What Did You Want to be Dad?

What Did You Want to be Dad?

The other day I was watching TV when my 13-year-old daughter asked me “What did you want to be when you were young Dad”?

I had a quick think to when I was 7 or 8. “ A footballer” I replied. “I wanted to play for Scotland”.

“But after that” she asked not wanting childish sporting fantasies to be counted. “I wanted to be a priest” I replied. “Why would you want to be a priest?” she asked, a little askance.

“I wanted to help people” I replied. “I wanted to help Africans. I wanted to bring them God”.

She didn’t seem impressed by that. So far it was just one of those conversations. It was what she asked next that hit me. “What did you want to do after that” she asked.

I thought for a few moments. She expected me to come up with something else. I thought I would too.

No answer came.

“Nothing” I replied.

Bolt From the Blue

It hit me like a bolt of lightning. I was 53 years old. I now realised that I didn’t want to be anything after the age of 13.

How much does that explain?

It was like a thunderbolt out of the blue from a simple question.

I had gone through secondary school without a goal in mind. There was nothing I particularly wanted to do. I knew that I would have to do something. I was told that this was OK, that it was better to go to University with no particular career in mind, to keep an open mind.

I did go to University. I didn’t particularly like it. It was like the curate’s egg, good in parts – but I couldn’t be bothered studying. In the end I couldn’t be bothered to even go to many of the classes.

All Clear

It all became clear.

Why would I?

I didn’t want to be anything. I didn’t want to go to the ‘theatres or cinemas’ that a university degree would buy me a ticket into. I knew I had to do something. It’s just that I had no real passion for the opportunities that were presenting themselves.

I passed the Maths exam but failed the English and the Economics. As I had seldom gone to any of the classes in the second half of the year I was surprised that I had even passed my main subject Maths. You could do re-sits. I had had to pass one of the other two at the re-sits. I could go forward with passing one of those and re-sitting the exam for the other one in second year.

Summer Holiday Resits

I stayed up at my grandparents over the summer holidays so that I could study without being distracted my my ten brothers and sisters. The only problem was that I didn’t study much. I couldn’t be bothered. I know it was important. I knew that it was crucial to my career. But I just couldn’t do it.

I did go up to the room to study, but you could take a horse to water but you couldn’t make it drink – and I didn’t drink much water that summer at all.

I did a little near the end. I went up to do the re-sits at the university. You had to do three essays altogether. The first one I did pretty well, I thought. In fact I thought I had done it particularly well.

I didn’t know which of the other two I would do first. They were going to be a more difficult proposition but I was sure that I could do it. It would have been a case, in football terms, of having an early lead and then doing enough in the second half to hold on to that lead.

However, I couldn’t be bothered. I couldn’t even be bothered to start the questions or make any attempt at them. I took a decision then.

I wouldn’t do them. I knew exactly what it meant. I knew that my university career was over. It had always been expected that I would go to university and do well. I had expected it too.

All Over

However, it was now over. I couldn’t leave till the first hour of the three-hour exam was up so I spent the next twenty minutes doing this game of letters that I had made up where basically football teams are allocated a letter and score goals in a knockout or league competition based on how often their letter appears in a text half line. I used the exam paper as the text.

The marker of the paper must have got a surprise. On the first three pages would have been a very well answered question. When he or she would have turned over they would have found an indecipherable jumble of letters and numbers.

I left after the first hour was up, handing in my truncated paper.

What Had I done?

I remember sitting in Glasgow Central Station pondering on what I had just done. I knew that my university career was over. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to plonk a university degree in front of potential employers to help me get a good job. I knew exactly what I had done. But my main emotion as I sat there on the station bench was not a feeling of fear. It was a feeling of exhilaration.

I knew life would be more difficult now. But I was pleased. I had quit education. I had got a monkey off my back. I was no longer flogging a horse that had long since perished. I would now have to drive in fifth gear.

I didn’t really understand it at the time. Why did I quit? Why did I not want to study? Why was I exhilarated by leaving university?

I didn’t understand the answer to that question till my 13-year-old daughter’s question 35 years later.

Becoming a Child Abuse victim at the Age of 55

Becoming a Child Sexual Abuse Victim at the Age of 55

I have changed the name of the ‘Boy’ involved.

John Smith wasn’t aware that he was a child abuse victim till he passed his 55th birthday. It’s really strange but I was never able to put the different pieces of the jigsaw together for myself until I was much older. Once we left the college we did other things and although we looked back it tended to be on the good side of it. We certainly didn’t do much analysis of what happened to us.

It was only when we went back for reunions that we talked and thought of old times. Previously we had only put the data of what happened to us through the minds of 11-14 year olds. It was amazing the difference it made to us when we fed the same data through the minds of adults.

Lived Locally

On the second of our two day reunion weekend it was discovered that John Smith, who was in the year above me, lived locally. I don’t know how it was discovered, but discovered it was. On the final night he came along with his wife.

It’s very strange but we didn’t really talk about things when there were outsiders there (i.e. wives and kids). It was only when John’s wife went for a smoke that we started talking again about the priests.

I asked John if anything like that had happened to him. He said it hadn’t. ‘Nothing at all?’ I asked him.

You could see him looking far back into the past. “There was only one incident, perhaps”, he said.

Astonishing Revelation

We were all so amazed by what he said next that we all burst out into near hysterical laughter. I couldn’t help myself. The tears were streaming out of my eyes. John’s such a great guy that he didn’t take it badly. However, I hope this illustrates what I mean about re-inputting the same data through the ‘processor’ of an adult mind rather than an 11-14 year-old’s mind.

John told us that the only incident that would possibly qualify was when he had just finished playing football on a muddy day. In that part of the world it can get very muddy and you can often come off the football pitch absolutely caked in mud.

In the ‘only slightly suspicious’ incident, Pinkie told John to come round the back of the stage which was at the far end of the Junior Common room where the players got changed. It was out of sight of all the boys who would have been in the recreation room getting changed.

There Pinkie had set up two buckets of hot water. I said to Joe, slightly incredulously and not really believing that it could possibly be true “he didn’t make you take off your football strip and put one leg each in the two buckets of hot water and then clean the mud from you, did he?

Washday Blues

It was the first thing that came to mind when he said it but I couldn’t possibly think it was true as John had said nothing of that kind of thing had ever happened to him and that there was just one possible slightly suspicious incident.

“Yeah” said John.

That was exactly what had happened. We laughed our asses off. We weren’t laughing at John or what had happened to him. We were laughing at the incongruity of Joe not realising what had actually happened. Of course we all instinctively knew the explanation.

John had only ever examined what had happened through the eyes of a trusting 13-year-old. Although he hadn’t forgotten about it he hadn’t given it any great thought since it had happened. Although probably embarrassing at the time, he would have concluded that the priest would have been doing it for his own good.

Through a New Lens

It’s strange but, although it was a 55-year-old talking, both the memory of the incident and the analysis of the incident (which he had stored in his memory) were the memory and analysis of a 13-year-old.

Part of what was so funny was that you could see, as he talked and we laughed, that he could suddenly see how obvious it was that he had had been abused in some kind of way.

His wife came back in then and asked what we were all laughing at. The ‘club’ closed up again and made some kind of explanation which she accepted. Whilst she was busy talking to someone else I asked John if he had ever told his wife of the incident.

He shook his head in a kind of ‘you’re joking’ way. I asked him if he ever would and he gave the same response. That part of his life will forever remain unknown to his wife and his grown up children.

I understand. I have never told anybody of these things – not my parents, not my brothers and sisters, not my friends, not my children and not my wife.

As this is the early stage of writing this I’m not sure if it will ever be known to anyone outside those that were there and experienced it.

Comboni Missionaries Snub Pope Francis

No Place for Those Who Abuse Minors

Pope Francis sent out a letter on February 5th which stated that, in the Catholic Church, there is “no place for those who abuse minors”.

This letter appeared on the Comboni Missionaries own website http://www.Combonianum.org.

Yet the Comboni MIssionaries have always had plenty of places for those of their Order who abuse minors.

For Mirfield Infirmarian, Father Domenico Valmaggia, who abused many, many boys at the seminary in Mirfield, there was his home parish in the diocese of Como in Italy. That was one place that the Comboni missionaries found for those who abuse minors.

He was sent there after several boys told Father Robert Hicks that they had been abused by him. Needless to say the UK and Italian police were not told of his crimes and the Comboni Missionaries’ and Catholic Church’s procedures were not followed.

Father Pinkman

Then there was Father Pinkman, who was sent away after being reported by several of the boys at Mirfield. He abused, and ruined, the lives of many of the boys at Mirfield.

Once again the police were not told about his crimes and he was found places at other Comboni Missionary places such as in South Africa and also in the Westminster Diocese. It seems he worked for the Jumbulance.

According to Mark Murray “He was based at 39 Eccleston Square. I remember being told by a Comboni that he worked for the Catholic Bishop’s Conference”.

According to Brian Hennessy “After Westminster he went to Palestine. This was a deal between the Superior General and the then Archbishop of Boston which was arranged at a personal meeting between the two when the Superior General did a tour of the North American Province. From there he went to South Africa. There’s no indication that his Paedophilia was ever discussed with the Boston Archbishop of course”.

When he died, a Mass of Celebration was said, in, of all places, the chapel at the Seminary at Mirfield, just yards from the bedroom where he had perpetrated so many acts of sexual abuse aganst boys as young as 11 years of age. We are told that the homily for this monster was given by Father Robert Hicks.

Catholic Reformation

So, have the Comboni Missionaries reformed? Is this abuse and its cover-up a legacy of the past?

No, it is not!

Despite Pope Francis saying that there was ‘no place for those who abuse minors” as recently as February, the Comboni Missionaries still have at least one place for them as recently as May 2015.

That is in the Comboni Missionaries mother house in Verona in Italy where multi-abuser Father Romano Nardo is hidden out by the Comboni Missionaries.

Romano Nardo

Above is Father Romano Nardo concelebrating Mass with other priests in 2008 – long after he had been diagnosed as mentally unfit to answer police questions.

Sexual Abuse at Mirfield

For many years at Mirfield he sexually abused many boys, including Mark Murray.

When, many years later, in 1997, Mark reported this to the Comboni Missionaries, they immediately brought Father Nardo home from Uganda and told Mark that he would never have access to children again. It seems that he admitted his abuse.

However, once again, the Comboni Missionaries did not report this crime to the police – even though they appeared to act, on it themselves, as though they believed it and Father Nardo appears to have admitted it.

Father Romano Nardo saying Mass in 2008

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

West Yorkshire Police

Mark reported all this to West Yorkshire Police who have said that they believe that a ‘crime had been committed’. They put in place extradition procedures so that they could bring Father Nardo back to the UK for questioning.

They were refused permission, with the Comboni Missionaries saying his time in Uganda had made him incapable, mentally, of being interviewed.

This is despite the Comboni Missionaries leaving Father Nardo in a position of authority in Uganda for 20 years till 1977 until Mark Murray’s complaint. Surely if he had been affected badly by what had happened in Uganda many years before, they had failed in their duty of care to him by not bringing him home before Mark’s complaint.

Mother House in Verona

Indeed they brought him back to work at the hospital that the mother house in Verona has now become, where he has been till Mark’s recent trip to Verona.. That’s surely not a job for someone who is mentally incapable of answering questions.

Despite Mark’s recent visit to Verona to meet up with Father Nardo, the Comboni Missionaries still snub Pope Francis by providing a place for an abuser of young boys.

Said Pope Francis, in a letter this year which the Comboni Missionaries published, there is “no place for those who abuse minors”.

It appears that the Comboni Missionaries don’t ascribe to that view and continue to snub the Pope’s stated wishes.

Supreme Head of the Catholic Church Snubbed

Are they a schism?

Do the Comboni Missionaries not follow the Supreme Head of the Catholic Church?

If not, then whom do they follow – or are they a law unto themselves, both as regards the laws of the lands where they operate, and, as regards the laws and procedures of the Catholic Church and the stated wishes of its Supreme Head?

To see the letter from the Pope on the Comboni Missionaries own website click on http://combonianum.org/2015/02/05/no-place-for-those-who-abuse-minors/

Playing Football for the Verona Fathers

Playing for the Football Team

The alternative dream that I had to become a priest was to be a footballer, like, I’m sure, lots of little boys. I wanted to play for Celtic and Scotland. I was a decent enough footballer but I would never have made the grade. However, you don’t think like that when you are that age.

So, it was a great to find out that the college had a football team. It was the first year ever for them in the local football league. I think Pinkie may have had some involvement in setting it up. The league was a church league and all the teams were from the local churches. We were the only Catholics in the league.

I can’t remember whether they asked or told the boys that there was to be a trial for the team. They never really asked very much. They almost always told.

Trial for Football Team

Anyway, I played in the trials but didn’t play particularly well. I thought I might well just miss out and that turned out to be the case. They read out the names of the people that they expected to be in the team and called them the Probables. I had never heard of the term before and didn’t realise that where there are Probables there are also Possibles.

Pinkie read out the names of the Probables slowly and with intent and drama. He would have made a good compere of Big Brother or Survivor or the X Factor four decades later. As the ninth and tenth names were read out and none of them were mine I began to fear that I would lose out. When the eleventh name was read out and I was missing from the list I felt awful.

Then Pinkie said that before the first match the Probables would play a match against the Possibles. I played a blinder in that match. I scored both goals, both of them solo efforts, as the Possibles went 2-0 up. We held that till late in the match when the Probables pulled one goal back and then a second.

They claimed that they scored a third but it was disputed. We reckoned it was offside and they didn’t. There was no referee and no one to solve the dispute. They said they won 3-2 and we said it was 2-2. Still it was a magnificent performance by the 2nd eleven against the 1st.

Pinkie’s Team Selection

People were telling me for days afterwards that I’d definitely be in the team. I didn’t believe it. Pinkie wasn’t even there, I told them, like he had been at the original trial. This was just a practice match for the A team for the first game.

Before the first game Pinkie read out the names, one by one, of the team.

I was picked. I was in the side. I was going to play. Magic!

We actually played in the Inter Milan strip. One of the Fathers was an Inter Milan fan and that is why we played in the strips. I can’t remember which one of the Fathers it was. It wasn’t Fr. Cerea who supported Fiorentina.

It was nothing like the other strips that the other teams played in. Inter Milan were probably the top club in Europe at the time. We felt a bit special pulling on the strip.

And we were good – very good.

We won the league at our first attempt. Boy did that feel so good. I still remember quite a few of the individual matches though they were more than four decades ago.

It was heaven to be on the football team. The other boys came to all our matches home and away and cheered us on. Even though it was compulsory the vast majority would have come anyway.

There were two things to be in, the football team and the choir, and I was in both.

Oh happy days!

Greatest Joy

The football team was the source of my greatest joy when I was at the college and also my greatest sadness – but more of that later.

I am sure that people will read this book and look at all the sexual abuse, the psychological torture, the military regime and the strict and regimented rules and conclude that this was a terrible thing to do to young boys and a terrible place to be.

However, I loved it there and didn’t want to leave. Even at the time I thought it was the best and happiest period of my life. I still believe it today. It was definitely the best and key years of my life. I wouldn’t swap that experience for anything.

All Glad We Came

It was interesting that at the last college reunion I went to that when I asked everyone “do you wish that episode of your life had never happened, that you had simply went to your local secondary school and avoided all the stuff that went on at the college?” the answer was a unanimous No.

The bad things that happened, to me anyway, however bad they were, were irregular intrusions in a happy time of my life. I remember I worked with a guy who had been to sea before he worked in computers. He told us the things that he had done and the things he had seen at sea.

It seemed a great life. “Where could we sign on?”, those listening thought. We were wasting our lives working in computers. However, he hated the life at sea. All those things happened over a ten year period. The in-between bits (most of the time) were awful for him. He hated it almost immediately after he had signed up for ten years.

He said that he thought that he couldn’t get out and that he had to go through with all of it. It basically screwed him up for life. He told us that he didn’t realize, then, that he could have got himself out. However, he didn’t know, so he spent ten horrible years in a job he hated from the very start.

It was the same but in an opposite way at the college. When I tell here of all the bad things that happened it sounds like an awful life. However, the bad things happened over a period of a few years. The bulk of the time was good.

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’.

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

A “Caring” Adult

More than forty years have passed since that evening and from time to time it comes back to me. It is quite possible that I have managed to suppress the full impact of that night; it is also highly probable that for many years it affected my sexual desires and actions. The memory of holding the naked torso of an adult male can creep up on me when I least expect it.  For example, when I have recognised the vulnerability of my own children, wondering how a ‘caring’ adult can take advantage of an innocent child.   Sometimes it comes to me during or after a sexual encounter.  I have never raised this issue in counselling, nor have I contacted the Verona Fathers to discuss the trauma this issue has caused me.  I have instead chosen to block it from my mind and tried not to think of it.

Only Father Romano Nardo will know what actually happened that night.

All that remains is the memory that I never went back to his room or the God Squad and I lost my respect for him.

Help and Guidance

I took my direction from Father Romano with true dedication and allowed the vision of my family to hurt me in the name of devotion to God.  Eventually, no matter how close I felt to God the images of my mother and sister, in particular, were too much to bear.  In
the middle of the night I left the dormitory and made my way to Romano’s room to seek his help and guidance.

It was the first time I had seen him without his glasses; he woke from his sleep and was happy to invite me in. In floods of tears I apologised for not being able to deal with the pain. Romano held me and comforted me, he assured me that the Devil was powerful and we could face him together. Romano then removed his top and took me to his bed where we remain entwined for what felt like hours.