“Whistleblowing” Scots Priest Dismissed

“Whistleblowing” Scots Priest Dismissed

A Scottish Catholic priest, who has fought for 17 years to force the hierarchy to act against a fellow priest who abused him, has been dismissed from the diocese of Galloway while recovering from cancer and issued with a formal warning for talking to the Observer.

Father Patrick Lawson, who spoke out in the Observer in July using the pseudonym “Father Michael”, was sent a decree of removal by Bishop John Cunningham last Wednesday, forcing him to hand over the keys of his parish house within two days. The bishop had consistently refused to accept Father Lawson’s pleas, on the advice of doctors, to drop one of his two parishes – St Paul’s, Hurlford – while convalescing.

The case is a potentially explosive development in an increasingly tense relationship between the Scottish hierarchy and the laity over abuse and cover-up. There is now a standoff in Father Lawson’s other parish – St Sophia’s, Galston – with many parishioners telling the Observer that they will walk out of masses this weekend in protest, cancel their church subscriptions, and refuse to return unless the priest is reinstated.

Parishioner Manuela Kevan says around 200 people have signed a petition backing the popular, hardworking priest. “We know what this is really about.”  Read more

Obviously, we have no way of knowing whether what is reported in the Observer article is accurate or not. We have to take it at face value, in the absence of any other reliable information.  However, it could be one of those “there’s more to this than meets the eye” situations.  Suffice to say that Catholic Truth has had cause to contact Fr Lawson in the past, so we are keeping an open mind on this at the moment and will merely add an observation that it’s interesting to see what it takes to have a priest dismissed. Annoying the bishops?  It’s certainly not writing heresy in the  Catholic papers week in and week out, and similar related dissent, that’s for sure!

Having said all of that, we reported some years ago that the Church in Galloway was in meltdown.  But is it any different from the Church in the rest of Scotland? Frankly, I doubt it. What about you?

Comments (28)

  • Nicky

    “The Observer also reported claims of gay cliques of Scottish priests. Father Lawson’s case wove many of these strands together”

    There have been reports of a gay network of priests in tabloid newspapers and in Catholic Truth over the years so why haven’t the bishops done something about it instead of ignoring a whistleblowing priest and now dismissing him?

    September 8, 2013 at 6:37 pm
  • Margaret Mary

    I think there’s definitely more to this than meets the eye. Bishop Cunningham is not a vindictive man, to the best of my knowledge.

    I’m taking the whole report with a very large dose of salt.

    September 8, 2013 at 8:24 pm
    • Lily

      “The bishop had consistently refused to accept Father Lawson’s pleas, on the advice of doctors, to drop one of his two parishes – St Paul’s, Hurlford – while convalescing.”

      Margaret Mary, if this is true it doesn’t put Bishop Cunningham in a good light. If Fr Lawson has cancer and his doctor wants him to reduce workload, surely the bishop should have allowed him to drop a parish?

      September 10, 2013 at 9:21 am
  • WhistleBlower

    Make no mistake about it – there is more to this than meets the eye. Could it be that this has nothing to do with whistle blowing, but everything to do with inappropriate behaviour? Perhaps there has been a whole history of inappropriate behaviour? Maybe Bishop Cunningham has acted swiftly….?

    According to certain sources, explosive material has recently surfaced. I hope no one will be fooled by this article in The Observer.

    September 8, 2013 at 9:47 pm
  • Josephine

    I’m inclined to agree that there’s more to this story than meets the eye. It would be good to think the Bishop acted swiftly against a priest guilty of inappropriate behaviour (if that is the case) but the story about Fr Moore has been very public knowledge in Galloway for years now and so I dare say there is some truth in the Observer report.

    September 8, 2013 at 11:27 pm
  • Miles Immaculatae

    Supposing even there is more to this story, aren’t the punitive measures which have been applied to Fr Lawson inconsistent?

    My main concern about this is the inconsistency. Assuming, hypothetically, that Fr Lawlor was completely deserving of this, it shows us the hierarchy do indeed have the ability to dish out the most severest canonical penalties. Consider all the priests in Scotland who would deserve dismissal. Why has this one been singled out?

    September 9, 2013 at 12:55 am
    • editor

      Miles Immaculatae,

      I think Whistleblower answered your question above, with this:

      According to certain sources, explosive material has recently surfaced

      September 9, 2013 at 10:32 am
  • wendy walker

    Dearest Patricia

    I personally want ot thank you for all the wonderful help and encouragement you have given here regarding ..killary…Rod Peads most magnificent letter is a Pro Life masterpiece .

    I hope you are feeling better do take care .

    I hope St Andrews is still being flooded with Pro Life comments …I have hand written requests to those who do not have a Computer …to ensure everybody is aware !

    I have so much respect for you..

    God Bless you and Your efforts

    Take care now


    Date: Sun, 8 Sep 2013 14:47:18 +0000 To: [email protected]

    September 9, 2013 at 1:25 pm
    • editor

      Wendy, your very kind remarks are ill deserved by me, but they sure have pushed you up the pay scale!

      I am hoping our student contributor will take up the suggestion to contact abort67 and ask them to join the St Andrew’s display on the day of the honouring of “killary”

      I’d dearly like to have some photos of the student display to publish in our December edition – along with some biting commentary on the “Church spokesman” aka Pontius Pilate.

      September 9, 2013 at 7:30 pm
  • Whistleblower

    Yes, explosive is the word. There’s anomalies regarding this priest spanning many, many years. Grew up in Glasgow, rejected by Cardinal Winning, studied in the States and ordained for Galloway? Not exactly conventional!

    Actually, he needs our prayers. An alcoholic who is now recovering from cancer. A man who was clearly unsuitable for the clerical state – hence the reason the Cardinal rejected him. Hopefully a life of prayer and meditation awaits him.

    September 9, 2013 at 3:53 pm
    • Josephine


      I’d heard most of that before, but he must have been really really unsuitable for the clerical state for Cardinal Winning to have rejected him, looking around at some of the men he accepted!

      I do agree we should pray for Fr Lawson.

      September 9, 2013 at 8:19 pm
      • Whistleblower

        I couldn’t agree more. Imagine being rejected by Cardinal Winning! To think one of the Cardinal’s brother bishops then accepted him!!!!

        September 9, 2013 at 8:29 pm
    • Nicky


      “Not exactly conventional” is an understatement. But why didn’t Cardinal Winning speak out when + Taylor accepted him for Galloway? If these guys were in charge of businesses, they’d be sacked for gross negligence.

      September 11, 2013 at 12:51 am
  • Constantine the Great

    “there’s more to this than meets the eye”

    And if anyone can get to the bottom of it, Catherine Deveney can.

    September 9, 2013 at 10:17 pm
    • Josephine

      Catherine Deveney only gets to know what her priest sources tell her – I don’t think it’s likely that Fr Lawson will tell her anything “explosive” against himself.

      September 9, 2013 at 11:28 pm
    • editor

      Oh gimme a break! Catherine Deveney couldn’t get to the bottom of a box of chocolates without a lorra lorra help – preferably from me…

      Listen, Constantine the (not so)* Great, haven’t you noticed that there’s been no naming of the Cardinal’s accusers in all these months, despite more than one newspaper claiming to know their identities? And notice how Mzzzz Deveney has kept that little treasure trove well under wraps.. Know why?

      Well, how’s this for a theory… what about if, say, they are, to a man, dissenters from the teaching of the Church? What if, perhaps, were their identities revealed there would be a question mark over their own integrity, for a number of reasons relating to the scandal?

      Worth having a think about, because, believe me, if Mzzzz Deveney knew the half of it, I doubt very much if she would have presented her latest protégé as the innocent abroad depicted in this most recent Observer article. I agree, of course, that Fr L needs prayers but let’s not forget that there may well be more to this situation than meets the eye. It’s “Catherine Deveney” remember, not “Saint Catherine”

      *Kidding! Honest!

      September 10, 2013 at 12:45 am
  • Lily

    The Diocese of Galloway has been in very bad shape for a long time. It doesn’t really surprise me that they accepted a candidate for priesthood who was not at all suitable.

    I agree about praying for Fr Lawson but also for Bishop Emeritus Taylor who has to take responsibility of this and for the Fr Paul Moore debacle. It’s hard being a Catholic anywhere in the world these days but in Galloway it must be even harder.

    September 10, 2013 at 9:19 am
  • Nicky

    On reading down this thread, it seems I was a bit too hasty in presuming that the report in the paper was accurate. I must say I’m glad because I’ve always thought Bishop Cunningham was probably one of the better of the Scots bishops, I’ve never read him reported as saying anything dissenting.

    Maybe when the new Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh arrives, he’ll make a point of sorting out the mess of the Church in Scotland. I sincerely hope so, as it’s getting quite embarrassing to be a Catholic.

    September 11, 2013 at 12:46 am
  • Nicky


    “Bishop Emeritus Taylor who has to take responsibility of this and for the Fr Paul Moore debacle”

    I think you are right. He really did a lot of damage when he was in charge of Galloway. I know of at least two good priests who fled the diocese because of him.

    September 11, 2013 at 12:47 am
  • Theresa Rose


    I too hope that the new Archbishop of St Andrew and Edinburgh will sort out the mess of the Church in Scotland. That Galloway is in meltdown as regards these scandals, it makes you think what is happening in the Church at large.

    Prayer and penance is what we need to do.

    September 11, 2013 at 7:23 am
  • Crossraguel

    Based only on the information available in the public domain it is impossible to discern precisely what lies beneath. For those making assumptions based on Bishop Cunningham’s profile, it is due to note that his retirement is imminent and some of what is effected under his authority may in fact be under the influence of others.

    September 11, 2013 at 9:07 pm
  • Whistleblower


    Thankfully, we have sources who can fill in the blanks.

    September 11, 2013 at 10:28 pm
    • Lily


      Why can’t the “explosive” information be made public here if the sources are trustworthy?

      September 11, 2013 at 10:38 pm
      • Whistleblower


        There’s no need for anyone to be aware of the details. All that is required to be known is that this priest was not dismissed for being a whistleblower. There’s more to it.

        However, in this case the bishop acted promptly and appropriately. That’s all that needs to be said for now.

        September 11, 2013 at 11:48 pm
      • Augustine

        But, then, why should we choose to believe you and not another source?

        September 12, 2013 at 11:04 am
      • Whistleblower


        Whether you believe me or not is completely irrelevant.

        September 12, 2013 at 11:25 am
      • Whistleblower

        What’s the other source, Catherine Deveney? Haha. Feel free.

        September 12, 2013 at 11:29 am
      • editor


        Whistleblower is uniquely placed to know about this case, but unable to publicise it. I can vouch for the veracity of what he says, putting it together with the information passed to Catholic Truth some years ago.

        September 12, 2013 at 1:58 pm

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