Written by 4:46 pm In the News

Pope meets abuse survivors

Pope Francis met with eight sexual abuse survivors at the Vatican on Monday, 13 of June.

After the meeting, he told survivors that he would ask those at the St Peter Claver College in west Yorkshire in the 1960s and 70s to join with the group.

The papal meeting was also attended by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales.

Mr Murray was one of former trainee priests who shared a £120,000 settlement from The Verona Fathers, a Roman Catholic mission now known as Comboni Missionaries, over abuse suffered in the 1960s and 70s.

He and ten other victims that were sexually abused whilst training to be priests, also received an apology from the Marcus Stock, Bishop of Leeds.

The Right Reverend Stock said sorry for the “pain and trauma experienced when you were students at Mirfield and for the spiritual suffering and emotional distress which continues to affect you to this day”.

Members of the Comboni Survivors’ Group say they still want justice from the Order.

The men have have now shared their testimonies with Pope Francis after the body responsible for dealing with child sexual abuse in the Church helped set up the meeting.

“I don’t think we could have expected a better outcome,” said Bede Mullen, of the Comboni Survivors Group.

“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.”

Mr Murray told the BBC that he couldn’t talk about his ordeal for more than 20 years before he began civil action in 1995.

Ahead of this meeting, Mr Murray: “I don’t want an apology. A forced apology isn’t a true one. I want them to listen. My statement will come from a more personal aspect – what their treatment has done to me as a person and to my family. I dealt with the abuse I suffered as a child through years of psychotherapy. It’s much harder to deal with the response of some of the institutions towards me. Where I’m coming from is the impact of the Combonis having no engagement with us. They know what happened – but there’s never been an admission that abuse took place. This should’ve been sorted decades ago. If the Comboni Order had listened with their hearts in 1995 this could have been sorted. We didn’t want what happened to us happening to other people, so you push for a meeting with the highest person in the Catholic Church.”

Mr Murray endured repeated abuse by a priest at the former junior seminary between 1969-1974, after he joined at 13-years-old.

Mr Murray, from St Asaph, Denbighshire, said he came away from the Vatican meeting with renewed hope.

(Picture Courtesy: Reuters)

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