be made in cases of children’s safety from sexual abuse,” the commission wrote. “Institutions directed to caring for and providing services for children, including religious institutions, must provide an environment where children are safe from sexual abuse. Reporting information relevant to child sexual abuse to the police is critical to ensuring the safety of children.”

The recommendation will likely be strongly resisted by the Church, which has always guarded the absolute confidentiality of confession. Under canon law, priests may never break the seal of the confessional, even under threat of death. Any priest who breaks the seal faces automatic excommunication. Archbishop of Melbourne Denis J Hart said in a statement: “Confession in the Catholic Church is a spiritual encounter with God through the priest. It is a fundamental part of the freedom of religion, and it is recognised in the Law of Australia and many other countries. It must remain so here in Australia. Outside of this all offences against children must be reported to the authorities – and we are absolutely committed to doing so.”

Comments by Brian Mark Hennessy

Whilst indeed Canon Law does make the statements on Confessional secrecy reiterated by the Catholic cleric Hart above, Canon Law is out of step with St Augustine of Hippo whom the Catholic Church claims, rightfully, to be perhaps the most significant Doctor of their very own Catholic Church. In his “Summa Theologiae”, Augustine clearly states that Christians are bound to report to the civil authorities matters for which the civil state has a right to provide legislation and dispense justice – and where there are no “moral” grounds that prohibit such reporting. In most modern democratic Nation States such a moral ground prohibiting reporting would be almost impossible to define. The only theoretical instance of which I can readily (and reasonably think to be debatable) that would preclude reporting of a crime of sexual abuse to a State authority is one in which a State provides capital punishment as a penalty for the crime committed.

In the case of “child abuse” there are not only no moral grounds for not reporting the facts to the civil authorities, but there is a “moral imperative” for doing so. Christ said, “Suffer not little children to come unto me”. That is a moral imperative to protect children if ever there was one. It is, moreover, a fundamental “Christian Gospel” obligation. To state otherwise is an act of age-old Catholic Church ostentation, moral sterility and institutional senility.

Moreover, there is nothing to prevent a Confessor Priest clearly stating to a penitent who has committed a crime against any third party that absolution is always conditional upon “true penitence”. In cases of crimes against children and vulnerable adults, who have no capacity to understand and to report such crimes committed against them themselves, the Confessor must state clearly to the penitent that absolution is both conditional upon and demonstrated by an admission of the crime by the penitent, herself or himself, to the civil authority.

It should be further explained to the penitent that the civil authority has the moral duty to protect from harm all citizens, particularly children and vulnerable adults, and to provide appropriate justice on their behalf. In cases where the penitent does not give an obligation to do so – or where subsequently a Confessor learns emphatically that a penitent has not done so, then the Confessor has a clear moral obligation to make such a report himself. It is a “no-brainer” not so to do and has no moral Christian foundation. The Catholic Church is repugnantly outrageous to either do or state anything to the contrary.

The Catholic Church Is ‘Shocked’ At The Hundreds Of Children Buried At Tuam. Really?

The Catholic Church Is ‘Shocked’ At The Hundreds Of Children Buried At Tuam. Really?

By: Emer O’Toole

Reporting in The International Guardian – Tuesday 7 March 2017

 

It has been confirmed that significant numbers of children’s remains lie in a mass grave adjacent to a former home for unmarried mothers run by the Bon Secours Sisters in Tuam, County Galway. This is exactly where local historian Catherine Corless, who was instrumental in bringing the mass grave to light, said they would be. A state-established commission of inquiry into mother and baby homes recently located the site in a structure that “appears to be related to the treatment/containment of sewage and/or waste water”, but which we are not supposed to call a septic tank.

The archbishop of Tuam, Michael Neary, says he is “deeply shocked and horrified”. Deeply. Because what could the church have known about the abuse of children in its instutions? When Irish taoiseach Enda Kenny was asked if he was similarly shocked, he answered: “Absolutely. To think you pass by the location on so many occasions over the years.” To think. Because what would Kenny, in Irish politics since the 70s, know about state-funded, church-perpetrated abuse of women and children? Even the commission of inquiry – already under critique by the UN – said in its official statement that it was “shocked by this discovery”.

If I am shocked, it is by the pretence of so much shock. When Corless discovered death certificates for 796 children at the home between 1925 and 1961 but burial records for only two, it was clear that hundreds of bodies existed somewhere. They did not, after all, ascend into heaven like the virgin mother. Corless then uncovered oral histories from reliable local witnesses, offering evidence of where those children’s remains could be found. So what did the church and state think had happened? That the nuns had buried the babies in a lovely wee graveyard somewhere, but just couldn’t remember where?

Or maybe the church and state are expressing shock that nuns in mid-20th century Ireland could have so little regard for the lives and deaths of children in their care. The Ryan report in 2009 documented the systematic sexual, physical and emotional abuse of children in church-run, state-funded institutions. It revealed that when confronted with evidence of child abuse, the church would transfer abusers to other institutions, where they could abuse other children. The Christian Brothers legally blocked the report from naming and shaming its members. Meanwhile, Cardinal Seán Brady – now known to have participated in the cover-up of abuse by paedophile priest Brendan Smyth – muttered about how ashamed he was.

It may be time to stop acting as though the moral bankruptcy and hypocrisy of the Catholic church are news to us!

The same year, the Murphy report on the sexual abuse of children in the archdiocese of Dublin revealed that the Catholic church’s priorities in dealing with paedophilia were not child welfare, but rather secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of its reputation and the preservation of church assets. In 2013, the McAleese report documented the imprisonment of more than 10,000 women in church-run, state-funded laundries, where they worked in punitive industrial conditions without pay for the crime of being unmarried mothers.

So, you will forgive me if I am sceptical of the professed shock of Ireland’s clergy, politicians and official inquiring bodies. We know too much about the Catholic church’s abuse of women and children to be shocked by Tuam. A mass grave full of the children of unmarried mothers is an embarrassing landmark when the state is still paying the church to run its schools and hospitals. Hundreds of dead babies are not an asset to those invested in the myth of an abortion-free Ireland; they inconveniently suggest that Catholic Ireland always had abortions, just very late-term ones, administered slowly by nuns after the children were already born.

As Ireland gears up for a probable referendum on abortion rights as well as a strategically planned visit from the pope, it may be time to stop acting as though the moral bankruptcy and hypocrisy of the Catholic church are news to us. You can say you don’t care, but – after the Ryan report, the Murphy report, the McAleese report, the Cloyne report, the Ferns report, the Raphoe report and now Tuam – you don’t get to pretend that you don’t know. I wrestle with the reality that – in our schools and hospitals – we’re still handing power over women and children’s lives to the Catholic church. Perhaps, after Tuam, after everything, that’s what’s really shocking.

HOPE FOR THE HEALING OF SURVIVORS — By Brian mark Hennessy

HOPE FOR THE HEALING OF SURVIVORS — By Brian mark Hennessy

“Sexual abuse has been called “soul murder” and sexual abuse by clergy is an icon of spiritual felony”.

( Note: Mary Gail Frawley-O’Dea is author of Perversion of Power: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church and a psychologist who has been working with sexual abuse survivors for 30 years. In the second of a four part article in the National Catholic Reporter, (which can be accessed on-line at NCRonline.org.), Mary discusses the commonality and damage of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), including clergy sexual abuse. In the article below (abridged and paraphrased by Brian Mark Hennessy) Mary focuses on the hope that most trauma survivors can heal because of inherent or learned resilience and through access to forms of healing resources).
Resilience: Since the 1980s, when child abuse and domestic violence emerged from society’s skeleton closet, researchers and clinicians have rightly prioritized the tremendous wounds caused by adverse childhood experiences. One of the ways in which Survivors can cope with the severe trauma of abuse is the learning of the skills of resilience. Resilience researchers have investigated the genetic, biological, social and spiritual factors contributing to resilience. They and others have identified a number of factors that appear to endow an individual with resilience:

• Above average intelligence.
• An internal locus of control. A sense that the individual can determine his/her own fate, even when trauma occurs.
• An optimistic cognitive style. Resilient individuals tend to be able to find the silver lining in even the darkest, most thunderous clouds. They are able to imagine a time when life will be better.
• A close, safe relationship with at least one adult not involved in the trauma. This is an area in which abusive priests were often the most despicable and damaging. Children known by predator priests to be in difficult home situations, or kids who came to the priests for advice or comfort about other traumas, were often selected as victims. Instead of responding to an already hurting young person with kindness and mercy, abusing clergy too often became another trauma for the child or teen.
• A consistent faith and/or cultural traditions that provided hope and a steady belief system. Once again, we see the travesty of priests whose sexual violations robbed victims of a faith-based building block of resilience to life’s challenges.
• A good sense of humor, even when life is tough.

 

“It is important to note, however, that all researchers point to sexual abuse while young as a particularly pernicious adverse childhood experience that results in multiple times the risk of experienced in other trauma-related challenges”.

 

Telling the narrative: Unlike the first time around, the survivor has control of the timing and pace of being “in” the original adverse experience when telling their experience. Memories can be painful and sometimes are at first acted out as much as “remembered” in the way we usually think of that. It may be in therapy that survivors put some of their traumatic experiences into words for the first time. Doing so begins to structure the memories, gradually taking some of the affective heat out of them.

”It is essential for a trauma survivor to tell their story to another who bears witness to it”.

 

Differentiating between past and present: Something happening in 2016 that is sufficiently evocative of some aspect of the earlier experience creates a kind of time travel. Survivors then experience themselves as if the ACE is happening right now. They feel and act in ways that confuse them and those around them. In therapy, the survivor gradually is able to register and process a situation as it is now and to react accordingly.

 

“With post-traumatic stress disorder, time is distorted”.

Integrating the personality: One of the wonders of the human psyche is its ability to cope with the awful. When trauma has been especially severe, the mind may split experience into a variety of compartments representing elements of ACEs that would be too overwhelming to process, store or remember as a whole. . In therapy, survivor and clinician identify dissociated aspects of the personality and work with them to foster a more unified internal world for the patient.

 

”Dissociation allows some aspects of the personality to grow and even to thrive while other parts remain trapped in timeless terror, rage and helplessness.”

Re-entering the body: Many survivors of abuse and/or neglect are alienated from their bodies. Some coped as children by leaving their bodies during traumatic times.

 

Patients describe having been on the ceiling looking down at the child being abused or standing at the door with their hands over their ears as “he” was penetrated anally by a priest.

Repairing the sense of self: I have never encountered a survivor patient who did not in some way blame her/himself for the early trauma. The viciousness of the patient’s self-loathing is often breathtaking. Putting guilt and shame where it belongs — on the shoulders of the adult who committed harm or enabled someone else to harm — loosens internalized attachment bonds to figures that once were loved and vitally important to the survivor. The patient is in a predicament: Selfblame protects those attachments but requires cognitive and affective contortions that deplete resilience; relinquishing self-blame and self-hatred and putting the adverse experience in proper perspective with blame placed on the responsible adults is a loss of attachment bonds that is terribly painful. It also can evoke long-held-at-bay rage that the survivor has usually turned against the self.

 

Anger, rage and a demand for restitution often marks a period of trauma recovery that is important in restoring wholeness.

Mourning: Perhaps the most soul-searing yet most necessary component in trauma therapy is the survivor’s mourning for the childhood that never was and never will be. Survivors almost universally feel cheated at some point in therapy. They have suffered, cried, raged, worked hard to heal and there is no restoration, no making it up, no justice. As one patient cried out,

“This is too much. I can’t stand it — I won’t — you can’t make me. I can deal with the abuse — maybe, perhaps. But the idea that I can’t go back, that my childhood is broken forever — I can’t live with that. I won’t know that I never was and never will be just a kid.”

When the survivor seems to have completed a mourning process and is functioning well on most days in most ways, the good trauma therapist begins almost to turn the tables on the survivor. Having spent perhaps years encouraging the patient to relate their narrative, feel the pain and loss, have empathy for the terrorized child they once were, and mourn the childhood that is gone forever, we guide the patient into considering what life can be now, reminding them (if it is true) that no one is traumatizing them now. It is here that the therapist can help the survivor build or expand on resilience.

It is another tragedy of the Catholic sexual abuse crisis that faith was often shattered along with body and mind boundaries.

(If any Comboni Survivor recognises the impacts of adverse childhood experiences and feels that he needs professional assistance, then they may contact Mark Murray on this site who will strive to assist by suggesting appropriate counselling services. Alternatively, Survivors of childhood abuse can seek the assistance of their local General Practitioner Doctor who will be able to refer them to an appropriate specialist).

I Suspected Bede Mullen had Been Abused | I Was Right

Bede Mullen

I met Bede Mullen at the 4th reunion I went to.

He was 54.

The last time I had seen him he was 12 years old.

I was really looking forward to seeing him again – especially as there were unsolved questions, answers he hadn’t given me all those years before.

Frank McGinnis had been my best friend – but Bede would have been one of the ones that I hung about with most, alongside Francis Locke, Martin Murphy and Peter O’Hagan.

Not Coming Back

So, it was a bit of a shock to me when, as he was packing his bags for the looming holidays, he informed me that he wouldn’t be coming back after the holidays. He was going to be staying home.

This sort of thing happened far too often and was both destabilising and upsetting.

Often people would go home from their Christmas or Easter or Summer Holidays and simply wouldn’t come back. Some of them had decided against it, either because they were homesick, or they had lost their vocation, or it was too strict, or they just didn’t fancy it any more.

Others were told not to come back, often via a letter sent to their parents (as we discovered long afterwards).

The Disappeared

It didn’t just happen during the holidays. It could happen during the term.

Someone would just disappear. You might, or might not, hear the reason why they had been ‘disappeared’. You were seldom officially told – but there were always rumours. The Rumour Mill is strongest in closed societies.

When I was quite new, and in first year, three guys suddenly grabbed me in the toilet, picked me up, and tried to put my head down the toilet as they flushed it.

It was quite terrifying at the time.

They were very unlucky that Pinkie happened to wander into the toilet just as they were doing this (he had that knack).

The three were asked to accompany Pinkie along to Fr. Rector’s office immediately.

Two of them were given warnings as to their future conduct. The guy that was considered the ringleader, a guy called Kerrigan, was instantly expelled. His vocation disappeared with the flushed toilet water.

We were never to see him again.

<h2?Sent Home Quickly

They got rid of miscreants very quickly. There was none of that phoning your parents to tell them to come and collect you whenever they could, which might be in a few days time.

They were gone instantly.

They had to make their own way home, perhaps to distant parts, at the age of as early as eleven. I doubt if they even gave them money. They might have been given the money that they had themselves handed in at the start of each term.

Bede’s Decision

Bede, however, had decided to go home of his own volition. He had decided not to come back after the holidays.

I didn’t know that I was the only person he told this to till 44 years later. Bede didn’t remember telling anybody.

When I spoke to him at the reunion he told me that he didn’t dare tell any of the priests. He was afraid that they would maybe lock him up and not let him go home. This may seem ridiculous now, and they almost certainly would have done no such thing – but the way they acted in those days, it wasn’t quite outside the realms of possibility.

I immediately wanted to know why he was leaving so I could convince him into staying. Most people just disappeared or didn’t come back and you seldom knew the reason why.

This was one tragedy, a loss of, effectively, a brother, that I could prevent and prevent it I thought I could – but I had to know the reason why he wanted to leave first.

And he wouldn’t tell me that.

Related to Father Pinkman

He came close to telling me several times as he packed his suitcase on his bed. He even told me that it had something to do with Pinkie.

Even by this stage I had heard people talking about Pinkie’s Boys, the ones that he used to invite up to his room, his special boys in his special boys club that I wasn’t a part of.

I would have liked to have been part of it and had wondered why I hadn’t been, I had usually been part of the ‘in crowd’ with the teachers at school before – but I was to get my invitation soon.

Connected To Pinkman

The strong inference was that it was something connected to Pinkie and that Bede felt that he had to get out of there.

It wasn’t that he disliked the college.

He didn’t!

It wasn’t that he didn’t have friends.

He did!

It wasn’t that he didn’t have a good time there.

He did!

But, for some reason, that I couldn’t quite fathom, he had decided he had to leave it all behind. He decided that, despite all the good things that had happened there, and despite the friends he had made, he had to leave us all behind, his new family, and get out, never to return.

Never Came Back

It was something I had often pondered in later years, i.e. why Bede just had to get out of a place that he loved. Why did he give up his vocation, his friends, that beautiful place and just leave, never to come back?

Of course, looking through the eyes of a twelve year old I couldn’t understand it at all.

It just seemed crazy.

However, putting the same data through the eyes of an adult, I came to a completely different conclusion.

I didn’t know for certain that something had happened to him with Pinkie, but I was pretty sure that this must be it.

Previous Reunions

I even told the other guys at previous reunions that I thought that something had happened to him and that this was the reason for his departure. Some of them were a little sceptical – but I was pretty sure of it.

He wasn’t keen on coming to the reunion. He told Joe Colby that he had some bad memories of the place and didn’t really want to have anything to do with it. It was in his past – a past he wanted to forget.

It took a lot of convincing by Joe and many emails and phone calls to convince Bede to come.

But Joe warned us all.

Bede didn’t want there to be any discussion about Pinkie – and Joe had promised him that there wouldn’t be.

Bede Mullen’s Return

On the first night of the reunion, we all went out but Joe decided to wait in the hotel for Bede who was supposed to be arriving at seven o’clock.

It was twenty past seven when I decided to go and join the others in the pub.

Another half an hour later Joe joined us.

Bede hadn’t arrived.

“He won’t come” I said. “He’s thought better of it”.

But Joe and Danny Curran were convinced that he would.

Back at the Hotel

About half an hour later Joe and I decided to go back to the hotel. When we got in the door, Joe decided to check the guest book to see if he had arrived.

His name wasn’t there.

Just at that, someone came out of the breakfast room.

I thought he might have been a fellow guest. Joe seemed to think he was someone who worked there.

“Have you seen our mate Bede Mullen?” Joe asked.

“Yes, he’s arrived” said the guy.

“Where is he now? What room is he in?” asked Joe.

“He’s standing in front of you” said Bede.

And Bede was back.

Forty Two Years later

I’d had an inkling it was him whilst Joe was asking him questions.

My 12-year-old friend was back – as a 54 year old.

I still have a very clear picture of Bede as a 12-year-old – a very clear one as he packed his suitcase that day. It is one of those pictures that you have that stay with you forever whilst you forget most other things.

It was great to see him once again – but more than a little frustrating that I couldn’t ask him why he had left. What was it that Pinkie had done?

Talking About Pinkie

Strangely, after telling us not to mention Pinkie while Bede was there, it was Joe that brought the subject up – after we were back in the hotel after having had a meal and a few drinks on the first night.

We actually tried to change the subject a couple of times or tried to make it sound as if it Joe was talking about something else. But Joe was either oblivious to this or was having nothing of it – and surprisingly enough Bede wasn’t uncomfortable with it.

Perhaps he had made the major step in deciding to come at all. Perhaps this was just another smaller step along a path that he decided he was going to take anyway.

Perhaps he expected it.

Bede’s Confirmation

He never did tell us exactly what happened. It’s not the kind of thing that you ask someone unless they volunteer it (at least guys don’t).

But he did confirm that something bad had happened with Pinkie and that it had happened in Pinkie’s room and it had happened more than once.

We didn’t need to know the exact details.

He said that it had caused him a lot of problems in his life.

He surprised us all by saying that he had only just told his wife about it the previous week after many long years of marriage.

He must have taken the decision then, before he even got to us, that the genie was clamouring to be let out of the bottle – and that he was going to let it be opened.

Affected Bede’s Life

Bede had been a very dignified 12-year-old and he was still a very dignified 54-year-old.

He told us that what had happened with Pinkie had affected his life. He had obviously never shared it with anyone till just the previous week, 44 years later, with the person closest to him in his life, his wife.

How surprised she must have been about hearing this secret that he had borne by himself all those years.

The genie was out of the bottle – and I think deep down Bede was pleased. Perhaps pleased is the wrong word. Bede was now comfortable with it – or at least comfortable enough with it now that he could talk about it.

This was all well and good – but the big test would be the next day.

Tour of the Seminary

We were scheduled at 11am the next day, to go on a conducted tour of our alma mater St. Peter Claver College, Roe Head, Mirfield.

What would Bede feel then?

Could he handle that after 44 years away?

I had done the tour twice previously.

This year, Allison, our guide from Hollybank School, which our seminary had become, took us to the usual spots, the old classrooms, the dormitories, the Refectory, The Chapel etc.

There was a lot of reminiscing about old times and ‘this is here we used to….” etc.

But I knew that the big one awaited us.

Pinkie’s Room

We came around the corner from the dormitories and I knew what was coming.

Led by Allison, everybody had actually gone past it altogether and Allison was now showing them the Chapel.

I saw Bede towards the back who hadn’t walked past it yet.

I said to him “that was Pinkie’s room”.

There was no need to tell him of course. He hadn’t casually walked past it like the rest but had hung around. I looked through the thin glass slat in the door, that hadn’t been there 44 years ago, into the room.

What would Bede’s reaction be?

When I took my face away from the slat in the door, Bede walked forward and peered in too.

That was enough for me.

Into Pimkie’s Room

I walked a few steps forward and asked Allison if she could let us into that room.

Only she, Bede and I went in, as the others were more interested in the chapel.

I could see tears well up in Bede’s eyes.

But he remained in control. He always did.

Dignified

He motioned to the corner of the room. “The bed used to be there”. After a pause he pointed to another spot. “The table was there” and paused.

Like Jim Kirby previously, he was seeing events from forty odd years ago.

“A lot of things happened here” he said in his understated way, and for a brief moment he was far away in a time gone past.

Then he pulled himself together and said “It’s just a room. It’s just a room”. He looked at me, nodded his head and walked out the door.

And, in that instant, the demon who had tormented him, had finally been exorcised.

Father Pinkman Wants to Examine Me

Groin Injury

I loved a game of football. I loved playing for the school.

This particular day we were playing football on the lower pitch. I’d had a bit of a groin strain before but it really went this time. Down I went. I was in quite a bit of pain. Pinkie said I should go back to the dormitory. As I couldn’t play on it seemed a good option.

I went back to the dormitory and went to bed. Not long after Pinkie arrived. Now, this surprised me a bit. He was supposed to be supervising the game and those playing it.

It seemed very nice of him to take such an interest in my footballing injury. After all, he was our substitute dad – although I had to share him with around 55 others.

Bottom of the Bed

He stood at the bottom of my bed in the dormitory. Even though I was just 12 years old I could smell something that wasn’t right. There was something about his demeanour. He didn’t seem relaxed. He said that he needed to examine my groin injury. I wasn’t keen on anybody examining my groin.

He was rubbing his hands together in a nervous fashion, which was his wont. Something didn’t seem right even to a 12 year old who had never heard of sex.

I didn’t want anybody near my groin, thank you. But his arguments were quite compulsive. He said that he needed to see what was wrong with me and he could probably fix it. I still said ‘no’. He said “How are you going to get better? Do you want to stay like this?”

I didn’t. It was quite painful. His arguments were beginning to seem winning arguments and I was starting to think that it might be very embarrassing but that it might be necessary to let him have a look – when he suddenly changed tack.

Weighty Question

He asked me if I’d been weighed yet by Fr. Valmaggio the Infirmarian. I thought this a strange thing to ask. How would my weight affect my groin strain? I was only a slip of a thing.

We seldom got to see a Doctor or a Nurse. Fr. Valmaggio was in charge of the Infirmary (a grand name for a room with six beds). I learned later that he was a keen ‘weigher’ of 11-14 year old boys. Why he needed to weigh them no one ever asked (till much later). One never asked why in those days. Children did what they were told then. Adult power was pretty much absolute – and you know what they say about absolute power.

Winning Argument

So, Pinkie quit just as I was wavering. Lucky I didn’t show it. One wonders if life would have been very different if he’d had one more attempt.

Jim Kirby met one of the boys in Mirfield in London’s West End some years ago. The boy was a few years his senior. That boy told Jim that he felt his homosexuality had been induced by what happened to him by serial abuse by two of the priests at Mirfield.

Jim thinks the boy may have been embarrassed by admitting he was Gay, as this meeting took place in the 80s and it was still early days in the age of enlightenment and attitudes towards the Gay community.

The boy expressed astonishment that Jim was not Gay as he felt that the treatment meted out to the boys by the abusive priests would have made many of them Gay in distorting their thinking and attitudes towards sexual activity because of that abuse.

The boy was of course, by then, a grown man and was himself obviously very confused and even distressed even at that age by what had occurred at Mirfield. Some years later Jim did make contact again with him and asked him if he wanted to make a statement about the abuse. He said he didn’t as he had closed that part of his life. He was living abroad, in fact on another Continent.

I suspect, though, it is far harder to become a homosexual than that. But I don’t know and I’m glad I never had to go down that route to find out. I am not anti homosexual, but like pretty much all heterosexuals whether they are gay bashers or very sympathetic and empathetic to gays, they are very glad they are not one themselves.

Handed Over to Father Valmaggia

So, Pinkie suggested that the best route for me was to go to see Fr. Valmaggio at the Infirmary. It seemed a great suggestion. It never occurred to me that it was out of the frying pan and into Fr. Valmaggio’s Infirmary.

So, I went to see our resident ‘medical expert’. I explained the problem and he said that I needed to stay in the Infirmary for a few days.

Fair enough!

I spent the next 8 days in there. Being in the Infirmary was pretty good. You didn’t have to do any school or work and you got your food delivered to you. If I remember right it was of better quality than the normal fare.

They even had a radio and I got to listen to a European title fight involving Walter McGowan, the pocket Scottish boxer.

Anthony Summers

The first day was fine. Already in the Infirmary was Anthony Summers who was in the year above me. He said that he was in because he had swallowed biro ink. He said that it caused him to have sudden blackouts.

Several times when he was sitting up in bed he would suddenly ‘black out’ and fall ‘unconscious’ on his bed and pillows just to prove what he said about the sudden blackouts. It wasn’t a convincing performance though. Even as a 12-year old I could see through it.

I was just about to reach the age of puberty. It would happen later on that summer when I was at home during the holidays. However it hadn’t quite happened yet – which was pretty lucky for me.

Despite Summers’ ‘serious blacking out’ illness he was booted out of the Infirmary after a couple of days, leaving me on my own. He protested saying that he wasn’t any better. “Get out!” yelled Fr Valmaggia and he went.

Start of the Treatment for a Groin Injury

Then came the real start of my treatment. It seems that the best treatment for a groin strain (instead of rest) was to rub coal tar over the testicles and penis of the injured person. It seems, also, that the treatment would work better if the penis of the injured person was erect.

Being on the verge of puberty this was something that I was sometimes able to do (to a small limp degree) but most times not. It was also a bit of an effort and a bit annoying to keep trying to do it. I knew it was for my own good but most times I couldn’t do it. It was such a mental effort.

I’m not an expert on puberty but even though (at great effort) I sometimes could get my penis erect the pleasure gland (or whatever it is) had not arrived yet – so he might as well have been massaging my big toe with coal tar.

He got a little annoyed that I couldn’t always ‘get it up’ which he deemed necessary to cure my affliction, but I also noticed that there was other times when he seemed annoyed with himself for doing it and would suddenly stop. It seemed a little strange but as I didn’t know about sex or puberty at all there was no way I could piece any of it together.

Paedophiles

How different the kids are now. Surely it can’t be bad that they know about sex and paedophiles etc. The fact that we didn’t, made us all potential victims. My parents subscribed to the view, that was common then, that children should stay children as long as they could.

One feels that this ‘common view’ was more because they had a fear of the ‘adult world’ and couldn’t cope well themselves in this complicated world. There was a great desire to keep children as long as possible in the Age of Innocence. Unfortunately the implementation of that wish gave children no tools or knowledge for when the predators came hunting. Their innocence and naivety made them perfect victims.

There may be problems with the world now for children but we surely don’t want to go back again to the ungolden ‘Age of Innocence’.

Comboni Missionaries | Were You Abused by Them?

Comboni Missionaries

For the past few years we have been compiling a list of those that were abused by the Comboni MIssionaries at their seminaries in the UK and especially at St Peter Claver’s College, Roe Head Mirfield from the early Sixties to the mid- Eighties.

Some of us have sued the Comboni Missionaries and they have settled with us outside court rather than go to court. However, two things that they have refused to do – admit that abuse took place and apologise.

So, the fight continues.

Publicity

We have had some success in publicising what happend all those years ago and the extent of the cover up then and now.

There have been articles in the Sunday Observer, Daily Mail Online, Liverpool Echo, Greenock Telegraph (front page), Mifield Reporter and on BBC Yorkshire amongst others.

West Yorkshire Police have investigated and are confident that ‘a crime has been committed’ and that if Father Pinkman and Father Valmaggia were alive then ‘arrests would be made’.

Comboni Missionaries Cover Up

They also want to interview Father Nardo Romano who is accused of abusing Mark Murray and other boys on multiple occasions. However, the very top of the Order has refused that request saying that he the paedophile priest is not mentally fit to answer questions. That is very convenient.

This is despite the Order telling Mark Murray, when he made the accusations, that Father Romano was being brought back from teh missions in Uganda immediately and would never be allowed to be near children again. If they did that, they must have had at least a slight suspicon that it was true. He is now ‘holed up’ at their house in Verona.

The Comboni Missionaries never reported any of the this to the police as they are required to do.  In the UK, the Government is plannning to make it a crime with up to five years in prison for not reporting suspicions of child abuse to the police.

Home Office Panel on Child Sexual Abuse

In the UK they have set up a Home Office Panel to investigate Institutional Child Sexual Abuse. The Comboni Missionaries actions come under that remit, the Home Office panel has decided. Comboni Missiories will be asked to attend and be legally bound to comply.

We are putting together evidence to put to the Panel.

Already, we have uncovered, and documented, hundreds of incidents of child abuse at Mirfield by Comboni Missionary priests.

However, we think that this is still the tip of the iceberg.

It is most important that we get all the evidence that we can. This is a one-off and there will never be another opportunity.

Your Evidence Needed

If you were abused at Mirfield, or elsewhere, by the Comboni Missionaries, this would be the time to let us know. If you know of anyone that was abused by them please let us know. If you have any knowledge or suspicons of any sexual abuse incidents please let us know.

Your evidence will be kept in whatever confidence that you want.

Anyone who was abused is entitled to anonymity in any investigation and newspapers are not legally allowed to use their names.

Don’t let the Comboni Missionaris get away with it.

We need your help – and we need your help now!