Scots Priest Suspended: “Mass Riot” During Bishop’s Announcement…

Scots Priest Suspended: “Mass Riot” During Bishop’s Announcement…


Parishioners at St John ­Ogilvie’s Church in High Blantyre, Lanarkshire, reacted with fury and disbelief when they were told just before Mass last night that Father Matthew Despard had been removed from his ministry.

They were greeted by a weeping Father Despard outside the church shortly before the 4.30pm Mass began, and were ushered inside to hear a statement from Bishop Joseph Toal, Acting Bishop of the Diocese of Motherwell.

Angry scenes broke out among the congregation when Bishop Toal informed them “a penal ­judicial process” had been instituted against Father Despard as a result of the publication of his book Crisis In The Priesthood, with parishioners demanding answers over the priest’s suspension.

Father Despard, 48, embarked on a collision course with Church authorities when he published his book on Amazon in the wake of the resignation of Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who admitted to gay relationships and sexual activity spanning decades.

However, it was later reported the priest would escape sanction after Joseph Devine, the previous Bishop of Motherwell, issued a notice ­stating that no action would be taken against him.

The controversy has now taken a fresh twist, with the priest in danger of being stripped of his ministry after action was taken against him under canon law.

There were chaotic scenes at the church, with some parishioners walking out in protest over the news before communion could be held while others were left in tears.

One woman who was there said about 150 people attended the service and their ­reaction to Father Despard’s suspension was “as close to a riot as you could get” inside a place of worship. She said Bishop Toal had to raise his voice and read the statement a second time as his first effort was drowned out by shouts from those sitting in the pews. The Bishop later took Mass.

The eyewitness, who asked not to be named, said: “I have never seen anything like it in a church. People were very upset. There were ­children in tears. People were shouting at Bishop Toal that there was a crisis in the Church and asking “where’s God in all this?”
“Some refused to take ­Communion from the Bishop and walked out. Father Matthew is very much respected in the parish and he’s been here for about five years.
“People back him over his book. It did cause some controversy and the congregation was split over it, but the majority have remained faithful to him.”

Father Despard’s memoir names serving priests and claims senior figures in the Church refused to confront complaints of abuse and bullying. He claims he was the victim of inappropriate approaches as a seminarian and alleges trainee priests who rebuffed the advances of others were bullied.

Of his time as a student at Chesters College, later renamed Scotus College, in Bearsden, in the late 1980s, he wrote: “One or two students tried to kiss me when I was there. I did not know what to make of that, whether they were perhaps testing me.”

Last night, the priest said he could not comment on what had happened at St John Ogilvie’s, and referred calls to his lawyer.

Hugh Neilson, representing Despard, said: “Father Despard is dismayed at today’s events that led to what can only be described as a mass walk-out by so many of his parishioners.
“He was humbled and deeply touched by the many supportive and affectionate comments ­including from those … who stayed after the bishop’s statement.

“He hopes that those in authority may yet reflect on today’s dramatic events that were, in his view, so unnecessary.

“It is a pity that repeated requests for a meeting [over two months] between Bishop Toal and Father Despard’s representatives went completely unheeded.

“The last thing Father Despard wanted was for his disagreements with the Church to attract further publicity or to cause anybody, particularly his parishioners, unnecessary anxiety.”
Father William Nolan, of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in East Kilbride, has been appointed parish administrator until the case against Father Despard is concluded.

A spokesman for Bishop Toal said: “Since there is a canonical case in progress at the present time, Bishop Toal felt it was appropriate to remove Father Matthew Despard from Parish Ministry, until the ­judicial process has run its course. This action does not prejudge the case in any way.”     To read article at source, click on photo of Fr Despard.

Comments (123)

  • gabriel syme

    Could anyone advise:

    I understand it is now no longer possible to purchase Fr Despard’s e-book from Amazon.

    Does anyone know of any other means to obtain or borrow a copy of this?

    Its not a big deal if not – I just thought it would help my understanding of all this, if I was aware of what information Fr had set out within it.

    Thanks for any advice.

    I see the anti-Catholic harpy from the Herald, Collette Douglas-Home, has continued that papers assault on Scottish Catholics today. Its almost funny the range of these articles, which rant and rave and take in everything from “paedophilia” to what colour of shoes the Pope wears; and all this unrelated rage, in an article about one parish in the diocese of Motherwell.

    With the dismal, inevitable failure of Scottish protestantism, (all of the many varieties), the Herald has decided to keep the anti-Catholic totem, but to now pitch it instead at a secular-atheist audience, rather than a quasi-Christian audience. Its still just as pathetic as ever, though.

    November 19, 2013 at 11:36 am
    • editor

      Gabriel Syme,

      I’ve emailed you my copy but there was a warning that it may not be able to be opened so let me know – worth a try.

      I’d have been interested in the article by Collette Douglas-Home if you could provide a link – she’s an out and out feminist and is so far out in her thinking about just about everything that she is not to be taken seriously, so don’t go to any trouble. Just interested to read her take on Fr Despard, whom she has probably written off as a “homophobe” .

      November 19, 2013 at 11:56 am
      • pewcatholic

        I didn’t know you could email a Kindle e-book. How is it done, please?

        November 19, 2013 at 1:14 pm
      • editor

        Pew Catholic,

        I just right clicked on my Kindle icon on my desktop, and selected “send” then selected “to mail recipient”.) It then warned that it may not open, but I sent it anyway. Worth a try.

        November 19, 2013 at 1:44 pm
      • gabriel syme

        Many thanks for that Editor, very generous of you and much appreciated. I will try to see if it works later, at home.

        Douglas-Homes take isnt to discuss Fr Despard himself, but rather to use the incident as an excuse for a wholesale attack on the Church.

        She mentions her childhood in Ireland, the apparently unhealthy respect we Catholics have for our Clergy and the film Philomena – which are all obviously very relevant here (!?).

        It is the usual scatter-gun hatchet job, typical of her and “ex Catholics” in general.

        She portrays the upset in Blantyre as a “revolt” against the Church – comparing it in significant to the assasination of JF Kennedy (hilarious)

        She demands that Pope Francis become personally involved in Blantyre and alludes he is negligent not to have done so as yet (hilarious).

        She claims that because the Church has suspended Fr Despard, that this shows we are still within “the bad old days” (ridiculous).

        In short, it is the usual ramblings of a self-important and bitter oaf. Her articles make me wonder about the average intellect in modern Scotland.

        Here are the links (you may need to log-in to read them):

        Douglas-Home:

        http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/columnists/revolt-in-the-pews-sums-up-challenge-faced-by-church.22731667

        Todays Herald front page headline:

        http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/church-to-probe-suspended-priests-claims.22731879

        November 19, 2013 at 2:13 pm
      • Josephine

        Gabriel Syme,

        Your analysis of modern Scotland Catholic intellects and Herald are very accurate, IMHO. Collette Douglas-Home is always on about the way the Church oppresses woman and she spews forth all the usual criticisms of the Church about male domination, clergy dominance and so on. It’s just her style to use the Fr Despard case and especially the protest by the parishioners, as a stick to beat the Church with.

        November 19, 2013 at 10:50 pm
  • pew catholic

    I’d like to send someone my copy.

    November 19, 2013 at 1:15 pm
    • editor

      Well, I sort of guessed that. All those hours of watching Columbo paid off 🙂

      November 19, 2013 at 1:46 pm
      • 3littleshepherds

        Columbo. At least I could figure out who did it.

        November 19, 2013 at 6:44 pm
      • editor

        Ha ha !

        I should have said “Poirot” !

        November 19, 2013 at 7:08 pm
    • Frankier

      Can you get it sent to a small blackberry tablet?

      November 19, 2013 at 2:13 pm
      • editor

        It doesn’t give a phone option except a fax. If you have a fax number, email it to editor@catholictruthscotland.com and I’ll try sending it.

        November 19, 2013 at 2:52 pm
    • crofterlady

      I’d be much obliged to receive it, Pew Catholic, if it’s still available?

      November 19, 2013 at 2:15 pm
      • editor

        Crofterlady,

        I’ve emailed you a link to my copy – again it warns that you may not be able to open it.

        And no, I’m NOT taking the huff that you asked Pew Catholic instead of me. Not one bit. Just because she has an (infuriatingly) cheerful avatar is no excuse for hurting my feelings. Remember the warning I’ve given often in the newsletter – I’ve got character defects and I’m not afraid to use them!

        November 19, 2013 at 2:51 pm
      • pewcatholic

        ‘Infuriatingly cheerful’ – that must be my character defect (or one of them!). And you’ve given away my gender, so I can no longer lie about my possible ordination. 🙁

        But please don’t ask me to change my avatar. It keeps me going in all the doom and gloom that is the Catholic Church at present.

        Thanks for the info about emailing Kindle items. Must go and investigate Amazon now …

        🙂

        November 19, 2013 at 3:07 pm
  • Miles Immaculatae

    The Church authorities don’t take homosexual bullying seriously do they? Has anybody ever wondered why the priesthood is a homosexual magnet? See this article by an excellent Catholic Dutch psychologist:

    http://www.kath.net/news/12161

    November 19, 2013 at 3:33 pm
  • Frankier

    Comment removed.

    Frankier, please stick to the topic. This was compleltely off topic.

    November 19, 2013 at 4:20 pm
    • Scotspape

      That’s not very nice.

      Editor: correct – I hadn’t noticed the comment until yours came in, so thank you for that unwitting alert. The inappropriate comment now deleted.

      November 19, 2013 at 7:36 pm
  • Frankier

    The she I mentioned (4.20 pm) refers to Douglas-Homes.

    November 19, 2013 at 4:29 pm
    • editor

      Frankier,

      That’s irrelevant. Please stick to the topic. If you had commented that Collette Douglas Home writes as if Bishop Toal were an out and out traditionalist when he is anything but, that would have been on the button. Please avoid mixing issues or using this blog as a platform for giving us your views on the TV news !

      Luv ‘n stuff…

      November 19, 2013 at 8:05 pm
  • Lily

    There is a letter in today’s Herald about Fr Despard, from another priest of the diocese. He is defending Bishop Toal.
    http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/letters/it-is-unfair-to-pillory-bishop-toal-over-a-mess-not-of-his-making.22742855

    November 20, 2013 at 11:38 am
  • Spero

    I read Fr Despard’s book some time ago and intend now to read it again. I don’t know if it is completely true, partly true or not true at all. I do think Catholics have a right to know.
    The thing is, Fr Despard cannot be dismissed out of hand by the priest who has written to the Herald today because all that has happened in the Edinburgh diocese alone lends a credibility to allegations made by priests and people any where in Scotland, whereby even a year ago, they would have been binned right away; the allegations, I mean, not the people.
    We know there are priests in the Edinburgh diocese, who by their own admission, have been involved in homosexual relationships over a period of years. So then, has it only been in one diocese? Is this what we are being led to believe?
    Surely after all that has happened the Catholics who want everything out in the open are still not going to be seen as nuisances. It is not good enough.

    November 20, 2013 at 1:57 pm
    • Josephine

      Spero,

      Hear hear. Catholics do have a right to know what way our priests are living and behaving, and I agree about Fr Grant’s letter which amounts to “shooting the messenger.”

      November 20, 2013 at 6:58 pm
  • editor

    As I’ve already intimated, I have received telephone calls from a number of parishioners and supporters of Fr Despard, and agreed to write a letter to The Herald on their behalf, seeking the re-instatement of their PP. My letter has been published today but does not seem to be available online, so I don’t know yet if it’s been published in full – below is the complete text. I’ve already had an email from a man mocking “the usual even handed approach of Catholic Truth” because of my admission that we do not know and have never met Fr Despard, yet support him. I replied that we’d never met Nelson Mandela or any of the other many victims of injustices who have hit the headlines, that I wrote that to protect Fr Despard since the last thing he needs right now is to be suspected of being one of our sources. I then told him, as you would expect, to gerragrip 🙂

    My letter:

    Dear Sir,

    Catholic Truth has been approached by some very concerned parishioners in the parish of St John Ogilvie in Blantyre, deeply upset at the suspension of their priest, Fr Matthew Despard.

    We have supported Fr Despard – although we have never met him or had any personal contact with him – and we are willing to speak on behalf of these concerned parishioners because we believe that he is being unjustly treated by the hierarchy, to say the least. Priests who admit to being homosexual are on public record disowning Catholic sexual morality in this area, and even openly work within the “gay rights” movement, yet they are allowed to remain “priests in good standing” without any sanctions imposed upon them.

    It is, in fact, important to note that Bishop Joseph Devine, despite being named in Fr Despard’s book, chose to make no public statement on the matter and issued an assurance that there would be no action taken.

    For Bishop Toal, then, – despite being in a merely “caretaker” role – to choose to suspend Fr Despard from priestly ministry has shocked both Fr Despard and his parishioners to the core. I have been impressed by the determination of the genuinely upset parishioners who have contacted me, to do everything in their power to have Fr Despard re-instated without delay.

    Child-abusing priests have been protected and even promoted within the Church worldwide, and there has been little to no calling to account of their negligent bishops. That Fr Despard should be suspended from his priestly ministry for having published a book in an effort to expose the extent of homosexual infiltration within the Church, at the height of the Cardinal O’Brien scandal, is excessive in the extreme.

    The hierarchy risks raising suspicions among the Catholics of Scotland that they have chosen to punish Fr Despard rather than deal with the major problem of homosexual infiltration within the priesthood in Scotland.

    Speaking on behalf of our international readership and the parishioners of St John Ogilvie’s parish, then, Catholic Truth calls upon Bishop Toal to re-instate Fr Despard as Parish Priest with immediate effect.

    Yours faithfully,
    Editor, Catholic Truth

    November 21, 2013 at 10:27 am
    • gabriel syme

      An excellent letter editor.

      One poster on the Herald website [Editor: name deleted after complaint from the Herald blogger] – is very pro Fr Despard (she should be well informed as she is a parishioner), however I was disappointed to learn that she is essentially an informant of the anti-Catholic Collette Douglas-Home (as she admits in some of her comments).

      Douglas-Home cannot even be bothered to get basic information correct. She plays on being the “ex Catholic” who can offered informed criticism of the Church, yet her articles always contain the most basic errors.

      Recently she talked of “Archbishop” Devine (a promotion for old Joe!) and also claimed Fr Despard had taken a vow of poverty (when secular priests do not in fact take such vows).

      I suppose its a good reflection on the standard of Herald journalism, at least when it comes to Catholicism.

      November 21, 2013 at 10:50 am
      • editor

        Gabriel Syme,

        I read [that Herald blogger’s] excellent comments on the Herald website, so that is disappointing about her relationship with Collette Douglas-Home. As I said on a previous thread, I’m more and more convinced that there can be no half-way house, no foot in both camps. Either Catholics return to the Faith of our Fathers which means returning to clear thinking on all matters religious, or they are destined to be confused for the rest of their lives.

        I’ve yet to meet a Catholic who is immersed in the diocesan parish life, who is not confused about the legitimate role of the laity as distinguished from that of the ministerial priesthood. It’s extremely sad.

        Collette Douglas-Home truly does not have the proverbial clue. I’ve yet to read an article on Catholicism by her which is accurate.

        November 21, 2013 at 1:41 pm
    • pewcatholic

      Brilliant letter, Editor. Your second-last paragraph is oh, so true. Confidence in our bishops is at its lowest ebb.

      November 21, 2013 at 3:58 pm
      • editor

        Shucks, thanks Pew Catholic. Cheque in post 🙂

        November 21, 2013 at 5:04 pm
  • Graeme Taylor

    To the Editor,

    spot on letter. Thank you!

    November 21, 2013 at 10:11 pm
    • editor

      Graeme Taylor,

      Thank you – your cheque is now in the post as well 🙂

      For Information

      both Graeme’s post and a couple of CrofterLady’s posts earlier today went into moderation (SPAM actually – I had to redirect them to moderation and then release them) so I don’t know what is going on there. Am up to my eyes at the moment but if it continues, I’ll get professional help.

      No, you cheeky lot, not THAT kind of professional help!

      November 21, 2013 at 10:14 pm
  • pewcatholic

    Have you seen the SCO’s take on this episode? Especially the last bit where it mentions complaints about the treatment of the bishop? I bet they got a rap over the knuckles for publicising the book in the first place last spring. Most people would never have known about it, had they not done that.

    November 22, 2013 at 12:49 pm
    • editor

      Not yet – I don’t see the papers until Sunday but thanks for the alert.

      November 22, 2013 at 5:09 pm
  • Dominie stemp

    Add my name to your excellent letter. I live in East Sussex. I got the book before in was banned. I don’t think Amazon banned it as it is available in all other countries. No, I think the mafia or masons banned it. I wrote to Bp Gilbert to complain as his mother used to live nearby. I just hope that some good can come out of this. You know – why don’t you organise a protest march not only for fr Despard! but also poor Fr Patrick Lawson – also suspended for whistleblowing.

    November 22, 2013 at 1:12 pm
    • editor

      Dominie Stemp,

      Thank you.

      The parishioners are doing all they can to protest about Father Despard’s situation but I doubt if a protest march would draw too many out in this cold weather !

      However, I feel duty bound to point out that Father Patrick Lawson’s case is not remotely comparable to that of Fr Despard. We’ve briefly alluded to his case before, on another thread, and can’t say much more than that, except, be aware that his situation is quite different.

      November 22, 2013 at 5:13 pm
    • Petrus

      Well said, Editor.

      November 22, 2013 at 8:05 pm
  • Frankier

    I have just noticed that a comment I made on November 19 at 4.20pm was removed because it was deemed off topic. I was also accused of using the blog as a platform for giving my views on the TV news. Wrong, very wrong on both counts, With all due respect, if I wished to have a platform for giving my views on the TV news (no rhyme intended) I would hardly be doing it here.

    As for being off topic, I was only making a comment regarding what I had read on here about a Herald article by Collette Douglas-Home. To be honest, If I had read her article first I wouldn’t have made any statement as I found no real fault with what she said. However, having said that, I am sick reading all the scandal about the Catholic Church, gleaned from 1.2 billion people, when there was more scandal per capita in the BBC studios in Scotland and England. Am I being gagged because of a bit if whataboutery? I am not saying scandals should be hushed up, but how could a man in Rome know about child abuse in a remote church anywhere in the world when even the victims’ parents didn’t twig. When we read about domestic abuse between a father and a member of his own family nobody ever questions why the mother didn’t know.

    There are totally innocent Catholic victims in workplaces all over Scotland who are afraid (of their jobs) to speak out when they have to listen to daily taunts, innuendos and downright allegations of being child-abusers themselves because of clergy sitting in their protected palaces. So why should it be “not nice” to answer these people back with a few home truths of their own?

    When the BBC programme about Fr Moore was broadcast The Editor said she didn’t think that there was anything anti-Catholic about the programme, or words to that effect. I wrote once to the BBC asking why their cameras always zoom in and linger on images of the Sacred Heart and Our Lady when reporting on Church scandals or even natural disasters but they always try to avoid showing the crucifixes behind the Judges in courtrooms in France. I am still waiting on a reply.

    Before anyone accuses me, I will say it first. Maybe I am paranoid.

    November 22, 2013 at 3:00 pm
    • editor

      Frankier,

      I’m sorry if I misunderstood the context of your comment but Collette Douglas-Home is about as ignorant as you get on the Catholic Church and I don’t think any comparison with a political event would mean anything to her. In the past, when bloggers have shared their political opinions, all hell broke loose and so I try to keep the place clear of anything that might be seen as party political – except in the obvious cases involving moral issues. To be honest, I can’t even remember what you said so I apologise if I removed your post unnecessarily.

      As for the rest – we are not remotely in the business of covering up scandal. If you’ve been reading our newsletter for any length of time you must know that.

      And, listen: just because you’re NOT paranoid doesn’t mean folk aren’t talking about you 🙂

      November 22, 2013 at 5:08 pm
  • catholicconvert1

    Crucifixes behind judges in France? Are you sure? I would have thought that was illegal.

    November 22, 2013 at 4:20 pm
    • Miles Immaculatae

      The French are very contradictory in enforcing Laïcité. The State owns all the church buildings for example. Some churches even have Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité inscribed on them. French secularism is very malleable: originally it wanted to get the church to hand over all its wealth, and now it has more to do with getting Muslim women to stop wearing veils.

      November 23, 2013 at 12:23 am
  • neri

    If Bishop Toal thought that was bad, wait till he reads this cdf reminder that medjugorje is not to be promoted: http://wdtprs.com/blog/2013/11/cdf-directs-clerics-faithful-not-to-attend-conferences-favorable-to-medjugorje/

    In his diocese stands craig lodge – cheerleader for all things medjugorje, which advertises as such in the sco without hindrance.

    When is he going to turn up there and make a statement ?

    November 24, 2013 at 3:40 am
    • editor

      Neri,

      Well said. And since Bishop Toal is in charge of Motherwell, too, at the moment, there’s a priest in that diocese who promotes Medjugorje big time, has Ivan over to work his magic and there are adverts placed in the Scottish Catholic Observer every week with the latest crackpot “message” from the imaginary lady of Muddygorje. So, there’s plenty of work to do in the Church in Scotland without worrying about Fr Despard. So far the only criticism of him that I’ve heard on the grapevine is that he got on the wrong side of some parishioners by preaching about latecoming to Mass and immodest dress. You know, really scandalous stuff… !

      November 24, 2013 at 4:33 pm
      • domstemp

        Where can I access the online petition for Fr Despard?

        November 24, 2013 at 6:29 pm
      • editor

        Domstemp,

        I’ve answered this on another thread – there isn’t an online petition, it was a paper petition and has now been handed into the Bishop with 1,000 signatures.

        November 24, 2013 at 6:44 pm
      • pewcatholic

        Which thread, Editor?

        November 24, 2013 at 7:42 pm
      • editor

        This one, Pew Catholic.

        November 24, 2013 at 8:04 pm
      • neri

        Indeed, there are bigger things – the emergence of a cult on Bishop Toal’s doorstep being one of them – however he does require religious to sign in and out when attending there. This CDF letter must surely be also put into force in Scotland as well as America, but it’s perhaps a subject for another article.

        November 26, 2013 at 8:38 pm
  • Dominie Stemp

    Do you think a peaceful protest march to the bishops house might be called for – to ask the bishops to do their job of teaching the Faith properly – and in support of Fr Despard? And to get their house in order with regards corruption within the gay lobbies of clergy. They should not get away with it.

    November 24, 2013 at 7:11 am
    • editor

      Dominie Stemp,

      Today’s Sunday Mail carries a lengthy (whole page, I believe) report on the fact that the parishioners have handed Bishop Toal a petition containing 1,0000 signatures. And they held a candlelight rosary vigil after their 4.30pm vigil Mass on Saturday, to be repeated every week until their priest is re-instated.

      November 24, 2013 at 4:30 pm
    • editor

      Dominie Stemp,

      In this newspaper report there is mention of an online petition as well as the paper petition but this seems to have been organised by a parishioner not part of the group who’ve been in touch with moi. There’s no way of getting in touch, but I think 1,000 signatures might sound tidier than 1,001 anyway, don’t you? 🙂

      November 24, 2013 at 11:49 pm
  • Helen Ann Hawkins

    Hi Catholic Truth Scotland,
    I created the online petition (well my 17yr old did most of the IT stuff), I am not a practising Catholic (although recently I have considered returning to my faith and that I had Father Despard to thank for). I am not also a parishioner of St John Ogilvie, but I would not return to my parish of St Joseph’s. Father Despard has always made me personally enjoy my faith and to start to respect the Catholic Church again.
    I created the online petition after several parishioners who signed the paper petition enquired as to how some of their relatives could sign something as well. I have family who attend Father Despard’s mass every week…I could go on and on about how this “suspension” has affected myself and people around me, but mostly my reasons were because I felt he was being bullied and harrassed by his own colleagues. If we didn’t speak out then where would he be now, what would have happened to him, etc etc. Bullying is unacceptable and we need to speak out against it and that applies to all areas in our life’s.
    At present the online petition (accessed via change.org) has approx 518 signatures and the paper petition has approx 500 signatures. Both are still active with a view to being sent off this week.

    November 25, 2013 at 4:28 pm
    • editor

      Helen Ann Hawkins,

      Thank you for taking the trouble to update us on the petition – if you post a link, we will gladly sign it as well.

      Now that you are thinking of returning to the Faith, I hope you will study our website as anyone coming back to the Church after being away needs to be truly informed about the way the crisis in the Church has affected everything – from the Mass to the priesthood.

      Feel free to post any questions on any relevant thread, or on the General Discussion thread.

      God bless you – and welcome!

      November 25, 2013 at 6:14 pm
      • editor

        Thank you Hawkinsha,

        I’ve signed the petition but cannot find a straightforward list of the signatories – it looks like I’d need to read through the 500 comments to see who signed which would be interesting, given the time, but I think a simple list of signatures would have been helpful.

        Anyway, I did sign so hope my name is up there somewhere!

        November 25, 2013 at 8:23 pm
      • hawkinsha

        Hi Editor,
        On the top right of the petition website is a drop down box saying ‘more actions’ in that box you can download the comments and the signatures

        November 25, 2013 at 9:43 pm
      • editor

        Hi,

        I tried that but there’s no such drop down box as you describe – I’m guessing I’d have to create an account with Change.org to have that facility?

        November 25, 2013 at 10:00 pm
      • hawkinsha

        Hi Editor,
        Maybe the facility is only available to myself as the creator.
        Anyways thank you for signing and thank you to anyone else who signs via this blog.

        November 25, 2013 at 10:49 pm
      • editor

        That’s fine, Hawkinsha – and many thanks to YOU for organising the petition online.

        God bless.

        November 25, 2013 at 11:58 pm
  • bigjohnw73

    Whether Fr Despard is correct or not in his allegations, his big mistake was to mention by name or in such a way as to easily identify those he has allegations against. If he had published his book with general allegations then the focus would be on the allegations. Unfortunately he decided to name or identify those he accused. This is where he went wrong. He has made allegations against colleagues and parishioners who can be identified. Because of the nature of the allegations he made it is very difficult to prove or disprove what he said, but the presumption is innocent until PROVEN guilty. Now, because he has taken away their good name in a public forum, he himself is under a penal canonical action and is therefore suspended till this is completed. The evidence that Fr Despard has taken away the good name of people is evident, he published his book. Even if all his accusations are correct, he should not have published the identity of people, I’m sure his book, without identities, would have accomplished and investigation into his allegations.

    As someone mentioned earlier, Bishop Toal inherited this situation, and was in a “no win situation” because he either informs the parish through a letter or at some other event when maybe not that many people would appear or he comes along to Sunday Mass to tell the people himself. I feel that because of the strong hostile reaction he received he would be disinclined to enter into discussion with people after Holy Mass had finished, and was probably quite shocked by the behaviour of people in Church.

    I think it is important to keep a neutral position on the allegations until they can be substantiated one way or another. If they can’t be substantiated then we have to have the presumption of innocence against those identified.

    Having spoken to people about this situation, some who were in seminary and some who are ordained, it seems extraordinary that this one individual should be subjected to homosexual advances at seminary, in at least 2 of his parish placements and on his short time as an army chaplain. The men I have spoken to say that they did not have similar experiences.

    November 27, 2013 at 8:47 pm
    • editor

      bigjohnw73,

      I have said many times, and I would say it TO Fr Despard were I ever to meet him, that if he’d contacted me before publication, I’d have counselled against it.

      However, I do not share this view – which I’ve heard from others – that “isn’t it extraordinary that this one individual should be subjected to homosexual advances (in all these placements)… etc”

      Unfortunately, there’s nothing “extraordinary” about it. Read “Goodbye Good Men” to see how infested the Church in the USA has become, and how it got to the stage where anyone who was not homosexual had no chance of being accepted into seminary. It may not have been that bad here, but it’s bad enough, believe me.

      Years ago, I met with two seminarians from Scotus (now closed, of course) who were horrified at what they were witnessing and one of them had experienced a homosexual advance. I will not identify anyone, and I don’t know if he was one of those identifiable in Fr Despard’s book – but he certainly wasn’t named. So, it isn’t quite accurate to say that Fr D was seeing homosexuals everywhere. He obviously missed at least one.

      And of course, as we try to keep before the minds of our readers, lest they fall into the trap of thinking things ain’t too bad in that direction, Father Gordon Brown (retired, Edinburgh – and homosexual activist) was photographed full face on the front page of the Sunday Mail on 23 January, 2000, divulging that there was, effectively, a whole network of homosexual priests operating under the noses of the Scots Bishops. Did the Bishops launch an investigation into that? No, come to think of it, I doubt if Cardinal O’Brien would have been of a mind to launch such an investigation, or to follow through our reports on Fr Brown’s homosexual activism. I think the problem is a lot more widespread than many, if not most, Catholics care to admit. The seminary rectors and bishops were not vigilant about who was accepted into training for the priesthood and we’re now reaping that particular whirlwind.

      Having said all of that, I agree with you about keeping neutral about Fr Despard’s allegations for now. We haven’t focused on any of the allegations, although I have mentioned in the December newsletter that I fully expected Bishop Devine to issue a public statement in his own regard and to launch a full investigation at the time. That said, I agree, in general, with your point about neutrality.

      There are, however, a couple of legitimate concerns about Fr Despard’s suspension; firstly, about the way Fr Despard was suspended, after being told there would be no further action.

      Secondly, it is particularly appalling that Fr D should be suspended because, whether or not he was wise to publish, he did so at the height of the Cardinal O’Brien scandal and given his personal experiences, and we have to take him at his word, even if, in fact, he was mistaken, then surely he should meet with some understanding.

      After all, bi-month after bi-month we report on priests who – if Canon Law means anything at all – would long ago have been suspended, and some of them dismissed from the priesthood altogether, but who are allowed to carry on regardless spreading their poison and bad example. No bishop seems interested in disciplining them.

      If you think it’s bad enough that some of those mentioned in Fr Despard’s book MIGHT be identifiable, imagine how Cardinal Ranjith must feel being publicly humiliated and insulted by the nasty retired priest in Aberdeen Diocese, Mgr Loftus, whose bishop supports his weekly savaging of the Faith in the Catholic Times and – a bit less frequently, but still too often – in the Scottish Catholic Observer.

      Then there’s the Glasgow priest who shares our December front page with Mgr Loftus, a priest who obstructed the Bishops’ campaign against same-sex “marriage” and published an apology on his Facebook page for the “deceitful” actions of parishioners, who, in his absence, invited a speaker to address the topic in the parish. Will HE be suspended? You gotta be kidding. He’ll hear no more about it and ignore our report, as he ignored my email asking him to comment. Canon Law seems to be a very flexible book in the hands of our bishops.

      Radio 4 rang yesterday asking if parishioners would speak on their Sunday programme about the Fr Despard situation. I called one of my contacts and emphasised that whoever takes part must make a point during the show to say that all of this is taking place due to a diabolical crisis in the Church. This, so that we keep any scandal caused by this battle between bishop and people to a minimum.

      But the Bishop(s) must do their bit to minimise the scandal THEY are causing in lots of ways. They must apply Canon Law across the board, not here and there when it suits their agenda. The priest in Motherwell who flouts the stated wishes of the Bishop of Mostar by repeatedly holding daft Medjugorje events, including inviting the hoaxer Ivan to have one of his “visions” in his Church – that priest should be disciplined, and if he refuses to stop his nonsense, then HE ought to be suspended. Will Bishop Toal act against him? You kidding me again?

      As for this business of the “good name” to be restored. Well, as I’ve said in the December newsletter, of course anyone who feels they have been unjustly identified, or who is innocent, has a right to have his good name restored. But there are other ways of achieving this without taking court action or suspending Father. Have none of these priests ever heard of a simple statement of denial? As far as I know, nobody has issued any such statement and only one – Fr Robert Kane – has threatened court action, which smacks more of revenge than clearing his name, in my humble (and possibly mistaken, I admit) opinion.

      Certainly, if someone accused me of such a thing (or I was the obvious target) at 9.am. then by noon that same day the entire world would hear, straight from my own lips, that there is not a shred of truth in the claim.

      Then I’d treat myself to tea and cakes somewhere, anywhere. But it must be fresh cream. 🙂

      November 27, 2013 at 11:30 pm

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