Motherwell Priest Facing Eviction…

Motherwell Priest Facing Eviction…

ImageJun 28, 2014 — Hi, Just to inform everyone that on Monday 30th June at Hamilton Sheriff Court, the RT REV Joseph Toal will be pursuing a claim to EVICT Father Matthew Despard (pictured). I will be posting the above details on the FB page and the petition page at hoping that people will come and show their support for Father Matthew. I feel this is the beginning of the end for Father Matthew…  Source


Only a couple of days ago, I was speaking to a reliable source who told me that, whatever we think of the wisdom of Fr Despard’s decision to publish, the information he published is “more of it true than not”.

Given that Bishop Devine has never denied the allegation made about him, and that none of the others either identified or alluded to have identified themselves to deny the claims about them (note: the priest who phoned me, but would not give his name, did deny the allegations but the failure to publicly do so, causes me to doubt – sorry, but that’s the truth of the matter. In their place, I think the majority of innocent people would want to remove all doubt and openly deny the claims.)  Thus, I’m afraid our sympathies have to remain with Fr Despard. He appears to be suffering unjust treatment, disproportionate to his decision to publish his book.  Indeed, Lady Vengeance appears to be in the driving seat in the way the diocese is pursuing this priest.  Or maybe you disagree? 

Comments (171)

  • dominiemary

    I agree. There are daily scandals coming out of the Catholic Church now – globally – of the usual sexual indiscretions. I actually feel ashamed of my church. I hope some good can come out of the Despard case. Fr Gruner was also treated dispicably when he promoted Fatima.

    June 28, 2014 at 2:26 pm
    • Miles Immaculatae

      I don’t think it is bad emotion to be ashamed by our Church, or at least the human element. I am ashamed. This is the way I see it: it is the disgust of the faithful that gives the Church integrity during times of scandal.

      June 28, 2014 at 5:11 pm
  • Margaret Mary

    I agree. It’s very very sad about poor Fr Despard. I am praying hard for him. The bishop should be ashamed.

    June 28, 2014 at 2:44 pm
    • editor

      I think it goes without saying that we must all pray hard for Fr Despard and for Bishop Toal, that justice and mercy will be carefully weighed in seeking a resolution to this matter.

      June 28, 2014 at 9:44 pm
  • Crouchback

    Comment removed – off topic.

    June 28, 2014 at 3:45 pm
    • editor


      Your comment is completely off topic. Father Despard’s case has nothing to do with child abuse. I suggest you Google before commenting again. I have to delete your comment because it could take us down a very distracting – and irrelevant – road.

      June 28, 2014 at 4:11 pm
      • crouchback

        I was replying to the top comments and to the way the various abuse stories have been handled by the media. As far as I know no charges have been brought in the Motherwell diocese case, but the reporting has been the same as all the other cases of whatever type of abuse, demonise the church first even if the so called abuse was not enough to bring actual charges

        June 28, 2014 at 6:49 pm
      • editor


        Since there was no mention of Fr Despard or any clear link to the thread topic in your now deleted comment, there was no way I could see any link between what you had written and this topic. Now that you have clarified, however, I have to say that, in fact, the media have reported on the Fr Despard case quite sympathetically – anything that puts “the Church” (as they see it) in a bad light is welcomed by them, with bells on.

        In any case, it’s up to the Catholic laity to make clear by writing letters to the press that it’s churchmen not “the Church” to blame for bad behaviour of whatever kind by Catholics, ordained and lay.

        In this case, the churchmen – that is, the bishops and those priests who have pressed for such drastic action against Fr Despard – deserve all the bad publicity they get.

        June 28, 2014 at 9:29 pm
  • Miles Immaculatae

    I feel very ashamed by my Church. Poor father. By evicting him, they seem to be coercing him into formally leaving the priesthood. It is a catch 22 situation. How will he support himself financially if he remains a suspended priest? The only way he will find a home is to leave the priesthood, because he will not be able to claim JSA and housing benefit or declare himself homeless with the local authority if he is still ’employed’ by the diocese. They appear to expect him to give up his vocation after all these years and find secular employment, which are very scarce at the moment. If this is how the Church treats her own clergy, how can anybody in good conscience continue to financially support the diocese of Motherwell?

    The bishops are apparently such reprobates, in this case, bullying, double standards, and grudges. How can this be the Church of Christ, whose shepherds are such traitorous and hypocritical bullies?

    Who was it who said, I think it was a Church Father, that most bishops go to hell?

    June 28, 2014 at 5:08 pm
    • crouchback

      He could do the sensible thing and join the SSPX.

      June 28, 2014 at 6:51 pm
      • Miles Immaculatae

        Yes, of course. But do we even know if he is supportive of the society, or even merely traditionally inclined?

        June 28, 2014 at 7:35 pm
      • editor


        No, as far as I am aware, Fr Despard is not at all traditionally inclined. He is a diocesan priest who says the novus ordo Mass. In all the years we have been publishing, for example, I’ve never heard of him, nor has he ever written to support us.

        So, I doubt very much that “joining the SSPX” (Crouchback) will be on his “to do” list.

        June 29, 2014 at 3:35 pm
    • crouchback

      Dante said that Hell is paved with the skulls of bishops

      June 28, 2014 at 6:53 pm
      • Miles Immaculatae

        This graphic literary image probably conveys the truth, but I am sure it is based on something Saint Ambrose wrote, or Augustine, I can’t remember.

        June 28, 2014 at 7:32 pm
    • editor

      That saying “the floor of Hell is paved with the skulls of bishops” is attributed to a few of the Church Fathers, notably St Athanasius and St John Chrysostom. It is quite likely that a number of them said that – I expressed the sense of it myself before learning that greater minds than mine (bound to be some) had made that deadly connection between the hierarchy and hell.

      As a matter of interest, and to underline the difference between a conscientious bishop and our lot, it should be noted that Pope Saint Pius X, when appointed Bishop of Mantua, accepted the post very reluctantly. When his mother asked him why on earth he was not thrilled to bits (my gloss!) to be given such an honour, he replied to the effect that if she knew the judgement he would face if he failed in his episcopal duties. He was very aware of the gravity of the office of Bishop – who can say the same for any Scots Bishop today?

      June 28, 2014 at 9:34 pm
  • Margaret Mary

    I think that’s an important point about money and I have just learned about someone who was wavering about continuing to give money to Motherwell Diocese and on hearing this news has made the decision not to continue giving.

    June 28, 2014 at 5:22 pm
    • editor

      I think that decision is being made by quite a few Catholics in the Diocese of Motherwell.

      June 28, 2014 at 9:35 pm
    • Faith of Our Fathers

      There seems to be a lot of talk about how this man is going to support himself. He was wrong to write a book against the wishes of his superiors I.E. The Bishop he wrote the book and had it published for personal financial gain also without doubt if there were lots of truths there were also lots of lies (must please the press etc ) As a Catholic priest he doesn’t own the home he is staying in the diocese own that .As for jobseekers etc he can join the rest of us who have to get buy on very little benefit .Of course he can always try Amazon again after they have settled with writs against him .Funny how he waited so long to be a whistleblower still timing is everything.

      June 29, 2014 at 2:05 am
      • Summa

        I certainly don’t know all of the issues around this Priest, but there are a few universals that stay constant no matter the circumstances. I think the first is whether or not the Priest tried to raise the issues with his superiors and if he did whether the matter was dealt with in accordance with Catholic Law, not according to the prejudices of any party.

        The second thing is whether or not the matter was so grave and of such a serious nature, that all avenues having being exhausted otherwise, it rendered the action taken by the priest, though in direct contravention of any directions he had received from the Diocese, a prudent moral decision that he was obliged to take under the authority of Christ, for the benefit and welfare of the souls of his Parish and those of the wider Catholic community.

        Whistle-blowers are never popular: it comes with the territory. Yet they are necessary.

        I am not best placed to take a position on this particular case, but those are the factors I would take into account before I jumped to any conclusions.

        The only thing I can say for certain, is to dismiss a couple of points from FOOF above.

        #1 She/He mentions financial gain. This is so laughable that I shouldn’t have to do anything but dismiss it out of hand, but for the benefit of those not in the know, writing a book about Scottish Catholic Issues, not supported by a publisher, is hardly going to get you any financial gain. In fact it would be hard to break even considering the market and the issues. This is just a silly notion.

        #2 She/He mentions timing. Well that all depends on whether or not he felt he had exhausted all avenues to have this addressed. Do you think that taking these matters public are easy off the cuff decisions that can be made in an instant? I should think rather that they are decisions that have to be pained over, consciences wrestled with back and forth over an extended period of time. You have to give time for due process. But perhaps when someone feels that they have no other place to turn and that the matters are so grave that they must act upon them, then they must have our mercy. There are plenty of embittered souls out there: Police, Nuns, Prison Officers, Doctors, Priests, Politicians, Nurses, Teachers, who will have to live with the thought of not blowing the whistle when they should have. The only judgement that matters is the one at the end of your time.

        God bless

        June 29, 2014 at 3:38 am
      • Frankier


        You are a really charitable, Christian gentleman.

        It would be nice to know you; or would it?

        I thought there was a shortage of priests and an abundance of empty chapel houses.

        June 29, 2014 at 12:17 pm
      • editor

        Faith of our Fathers,

        As a Catholic priest, Fr Despard is dependent on his bishop for work. Technically, I believe, in legal terms, priests are categorised as self-employed but must go wherever their bishops dictates and is at the beck and call of his bishop, in a manner of speaking. Since Fr Despard is available for work but is being prevented from working because of his bishop’s unjust treatment, then the onus is on the bishop to see to it that his priest is not living in deprivation and that he has a roof over his head – and I don’t mean the nearest homeless shelter.

        It’s not “funny” how he “waited to long to be a whistle-blower” – he’s been expressing his concerns for years to the bishop who chose to ignore the issues put before him. And yes, “timing IS everything” in the sense that it was when the shocking news broke of Cardinal O’Brien’s homosexual behaviour, that Fr Despard decided – rightly or wrongly – to go ahead and publish his writings, which he did not think up overnight. He informs readers at the outset that he had been writing the book for some time, but on learning of the O’Brien scandal, he decided to go ahead and publish – since nobody was paying the slightest bit of attention to him at all.

        And do you know what, Faith of our Fathers? Had the issue been child abuse, you would among those supporting Fr Despard. Any other scandal is now unimportant, in the eyes of the shallow thinkers who make up the majority of the faithful (for which read “faithless”) today. It’s now politically correct to condemn child abuse, so it’s OK to support those whistle-blowers. But a bunch of priests who are homosexual serving in parishes? No problem. These numpties don’t seem to have noticed that the majority of the abuse is men (priests) on boys = homosexual activity. In one BBC documentary where one priest had abused both boys and girls, he was asked in the final minute or so of the programme if he had a preference. He thought for a second or two and then replied: “yes, boys.”

        That the bishop is apparently choosing to keep silent about the investigation (if any) into Fr Despard’s allegations should be your primary concern, not “the timing” of Fr Despard’s allegations. It’s whether or not they are true – and why Fr Despard’s early discreet attempts to have them investigated were ignored – that should bother you, nothing else. Oh and the fact that he is threatened with eviction for speaking out. That’s what should concern every Catholic in the land.

        In summary – gerragrip.

        June 29, 2014 at 3:31 pm
      • Faith of Our Fathers

        Ed you stated in a previous post he had committed no crime since when did -Not bearing false witness cease to be a moral crime-Also you said no priest came forward to denounce his claims against them ,please read The Motherwell Times and you will see plenty of words denouncing false witness .Also one priest had to announce from the Alter his false witness -of course he was jumping on Fr Despards Amazon bandwagon .Fr Despards words about jumping on the bandwagon was that a financial one .There have been countless claims against our Clergy and non Catholics just love the in fighting -A bit like the Rangers troubles laughed at from the outside-.If Fr Despards words were all true his book would have been a best seller in fact if no legal writs would have been risen to denounce it -It would certainly be a best seller. Fr Despard should know being a Catholic priest in Scotland the land of no bigotry would have turned this into a soap opera .Also your petulant mud slinging shows you in very bad light wouldn’t like to be married to you and come home with 10 Bob short in my wages. Take care and God Bless.

        June 29, 2014 at 5:00 pm
      • editor


        Fr Despard has broken no laws of the land. That is what is generally understood by “no crime” having been committed. And since I am unable to read his soul, I have no idea whether he is guilty of any sin with regard to his allegations or anything else. I believe that his intentions were good and his action in publishing is more likely than not to have been made in frustration at his bishop’s refusal to take his concerns seriously, after a number of years, and in the context of the revelations about Cardinal O’Brien.

        As for your defence of those named or alluded to in his book: all I can say is that if someone accused me of such behaviour, and it had reached national newspapers and internationally read blogs like this one, I can tell you (without any fear of contraception!) that I would not be satisfied announcing to my nearest and dearest that there was no truth in the claims. I’d be contacting those same newspapers and blogs, giving my name,, and stating loud and clear, in unambiguous terms, that there was no truth whatsoever in the suggestion that I was homosexually inclined or had indulged in such behaviour.

        I am unaware of having engaged in “petulant mud slinging” so I’ll pass on that one. However, you are right to be thankful not to have married me; anyone who dared to come home with ten PENCE missing from their pay packet, never mind ten bob, would be definitely asking for trouble. In my younger and even more glamorous days, a work colleague did say something similar (that he wouldn’t like to come home to me with a broken pay packet) – and some folk still wonder why I never married. 😀

        God bless.

        June 29, 2014 at 5:26 pm
      • Faith of Our Fathers

        Ed surely you must have read said newspaper and know of the Priest I am referring to he did not hide behind anonymity and why did Fr Despard after stating in a book say he was referring to someone else. As you are a lot more educated than me you know there are lies damned lies and statistics .Also as a person of wisdom when you know that when conversing with someone if that person tells one lie then they have lost all credibility . Sorry bout the 10 bob quote take care God Bless.

        June 29, 2014 at 7:21 pm
      • sixupman

        Yet another troll? Perhaps a cleric to boot?

        June 29, 2014 at 8:09 pm
      • editor


        Nope. I think FOOF is a genuinely concerned Catholic who thinks Fr Despard is causing needless scandal by having written his book. Nothing in his posts suggests he’s a cleric either – he knows enough about women to know better than to bring home a broken pay packet, especially to the likes of me, so I doubt he’s a priest. 😀

        The reason for the apparent concern that Fr Despard is causing scandal is that, it seems to me, most diocesan Catholics (including clergy) do not recognise real dissent screaming out at them from all over the place now; it’s become normalised. Just different views. No big deal.

        I could bet money (if I had any) that FOOF would read the Catholic Times from cover to cover and not see the scandals on every page, from the regular (probably weekly) lengthy letters from Elizabeth Price advocating contraception to the shocking columns attacking Catholic dogma, discipline and morals penned by Mgr Loftus. FOOF could, I’d guess, read it all and not see a blessed thing wrong with any of it. Just “different views” – the Catholic sense having virtually disappeared into thin air, so much so that I suspect Malaysian flight MH370 will be found before that innate sense of Catholicity – which has always part and parcel of being a Catholic – is restored.

        June 29, 2014 at 10:46 pm
      • Faith of Our Fathers

        No you got me sussed all wrong -as far as my faith is concerned I am in the Maggie Thatcher camp ( God forgive me )and I aint for turning. As with us all the final test will come when our maker calls us and he and only he will be the one to judge me .Words are only words as far as Thomas A Kempis wrote they fly through the air and hurt no one unless that person is willing to be hurt .So take care all we can only try and keep our side of the street clean and always remember about the poor man and the Pharisee in the temple .Thanks lord that I am not like that publican I fast every day I pay more than my share of tithes and surely I will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

        June 29, 2014 at 11:20 pm
      • sixupman

        Maybe so, but then the pseudonym “Faith of Our Fathers” appears to be most inappropriate. That hymn was banned, in the Liverpool Archdiocese ,after Vatican II as it was adjudged to be “divisive”.

        June 30, 2014 at 7:16 am
      • editor


        I take it you mean Fr Robert Kane – I’d forgotten about this report.

        Fair enough – that’s one who deserves credit for at least putting his name in the public domain to deny being one of those alluded to by Fr Despard, although I think pursuing a brother priest through the courts is not the best way to go.

        However, since Fr Kane admits that he is not named in the book, we cannot call Fr Despard a “liar” for (as you appear to be claiming) saying that he was NOT referring to him (Fr Kane).

        I don’t think, anyway, that we are dealing with a priest who is a “liar” or has “lied” – if anything, it may be that Fr Despard is mistaken in some of his claims, but without a thorough investigation – which is all he has ever asked for, I believe – then we’ll never know where the truth lies (pun intended as it makes me smile!)

        No need to apologise over the “10 bob” – that also made me smile!

        June 29, 2014 at 10:23 pm
      • Faith of Our Fathers

        Its ok ED you have a lot on your plate but it was you who said it .Lie once fool him, lie twice -FOOL ME. here endeth the lesson .No he did not mention him by name just as I did not mention him by name you worked it out by yourself just as R.K. did.

        June 29, 2014 at 10:56 pm
      • editor


        I didn’t work it out by myself. When you said there had been one priest who had spoken out, I had a recollection of quoting that in our newsletter, so I Googled it and got the newspaper report right away.

        I do have a lot on my plate which, coupled with my awful memory, means I’m not always as quick on the uptake as I should be. However, if anyone wishes to offer me a bribe, I can promise you I will be very quick on the uptake!

        June 30, 2014 at 12:42 am
      • Faith of Our Fathers

        Also in your ref as not taking him through the courts surely you must know that is the main reason this manuscript was withdrawn from the public domain as with every transcript printed and sold a law suit can be filed against same .That E.D. in anyones language adds up to a lot of scuedos .

        June 29, 2014 at 11:05 pm
      • editor


        Father had self-published. Amazon removed his book from sale – I don’t think Father did that. And since the one and only defence against a defamation suit is that the claims are true, I can’t see that Fr D would have been unduly worried.

        June 30, 2014 at 12:44 am
      • Frankier


        What made that particular priest think Fr. Despard was referring to him if he wasn`t named? Could the bonnet have fitted him as well as the `someone else`?

        Anyway, maybe he was referring to someone else. We have tg take his word for it since he is the only one who knows.

        If a person who tells one lie loses all credibility then there
        can`t be many people left on this planet whom you could trust and that includes a lot of the clergy. Would you keep going to listen to your parish priest if you found out he had told a wee fib?

        June 30, 2014 at 11:35 am
      • Miles Immaculatae

        Have you ever been slandered, harassed and bullied? Your inability to identify and empathise with the victim, and your blind, naive support for the hierarchy, makes you appear very cold hearted indeed to the ordinary people who read this blog. Very cold hearted.

        June 30, 2014 at 12:36 pm
      • Faith of Our Fathers

        Obviously you put your mouth in print before activating your brain .This book was removed for one reason and one reason only there were to many lets just say so as to get through to you irregularities if there were not so the same manuscript would not have been withdrawn. As for the one whom you call THAT PRIEST after Fr Despard had made the accusations and then admitting they were wrong he tried to backtrack on what had been printed .Just to let you know the meaning of truth -1 The state of being true 2 That which is true 3 Fact or belief that is accepted as true. Here Endeth The Lesson. And no I would not trust a priest again who told me a lie -White or otherwise.

        June 30, 2014 at 5:33 pm
  • Miles Immaculatae

    When Marcial Maciel was finally brought to justice after many decades, despite the absolute ineptitude of John Paul II and the ecclesial authorities, he was sent to a Catholic monastery to pray and do penance i.e. he wasn’t homeless, he was allowed to live in church property, he wasn’t threatened with destitution, and he was permitted to live out his last days in the security of religious community.

    Father Despard who has never been implicated in any sort of scandal contra sextum , is afforded no such privilege. The hypocrisy is outrageous.

    June 28, 2014 at 6:38 pm
    • editor

      It is precisely that fact – that Fr Despard has committed no crime – that makes his case so singularly shocking. He is being punished for – at worst – an instance of bad judgment in publishing his book.

      Yet, people with brains switched on are much more concerned about whether or not the allegations IN his book have been thoroughly investigated and whether all necessary action taken against those found to be homosexually active. Are any of them going to be evicted?

      We’re already on record with sympathy for anyone unjustly accused or alluded to in Fr Despard’s book but the onus is on those individuals, if any innocent individuals have been named or are in any way identifiable, to come forward to deny the claims. Until that happens, I, personally, am not convinced that Fr Despard’s allegations are without foundation and for the safety of souls, we need to know that, or more accurately, those faithful attending Masses in the Diocese of Motherwell need to know that.

      June 28, 2014 at 9:38 pm
  • Pat Langan

    If Motherwell have priests to spare! we are very short of priests, why not ask Archbishop Cushley if he will welcome him!

    June 28, 2014 at 10:14 pm
    • Summa

      Could they not shuffle Father Despard around the parishes for a few years?
      No, that would mean he would have to be a sexual deviant, worthy of protection.
      But seriously, doesn’t the Diocese have a duty to care for all their priests, evev the ones who uphold their vows?

      June 29, 2014 at 10:45 pm
      • editor


        Well said. The bishop absolutely has a duty of care towards all of his priests, but you know an elderly priest in England, now deceased, once told me that when the new Mass was introduced, he asked permission to keep offering the old rite, and said he could not in conscience switch to the new. He was turfed out with little to no practical support, his bishop adding, for good measure, that if he had been leaving to marry, the diocese would have helped him more. How’s that for “mercy” and “charity”? In the end, a kind family gave him a room. I’m dreading my own judgment, but, if there’s any justice at all in this world and the next, I’ll be within earshot of at least one bishop on Judgement Day. Hands poised, ready to applaud. Am I a bad girl, or what? 😀

        June 29, 2014 at 10:52 pm
  • sixupman

    The perfidy of the hierarchies knows no bounds. A priest of my acquaintance has been rendered a virtual vagrant by the action of his [then] bishop under pressure from the diocesan bureaucrats and priestly mafia. His clerical mortal sin? Not heresy; not sexual deviancy, but, creating a Traditional parish – much to the admiration of his congregation. It appears other bishops are reluctant to utilise his undoubted talents.

    Another priest I know, was so victimised, for his views ,that, upon semi-retirement, he refused to live in a presbytery and obtained a council flat. The geographical area in which he operated and that which has now been disclosed, leads one to suspect Traditional leaning views was not the sole reason for him to adopt a lonely existence.

    June 29, 2014 at 8:11 am
  • antivatican2

    Not surprisingly, Bishop Toal is a big fan of the travsty that is Medjugorje. That this money making scam was started by “priest” that was suspended by his bishop, and that the principal “seer” in this scam has been caught out in her lies so many times, and that by saying Our Blessed mother told her that all relgions are the same thing thereby declaring herself not merely as a heritic but an apostate also. This seems not to bother Bishop Toal at all.

    This site gives an in depth analysis of this mockery far far better than I could

    With the arrival of “Chrislam”, the One World Religion (its first temple is to be bulit in Berlin) I fear it will not be long before we see Francis giving it his approval, giving credence to something worthy of none.

    For reader unfamliiar with “Chrislam, a google search will bring up what they are all about

    Worrying times indeed for the Church of Christ.

    June 29, 2014 at 12:44 pm
    • editor


      I will study the link later, but this is just to touch base and say how disgraceful it is of Bishop Toal to, as you rightly say, encourage the Medjugorje hoax. We reported this scandal in a recent edition of our newsletter.

      “Chrislam” is a new one on me – chilling to think the one world religion fantasy is becoming reality before our very eyes (well, for folk who live in Berlin, that is!)

      Yes, indeed, “worrying times”. We need to constantly remind ourselves that God sent Our Lady to forewarn us of the crisis to come – Quito, Fatima and Akita spring to mind. Otherwise, we’d all be giving up in despair.

      June 29, 2014 at 10:57 pm
  • Theresa Rose

    Pursuing Father Despard through the courts to have him evicted is appalling. Is it the Bishop’s thinking that this is the easier route, instead of investigating to determine the truth of the allegations.

    Certainly Father Despard needs our prayers, as do all of the Hierarchy.

    June 29, 2014 at 1:26 pm
    • della

      ask him if he wants the curry powder and pepper back he put it on the doors to fall on innocent victims.A new African priest is covering at St John ogilvie’s he threw his clothes out while he was out visiting,thats the wonderful fr despard for you,sadly you are seeing him through rose coloured glasses,the house is not his neither is the church but he believes its his,have you also noticed the press is always involved with his crocodile tears,sorry I know him too well to have any sympathy,please pray for the truth to come and for peace for those whose lives have been destroyed and that forgiveness in time could be given

      July 24, 2014 at 11:25 pm
      • editor


        Unfortunately, there have been so many lies spread around about Fr Despard, that we now take all such allegations with a pinch of salt – or should that be “curry powder”.

        You see, I hear quite different stories about Fr Despard from the stories put abroad by those who are his sworn enemies. I hear that he has offered to help the visiting priests but been spurned. Those of his supporters who keep in touch with me, are not fanatical types, they are very balanced and only interested in justice. They have not painted a picture of Father Perfect. They simply recognise – as do we, here at Catholic Truth – that there is something rotten in the Church in Scotland when a priest who has committed no crime, is guilty of nothing more than – at worst – having been less than wise in publishing his book, albeit in frustration and after years of seeking to have his concerns addressed using the correct channels, should be ostracised and treated as if he were guilty of the most heinous criminal activity. That’s not fair, is it?

        Priests who have, indeed. committed crimes have been protected by their bishops, and even promoted! One known child abuser in the Diocese of Galloway found himself fiercely defended by Bishop Maurice Taylor, now retired, and living in a very nice little home, purchased for him by the Church authorities – a bit like Cardinal O’Brien now living in “exile” in a beautiful bungalow in the north of England, with regular visitors from Scotland keeping him company and all thanks to the generosity of the Mass-going congregations of the Archdiocese of St Andrew’s and Edinburgh, whose money is funding his very comfortable, thank you very much, lifestyle. Yip, thanks to dear old Archbishop Leo Cushley, the cardinal can sit back and enjoy his carefree retirement while Fr Despard faces eviction for exposing some of the rot within the Diocese of Motherwell. Not fair, is it? Has Fr Despard really done anything so serious as to merit such draconian treatment?

        Tell me this, Della. Would you not prefer to see a thorough and open investigation into the allegations made by Fr Despard rather than see him pursued through the courts, with his bishop using legal routes to evict him from his home and parish?

        You refer to people whose lives have been destroyed – I don’t know of any, but I can’t see that Fr Despard is exactly enjoying a life of Reilly himself right now. As for the parish house not belonging to him. That is of course true but Fr Despard is a priest of the Diocese of Motherwell, available for work in his designated parish but his bishop is preventing him from working. And, incidentally, has not paid him his due monies since November. So, all in all, the facts, I’m afraid, do not stack up in favour of the diocesan authorities. Quite the reverse.

        So, yes, of course, we must pray for the truth to come out, and for justice for all concerned, not least, Fr Despard.

        God bless.

        July 25, 2014 at 12:24 am
      • editor


        I am reliably informed that the African priest has not been staying at the parish house. Patrick, the gentleman who is keeping us informed of the court proceedings, told me that he had spoken personally to the African priest a while back: when Patrick said it was a pity he wasn’t staying at the house so that the people could get to know him better, the priest nodded, before driving off.

        So, looks like the porky pies continue…. Don’t believe anything you hear, Della. Unless you read it here!

        July 25, 2014 at 12:12 pm
      • della

        what does it take to get rid of this despicable man,patrick I despise this man and I am grateful for another priest to come and say mass,mass is now being offered on a Friday now ,in fr despards day it was tues wed and thurs only so do not preach to me Patrick I am not leaving the parish because of him I was there years before he was,I also think he has problems with his own sexuality and is projecting his guilt on others

        July 25, 2014 at 9:51 pm
      • Summa

        I also think he has problems with his own sexuality and is projecting his guilt on others

        You think? Do you have any evidence? Would you enlighten us?

        Otherwise, you might be construed as beginning to sound quite bitter and uncharitable, slanderous even.

        July 25, 2014 at 10:13 pm
      • editor


        This “you have problems with your own sexuality, thus you are projecting your guilt onto others” is the nonsense routinely churned out by homosexuals to fend off criticisms of their homosexual behaviour. It’s a crackpot approach. Imagine every policeman who questions a suspected thief being told that he has problems with his own temptations to steal, hence his “discrimination” of robbers… the country would collapse in a heap of hilarity. It’s patent nonsense.

        So, it’s very interesting to find Della, who presents here as a parishioner of Fr Despard’s, and, emphatically, one of those who clearly do not include him on their Christmas card list, using this tried and tested form of (ridiculous) attack.

        We can now dismiss Della’s “concerns” as being nothing more than typically homosexual fury in the face of any challenge to that objectively gravely sinful behaviour.

        I’ll now await the screams of “homophobia” in something less than fear and trembling 😀

        July 25, 2014 at 11:14 pm
      • della

        I am not Homosexual and I do not jump on that bandwagon,each to there own but I do not agree with civil partnerships or marriages as that’s taking things to far. Your opinion of fr despard differs a lot from mine I am waiting for the day for him to stand up in court and prove his accusations and for him to tell a bishop to fxxx off and a poof his own words,a total lack of respect to his superior,or do you have some excuse for him,victim hard done to,its a pity you could not speak to some of the people he treated badly as I said before it was long before the book was published

        July 25, 2014 at 11:44 pm
      • editor


        If you are not homosexual, then I would advise you not to use their language and arguments. Every Catholic MUST oppose homosexual activity so for Father Despard to speak out about it when he has witnessed it within the Church, is something we should be pleased about, not accuse HIM of being a suppressed homosexual. That’s what the “gay lobby” does so anyone who plays that game has to be prepared for people to think they are homosexual too.

        As for the rest of your post. The Fr Despard issue is not about whether or not he was a popular (or even a good) parish priest. He may not have been. That’s not the issue. The issue is that he is being treated badly for publishing a book exposing some of the homosexuality within the diocese of Motherwell. That’s wrong.

        His claims should have been investigated by Bishop Devine when they were first put to him – then none of this would have happened.

        The fact that Bishop Devine chose not to do so, puts him well and truly in the frame and lends support to Fr Despard’s claims about the Bishop himself.

        You need to distance yourself from your personal opinion about him as PP and look objectively at the current situation. SHOULD he be evicted from his home and suspended from priestly ministry, given that others, who have in fact committed crimes, are protected and even promoted. That is not fair.

        I don’t think our current crop of politicians are good at their jobs, but I would support their right to expose corruption and if anyone tried to evict THEM from their homes and jobs because they exposed corruption in Parliament I would see that as an injustice. By all means the Bishop has the right to move Fr Despard to some other priestly task just as the voters have the right to oust the politicians, but to use unsavoury and unjust means to do so is reprehensible.

        July 26, 2014 at 10:33 am
      • Athanasius


        To despise any human being is to depart from the teaching of the Gospels. We are told to despise sin but not the sinner. I suggest you reflect very seriously on the statements you’re making in public, especially about a priest.

        September 25, 2016 at 4:53 pm
      • Stephen O'Neill

        Comment removed

        September 25, 2016 at 5:22 pm
      • Stephen O'Neill

        Comment removed

        September 25, 2016 at 3:39 pm
  • Frankier

    Why is Bishop Toal and his like not as ruthless when they are being taken to the cleaners on the STV and BBC Scotland programmes on a regular basis?

    Political flyweights like the wee man from Sodom, Patrick Harvie, who reminds me of a screwmouse, and COS ministers are allowed to run rings around so-called Vatican Experts and SCO editors to the extent that you have to switch off to cut short your embarrassment when watching them squirm.

    It`s the old story of course; they carefully select their victims.

    June 29, 2014 at 2:12 pm
    • editor


      That’s an excellent point. Excellent. They’re like all bullies, as you say, carefully selecting their victims.

      I recall one TV interview where Archbishop Conti was being quizzed and questioned by a known homosexual interviewer, whose name escapes me at the moment, and the Communications Officer or whatever his daft title is, was whispering the answers “off stage” – truly you couldn’t make it up.

      June 29, 2014 at 3:38 pm
  • Spero

    What you would hope is that we would have learned by now that by whispering in corners, by sharing our experiences, with regard to the Catholic Church and it’s priests, we gain nothing except the affirmation that others have fought, tried, lost, and settled for not a lot being done.
    And that is fine. Because you know what? Only a few ever know.
    Father Despard did the most awful thing. He went public.
    So they can’t lean on him any more to force him to do what is wanted. The deed is done. So cast him out.
    OK. But what about the priests who have railed against the Papacy, the magisterium and the teachings of the Church for years?
    What about those who are still acting as priests who were in in involved loosely or closely with Cardinal O’Brien?
    Justice has to be seen to done.
    The criterion for being found guilty should not be whether one had broken rank and written a book; but whether the elements within that book contain even a vestige of truth.

    June 29, 2014 at 7:54 pm
    • editor


      Well said. I have been suffering again, today, the rantings of the Aberdeen based Leeds priest Mgr Basil Loftus who must be, not only one of the nastiest people on the face of the earth, but one of the UK’s top priest-heretics. In the clear knowledge that he threatened to sue a priest in England for permitting a blogger to call him a heretic, I emphasise: Mgr Loftus must be one of the UK’s top priest-heretics.

      Thanks to the confidence given to his ilk by Papa Francis, he is getting more brazen by the nano-second in his attacks on the Church, repeatedly referring to the sacred vestments as “carnival costumes” and expressing his hopes that the Catholic Church will soon be accepting of the divorced and remarried, and, of course, of homosexuality.

      Whatdyethink – any chance of HIM being evicted?

      About as much chance as there is of li’l ole me being appointed the first female Pastoral Assistant at the nearest SSPX chapel. There’s simply no justice in this world…

      June 29, 2014 at 10:34 pm
      • Faith of Our Fathers

        ED we may disagree on some things but av never heard of said Priest you refer to I also certainly think as you do that too many of them think they are in show business we don’t go to MASS to be entertained. Also tell this clown priest if he wants to be in a carnival he should join a circus .I MUCH SUSPECT though you have already told him so .Take care keep up the good work God Bless and goodnight.

        June 30, 2014 at 12:37 am
    • Helen

      Spero, you said:

      “What about those who are still acting as priests who were in in involved loosely or closely with Cardinal O’Brien?”

      Let me tell you that I know of at least one of them who is being supported by the Aberdeen diocese, Also, he is living openly with a homosexual vicar and participating in C of E worship. So how come Fr. Despard or the other ones mentioned by various people don’t get the same treatment?

      I know of a group of “traditional” Catholics who would welcome him with open arms AFTER, of course, he gets re-trained with the SSPX or the FSSP.

      June 30, 2014 at 2:02 pm
  • Graeme Taylor

    I do not know enough about Father Despard ( but like most of the clergy his age and younger, they were so poorly trained), however I do have experience of Bishop Toal and the piffle he talks around “instructing” the Catholic peasantry to stand for the Sanctus, the Agnus Dei and the Blessing. So clearly not a bishop to trust in any sense.
    The protestantising of the Church by our hopeless bishops.

    June 29, 2014 at 7:58 pm
  • Frankier

    If Fr. Despard has to go to `sign on` he will be told that his present employers have been asking God
    for the past 100 years for recruits, so I don`t think he would even qualify for jobseekers allowance.

    To qualify you have to prove that there are no vacancies available to you.

    June 30, 2014 at 11:45 am
    • Miles Immaculatae

      You are correct. You cannot claim JSA if you have been dismissed, suspended etc.. Only if you have been made redundant, or if your contract has expired etc.. So what is this poor man going to do? You can’t pay rent for private or social housing without getting employment and/or social security. Will bishop Toal be so cruel as to let one of his priests become formally homeless? I just hope father has relatives he can stay with, or a friend who will let him stay. It is not the kind of unstable situation a man of his age deserves to be in, when he has worked for the Church for so long. It is a bit disgusting really. Father doesn’t have any children, substantial property and savings (that I know of) to rely on. He probably never made much money from his book, if any, in fact it probably cost him. When you give up your life for the Church, you enter a ‘covenant’ with your superiors: you serve them, they protect you. I am so ashamed by my Church,

      June 30, 2014 at 12:21 pm
      • Eileenanne

        Is there any evidence that Bishop Toal intends cutting Fr Despard off without a cent and casting him out shivering into the snow? More than likely, Fr D has been offered alternative accommodation but for whatever reason has rejected the offer and stayed put. If he has nowhere else to go it is unlikely a court order to remove him will be granted.

        I know very little about all this, and I suspect that few here know any more. If a proper investihation is being carried out about the allegations in Fr Despard’s book, it seems emminently sensible that he is not in his parish while it happens, especially as it appeared at the time that there was some division in the parish. And how can go on working alongside with his brother priests in the diocese when he has made accusations of serious impropiety against some of them? Another good reason for him to be out of the picture.

        I have no idea if Fr Despard spoke the truth in his book. I have no idea what Bishop Toal is doing about it. If he has been suspended from exercising his ministry pending investigations, he has no right to remain in the parish house. If he wants the best outcome he should obey his bishop and go. Possibly his decision to stay put has hindered the investigation which he surely wants.

        June 30, 2014 at 1:41 pm
      • Frankier


        Do these rules of yours apply only to selected priests?

        They certainly don`t seem to apply to a great number of priests, bishops and cardinals who get the red carpet treatment when they ADMIT to serious sexual infidelities.

        If it`s not the chance of a nice big seaside house in Dunbar it is the offer of an even nicer retreat in the Lake District or in Rome itself. I won`t mention the ones who get diocesan accommodation and a sizeable golden handshake or, to put it kindly, hush money.

        The only punishment seems to be an order to say a few prayers for around six months along with some quiet reflection and you`re then back in business.

        When you state “more than likely” you are putting yourself in the same position as someone like myself who knows absolutely nothing about the real situation so I think it is wise to wait and see before jumping to the defence of someone simply because he is a bishop.

        June 30, 2014 at 2:03 pm
      • Eileenanne

        :…I think it is wise to wait and see before jumping to the defence of someone simply because he is a bishop….

        Or indeed, assuming the worst about someone for the same reason.

        No-one got a nice big seaside house in Dunbar after admitting sexual wrongdoing. Cardinal O’Brien was specifically told he could NOT go ahead with his original plan to retire there.

        The only punishment seems to be an order to say a few prayers for around six months along with some quiet reflection and you`re then back in business.

        I get far less penance than that when I confess my sins. What about you? God forgives – ANYONE who is sorry. We cannot do less.

        You said to Miles:
        It is a disgrace that anyone, especially someone who has never been found guilty of any crime, should be thrown out into the street.
        Do you KNOW that that has been threatened? Do you know ANYTHING of what has passed between Fr Despard and his bishop? You have already said you know nothing about this affair. Probably best to say nothing then.

        June 30, 2014 at 3:38 pm
      • Helen

        In that case why doesn’t the emeritus Arch. Conte vacate his house as he is no longer a serving cleric? I’ve heard that he won’t budge.

        June 30, 2014 at 8:03 pm
      • Fidelis


        I happen to have been in the position of knowing priests who have been unjustly treated by their bishops and who were advised by Canon Lawyers (other priests) to stay put in their home because to leave is like an admission of guilt.

        I don’t share your trust in the bishops either. We’ve already had examples of priests thrown on the scrap heap because they didn’t agree with the new Mass. I think you forget that we are in a diabolical disorientation just now.

        June 30, 2014 at 2:07 pm
      • Frankier


        It is a disgrace that anyone, especially someone who has never been found guilty of any crime, should be thrown out into the street. It is even worse when it is someone who tried to expose the vile practices which have been going on in the Church for years now. So much for their promise of transparency.

        Even prisoners released from jail after serving sentences for serious crimes get placed in rented accommodation by the authorities along with all the financial benefits that are going.

        There is even the possibility that bishop Toal`s ancestors were evicted by
        notorious landlords during the clearances in Ireland so maybe he has been learning from them. At least they never claimed to be men of God.

        All I can say is that he is some Christian.

        No wonder the Church in this country is all but finished.

        With the average age of congregations now around 55 years of age you can be sure that there won`t be much sign of a Catholic Church in Scotland in 20
        years time, especially with glorified sheriffs` officers in charge.

        June 30, 2014 at 2:22 pm
      • Constantine the Great

        Anyone who has a British passport, or qualifies for one, is entitled to ‘income based’ Jobseekers allowance plus housing and council tax benefit if their savings are under £16,000.00. They call it Universal Credit now, but it is all the same really. Despard would get £71.00 a week plus rent and council tax benefit (he would still have to pay the water charges of about £27.00 per month). Time he stopped moaning and got a job.

        June 30, 2014 at 5:44 pm
      • Miles Immaculatae

        I didn’t believe this was true. But I wasn’t sure of the details, so I just looked it up. This is taken from the CAB website:

        “If you are dismissed for misconduct, your income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) may not be paid for up to 26 weeks. This is called a sanction.”

        You cannot claim Housing Benefit and council tax benefit unless you are claiming JSA or a related benefit, e.g. ESA, Income Support.

        I think you are mistaken.

        June 30, 2014 at 5:53 pm
      • Constantine the Great

        He doesn’t have to worry. He will qualify for income support straight away. Everybody does if they haven’t any money. He’ll only get sanctioned if he doesn’t look for a job. Anyway, I imagine PM will use her influence to get him taken in by SSPX before that happens. Or a high rise in Kirkintilloch awaits Despard otherwise.

        June 30, 2014 at 8:51 pm
      • editor


        Having read your two contributions to this thread, I am reminded of your (big time) support for homosexuality so your lack of sympathy for Fr Despard is hardly surprising. Anyway, thanks for stopping by. Don’t let us keep you…

        June 30, 2014 at 10:23 pm
      • Constantine the Great

        Stop bullying or I will report you to Damian Thompson.

        July 1, 2014 at 11:31 pm
      • editor

        Shucks, thanks.

        July 2, 2014 at 9:32 am
      • Miles Immaculatae

        I am not sure who PM is, but if you are referring to Editor, she will likely be bemused by the influence you are ascribing to her. Fr D could only become a society priest if he himself voluntarily approaches them. I am not sure how Editor will make him do that because living the Traditional orientation is not so arbitrary as that, it is something that will come to as the Spirit guides him. We do not know that he is Traditional.

        Joining the SSPX is not so simple. It would involve learning all the Traditional Rites, relocating, becoming familiar with a new administration, moving away from old ties and forging new ones, improving his linguistic skills (so many poorly formed post council clergy don’t know Latin, contrary to canon law), having to undergo interviews, probably having to travel to travel to Menzingen several times. Essentially, it’s not that simple a solution.

        Nevertheless, I would thoroughly recomend Fr D do such.

        June 30, 2014 at 10:47 pm
      • editor


        Do you agree with me that God gave me those initials because He means me to be Prime Minister some day?

        July 1, 2014 at 4:36 pm
      • Miles Immaculatae

        Well, you’d certainly be a formidable force for the opposition leader to reckon with at PM’s Questions Time.

        July 1, 2014 at 5:14 pm
      • Frankier

        Constantine the Great

        What horrible, unchristian comments from you.

        Editor: Frankier, I’ve altered your comment a little, but left the sense of it. Believe me, I understand your frustration with this blogger who is one of a minority who only comes on here to insult and attack us, but we need to remember that golden house-rule – no personal remarks. Just because someone’s an idiot and lacks any sense of what it means to be a Catholic, doesn’t mean we have to say so 😀

        So be good – we don’t need him; he will disappear again for a while, but we do need you so unless you want to crash right down that payscale, the dizzy heights of which you have now reached, be careful – be nice, albeit through gritted teeth 😀

        July 1, 2014 at 12:26 am
      • Frankier


        The only problem I have with my vast pay at the moment is the tax you are deducting.

        Any chance I could get paid through an EBT?

        July 1, 2014 at 2:23 pm
      • editor


        😀 😀 😀

        When I find out what an EBT is, you’ll be paid that way for sure!

        July 1, 2014 at 4:34 pm
      • Frankier


        Just watch you don`t go the same way as the last lot that used Employee Benefit Trusts.

        They had/and still have HMRC on their tail.

        If you still don`t know maybe you could ask one of your brothers.

        July 1, 2014 at 8:19 pm
      • Eileenanne

        If Fr Despard is moaning, he isn’t doing it publicly.

        June 30, 2014 at 7:29 pm
      • Constantine the Great

        No, he just wrote a book and published it on the world wide web.

        June 30, 2014 at 10:26 pm
      • Miles Immaculatae

        Do we live in some kind of totalitarian state now?

        July 1, 2014 at 12:47 am
  • Crouchback

    My old man ….God Bless him, had hours of endless fun with Bishops names…..

    Allow me to carry on this venerable family tradition by from now on referring to the Bishop of Motherwell as Bishop Hoal…..Motherwell was a complete dump, Bishop Hoal is just the man to transform it in to a complete …..wait for it……Hole.

    June 30, 2014 at 12:15 pm
  • Frankier

    O for those days of yore
    The days that have gone before
    When the only sin a priest would commit
    Would be to ask for the Celtic score

    June 30, 2014 at 2:25 pm
  • Eileenanne

    So what happened in court? Is Fr Despard bedding down in a Hamilton doorway as we speak?

    June 30, 2014 at 10:47 pm
    • editor

      There’s no report that I can find on the internet so one waits and one wonders…

      June 30, 2014 at 11:21 pm
  • Helen Duddy

    When Bishop Toal put in place the restrictions on Father Despard in Nov13 part of these included that he was not permitted to celebrate Holy Mass or any other sacraments within the Motherwell diocese in public, or indeed in the presence of a congregation in a private house or any other small gathering. This was stated in correspondence handed out to all parishioners in Nov13. This then meant he was not permitted to engage with any of the public, even to the extent of the different groups he had set up in the parish. He was also restricted from attending the yearly January holiday that he had been organising for over the last 6years, as he would have been seen to be fraternising with the public. Before anyone asks he did request permission from Bishop Toal to be permitted to attend as on these holidays he is his fathers carer. He was refused so it also meant that his parents could not partake of the holiday either. These are just some of the injustices we see as been carried out against Father D. The question we have asked is why is he not allowed to appoint a lawyer of his choice for any investigation that the church wish to carry out. All we ask for is an open case where we can see justice being carried out, we like everyone else would accept the findings of the court. Is this so wrong.

    June 30, 2014 at 11:21 pm
    • Eileenanne


      The restrictions placed on Fr Despard seem to be entirely consistent with what one would expect for a priest suspended from ministry.


      It is extremely unlikely that Fr Despard has been condemned to the streets. If I thought for a minute that his bishop had not offered alternative accommodation I would be first in line to denounce him.

      July 1, 2014 at 7:42 am
  • Summa

    I’m not shocked at all, but rather saddened, in the manner that some people can blithely condemn to the streets, a Parish Priest who has given up his life for the catholic community he served and guided. Oh so little tolerance and pity!
    But I say to you, Love your enemies: do good to them that hate you: and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you:
    That you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven, who maketh his sun to rise upon the good, and bad, and raineth upon the just and the unjust.
    For if you love them that love you, what reward shall you have? do not even the publicans this?
    And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more? do not also the heathens this?
    Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.
    Matthew 5:44-48

    July 1, 2014 at 3:52 am
    • Eileenanne

      Oh so little tolerance and pity!

      We don’t know that. We know nothing of what has passed between priest and bishop, and nor should we. At this stage confidentiality is entirely appropriate.

      July 1, 2014 at 7:44 am
      • Summa

        I’m referring to a couple of uncharitable, blasé and cold comments above, about what is a critical moment in a Priest’s life. A priest who obviously cares about the scandal in Scottish Catholicism.

        July 1, 2014 at 8:13 am
      • Eileenanne

        Sorry. I misunderstood.

        July 1, 2014 at 8:36 am
      • Summa

        No bother. Don’t mention it.

        July 1, 2014 at 8:39 am
  • editor

    There is still no report online about the court case yesterday, so unless someone else has more success – I only had time for a quick one-off Google – we’ll have to wait a bit longer to learn the outcome. I would offer a pay rise to the first blogger to find an update for us, but what with all these austerity cuts, we’re having to keep a close eye on the pay bill here at Catholic Truth :grin:.

    July 1, 2014 at 9:01 am
    • gabriel syme

      No luck for me either Editor!

      Case was definitely listed on the Sherriff Court agenda for Mon 30th June, here:

      The RT. REV Joseph – v – Father Matthew Des

      Its in one of the sections headed “Sherriff unallocated”.

      And no judgement has been published here:

      (I presume this result would be published, as it would meet the “particular public interest” criteria given).

      I wonder if the lack of news suggests that either:

      – no Sherriff was found to hear the case (“unallocated”) and so it has been postponed; or
      – it has “run on” / no judgement yet reached (?)

      I think the “BLM” and “Fagans” mentioned are the solicitors involved. There is a Fagans solicitors in nearby Airdrie and I presume BLM is the Diocese’s representatives (sounds like a swanky major law firm).

      July 1, 2014 at 10:50 pm
      • editor

        Thanks Gabriel,

        After Googling to see if there was a report anywhere, I did try Hamilton Sheriff Court but couldn’t see anything. I eventually found the reference on your link, way down the page, so thanks for that. Will see what I can do about that pay rise, austerity cuts notwithstanding 😀

        July 2, 2014 at 9:38 am
      • Confitebor Domino


        BLM are Berrymans Lace Mawer LLP – a large and, presumably, expensive firm specializing in insurance and dispute resolution. I think it’s safe to assume they are representing the bishop not Fr Despard!

        Funnily enough, their motto is ‘Clear, Concise, Connected’ – three words that you could not possibly apply to the output of the post-VII Church 😀

        July 2, 2014 at 4:37 pm
  • Helen Duddy

    The case was suspended at 12.30 approx until Friday 4th July 2014? There was around 50 friends of Father Despard’s at the court to show our support. It was suggested by court officials that we should try and reduce these numbers. Why?

    July 1, 2014 at 11:08 pm
    • Summa

      Helen Duddy It was suggested by court officials that we should try and reduce these numbers.


      Red rag to a bull. 🙁

      My response would be to encourage every one of those 50 to bring a friend.

      July 1, 2014 at 11:14 pm
    • editor


      That’s interesting. I would ignore the court officials about reducing the numbers attending court. He just wants to make his job easier and probably fears some kind of disturbance. I hope the friends of Fr Despard WON’T make any kind of disturbance as that wouldn’t be helpful at all, certainly not to Father’s case. A dignified attendance to support him and show the concern for justice would be good and the desire for accurate reporting. Any kind of rumpus would be unhelpful, in my view.

      Thanks for keeping us informed.

      July 2, 2014 at 9:37 am
    • Crouchback

      Why the question mark after the date, are you not sure..??

      I don’t know Fr Despard, if you could confirm the time of the hearing I might go along to show support.

      July 2, 2014 at 11:27 am
  • Eileenanne

    …to support him and show the concern for justice …

    Fine as long as those two things are compatible. Not having heard the story from either horse’s mouth, and not knowing what has passed between priest and bishop, we cannot be sure what outcome will serve the ends of justice.

    July 2, 2014 at 10:42 am
  • Frankier

    It`s a pity Fr Despard hadn`t access to the finest barristers in the land in the same way that this bishop has access to other people`s hard earned cash. It`s the easiest thing in the world to squander cash that is not your own. It is normally called thieving or fraud, offences on their own, and jailing ones at that, as well as instant dismissal from your employment. So this bishop`s delusions of grandeur would actually be comical under normal circumstances.

    If I was back in my twenties I am convinced that actions like this by a supposed man of God would have me in the ranks of the atheists.

    If every chapel in the Motherwell diocese was desecrated beyond repair tomorrow I don`t think this man would even bother going to the police.

    No wonder the young of today steer clear of churches and religion. I really don`t blame them and this is one time I am not joking.

    See how those Christians hate each other right enough. At least the masons would never do this to one of their own.

    I hope 500 turn up at the next hearing.

    I await my letter now from BLM

    July 2, 2014 at 3:05 pm
    • Miles Immaculatae

      At least the masons would never do this to one of their own.

      LOL. Well, you said it.

      Exactly Frankier. Exactly. Fr Despard is neither a Freemason, or a homosexual, herein lies the problem.

      July 3, 2014 at 1:12 am
    • Eileenanne

      It`s a pity Fr Despard hadn`t access to the finest barristers in the land …

      I don’t think the finest barristers in the land will often be found pleading at Hamilton Sherriff Court!

      July 3, 2014 at 10:04 am
      • Summa

        Don’t kid yourself. Many a wayward overpaid Footballer has appeared in the provincial court rooms with the most expensive lawyers money can buy.

        July 3, 2014 at 10:31 am
      • Frankier



        July 3, 2014 at 10:44 am
      • Frankier


        In case you didn`t know; sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.

        I will repeat again. It`s a pity Fr Despard hadn`t access to the finest barristers in the land. OK?

        He could then go on to the highest court in the land that has more power than Hamilton Sheriff Court.

        If Bishop Toal got a letter from one of “the finest barristers in the land” he would soon be on the phone to Fr Despard to say he was only at the kidding.

        Cowards are normally very simple to deal with as I myself can vouch.

        July 3, 2014 at 10:42 am
      • Frankier


        Have you any comment to make about my reference to THIEVING and FRAUD as well as instant dismissal?

        Don`t just pick out the wee bits that suit you.

        July 3, 2014 at 10:48 am
      • Helen

        People are inclined to pick and choose the bits that suit them. Loud and clear we can say that the clergy often appear to be out and out thieves and fraudsters. With OUR money, mind.

        I was recently in St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Glasgow (the first time in years) and I just couldn’t believe the devastation therein. It has been stripped of its Catholicity and the altar “space” with the “presidential” chair looks like a masonic hall!

        The altar is gone and has been replaced by a wee butcher’s block thingy on which I wouldn’t have room to prepare my dinner, never mind confect the Eucharist. And, to boot, there’s the extravagant Italian Garden looming outside. Did anyone ask the Catholics of Glasgow if they wanted to fund such a place? Doubt it.

        And once a year they have the cheek to ask for Peter’s pence…..

        July 3, 2014 at 1:07 pm
      • Graeme Taylor


        I too visited Glasgow cathedral ( for the first time) last year and was shocked. I really thought i was in a protestant church ( on some ecumenical sharing). Where Our Lord should be – is replaced with, what looks like, a marble throne for the bishops backside. their arrogance and pride is just bad. I did not give them any money and i will not be back there in a hurry.

        July 5, 2014 at 9:58 am
      • Miles Immaculatae

        I wonder if +Conti ever felt a twinge of embarrassment when he designed is own marble throne into the apex of the holy of holies. I read on a Daily Telegraph blog that +Murphy O’Connor wanted to rip out the high altar of Westminster Cathedral, the one underneath the grand marble baldacchino, and instead put his chair under it. Yes, humble types these Vatican II prelates are. What do you expect, Vatican II endorsed the worship of man above God, and the Novus Ordo leads to it.

        July 5, 2014 at 10:41 am
      • Pat Langan

        I visited Glasgow last year to adore the Icon of our Lady which was brought into the Cathedral. I had heard all about the work that had been done and all the bruha about the Howeson painting of St John Ogilvy (ora pro nobis ). The Cathedral was a modernists dream, a human pleasure palace! Televisions et all! I struggled to find our blessed lord no obvious tabernacle or crucifix, women scurrying all over the sanctuary. I would never wish to go there again! A temple for the glory of man.

        July 5, 2014 at 12:11 pm
      • sixupman

        Most, if not all, E & W Catholic Cathedrals would fit your description of that of Glasgow. Salford is a disgrace and designed to facilitate co-consecration jamborees and Chrism Masses. Ideal for theatrical dancing.

        July 5, 2014 at 12:35 pm
      • Eileenanne


        I have nothing to say about thieving or fraud. I know nothing about thieving or fraud, which is why I said nothing. I generally find it is best to stay quiet about issues of which I am ignorant.

        July 3, 2014 at 3:15 pm
      • Frankier


        Thieving is when someone uses other people`s hard earned donations, which were earmarked for more Christian uses, to pay legal fees to evict someone from their home as well as dismissing them from their job.

        For fraud: see above..

        You say you find it best to stay quiet about issues of which you are ignorant, so why did you make comment about barristers not being found at Hamilton Sheriff Court when I didn`t mention any particular court?

        July 3, 2014 at 7:56 pm
  • Summa

    I seem to recall that one George Bush Jr. lookalike, Pat Robertson who famously described Scotland as a (wee) dark place overrun by homosexuals, didn’t implicate the Catholic Church in his accusations did he? There is a certain irony in that given what has come out in the wash. But perhaps he was referring only to the openly celebrated ordinations in Protestant churches?
    That was a while back though, just sprung to mind.

    July 2, 2014 at 11:48 pm
    • editor


      It’s becoming clearer by the day that – shocking as any abuse by even ONE Catholic priest is – there was no shortage of abusers amongst other groups – celebrities for example and (as news broadcasts today suggest) even among MPs. There appears to be a missing dossier on the subject, implicating a few of those who trod the corridors of power in Westminster a few short years ago. Goodness knows what revelations are yet to come. I have just heard the news which is why all of this sprung to what passes for MY mind 😀 Say nothing!

      I should be telling myself off for going off topic but, what the heck.

      July 3, 2014 at 12:00 am
      • Eileenanne

        Goodness knows what revelations are yet to come.

        I know. It’s horrendous – and some of it is probably true.

        July 3, 2014 at 3:17 pm
      • Frankier

        All of it is probably true.

        July 3, 2014 at 7:58 pm
  • editor

    I have received this update from the petition organiser.

    July 3, 2014 at 8:07 pm
  • editor


    I’ve just had a telephone call from a friend of Fr Despard who attended the court hearing today. The matter has been adjourned for another 14 days.

    Interestingly, it seems that the judge gave the diocese a hard enough time, asking for more information (hence, I presume, the adjournment). My source could not quite hear everything but matters relating to employment issues (who is a priest’s employer?) and the exact situation regarding the right to live in the chapel house etc were discussed. She (judge) several times dismissed what the diocesan lawyer said pointing out that it was irrelevant to the case.

    My source said that the court was again packed with Father’s supporters.

    Representing the diocese was a stony-faced Fr Ness from East Kilbride, a man who was ordained after being widowed and is a father and grandfather, and my source thinks he was a lawyer prior to ordination. Evidently, he denounced Father Despard from the pulpit when the news of Father’s book was first reported. Very charitable. He’d have been well advised to stick to his career in the law. Notice, these clerics won’t denounce unsuitable through to undesirable through to downright evil content on TV or what euphemistically used to be called “bad books” (sometimes even quoting approvingly from them) but think nothing of denouncing a fellow priest or Catholics who have a leaning towards orthodoxy (as happened some years ago when a priest in the Archdiocese of Edinburgh used his pulpit to denounce concerned parents, campaigning for an end to explicit sex education).

    Fr Despard was in good spirits, it seems, and shook hands with everyone who had attended to show support for his predicament. Let’s continue to pray for a charitable resolution to this unholy row.

    July 4, 2014 at 2:46 pm
    • crofterlady

      A disgrace and shame on Bishop Toal for dragging the credibility of the church through the courts. As if the church hasn’t got enough problems already!

      Editor, it should be possible to read the whole court transcript on the Hamilton Court website. I’ll have a look later if I get the chance.

      July 4, 2014 at 9:20 pm
      • Margaret Mary

        I would love to read that transcript, if you can get the link. I couldn’t even find the court case listed!

        July 4, 2014 at 9:27 pm
      • crofterlady


        I saw the case mentioned but there was no transcript. I think we’ll have to wait until the court case is concluded. Poor man.

        July 6, 2014 at 2:46 pm
    • Faith of Our Fathers

      Ed you really sometimes show yourself up in a bad light .Father Owen Ness is an honourable and truthful holy man who when his wife died gave up a very lucrative law business to become a priest. As for Fr Despard he once came to Carfin Parish on business the very first words he uttered to the pass keeper was (( Its a rich parish this )) enough said .As for your sources my they must be bright -they think he was a lawyer -.He also did not denounce Fr Despard he denounced his book my you,l want this guy canonised next.

      July 5, 2014 at 1:29 am
      • Frankier


        So when his wife died he gave up a very lucrative law business to become a priest. Good on him!

        So the legal profession is on a higher plane than the priesthood is it?

        Would I, in your books, have been a holy man if I had given up building houses to become a priest, or is it only in certain professions you can attain this sanctity?

        Is it a case of FOOF bowing and begging to so called professionals but expecting the lower wage earners to bow and beg to him?

        It`s a pity he didn`t forget about the law as well after he gave up his “lucrative”
        law business.

        Maybe he thinks he`s Elliot Ness.

        July 5, 2014 at 9:45 am
      • Faith of Our Fathers

        Typical post from you my friend I am not swayed one bit by the profession of the man I am stating a fact something you don’t seem to have grasped .

        July 6, 2014 at 2:06 am
      • Frankier


        Here is one fact that you seem to ignore.

        The Catholic Church, after years of denials and cover-ups, have now to admit that there were, and still are, abuses of a gigantic nature going on in the Church worldwide, although no worse than any other similar organisation I might add.

        They are now assuring us that steps are being taken to ensure it will never happen again. The in-word is transparency.

        They are so transparent, by their way of it, that they now have glass doors on confessionals. Not that many people bother using them anymore.

        Along comes a priest, who has obviously been afraid to open his mouth over a number of years, feels that it is now safe to come out into the open and puts down in writing his experiences in a Catholic seminary.

        There is no point in keeping it to himself so he figures out the best way to publish is by going online. I would say that this is being transparent. It certainly wouldn`t have been transparent if he had notified his superiors only for his correspondence to land in the bin.

        So what happens next? — To cut a long story short: without anyone offering any evidence or proof that he was in the wrong, he is now awaiting a court decision that will decide whether or not that he still has a roof over his head or still even in a job.

        If he had taken the “proper channels” it would never have reached the light of day.

        Tell me, my friend, where is the evidence that the Church is intending to make up for its past mistakes and why is this priest being hounded when others who are guilty of the afore-mentioned crimes still in employment and living in chapel houses?

        Even a revered Cardinal of the Church who admitted that he made inappropriate advances to fellow priests while under the influence (of the weather 🙂 ) was let off with a slap on the wrist and is probably enjoying the sunshine of Rome at the moment with nice comfortable
        digs to go back to.

        You tell me if it is fair that Fr Despard, or anyone in a similar position,
        should be put through the mill like this. What incentive has any other priest got to make a report if he is molested in a seminary in future?

        The actions of this bishop ensures that it will be easier to get away with abuse in the seminaries from now on. The abuser can just say, “report me and I`ll get the gaffer to give you the bullet”.

        July 6, 2014 at 1:48 pm
    • Constantine the Great

      Sounds like a 14 days cooling off period to allow them to come to an out of court agreement; voluntary early retirement, for example, due to health reasons probably, or the promise of a flat in Spain and a pension as long as he stays there. See if I’m wrong.

      July 5, 2014 at 8:36 pm
  • pew catholic

    Thank you, Editor, for letting us know what is going on. Catholic Truth is a really excellent source of information for us pew Catholics. The Catholic Church in Scotland tells us NOTHING! No wonder the laity is so demoralised. Keep up the good work!

    July 4, 2014 at 7:40 pm
    • editor

      Pew Catholic,

      Thank you for your kind words. Much appreciated.

      July 4, 2014 at 11:43 pm
  • Helen Duddy

    To reply to FOF
    Being a lawyer b4becoming a priest why did Father O.Ness condemn Father Despard from the pulpit and suggest that he should be defrocked. (Whether in Cannon Law or Civil Law in this country is it not innocent until proven guilty?). I do no think this showed any honour to a fellow human being. Then to sit in court on Friday 4th July texting on his mobile after everyone was instructed to switch there mobile phones off Is wrong. As for the comment Father D made to the Carfin parish pass keeper could be to with the fact that when Fath D was appointed parish priest of SJO he inherited a church deficit of over £25k. After taking over the mantels of all church and hall duties with a lot of hard work from him and with the help of his parishioners he managed to clear the deficit and indeed have enough in the coffers to install a new boiler in the church. I was not happy with some of the comments that was made (I.e. The ones we could hear)
    1 A church house is not a home.
    2 As a priest does not pay rent they cannot be classed as a tenant.
    3 Father Despard is not employed by Bishop Toal as there is no contract between them
    In law we have what is known as an applied contract is this not what any priest has with the church.

    July 5, 2014 at 8:42 am
    • Summa

      There are a couple of issues at stake here, but I am broadly sympathetic to your response. One issue concerns whether a Priest should preach from the pulpit for the good of his congregation if that said congregation are aware of rumours or half-truths concerning the Church. The answer is of course they should. If it is a genuine attempt to save souls then yes.

      That said, a person who is part of the legal establishment and who is also a Priest should know better that it might well prejudice a case in these circumstances. The fact that the defendant Priest is also a brother in Christ should at least produce a modicum of caution and respect from a fellow cleric. Well you would think so anyway.

      It appears that the Diocese have already decided that this is a fait accompli and that Father Despard, has by his alleged actions, gone beyond the point of no return.

      Unfortunately, I can vouch that there are plenty of so called ‘Christians’ out there in the employment field who are rather adept at knifing you in the back as they meanwhile convince themselves that with one piece of a 1000 piece jigsaw, they can see the bigger picture.

      In this case, I’m ignorant of the material facts, but I morally condemn the manner in which the Catholic Church has gone about their business. It smacks of Legatus non caeditur neque violatur.

      July 5, 2014 at 9:21 am
  • editor

    I’ve closed the rest of the June threads as is normal at the end of the month, but will leave this one open until the verdict is delivered at the next court hearing in 14 days.

    July 7, 2014 at 12:47 am
  • editor

    I had a telephone call from Patrick, one of the supporters of Fr Despard earlier this evening while I was driving, hence the late hour of this notice, to say that Fr Despard’s case is to be heard tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. in Hamilton Sheriff Court, so if anyone can attend, please do so. Patrick promised to ring with a report after the hearing. I will, of course, post any updates here as soon as they are available.

    July 24, 2014 at 9:44 pm
    • editor

      Patrick has just telephoned to say that the hearing took place at court this morning – an “extra” hearing which was called at the last minute, due to (it seems) strings pulled by the diocese – the sheriff made a comment to the effect that people are asking why other cases, older than this, are still on the waiting list, so it seems that someone is having strings pulled to hurry on Fr Despard’s case prior to the hearing already fixed for August

      The reason for this morning’s hearing is that the diocese wished to call an expert in Canon Law, despite the fact that the previous sheriff had explained that Canon Law is a foreign law. Perhaps the diocese is realising that if the case is heard based on employment law, they will lose. Anyway, points of law were discussed and the hearing proper will take place in August.

      21 people in support of Fr Despard attended, which is a very good number given that they only knew about this additional hearing last night. Obviously, some will be away on holiday or have had prior commitments,

      Patrick will report back after the August hearing.

      July 25, 2014 at 12:09 pm
  • editor


    I’ve had a call from Patrick telling me that the next hearing is scheduled for next Wednesday, 13 August. All welcome to attend.

    August 9, 2014 at 10:25 am
  • editor


    This update has been sent to us – and although it gives 18th September (Referendum day) as the next hearing date, another source tells me that the lawyers were going to see if they could come up with another date.

    August 22, 2014 at 2:36 pm
  • editor

    I’ve just been sent this Tablet report about Fr Despard. My sources tell me that the claims that he has harassed the priest sent to his parish are false. Father has, I’m told, been helpful and friendly.

    Notice there is no questioning in the Tablet report as to whether or not the priests identified by Fr Despard in his book, are being investigated. Seems that, like Cardinal O’Brien’s accusers, they are to be protected. Shooting the messenger is easy, of course.

    August 22, 2014 at 2:46 pm
    • della

      I feel in your eyes he can do no wrong,he did throw out the priests clothes there are witnesses to prove it but in this situation every one is a liar bar one

      August 22, 2014 at 11:42 pm
      • Nicky

        Who are the witnesses?

        August 23, 2014 at 8:23 am
  • Athanasius

    My own personal opinion of this scandalous affair is that Fr. Despard has acted irresponsibly; first by publishing his book of accusations, then by resisting the measures taken against him to the degree he has. The entire murky business has brought the Catholic Church in Scotland into further disrepute with absolutely no positives to be taken from it.

    As far as I’m concerned, there is no justification before God for going public with scandals of the type Fr. Despard has aired unless there is grave risk to the vulnerable, such as children, and all normal avenues through the hierarchy of the Church have failed. As far as I can judge, there was no such risk to the vulnerable and no real evidence to support the claims Fr. Despard made. If there was solid evidence to make these serious accusations against brother priests, bearing in mind the scandal to souls that would obviously result from publicly revealing the facts, then the eBook Fr. Despard wrote and had published would not have been withdrawn under threat of legal action for calumny and/or defamation.

    I think Fr. Despard’s failure to name names in his eBook adds to the doubt about his claims. I mean, if he is certain of his facts and has decided to publish them, then he has to go all the way and name the individuals he has evidence against. Even so, I would have preferred that he had never raised this matter in the public domain at all.

    It has never been the practice of consecrated souls to air their grievances in public and drag their fellow priests into secular courts. In fact, this is generally forbidden by St. Paul and other saints throughout Church history for obvious reasons. Bishops Devine and Toal would do well to bear this in mind also.

    If Fr. Despard is a victim of injustice, despite his ill-judged decision to publish what he says he knows, then he should, like Our Lord and so many other unjustly treated good souls, have resigned himself to God’s will and suffered the personal pain of injustice rather than rebel and cause further scandal and division. It’s not as if he had nowhere to go. He could have gone to the SSPX, or even the FSSP or ICK, where he would have been assured of the company of holier priests.

    If there are homosexually active priests in Scotland, and after the Cardinal O’Brien scandal I wouldn’t be surprised, then, having exhausted all the normal reporting channels within the Church, leave them to God, who will not be mocked. Shouting about the scandal in public will never bring good fruits to souls, only misery and further occasions for the Church’s enemies to denigrate the Mystical Body of Christ with lurid details of priestly impropriety.

    I believe a Particular saint was once faced with this problem of homosexual activity within religious orders in Germany (can’t remember his name right now). His action was to write of it to the Pope in very forceful and graphic detail to shock the Pontiff into action. It worked! There is no suggestion, however, that if it hadn’t worked the saint would have gone public with the scandal. Our Lord said: “All men will know that you are my disciples by the love you bear one another.” This filthy business is certainly light years away from that divine admonition. The faithful, horrified as they may be by the thought that priests may be indulging in gravely sinful behaviour, should nevertheless ignore this present scandal and just offer prayers and penances to God that He will have mercy on those who have put their priestly souls in such danger of damnation. Let’s not give such horrible matters a public platform because we’re angry at the perceived failure of the hierarchy of the Church to deal with the issue. I say “perceived” because I personally have no idea who’s telling the truth, nor can I see further public spats between opposing parties having any effect other than to further scandalise an already scandalised and traumatised Catholic faithful. Leave it to God!

    August 23, 2014 at 12:21 am
    • della

      thank goodness for giving a honest opinion,he should name names instead of gossiping about hearsay’I feel he is very manipulative of people and the truth,I have known him for many years,why is he so disobedient to his superiors he does not own the church or the house,Its NOT his property

      August 23, 2014 at 12:56 am
      • Summa

        Della, I have no comment to make about Father Despard just one about your response above and ‘honest’ comment. We all have different views on this, but not necessarily more or less honest than others. Perhaps you mean, that you are happy that someone is of the same as opinion as yourself?

        Athanius, we are all vulnerable. All souls are constantly under attack.

        August 23, 2014 at 1:09 am
      • Nicky

        I completely agree. It’s always “applause raising” to take what seems to be the high moral ground, usually “I’m too charitable to comment on scandals” but it’s not necessarily honest at all and can be a cop out, preferring to keep scandals out of sight at all costs, although I’m sure in Athanasius’s case he is expressing a real, honestly held view.

        I also think it is not true that Fr Despard did not use the proper channels. I’ve read here that he did try for years to get the authorities to act but the Bishop ignored him. If what he says in his book about the bishop is true, then that’s no surprise and there is a moral case for exposing the truth iMHO.

        August 23, 2014 at 8:22 am
  • Athanasius

    Della & Summa,

    I’m not taking either side in this business, I believe both parties to be at fault to some degree. Rather, I am pointing out that issues involving such scandals as these, and I include priests having affairs with women, etc., should be dealt with internally. The Church is a family and no family goes around town telling everyone their business, especially known enemies of the family. The only exception to the rule, I would say, is if the hierarchy manifestly fails to deal with a situation that puts children at imminent risk of abuse, or some such similar emergency. But generally speaking, I see nothing but harm in these internal squabbles being made public without, apparently, any real solid evidence to suggest that there is a serious problem and that the hierarchy is failing to address it. So far I have heard nothing that convinces me that this matter ever had to escape the confines of the Church’s normal structures of reporting, even if there was injustice committed by those who are in authority; who will undoubtedly answer for their actions, or inaction as the case may be.

    The entire business is symptomatic of the erosion of prudence and a sense of the sacred, in both the ordained and the faithful, since the Second Vatican Council. So much for the “New Pentecost!”

    August 23, 2014 at 2:12 am
    • Nicky

      I think it was Pope St Gregory the Great who said “it is better that scandal should arise than that the truth be suppressed.”

      It’s a well known fact that there is a homosexual lobby within the Church in Scotland. The hierarchy know this and it has been reported in the secular press, so it would be strange if blogging Catholics didn’t comment, ditto the case of Fr Despard. I, for, one, would want to know if my priest was an active homosexual just as I would want to know if he was having an affair with a women. Then I could stop going to that church and stop putting money into the plate. I would hope the majority of my fellow parishioners would do the same and then they would get the message.

      Fr Despard did name names, including his bishop who said no action would be taken. I say that because I know one priest threatened legal action against him.

      Nobody likes giving the light of day to these scandals but they are reported anyway in the media. We are more likely to get the facts here, on this blog, than in the anti-Catholic Scottish press.

      August 23, 2014 at 8:16 am
      • Athanasius


        That quote of St. Gregory the Great was never intended to be used to satisfy curiosity. Nor is it applicable to all scandals.

        The principle rule for revealing any kind of scandal in public, and I would suggest that St. Gregory, like St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Robert Bellarmine, spoke mainly of heresies threatening the faith, is that the scandal must represent a grave and present danger to souls, such as in the case of St. Paul’s rebuke of St. Peter.

        We have to be extremely careful about revealing the sins of others in public, no matter how personally appalled we might be by them. If there is real danger, say, to children, and no one in the hierarchy is listening, then, yes, there are grounds, but only if there is irrefutable evidence against the one being accused. To reveal the sins of others without grave reason and urgency, as in suspect immoral behaviour by a priest, then, no, we are not permitted to take matters into our own hands.

        If you or I or anyone else attends the Masses of a priest, or go to confession to a priest who, unknown to us, is living a gravely sinful life, then how does that affect us? Our Lord still administers his graces through that priest even though he himself is on the road to Hell. Of course we would all like to think that we are being ministered to by priests who are in a state of grace and striving to be holy, but the fact is that we simply can never know, nor should we seek to know.

        Do you see what I’m getting at? This curiosity stuff – “I would like to know if my priest is immoral so that I can avoid him” is not the correct Catholic spirit. We leave these matters to God, especially where there is uncertainty, and we concentrate on sanctifying our own souls. Otherwise, there is a very real danger that we might find ourselves guilty before God of falsely accusing one of His priests or at least revealing a guilty secret of that priest without due cause. These matters are extremely serious.

        Imagine if a priest in confession, having heard someone’s terrible sin, being personally appalled by it, decided that it was in the public interest to name the person from the pulpit for fear that scandal might otherwise arise. What would you think of that? We need to be careful!

        August 23, 2014 at 11:37 am
      • editor


        While I do agree with some of what you say on this topic, I’m afraid I do not agree entirely with everything you say, (and don’t have time to respond it detail right now) I think, however, that I can put your mind at rest by drawing your attention to the fact that nowhere in any of our reports on the Fr Despard case have we quoted from his book (I have a copy) nor have we named any of the priests against whom allegations have been made or anything of that nature. I know of at least two priests who believe that Fr Despard has been “set up” – so it’s not at all a clear-cut situation.

        Our only concern is that this priest is being treated differently by the hierarchy who allow public heretics free rein and promote them rather than discipline them, allow them to spread their poison and even share platforms with them, while Fr Despard, who – at worst – has been guilty of lack of prudence or bad judgement in publishing his book, after years of trying to have his concerned addressed through his approaches to Bishop Devine, is being publicly humiliated and taken to court to be evicted.

        He’s had rumours spread abroad about him, at least one of which we were able to quell on investigation – the false allegation that he had used parishioners’ money donated to him, to buy a villa in Spain. Not true. Not a shred of truth in the claim. Against the background of Cardinal O’Brien living in a luxury bungalow in the north of England – at the expense of the Church in Scotland – I think the very least we can do is to keep this injustice before our readers, given that all the press coverage is making a villain of Fr Despard. Were any of us to be the victims of such a manifest injustice, whether or not we were wrong or misguided in our actions in the beginning, I think we’d welcome what little support we were offered,

        I’m afraid the time for “keeping up appearances” is long gone. Bishop Toal’s shocking decision to take court action to evict a member of the “family” as you put it, means the rest of the family have to take sides. Fence-sitting, like “keeping up appearances” is no longer an option.

        August 23, 2014 at 11:58 am
      • Athanasius


        It was never my intention to suggest that this blog and its commentators are guilty of scandal mongering. I was merely pointing out that modern perceptions of what can and cannot be revealed in public are skewed to the great detriment of the Church and souls. My regret is that priests themselves are publicly revealing the private sins of other priests, real or imagined, in a spirit of false outrage or for reasons of revenge. This is disgusting and completely opposed to the spirit of Our Lord.

        None of us likes to hear of priestly scandals or have to report on them, but I would say that there’s a marked difference in reporting on, say, a manifest public liturgical scandal and the private sins of priests. Would Fr. Despard have taken the same stand against the dangers of the New Mass, for example?

        This has nothing whatever to do with “keeping up appearances.” It has everything to do with not placing the souls of the weak in danger of being lost and of giving the enemies of the Church further ammunition to discredit her.

        Like you and everyone else, I have not the faintest idea in this case who’s telling the truth and who isn’t. That being the case, and realising that Fr. Despard courted the attention he is now receiving, justly or unjustly, I had determined until now to remain silent and let the two parties get on with it. Of course the entire business is disgraceful and a further example of loss of priestly charity in Scotland, but for me it’s a case now of Fr. Despard just getting out of that house and moving on. If he is innocent in his conscience of wrong doing, then offer it to Our Lord in union with the injustice He suffered. It really is that simple.

        Of course you’re absolutely right about Bishop Toal taking action against Fr. Despard while turning a blind eye to the heretic priests right under his nose who pervert the souls of the faithful every day with their twisted doctrines and liturgical practices. In this respect I would agree that your “keeping up appearances” observation definitely does apply. There are definitely hints of straining on a gnat and swallowing a camel! But, as I say, I don’t think Fr. Despard has ever declared himself to be overly concerned about the bitter fruits of ‘conciliar reform’ either. Now that would have been a far more worthy cause for him to have taken up in public.

        August 23, 2014 at 12:33 pm
      • Nicky


        I find your reference to the “correct Catholic spirit” a bit puzzling. I know that the sinfulness of the priest doesn’t mean he can’t bestow the power of the sacraments, but I am so used to reading on this blog that I should find an SSPX chapel to “protect” my faith etc. that I’ve got the message. Not all of us can get to Society chapels but we can certainly do our best to minimise the danger of being influenced by dodgy priests, e.g. listening to heretical or heterodox advice in confession by going to a more solid priest in the diocese, and the same applies to sermons. Priests who are not in agreement with Catholic teaching on sexual matters usually do preach dodgy sermons in my experience. I’ve never known a priest who upholds Catholic teaching on sex, to preach a dodgy sermon. I think the two go together but again that’s something I’ve read quite a bit on this blog and in the newsletter,and watching out for it, I’ve found it to be true. Anytime I’ve spoken to a priest about something to do with the liturgical abuses at Mass/Benediction, when I’ve asked for his views on some sexual matters I’ve nearly always found them wanting.

        I also think you cannot compare a priest breaking the seal of confession with certain types of reporting of priests’ private lives. You’ve said a couple of times that one good reason for publicly naming a priest would be to protect vulnerable people, like children. That’s very true and there is evidence that homosexuals do abuse at a higher rate than other people and if you ever saw the American website run by gay priests for gay priests, where they spoke openly about their “cute altar boys” and so on, you would understand why a parent would want to know if his priest was homosexual. There was one priest on that site wearing a kilt. I was horrified at the filth on there. That website was exposed by a group of lay people and it was eventually closed down so they were doing the Church a big favour by exposing that scandal.

        I do agree we need to be careful but I definitely would want to protect my family from priests who are known to be living a sexually active lifestyle. It’s not about expecting priests to be absolute saints, but I just don’t want any of my family to be influenced by them. On another thread (forget which) I watched a video of three newly ordained Irish priests interviewed on the Late Late show, who thought the Church should change its teaching on celibacy and said sex outside marriage was acceptable. They’d only been ordained for a week at the time of the interview. I definitely would not want my children to meet them or attend their Masses or Confessions. In danger of death, they could be called, but at no other time IMHO. Would you be happy to have your children influenced by those types of priests? Reading your comments on this blog over years, I don’t think you would (that’s a compliment BTW!)

        I hope you understand my position better now. I may not have explained myself clearly enough before and probably came across as pharisaical but didn’t meant to.

        August 23, 2014 at 3:41 pm
      • Athanasius


        No, you have not come across as pharisaical but rather as a concerned Catholic, which I fully appreciate.

        There is nothing in what you say that I fundamentally disagree with. The important distinction I was trying to make is that we cannot make known the sins of others in public, no matter how disgusted we might be personally by the knowledge, or perceived knowledge of them, unless there is the gravest reason for doing so.

        Where the faith is compromised by manifest heretical teaching or behaviour, then, yes, it is our duty to publicly challenge that, as this blog has been doing from the beginning. However, the private sins of priests is a different matter because they are largely of a personal nature that the priests in question will have to answer to God for. We may by all means relate incidents of immorality to higher authorities if there is certain evidence, such as in the case of the filthy website you mentioned, and certainly in the case of those three morally dissenting priests on the late late show who made their dissent public, but other than that we have to be careful what we bring into the public domain.

        I am not really aware of any known case of a parish priest living a publicly immoral life that all his parishioners knew about. In such circumstances the faithful would be more than justified in reporting this to their superiors and avoiding that priest like the plague. More often than not, however, information about a priest’s suspected sins filters through the grapevine and is therefore not reliable. In those majority cases there is no justification for taking action and certainly no excuse for making accusations in public.

        I come back to Fr. Despard’s book here, which, if I recall, provided no certain evidence against those he was accusing. At any rate, he was not justified in publishing it as there was no immediate danger to souls or to children. There was, however great damage done to souls and to the Church by his revelations. It really boils down to what we are permitted to reveal in the public domain and whether our revelations are likely to do good or harm to the Church and souls. Frustration with an inept hierarchy is not a good enough excuse. Do you see where I’m coming from?

        In the case of revealing personal sins of priests, with no real hope of doing any good by those revelations, is actually gravely imprudent and gravely wrong.

        August 23, 2014 at 4:20 pm
      • Margaret Mary

        I mostly agree with what you say, but the one thing missing from reports and comments about Fr Despard everywhere except on this blog I’ve found, is some compassion for his frustration after years of trying to get the bishop to do something about the homosexual priests in the diocese. I guess we’re all agreed that he would have been better not to publish his book but in a human way we should be able to understand his decision which came right when he heard about Cardinal O’Brien’s homosexual behaviour over years.

        That’s really all I want to say on the matter – that revealing the private sins of priests or anyone else is wrong, (and I am not sure if Fr Despard did that in his book or if he just named some homosexual priests) but I don’t think he did it for bad reasons, he thought he was doing the right thing and I think we have to be a bit gentle in our judgements of him. After all, if Bishop Devine had acted over the years, none of this would have come out.

        I have heard that Bishop Devine is quite ill, so this won’t be helping him either, so maybe we should say a prayer to Our Lady of Lourdes for his health.

        August 23, 2014 at 4:49 pm
  • editor

    Latest update on Fr Despard’s situation, from the organiser of the petition to have his suspension uplifted – a letter to the UK Apostolic Nuncio

    September 8, 2014 at 3:01 pm
    • della

      I always believed a priest had to be obedient to his Bishop,Regarding Fr Despard when did he purchase the house attached to the Church He seems to believe its his private property,Regarding a parishioner writing to the Papel Nuncio does not have the approval of all parishioners.It appears that Fr Despard is the victim here instead of the Instigator of his own downfall ,the trouble did not start with the book but a couple of years before as soon as fr Despard became parish priest if this lady has been a parishioner before fr Despard came I would like to know about her change of heart regarding other priests who had been at St John Ogilvie.Regarding another writer stating Fr Despard loves being a priest,why did he never say mass fri sat and mon morning,I have always followed the first Friday and Saturday devotions but until a new priest came had to go to another church

      September 9, 2014 at 12:06 am
      • editor


        You insist on attacking Fr Despard for his faults and for his ministry as a priest. We are not supporting Fr Despard because he was/is a great priest (in our view, priests who are going along with the new Mass are, by definition, NOT “great priests”) so you need to stick with the issue, which is that his ability to function as a priest has been ended by his bishop due to the book Fr Despard wrote. Nothing else. Not because he didn’t say Mass on Friday, Saturday and Monday mornings, not for any reason except that he wrote his book.

        The stark contrast is stark between Cardinal O’Brien having a lovely bungalow in the north east of England paid for by the Archdiocese of St Andrew’s and Edinburgh, despite the (homosexual) scandal he caused, and Fr Despard being thrown out of his home for seeking to expose homosexual scandal in the Diocese of Motherwell.

        A level playing field is our concern. That’s all.

        PS you can make the First Fridays and First Saturdays at the SSPX chapel in Glasgow – it’s beautiful, making the First Fridays and Saturdays at the very Mass to which Our Lady referred when she introduced these devotions. Then you can be sure that you are pleasing God by making the First Fridays and First Saturdays by attending the Traditional Mass.

        September 9, 2014 at 10:02 am
      • della

        I think Fr Despard has a problem with discipline every one he came into contact with was homosexual if they disagreed with him,If a priest can tell his bishop to “f*** off” his words not mine it does not say a lot for him as a person or priest,I feel once he has been removed of course the press tv and all and sundry have been informed of this poor “victim ” he can sell his story to the highest bidder along with his soul,I have been a parishioner of this parish before it was built and feel the church should be rededicated or closed down

        September 9, 2014 at 10:06 pm
      • editor


        I don’t think you are helping your cause by coming on here to “out” Fr Despard as a sinner and announcing his (alleged) sins to the world. Using bad language is hardly a suitable pastime for any Catholic let alone a priest but it’s hardly a hanging offence either.

        You appear to have great difficulty in grasping the simple fact that – WHATEVER HIS FAULTS, WHETHER HE WAS/IS A GOOD OR A NOT SO GOOD OR EVEN BAD PRIEST – he should not be treated unjustly.

        While you have come on here several times to tell us how bad Fr Despard is, others tell a different story. If you check the comments on the petition page, there are parishioners who consider him to be the best thing since sliced bread.

        Whether he is or isn’t regarded by parishioners and former parishioners as a great priest, however, is not our concern. Our concern, I repeat, she said wearily, is simply that he is being treated very differently from priests who have not only been less than good priests but who have hit the headlines for their scandalous sexual deviancy, and nothing happens to them. In two cases which spring to mind, one priest is an invited speaker and addresses audiences around the Archdiocese of Glasgow, and the other lives in a bungalow in the north of England, paid for by the people of the Archdiocese of St Andrew’s & Edinburgh. Fr Despard has broken no laws, hit the headlines only because of his whistleblowing book, and yet he faces eviction.

        If, as it seems to me, you wish him ill and you seek revenge because you don’t like him – for whatever reason – then that is objectively a very serious sin indeed. Perhaps reflect on that truth for a bit, Della, before committing any more uncharitable thoughts to paper on the subject of Fr Despard.

        God bless.

        September 9, 2014 at 11:08 pm
      • della

        he has been treated fairly you only have his side of the story,he is very good at manipulating the story to suit himself.The parishioners was requested by the bishop to leave things alone and maybe things could have settled down,I think its awful to have to go all over Lanarkshire to beg for petitions I feel fr despard is making the bullets for others to fire,I have also noticed a parishioner from the parish church has got involved WHY he must have money!!!!

        September 10, 2014 at 1:08 pm
  • Stephen O'Neill

    Many years ago I was in seminary with Matthew Despard and knew him fairly well. A couple of years ago I noted with interest that he had ‘written’a book. As I read his account of seminary life I felt saddened that he had tarnished the name of the college and the seminarians.

    Matthew was not taken seriously as a seminarian because he struggled to communicate effectively. His rather lurid and over-active imagination does not reflect the reality of seminary life. The truth is that it was a rather dull but amiable place to exist. Shame on him for bringing the college into disrepute and ignore the fact that his conduct, demeanour and attitude were the reasons why he was not taken seriously by others. When Philip Tartalgia was replaced by Michael Conway as seminary rector there was a decline in both the calibration of students and atmosphere within the college but this was largely owing to the fact that Conway was [Ed: in your opinion] out of his depth. Naturally Conway and Despard felt a kinship with each other hence why he was subsequently ordained to the priesthood. I strongly believe that had Tartalgia remained as rector Matthew Despard would never have been ordained.

    Editor: this comment has been heavily edited due to the many personally judgmental remarks therein. Please keep your comments focused on issues and avoid all personal remarks. If you are really meaning to say that the seminaries have been lax in ordaining unsuitable men these past 50 years, we’ve no argument there. Reporting on, and naming, dissenting priests, or expressing a view on the treatment of Fr Despard as it compares to the tolerance of other priests who are causing or have caused scandal, is one thing, but to make sweeping personal remarks is not permitted on this blog. If you choose to comment again, please be aware that your comment will be removed if it fails to meet the standards laid out in our “House Rules” – see top of blog page. Thank you for your co-operation.

    September 25, 2016 at 11:53 am
  • editor

    Somehow, this thread has been left open, and that is my fault. It should have been closed at the end of the month, but I note that it was only posted on the 28th June (2014!), which is why I’ll have left it – planning to close at the end of July, and then forgot about it! So I will close it within a few days now, unless there is further news – which I’ve been led to understand WOULD be coming soon. We’ll see.

    September 25, 2016 at 2:05 pm
    • Stephen O'Neill

      Its ironic that ‘Catholic truth’ has to ‘heavily edit’ my comment. Such foolishness serves only to feed closed minds. Disappointing.

      September 25, 2016 at 2:10 pm
      • editor

        Nothing “foolish” about it. Your original comment was scandalously uncharitable, as was the one I’ve just removed. I’m about to close this thread now, so I suggest you pray for a happy resolution to Fr Despard’s situation.

        September 25, 2016 at 7:48 pm
  • Athanasius

    All modern Catholic seminaries are liberal to the core, that’s why Almighty God closed all the Scottish ones, not to mention hundreds more worldwide, down. Nothing would surprise me about these places.

    Long gone are the Traditional seminaries where the Catholic faith and morals were strictly adhered to and monitored by sound theological rectors. Hippy hang outs is about the best way I can describe the post Vatican II equivalents. That’s why I am not in the slightest interested in a dispute between a Modernist priest and his Modernist Bishop. Neither is renowned for upholding the truth these days.

    In my opinion, Fr. Despard had no right to put such a scandalous book into the public domain, a book that can only harm the Church and scandalise the faithful. If what he says is true, however, and the hierarchy ignored him, then shame on them for the great scandal and danger they represent to souls. All in all, when the faith is dying the prelates and priests, no longer supernatural in their outlook, turn on each other and bring the faithful on both sides down with them. What terrible times we live in, full of bitterness and spite in men who are supposed to be Alter Christus’s.

    My advice to all Catholics is to get themselves out of these horrendous dioceses and parishes back to a Traditional Catholic chapel where they can practice the faith of their fathers and sanctify their immortal souls.

    September 25, 2016 at 2:33 pm
  • editor


    Well said.

    I’m now going to close this thread – thank you to all who contributed to it.

    September 25, 2016 at 7:49 pm

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