Saturday, 29 October 2016



THE OBSERVER Catherine Deveney

A British man who travelled to Verona in an attempt to forgive the Catholic missionary who sexually abused him at Mirfield seminary in Yorkshire almost 50 years ago is being prosecuted in the Italian courts on three counts of “trespassing, stalking and interference in private life”.

Mark Murray, 60, who filmed his encounter with Father Romano Nardo at the Verona headquarters of the Comboni missionaries in April last year, said he was “appalled and disgusted” when a letter summoning him for criminal proceedings in Verona on 14 September arrived at his home in Wales last week.

“The Combonis know these ‘crimes’ are not true. They are trying to intimidate me. It’s all about power and control. They are trying to send out a message to say, ‘Don’t dare take us on’.”

In 2014, the Observer reported exclusively onwidespread abuse at Mirfield in the 1960s and 70s after a group of 11 British men settled out of court with the missionary order, receiving sums of between £7,000 and £30,000.

Murray, who has suffered lifelong psychological problems as a result of his experiences, received the maximum sum after revealing a horrifying litany of sexual and emotional abuse that included having a cross carved in his chest with a finger nail. “This has all had a massive effect on my emotional well being,” he said.
The film of his visit, posted on the internet, shows him entering the Verona Mother House unimpeded, asking for Nardo, then waiting quietly in the order’s chapel. During a brief conversation, Murray tells Nardo of the devastating effect his actions have had on his life. Nardo sinks to his knees and replies: “If it is my fault that you bear a heavy cross, I believe I should ask the Lord for forgiveness for having erred. I’m sorry. I’m very sorry. If what happened in your life was caused by me, and if what you are saying is true, I am truly sorry and ask for forgiveness.”
What the Combonis are doing now is re-victimising me and compounding the abuse I experienced as a child

Murray, who became a brother of the missionary order for two years in Uganda after leaving Mirfield, said his journey was always about catharsis. “When I was sitting in that church, I was in control. I was no longer a child. For the first time in my life, I had total control and it was so powerful that I was able to forgive him.”
His anger now focuses on the order’s response rather than his abuser.

 “‘Interference in private life’ is a disgusting thing to say to someone who has been abused. What about the interference in my childhood and adulthood? And stalking has awful connotations. As for trespassing, I walked through an open door and spoke to a receptionist.

“What the Combonis are doing now is re-victimising me and compounding the abuse I experienced as a child. It’s the opposite of what Pope Francis has said about treating abuse victims with understanding and compassion. Why are they doing this to me and my family?”

A lawyer has been automatically assigned to Murray by the Italian courts and he faces significant legal fees. During his visit to Verona, he sought the assistance of one of Italy’s most renowned newspapers, La Repubblica, to film his encounter with Nardo. Journalist Marco Ansaldo has now also been contacted by police and told to log his address with the courts, usually a precursor to legal proceedings in Italy. “The police told me it was with regard to my article,” Ansaldo told the Observer, “but I don’t have any official papers yet.”

Murray’s case was thoroughly investigated, said Ansaldo – as was the Observer’s original report. “I did my job. I checked my sources. We had three journalists working on the case. What can the Combonis say? I think their principal objective is to pull down Mark Murray and because he was listened to by La Repubblica, they would like to bring us down too. It will be a battle – and we will see what the outcome is.”

A spokesperson for the Comboni Missionaries in the UK said: “The Comboni Missionaries in the UK are not pursuing any legal action against either Mark Murray or Marco Ansaldo and cannot comment on cases which we understand may be being pursued in Italy.”






  1. Something doesn't quite add up here. Mirfield, the Community of the Resurrection, is and always has been an Anglican (i.e., Church of England, Protestant) training college. I can't see why Colomboni (i.e., Roman Catholic,) Priests and Brothers would be teaching their. Mirfield is a Church of England training college for Anglican, i.e. Protestant, Clergymen and women. Curious.

    1. Same Mirfield in Yorkshire, different denomination and religious order!

    2. MourneManMichael1 November 2016 at 09:25

      Would be helpful if you, Anon on 29/10 @ 12;45 could expand your info. Do you mean that there is another separate establishment in Mirfield linked to the Colombonis from that referred to by Anon @ 12:45? I too knew of the Anglican establishment having visited it once, so have had the same query.


    29 May 2015 | by Joanna Moorhead , Liz Dodd
    A group of men has called on the Comboni Fathers to acknowledge and apologise for decades of abuse they allege took place at the order’s junior seminary in Yorkshire.

    Brian Hennessy, one of 12 ex-students who have come forward to say they were abused by priests at Mirfield Junior Seminary in Yorkshire between the late 1950s and the early 1980s, this week sent a 157-page report detailing more than 1,000 instances of abuse to the archbishops of England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland.

    The report was also sent to the abbots and religious superiors of all the religious communities in Britain and the heads of the religious conferences.

    In an accompanying letter Mr Hennessy said that priests and Religious had failed in their task, abandoned their mission and the spirituality of the Gospels by refusing properly to acknowledge and validate their pain and suffering.

    Last year a group of victims were given payments by the order of between £7,000 and £30,000 each which Kathy Perrin, a lawyer with the Catholic Church Insurance Association, which represented the order, said was not an admission of guilt.

    She explained: "Everything happened an incredibly long time ago and two of the priests who were accused are now deceased. My clients simply don't know what happened at Mirfield and don't feel that it can be established now."

    Mr Hennessy’s letter says that the Comboni Missionaries, also known as the Verona Fathers, had failed as an institution, and for decades, had failed to care properly for victims. That failure “has run so deep in the veins of the hierarchy of that religious order that it has resulted in the hierarchical re-victimisation and discrimination of the victims of child sexual abuse that was committed by depraved members of their order”.

    Mr Hennessy goes on: “It is a failure that is characterised by arrogance, self-protectionism and denial of the ‘truth’ in order to perpetuate the self-conceit of their own perceived elitism and spiritual superiority”.

    After a detailed report in the
    newspaper last October about the Comboni allegations, Danny Sullivan, chairman of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission, said that the response of the Comboni order “reflects a stark difference of attitude from that of Pope Francis”. He added he had been present at a Mass at which Francis addressed victims of abuse and humbly asked forgiveness; the Comboni Fathers, he implied, had taken a very different approach from that of the Pope.

    This week Jim Kirby, who was a seminarian in Mirfield from 1973-77, when he was aged between 12 and 16, and who suffered abuse during that period, told
    The Tablet
    that all he and his fellow survivors wanted now was for the Comboni order to make an absolute apology and to admit that they failed to care for the young boys in their care. “We want them to meet us and to treat us properly and with respect,” he said. “So far we have been fobbed off and we have been insulted; some of us have been told by priests that we are ‘only in it for the money’.”

    Mr Kirby concluded: “It would help if the Comboni fathers would stop saying this was all a long time ago, and the priests are dead: they’re not all dead, and the ones who are still alive should be brought to court, but in the meantime it would mean so much if they just invited us to meet them and said, guys, we’re sorry; not only for what happened all those years ago, but for failing to face up to it in the years since. What’s happened has added insult to injury, and now is the moment when it has to stop.”

    The Comboni Fathers were not available for comment.

  3. There are at it again

    1. If this is genuinely a seminarian or priest it should be easy to work out who it is :
      46 years old
      5'11" 180cm
      Non smoker
      Social drinker
      Some tattoos
      No piercings
      Size: Average
      Role: Versatile
      Caucasian (white)
      Find the averagely-endowed 46-year-old seminarian with tattoos!
      Alternatively I wonder what a priest's tattoos would ne?

    2. That could be anyone.

    3. Are we to assume that the good Bishop Buckley is now content to promulgate pornographic sites?
      He did state - several times - that he would exclude the most extreme, coarse, crude, ugly and vulgar contributions?
      Can you get much worse than this?
      Perhaps he overlooked this (?) item - I hope so. Things can slip through nets!
      Would you comment, please, Bishop!

  4. Sounds strange. We're the offenses proven in the UK. Was the perpetrator not punished. If the meeting was recorded there should be no issue of trespass. Never heard of those Comboni priests either

  5. 19:33 that description could match any seminarian or priest..........there's plenty of cute 46 year old priests about - several in D&C, some in Meath, a few in Derry and quite a few hotties in Dublin diocese.........not to mention several sexy guys in the archdiocese of Armagh. What would St. Patrick say???

    1. And do they have tattoos? Perhaps it's time I returned to the faith lol.
      I realise I was making an assumption but I guessed that the original poster meant this was someone connected to Maynooth. Would s/he like to be more specific, please?

    2. 09:59 yes, please come back to the faith! I'm sure you'd find some hot priest interested in you especially if you're cute yourself! Tell me more???

    3. Lol well beyond the age of being chatted up by cute priests...