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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An Appeal

In the last couple of years I have attended Old Boys’ reunions and I am pleased to say that there is still an irreverent cheeky playfulness at work amongst many of these middle aged men. As the drinks flow and humorous stories are exchanged of our wild and often unsupervised free time, the conversations turn to a more dark side. Sadly, it is clear to me that relationships between some of the boys and Priests were neither cold nor distant but something altogether much darker and more troubling.

Over the years, whenever I have spoken of my time in the Verona Fathers I have spoken only of my fond memories, of the camaraderie and the freedom given to us to explore and play.

I use this blog today not only as a cathartic exercise for me, but also as an appeal to you as an Old Boy, the only people capable of understanding my long term attachment to Mirfield, and the subsequent  revelations that have exposed the extent of the betrayal.

If you have a story you wish to share, if there was a part of your life which is still in pain like mine and that of others please feel free to contact me.