Surely Abusing Priests Should Be Dismissed From Ministry?

Surely Abusing Priests Should Be Dismissed From Ministry?

Surely Abusing Priests Should Be Dismissed From Ministry?

The Bishops’ Conference of Scotland has today announced details of three safeguarding initiatives, which will be launched over the next 12 months. In a letter read out at all of Scotland’s 500 Catholic parishes yesterday (24 November, the Feast of Christ the King) the President of the Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Philip Tartaglia said:

“We recognise the trauma and pain that survivors of abuse have suffered and we are committed to providing for them both justice and healing.” The Archbishop added that 2013 had been “a test of faith” for Catholics, but the Church was committed to “consolidation of our safeguarding practices, the renewal of trust in our unshakeable commitment to atoning for abuse in the past, guarding against abuse in the present and eliminating abuse in the future, and supporting those who have been harmed.”
Archbishop Tartaglia also promised that all the initiatives were being “launched in a spirit of openness and transparency” and in recognition of the fact that “safeguarding is a priority within the Church, and all who work in the Church must realise this.”

The initiatives concerned are:

1. Immediate publication of all Diocesan Safeguarding Audits from 2006-2012, giving a statistical breakdown of reported safeguarding incidents during those years.

2. An external “Review of Safeguarding Protocols and Procedures” which will review the suitability and robustness of safeguarding procedures and the quality and rigour of their implementation nationally. The Very Rev Dr Andrew McLellan, CBE, former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and former Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons will direct this.

3. A Statistical Review of all Historic Cases of Abuse from 1947-2005

A full description of each of these processes is given below.

Commenting on his participation in the review process, Dr McLellan said:

“I have agreed to chair the review panel which will instigate and complete a review of ‘Awareness and Safety’ in the Catholic Church in Scotland. My appointment is a generous sign of respect not simply for me but for the Church of Scotland; and I am pleased to be able to help the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland in what has been for them a difficult year. But my first concern is not to support the Catholic church: rather it is to seek the best protection of many vulnerable children and adults. In pursuing that aim I will be determined to discover the truth and to make clear recommendations. I am very much encouraged by the independence I will have in selecting the membership of the panel, detailing its remit and deciding on its timescale; and by the assurance I have been given that the Catholic Bishops will accept our recommendations.”

Dr McLellan added: “Over the remaining weeks of 2013, I hope to turn my attention to these matters so that I can announce the particulars of the review process and structure early in 2014.”

Mgr. Hugh Bradley, General Secretary of the Bishops’ Conference said:

 “The Bishops are delighted that Dr Andrew McLellan has agreed to chair a review of Safeguarding procedures and practice. Dr McLellan is highly respected Church leader, a dedicated public servant and a man of the highest integrity, we look forward to receiving his report and commit ourselves to acting on it.”

Responding to the announcement, the Catholic Church’s new National Coordinator for Safeguarding, Tina Campbell said:

“These are incredibly positive and exciting developments, I look forward to working with the Bishops of Scotland, our clergy and the many dedicated people across the country who both implement and support our National Safeguarding policies and procedures in their parish communities. The work of Safeguarding is an important ministry in the Church and it is a privilege to be involved in it.”  ENDS


Click on picture to read source of above press release, and then tell us your thoughts on this fraught issue. I’ve been receiving some very unpleasant emails from an alleged victim who thinks I’m “thick” because I told him that the number of abusing clergy is very small (not an excuse, just a fact) and that the majority of these priests appear to be homosexual – men abusing boys.

Well, whether or not I’m “thick” is not the issue. The issue here is, are the bishop dealing sufficiently thoroughly with this scandal of child abuse? Would they not be better to apply the penalties available to them in Canon Law, to dismiss abusing priests, rather than focus on “safeguarding” initiatives? That is, deal head on with the problem priests rather than tinkering at the edges? Surely, children should not have to be protected from abusing priests – surely the priests should not be there in the first place?

But then, I’m a simple gal – what do the more sophisticated minds out there think?

Comments (27)

  • Margaret Mary

    I saw this on the news just now and I don’t think it’s fair to name priests who have had allegations made against them. That is grossly unjust. What if the allegations are found to be groundless?

    This would not happen in any other profession, as far as I know. “Innocent until proven guilty” has always been the way of British justice.

    November 25, 2013 at 1:45 pm
  • Margaret Mary

    I do agree that guilty priests should be dismissed from working as priests.

    November 25, 2013 at 1:46 pm
  • crofterlady

    Absolutely spot on i.e. the abusing priests should not be there in the first place. The Church already has the necessary sanctions to deal with this so why don’t they? All paedophile and homosexual priests should be defrocked. Period. The very thought of OUR hard earned cash being used to financially support these perverts sicken me.

    November 25, 2013 at 1:55 pm
  • Petrus

    I think we have to admit that this seems like a publicity stunt to grab positive attention from the press. When dealing with this issue it is important to remember a few facts.

    1. Abuse is, of course, abhorrent. However, it’s not the huge issue the press like to make it out to be. A tiny number of priests have been accused, not even convicted, of abuse.

    2. The vast majority of this abuse is of a homosexual nature. The Vatican already has guidelines which states that homosexuals should not be ordained. If this was followed properly, the issue would be dealt with.

    3. Of course the Bishops should follow the established procedures set forth in Canon Law. Abusing priests, active homosexual priests, should be either dismissed or sent to a monastery for the rest of their lives, depending on the severity of their crimes. Priests like Fr Lawlor from Glasgow should never be allowed back in a parish.

    4. We should be immediately sceptical of alleged victims who look for money or publicity.

    This is a serious issue, but it’s a small issue. There are established parameters – common sense solutions – which can alleviate this problem. The Church should not resort to publicity stunts.

    November 25, 2013 at 1:59 pm
  • chasdom

    One cannot help but wonder dear editor, why it is that each and every time the Catholic Church announces a new initiative or tries to move forward on some matter; you are there to criticize, denigrate, and attempt to bring down the initiatives on the part of others, who are doing their best to bring the Gospel to the people of Scotland. Far, very far from being a voice of reason or Christian charity – nay even catholic charity – You and your cohort of harpies in fact do great disservice to the Church in Scotland and to the people of Scotland. You misrepresent genuine Catholic Life, by your continual whingeing and demanding of bringing in Canonical Sanctions and desire to punish, out of spite anyone who is not of your primitive mind set. You, your harpie friends and all that catholic truth stands for are a part of the problem – not the solution – in your diabolical attempts to disorientate people from the truth. Our Blessed Lady of Fatima must be outraged by the hurts and slights offered to HER through your diabolical organisation. It can only be through Her intercession to Her Son Our Lord Jesus Christ that you have not suffered a divine retribution. Think on where U are going and REPENT before it is too late for YOU. YOUR IMMORTAL SOUL IS IN GRAVE DANGER!!!!!!!!!

    November 25, 2013 at 2:01 pm
    • Petrus

      How do you, Chasdom, differentiate between “Christian” and Catholic charity. A bizarre thing to say!

      November 25, 2013 at 2:38 pm
      • editor

        Thanks for your support, Petrus. I just don’t know what I’d do without you 🙂

        November 25, 2013 at 3:00 pm
    • catholicconvert1

      When life is bleak and depressing, my dear Chasdom, I can rely on you to cheer me up. ‘You and your cohort of harpies’- priceless.

      God loves you, i know it- although I don’t have wings.

      November 25, 2013 at 7:09 pm
  • Therese


    If only every contributor had your tolerance, good manners and Christian “nay even Catholic”(!) charity. As for your non-judgemental comments on the spiritual health of others….What an example you are of the modern church. I see also, that – unlike St Thomas More – you DO have a window into the souls of others.

    May I suggest that you take your own excellent advice to the editor – especially those words you have capitalised.

    November 25, 2013 at 2:33 pm
  • Leo


    I’m happy to repeat on this thread, as you requested, the post concerning Pope Saint Pius X and the formation of priests. The proper formation of priests and an absolute emphasis on the priest as a man chosen by God for a sacred role, and the importance of supernatural grace in his life, would surely go a long way towards minimising the risk and incidences of such depravity as the abuse of minors. How any priest can be responsible for such “filth” is truly appalling to all of us, not least to the many good and holy priests who have been so shamefully maligned.

    As I said on the previous thread Pope Saint Pius X considered the formation of good and holy priests a priority issue. The first six years of his pontificate were spent chiefly in work which concerned the priesthood and sacerdotal institutions.

    The following words must come into sharp relief, given the subject of this thread.

    “In order that Christ may be formed in the faithful”, the sainted Pope wrote in his first encyclical, “He must first be formed in the priest.”
    “Such an example, will have far more power to move hearts and to gain them than words or dissertations, however sublime.”

    “The priest is the representative of Christ on earth,” he told students of the French College in Rome; “he must think the thoughts of Christ and speak His words. He must be tender as Christ was tender, pure and holy like his Lord; he must shine like a star in the world.”

    “A holy priest makes holy people,” he said on another occasion; “a priest who is not holy is not only useless but harmful to the world.”

    This magnificent pastor’s Exhortation to the Clergy, published on August 4 1908 set before the clergy of the world the model of the perfect parish priest. It fervently called on the clergy to be “the salt of the earth and light of the world.”

    Here’s the link.

    November 25, 2013 at 3:20 pm
  • Leo

    “Would they not be better to apply the penalties available to them in Canon Law, to dismiss abusing priests, rather than focus on “safeguarding” initiatives? That is, deal head on with the problem priests rather than tinkering at the edges? Surely, children should not have to be protected from abusing priests – surely the priests should not be there in the first place?”


    You have made an extremely important point. The scandals in Ireland bear that out.

    The Murphy Report which investigated the Archdiocese of Dublin had some very interesting things to say on the issue of canon law and how the lack of its application played a significant part in the perpetration of the abuse of minors. While other statements in the Report have be conferred with almost “infallible” status and repeatedly aired by the secular media, the following findings have received virtually no attention.

    “4.11 …There was, up to the time when the new code was promulgated in 1983,
    an extensive penal and criminal content in canon law; priests and others
    under its jurisdiction could be accused of offences and subjected to an
    extensive range of penalties on conviction. However, it is also clear that this
    system suffered an enormous loss of confidence in the 1960s and seems to
    have fallen into disuse. The Commission heard evidence from canon law
    experts that the status of canon law as an instrument of Church governance
    declined hugely during Vatican II and in the decades immediately after it. The
    Church courts, according to Monsignor Dolan, became little more than
    marriage tribunals; the penal (criminal) law of the Church fell into disuse; and
    the modern generation of canonists lacked any experience of it.”

    “4.13 The second Vatican Council brought about a reassessment of the
    place of canon law in the Church. Accordingly, by the time the new code
    was published in 1983 canon law’s influence in and on the Church had
    significantly diminished particularly in relation to disciplinary actions.”

    “4.14 Monsignor Dolan, in his evidence, analysed the reasons for this state
    of affairs as he saw it. The Commission is satisfied that this analysis was
    offered in an effort to be helpful and in total good faith. The view was taken
    that ‘It remains true that law and authority had a role in the church that was
    often overstated which could tend to stifle other values which could be
    harmful to individuals’.”

    “4.90 …The power to remove priests from ministry is available only from canon law. The penal process of canon law was for a period of years set aside in favour of a purely ‘pastoral’ approach which was, in the Commission’s view, wholly ineffective as a means of controlling clerical child sexual abuse. The abuse of children in Dublin was a scandal. The failure of the Archdiocesan authorities to penalise the perpetrators is also a scandal.”

    So, there really is no getting away from Vatican II and its nuclear fallout. The above offers one more example of the Church trying to make friends with the world, and of course the all-encompassing, all excusing “pastoral” approach, with really appalling results. So the Age of Aquarius was to see no more doom or condemnation.

    Except of course when it came to clergy and laity who wanted to hold to the Catholic Faith and worship held “everywhere, always, and by everyone” up until the Great Revolution, or Our Lady’s Message at Fatima was being spread by a holy priest in an effort to bring about Her request for the Consecration of Russia. Then canon law was to be piled on, correctly or not, with or without due process.

    November 25, 2013 at 4:48 pm
    • crofterlady

      That’s a powerful post, Leo, about something of which I was completely unaware and which explains a lot. I genuinely COULD NOT understand why they were getting away with it, so to speak and why the bishops were not doing their duty. I realise now that they (the bishops) probably think they are but in a pastoral manner. Diabolical disorientation again. A paedophile is never really “cured” except by Divine intervention I suppose. I know it wasn’t understood back then but it is now and still they won’t act. And what about homosexual priests who are funded by the dioceses? A disgrace.

      November 25, 2013 at 5:18 pm
  • Theresa Rose


    I agree with Crofterlady that you have written a powerful post. Diabolical disorientation indeed.

    It does however make me wonder if the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland are merely in the throes of a knee jerk reaction to the article printed in the Herald on Sunday newspaper of the 24th November 2013 and its headlines:

    “Parish Fury as Catholic Church suspends rogue priest over ‘sexual bullying’ expose’.”
    “A controversial memoir that claims there is a culture of homosexual bullying in the Catholic Church”.

    The Bishops seem to have been failing in their duty for quite some time.

    November 25, 2013 at 6:07 pm
  • catholicconvert1

    Priest abuse is a very rare occurence anyway. Only around 2% of Priests in the USA and Ireland engaged in it, and not every Priest (unlike what the BBC says) is a child raping predator. The phrase ‘sexual abuse’ is rarely used, it’s always physical abuse, which could mean beating a child. In that case, every living former teacher from 1940s-1970s should be imprisoned as they used to beat children in schools. Also, there are few known cases of abuse for 3 reasons: the actions of local ordinaries, Priestly confessors and the actions of children. Firstly, Bishops haven’t always reported it, resulting in accusations against Cardinal Ratzinger for covering abuse up, when he was reliant on reports from local ordinaries. Secondly, when a Priest confesses his crimes to his Confessor, that Priest can’t say anything. Thirdly, many children don’t report it out of fear, or are confused as to the nature of the abuse as in my view there is a fine line between physical and sexual abuse.

    Whilst in the majority of cases it was homosexual (men with adolescent boys) abuse but many girls were abused but less so. Whilst many gay men can and have suppress their desires and live a celibate life, the risk cannot be taken to let these people in the Seminary, because if they fail in their vocation, then events such as this happen.

    November 25, 2013 at 7:23 pm
    • Vianney

      As you say, only around 2% of priests have ever been accused which is a smaller number than in other religious groups. The Christian Science Monitor had an article about clergy abuse and asked why the world was picking on the Catholic Church when other Churches had a larger percentage of clergy accused. The answer is, as we all know, because the world hates the Catholic Church.

      November 25, 2013 at 10:46 pm
      • Eileenanne

        Another reason is that because Canon Law requires records to be kept, it is fairly easy to get an accurate picture of the extent of allegations made against Catholic priests, Other denominations often do not have such comprehensive documentation of acuusations made and of how they were handled.

        November 27, 2013 at 4:43 pm
  • catholicconvert1

    Also, I hasten to add that Priests who are proven to have done this should be dealt with by the civil authorities and locked up. Forget sending them to Monasteries, Priests should be dealt with in the same way as all other sex criminals- they are not above the law. Monasteries are too luxurious for the severity of their crimes.

    November 25, 2013 at 7:30 pm
  • Frankier

    I can never understand how so many priests got access to children. Surely any child who was being abused must have been unable to hide it, they would hardly have been the life and soul of the party.
    I think that too many people, including parents and parishioners even, shoved their heads into the sand as it certainly couldn’t all have been done secretly. If any man had touched me, however slightly, even at ten or eleven years of age, I would soon have constrained their desires with a well aimed kick.
    There would have been no need for the services of a COS Moderator.

    November 25, 2013 at 8:49 pm
    • editor


      I have said the same thing often: I was once briefly abducted as a small child, taken by a man up into a tenement building. Don’t remember a lot about it (the police later said I hadn’t been assaulted in the way is happening these days) but he eventually left me there (probably glad to get away – like all the later men in my life!) but the very first thing I did was race to tell my mother. I just cannot comprehend this notion that the child feels “guilty” or any of the rest of the standard explanations given for the silence of these allegedly abused youngsters.

      If I’d been abused as these alleged victims* say they’ve been abused, I’d tell the entire world my story… and then I’d start all over and tell it again.

      * That’s not to say I don’t believe there have been victims – I do. I just find their silences incomprehensible.

      November 26, 2013 at 12:03 am
  • catholicconvert1

    ‘There would have been no need for the services of a COS Moderator’. I quite agree with you on that score Frankier. The Church, instead of listening to the Editor and others and introducing screening to filter out homosexuals and paedophiles, instead appoints the ex-leader of a Protestant Church, that allows ministers who are in gay relationships and civil partnerships to sort out paedophilia problems. The mind boggles.

    November 25, 2013 at 9:54 pm
    • editor

      The mind truly DOES boggle, Catholic Convert. Well said!

      November 25, 2013 at 11:59 pm
  • Miles Immaculatae

    Similar to other posters here, I fear that the church is heading to the other extreme. It would be unjust to make an example of any priest merely accused of this crime. I suspect some priests are treated far too harshly, and are presumed guilty before proven innocent. This overkill isn’t for concern for the alleged victims, it is to appease the secular media.

    I have just finished reading a short CTS booklet on the subject by the Catholic psychiatrist Dr Pravin Thevathasan. Personally, my view on the subject is that pederasts are manipulative and devious narcissists. They will do all they can to play any situation to their advantage. They lie, charm and cover their tracks. Even the most virtuous and morally rigorous bishops and religious superiors will have a hard time dealing with them.

    November 26, 2013 at 12:05 am
  • Graeme Taylor

    If any priest is proven to have abused children, he should be reported to the police without delay. How much is this heretic protestant minister being paid?
    Eh heck! What silly games our bishops play in trying to look whiter than white, when ++Conti already let the cat out of the back on their spinelessness. Is this where they think credibility comes from, paying protestant ministers to make it all go away?
    What a mess!

    November 26, 2013 at 12:10 am
  • Graeme Taylor

    The priests who committed these crimes are responsible for their actions. The bishops who hid ( with their lies and cover ups ) them are, too, responsible.

    November 26, 2013 at 12:21 am
    • editor

      Graeme Taylor,

      Absolutely – all concerned should be disciplined but then they should be disciplined for a million other things as well, that constitute the crisis in the Church today. Humanly speaking, the post-Vatican II popes and bishops have destroyed the Church. For that, one day there will a huge reckoning. How many people would be Catholics today (thinking lapsed and possible converts) but for the way the Church has been perverted and all but destroyed by the “Enemies Within”?

      Yes, I agree with you, abusers and their complicit bishops, should be disciplined – but they won’t. We’ll get these paper exercises that are meaningless, with the added humiliation of being “reprimanded” by a C of S meeeeenister. Truly, you couldn’t make it up.

      November 26, 2013 at 10:22 am
  • Charles McEwan

    Well, If we are to have a Protestant minister (who, I would imagine, has experience in inquiries such as this) why not also have a vociferous Catholic lay person also on the board as a devils advocate to ensure that he doesn’t let the bishops off the hook. Clearly the record of the bishops has been woeful. Even after the evidence that the ‘pastoral’ approach was not working they carried on the with same failed policies. I do hope he remains true to his stated intention “not to support the Catholic church: rather it is to seek the best protection of many vulnerable children and adults” and to criticise even the bishops who appointed him if the evidence points that way.

    November 29, 2013 at 7:08 pm
  • charlesmcewan

    I presume the Protestant minister has experience in enquiries of this sort but let’s also have a vociferous Catholic there as well as devil’s advocate because they will I think be less inclined to give be diplomatic. Clearly the actions of the bishops have been woeful and not only on the sexual abuse issue. Remember how they kept giving the eucharist to IRA terrorists who were known to have been involved in violence. I trust the Protestant minister will be true to his word ” not to support the Catholic church: rather … to seek the best protection of many vulnerable children and adults”.

    November 29, 2013 at 7:15 pm

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: