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)

  • 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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