Provincial: Rosminian's Response to Abuse "Inadequate"

Father Myers Issues Apology After BBC Documentary Airs

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LONDON, JUNE 23, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Following the U.K. broadcast of a documentary detailing the abuse of some 35 boys by four Rosminian priests in the 1960s, the order’s provincial in England released an apology for the acts of abuse and for "our inadequate response."

The documentary, titled “Abused: Breaking the Silence,” aired Wednesday on BBC1 and featured four Rosminian priests, who physically and sexually abused the boys under their care at a school in Africa and another in the United Kingdom.  

Most notable among the four abusing priests is Father Christopher "Kit" Cunningham (1931-2010), who was for years a popular parish priest at St. Etheldreda's in London. The others are Father Bernard Collins, Father Douglas Raynor and Father William Jackson.

In 2009, a group of the abused met with Father David Myers, the provincial of the Rosminians in the United Kingdom, and presented the abuse cases. While Father Myers made attempts to reconcile the abusers with the abused, the victims claim the priest didn't go far enough.

They cite the fact that when Father Cunningham died last year, there was no mention made of his many acts of abuse. The obituaries citing the saintly virtues of the priest is one reason why the victims are currently suing the Rosminian order for millions of pounds.

Father David Myers stated in a note posted today on the order’s Web site that he apologized “without reservation on behalf of the Rosminian brethren in the United Kingdom to all those who have suffered.”

"Such abuse," he continued, "was a grievous breach of trust to them and to their families. We are appalled by what was done to them. I and all my brethren are deeply shocked at what has happened and acknowledge our inadequate response.

"We are committed to the pastoral care and support of those who have suffered abuse and to the procedures laid down by the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission."

A statement from the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission stated that it acknowledged "with deep concern and regret the hurt and damage caused to so many by certain members of the Rosminian Congregation. We would want to encourage victims of any form of abuse from within the Church to come forward and seek to have their stories heard and understood.

"The order is now working to ensure their safeguarding practices are fully in line with the Church's policies and procedures."