Comboni Missionaries |The Rise and Fall of My Vocation

Comboni Missionaries

This website was set up, originally, so that people could post their memories of the Comboni Missionaries (ex-Verona Fathers) and especially of their seminary in Mirfield from the early sixties to the mid eighties.

It has been dominated, recently, by bad memories of the appalling sexual abuse perpetrated by Comboni Missionary priests on young boys as young as 11 in their care. The cover up by the Comboni Missionaries continues to this day.

I had set down my memories of Mirfield and the seminary of St Peter Claver at Mirfield, Yorkshire a few years ago. I haven’t done anyting with them. They have just been lying in my Word folder, although I have sent them to a few of the ex-Boys.

Good and Bad Memories

What I’ve decided to do is to serialise them here. There are good memories and bad memories. I hope they entertain you.

It, also, shows the methods that Father Pinkman and Father Valmaggia used to lure, and groom, young boys. At the time I thought I was the only one. Now, it seems, that it was rife.

I have learned, that someone that I considered my best friend at Mirfield, Frank McGinnis, was being abused by Father Pinkman. I learned this around fifty years after the events took place – although he said some things to me, at the time, about it which I wodered at and didn’t understand at the time – but it seems obvious what he was talking about now.

I’ll publish the first episode shortly.

Paedophile Priests / Great Friendships

Incidentally, if anyone has any good memories of Mirfield, please send them in to us and we’ll publish them.

To me, it was a place with some bad memories but also lots of good memories. I made lots of friendships there – as well as being chased by paedophile priests.

Let’s hear your memories, good and bad.

Why Do Comboni MIssionaries Collaborators Collaborate?

Stockholm Syndrome

I remember, a number of years ago, when an aeroplane was hijacked that those who were victims of the hijackers became sympathetic to them and started to help and advise them.

It seems that this is not unusual.

A new syndrome was founded called the Stockholm Syndrome called, presumably after the place where the plane was hijacked from, or taken to.

I’ve noticed two curious syndromes at work as regards the sexual abuse of children as young as 11 by the Comboni Missionaries and those who have covered it up.

I don’t know if these syndromes have names.

Needing an Apology

Firstly, there is the syndrome where the victims need to meet those who abused them and to receive an apology from them for their abuse – and, indeed, to be able to forgive their abuser.

Not all of those who were abused want this. Some of them would like to hang them from the nearest lamp post. However, a significant number of abuse victims do feel this need.

Indeed, they are massively frustrated when they find out that their abuser is dead and that they will never have the opportunity to be apologised too and to forgive the abuser.

If it doesn’t have a name, let’s call it Mirfield Syndrome.

Need to Collaborate

The second syndrome I have noted is the desire of some of the St. Peter Claver Seminary Old Boys to collaborate with the Comboni Missionaries to hush up, or suppress, the accusations of child sexual abuse.

When an abuser in a family is first found out the immediate instinct of family members is often to protect the abuser rather than the abused.

This syndrome that we have is probably similar to this. It’s probably close to the Stockholm Syndrome as well. They bond with their ‘captors’.

Refuse to Testify

There are boys, even those who were abused, who refuse to testify against their abuser and those who help to cover up the abuse of others whom they know to have been abused.

I’m not talking, here, about those who were absued but just want to leave it in the past and don’t want to take any action. They want to leave it in the past.

I’m talking here of those who can talk about their abuse but who take an active part in helping to cover up the abuse pepretrated on others.

Swimming Without Trunks

There are others, still, who weren’t abused, but who knew of the abuse, who are prepared to say that they didn’t – to help out those accused of the cover-up.

There does seem a need to ‘protect’ the abusers and those who covered it up at the time and new.

I suppose that this would be the equivalent of kids in a family siding with their father who abused their sister and who were prepared to tell the authorities that nothing happened or they knew nothing of it, when they did.

If it doesn’t have a name let’s call this one Vichy Syndrome.

Of course, it will all come out ‘in the wash’ when the Home Office Panel sits and when the high court cases come up.

As Warren Buffet once said, “It’s only when the tide goes out that you see who was bathing without trunks”.

The tide is going out for the Comboni Missionaries and their collaborators.

They have no trunks!

Five Years in Jail for those who Don’t Report Abuse

Comboni Missionaries

The net is closing on those who were told about the sexual abuse of young boys as young as 11 at Comboni Missionaries Seminaries and didn’t report it to the authorities. Indeed, it will apply, also, to those who just suspected abuse but didn’t report it.

Indeed, it has become an election issue.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, said that there would be “Jail for those who turn a blind eye to child abuse”.

He announced that professionals who fail to act upon suspcions of child abuse could be facing up to five years in jail.

Changed Times

My goodness!

How things have changed.

First the Home Secretary, and now the Prime Minister, have come down heavily on the side of those who suffered sexual abuse as a child and heavily against not only the abusers but those who covered it up.

It is becoming more and more obvious who is on the right side of history and who is on the wrong side of history – those who were abused or those who covered it up and their apologists.

Front Page News

The story appeared in both the Telegraph and Guardian. Indeed, it is front page on both with the Guardian headline saying “PM: jail those who ignore child abuse”.

It’s just a shame that it could not be retrospective.

However, that doesn’t mean that existing laws could not be used to pursue those who covered up sexual child abuse at Comboni Missionary Seminaries and those who continue to do so at the very highest level of the Order.

Home Office Panel on Institutional Sexual Abuse

All will be exposed when the Home Office Panel sits. Comboni Missionaries who took part in the cover up will be legally obligated to attend and be questioned in front of the Parliamentary Committee and the nation. It will be televised.

Indeed, they could also make requests, backed up by EU Law, for those residing outside of the UK, to attend too.

End Game for Comboni Missionaries

It has taken a long time but justice is close at hand.

In chess terms, this is the end game now for the Comboni Missionary abusers, those who covered it up and their apologists amongs the Boys.

In poker terms, we’ll soon see what hands both sides have.

In David Cameron and Theresa May, those abused have two powerful cards in their hands – perhaps the King and Queen.

The Comboni Missionaries will soon find out that, no matter how many Jokers they have available, none of them will count in this game.

Foundations of abuse at Comboni Missionaries seminary in Mirfield

Comboni Missionaries

During the 1960s and 70s, and possibly into the 1980s, priests and brothers of the Comboni Missionary Order (formerly Verona fathers) sexually abused children as young as 11 years of age at their seminary in Mirfield, Yorkshire, United Kingdom.

A group of ex seminarians, The Mirfield 12, have successfully prosecuted a civil case against the Comboni Missionaries: a legal case remains outstanding. More ex seminarians abused by Comboni Missionaries have now come forward to pursue both legal and civil actions.

A culture of abuse existed at the Comboni Missionaries seminary in Mirfield. All of the abused have struggled to come to terms with the experience and to understand how it came about. Our concern was not only about the individuals who perpetrated the abuse but also the organisations which allowed this to happen, and is to this day in denial that any abuse took place.

A 2013 report from CEOP ‘The Foundations of Abuse:
A thematic assessment of the risk of child sexual abuse by adults in institutions’
provides some telling analysis of the way institutions operate to produce such fertile ground for child sexual abuse to take place. The key findings are below.

Key Findings

1) Children in institutional settings are not only at risk from adults who are inclined to abuse them sexually; but also from adults who either fail to notice abuse or, if they do, fail to report it.

2) Where institutions put their own interests ahead of those of the children who engage with them, abusive behaviours are likely to become normalised, potentially leading to sexual abuse.

3) The culture within an institution has a strong influence on the degree to which abuse might occur within it. Poor leadership, closed structures, ineffective policies and procedures together with the discouragement of reporting, facilitates a malign climate which colludes with those inclined to sexually abuse children.

4) Where institutions are held in high regard and respected by the communities they serve, positional grooming can be perpetuated, whereby offenders conduct social or environmental grooming and mask their actions by virtue of their formal positions within an organisation.

5) Potential risks from those with a sexual interest in children who pursue work in institutions can be mitigated by vigilant and effective leadership and management.

6) Intense loyalty and conformity of workers to the mission, norms and values of an institution can inhibit them from reporting concerns.

7) The historic nature of many cases currently exercising media attention, together with developments in safeguarding, might give a false perception that this type of offending can no longer occur. Offenders continue to exploit systemic vulnerabilities where they exist.

The full report can be accessed here

http://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/publications/49-ceop-institutions-thematic-assessment/file

The Boys United

It is football which brings back the most powerful memories. For many years I lost my interest in football.  More recently I have been attending games at Celtic Park.  I am not certain whether it is the hooped jerseys, the awful weather, the sheer tribal atmosphere or even the combination of all three which causes me to remember how much St Peter Clavers’ School Teams were viewed as outsiders and disliked by the other local teams:  and how our isolated position generated a unity, pride and determination for the Verona Boys to win.

If the Mirfield Boys and their often rebellious zeal were a comfort to me, then the Mirfield Priests who were often cold, distant and aloof were a poor substitute for the loss of my parents. Whilst, in general, I looked up to and admired almost all of the Comboni Fathers – after all they had not only been through the seminary process but had also served in the missions and witnessed unimaginable poverty and suffering – forming supportive relationships with my religious guardians proved difficult for me. A tall Irish Brother with Prince Charles ears once yelled at me for crying and yelled again the next day when he discovered I had wet the bed.  It was Father Cerea’s repetitive question, “Are you stupid, boy? Are you stupid boy?” that was the catalyst for my final departure from Mirfield.

I vividly recall how I enjoyed our irreverent jibe song when we all sang “Steni and Ched, two Fathers of Verona” to the tune of ‘Bonnie and Clyde’.  No serious harm was intended or implied in the words.  To sing it was not only fun, it was also an affirmation that we were the boys “united” and they, the Priests, were not part of our unique club.  They were our stern and distant superiors, but for the duration of the song at least we did not care.