07 July 2021, The Tablet

Walking with the wounded – abuse and the Comboni Order

Walking with the wounded – abuse and the Comboni Order

Marcus Stock, Bishop of Leeds: ‘an apology from the heart, filled with compassion’


More than 50 years after they were abused by predatory priests at a school run by the Verona Fathers, a brave and resolute group of survivors have finally received a full apology from the Church. Yet their painful story is far from over

In October 2014, The Observer ran a two-page story by the Scottish journalist and writer Catherine Deveney about the experiences of a group of survivors of sexual abuse by priests when at Mirfield Junior Seminary in West Yorkshire in the 1960s and 1970s. St Peter Claver College was in the care of the Verona Fathers (now known as the Comboni Missionaries).

At that time, Pope Francis’ direction to ­bishops and the leaders of religious orders was to meet survivors and victims of abuse directly, listen to their stories, apologise unreservedly and offer them support. I found the statement by the provincial of the order quoted in Deveney’s article wanting; as the then chair of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission, I wrote a letter outlining my views, which The Observer published.

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