The 59-year-old bishop noted that while the college was run by the Verona Fathers, it was situated in his diocese.
“It was for this reason that I asked to meet with you today, so that, as a leader of this local Church, I at least can offer you my heartfelt apology for the pain and trauma which you experienced when you were students at Mirfield and for the spiritual suffering and emotional distress which continues to affect you to this day,” he said.
“I wish therefore here and now to apologize to you personally and unreservedly for the childhood sexual abuse you suffered, and I wish to apologize also to all the members of your families and your friends whose lives have been affected by the impact of that abuse.”
Bede Mullen, one of the victims, told the BBC that it was the first time that a senior Church figure had acknowledged the group’s experiences.
“Two of our members have died before this apology. Many have suffered fractured lives largely due to their experiences as children,” he said.
The order paid a total of $166,000 in compensation to 11 men who attended the college.
The BBC reported that the Comboni Missionaries issued a statement after the bishop’s apology.
It said: “It was with great sadness and regret that we learned about the allegations of non-recent abuse relating to our former junior seminary which closed in 1984.”
“We acknowledge the harm caused by child abuse and have publicly apologized for any abuse suffered by former seminarians.”
The order said it had sought to respond with “seriousness and sensitivity to the complaints and claims made” and co-operated with the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, which published a major report on the Catholic Church in England and Wales in November 2020.
The order added that it condemned any action that caused “harm or distress” to others.
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
“The health, safety and wellbeing of every child remains our absolute priority, and we subscribe to the comprehensive national safeguarding policies and procedures of the Catholic Church in the U.K. to ensure this is paramount,” it said.
In his message to the group, Stock quoted from Pope Francis’ letter declining to accept the resignation of German Cardinal Reinhard Marx, in which he urged “every bishop of the Church” to take responsiblity for the abuse crisis.
Stock said: “Those, like me, who have been entrusted with a ministry of leadership in the Church can only begin to contribute to the healing of the wounds of abuse if we are ready to listen with humility and a compassionate heart to those, like you, who seek to share their experiences and their sufferings with us.”
“We must be prepared personally to sit face-to-face with you and to hear your stories. For many like you who have been abused, this response is the only way that your pain can genuinely be heard, and your dignity properly be respected. Indeed, it is the only thing that you, the Comboni Survivors Group, are now asking of us.”
The Catholic News Agency (CNA) Staff are a team of journalists dedicated to reporting news concerning the Catholic Church around the world. Our bureaus are located in Denver, Washington, and Rome. We have sister language agencies in Kenya, Germany, Peru, Brazil, and Italy. CNA is a service of EWTN News. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.