British man confronts Catholic priest he claims abused him as teenager

By Nick Squires
May 13, 2015

Mirfield was a Catholic seminary school in Yorkshire

A British father-of-two has confronted an Italian priest who allegedly sexually abused him when he was a teenager.

Mark Murray claims he was systematically abused by Father Romano Nardo at Mirfield, a Catholic seminary school in Yorkshire.

Mr Murray, 59, spent years trying to bring the alleged abuse, which took place in 1970, to the attention of the Vatican authorities.

He finally decided to turn up in person at a religious institution in Verona, northern Italy, where Father Nardo, now 73, lives.

He managed to confront the elderly priest, telling him: "You have had a massive, negative impact on my life and my family and my children. I tried many times to meet with you."

Mr Murray covertly filmed the encounter with a tiny camera hidden inside a wristwatch, provided to him by La Repubblica, which published the footage online on Wednesday.

Sitting on a chair opposite Father Nardo, Mr Murray asked him: "Romano Nardo, do you know who I am? I think you do. Mark Murray. Do you remember me?"

The white-haired priest initially sat in silence, saying nothing. "Do you remember Mirfield?" Mr Murray persisted. "Look at me! Look at me! Can you look at me?"

The priest mumbled: "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.

"I'm sorry if what happened in your life was caused by me."

Mr Murray replied: "You abused me. I spent many years thinking I would wake up one morning and start abusing children because I was abused by you."

The school at Mirfield was run by the Comboni Missionaries, also known as the Verona Fathers.

Mr Murray, who was 14 at the time of the abuse, and lives in Britain, said he was deeply homesick at Mirfield and the priest initially offered him kindness and comfort.

But Mr Murray claims the priest swiftly took advantage of his vulnerability and began abusing him.

It was not until 1997 that Mr Murray informed the religious order that he had been abused, and his complaints were dismissed.

Two years later he made a formal complaint to West Yorks police, who launched a criminal investigation that remains open.

Police applied to have Father Nardo extradited to Britain but the missionary order claimed that he was mentally too fragile to leave Italy.

"The Pope talks about cracking down on abusive priests but his message is not filtering down to the lower levels. It's a form of secondary psychological abuse that compounds the original sexual abuse," Mr Murray told The Telegraph.

"Nardo should be in a court of law and should go to prison. The missionary order have shown total disregard for the victims. It makes me very angry."

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Last year the order reached an out-of-court settlement with Mr Murray and 10 other victims, paying them each between £7,000 and £30,000.

That was not an admission of guilt, said Kathy Perrin, a lawyer with the Catholic Church Insurance Association, which represented the order.

"The order chose to come to a settlement because they could not trace their insurance for the period in question so they would have faced a huge legal bill had it gone to trial," she said.

"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."

There are three other pending cases of alleged sexual abuse of Mirfield pupils by priests, she said.

Father Martin Devenish, provincial superior of the London Province of the Verona Fathers, said: "It was with great sadness and regret that the Verona Fathers learned that a number of allegations of historical abuse had been made relating to our former junior seminary, St Peter's, located in Mirfield, West Yorkshire.

"We condemn unreservedly any action which causes harm or distress to others, particularly children. We know that anyone subjected to abusive behaviour will experience suffering and we are dismayed to think that such suffering may have been caused to youngsters who attended our junior seminary.

"If that is the case, we are deeply sorry to anyone who was hurt whilst they were in our care at Mirfield and our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families."



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