Members of the Comboni Survivors’ Group, accompanied by Bishop Marcus, have today had a private audience with His Holiness Pope Francis.
It is now one year on from the apology Bishop Marcus took it upon himself to make to the men, because the Comboni Order (formerly the Verona Fathers) which had run a Junior Seminary in Mirfield in the 1960s and 70s where the survivors had suffered abuse as boys, had not (and still has not) made proper and unreserved acknowledgement or apology.
The meeting was arranged with the help of Bishop Marcus and Cardinal Vincent Nichols, and both the Bishop and Cardinal travelled to Rome to provide pastoral support to the Survivors’ Group.
Bede Mullen is the Group’s spokesman and still lives in the Diocese of Leeds. Before setting off to Rome, Bede sent this message to firstname.lastname@example.org:
‘Thank you for your kind words and continuing support. I will be in contact with you following the meeting with the Holy Father…We are all hoping for a positive outcome but realise our journey could not have advanced without the assistance of Bishop Marcus. We are truly blessed to have been so well supported by the Diocese of Leeds.’
After the meeting, Bede told Matthew Richards of the BBC: ‘I don’t think we could have expected a better outcome. He [the Pope] said he’s immediately going to ring the superior general of the Comboni Missionaries personally and get him to engage with the survivors’ group.’
Matthew Richards for BBC Wales, travelling with Comboni Survivor Mark Murray, has produced this BBC Wales Online article: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-61747519
The background to this story from last year may be read here on this website: https://www.dioceseofleeds.org.uk/comboni-survivors-receive-bishops-apology-from-the-heart/