A Scottish Catholic priest, who has fought for 17 years to force the hierarchy to act against a fellow priest who abused him, has been dismissed from the diocese of Galloway while recovering from cancer and issued with a formal warning for talking to the Observer.
Father Patrick Lawson, who spoke out in the Observer in July using the pseudonym “Father Michael”, was sent a decree of removal by Bishop John Cunningham last Wednesday, forcing him to hand over the keys of his parish house within two days. The bishop had consistently refused to accept Father Lawson’s pleas, on the advice of doctors, to drop one of his two parishes – St Paul’s, Hurlford – while convalescing.
The case is a potentially explosive development in an increasingly tense relationship between the Scottish hierarchy and the laity over abuse and cover-up. There is now a standoff in Father Lawson’s other parish – St Sophia’s, Galston – with many parishioners telling the Observer that they will walk out of masses this weekend in protest, cancel their church subscriptions, and refuse to return unless the priest is reinstated.
Parishioner Manuela Kevan says around 200 people have signed a petition backing the popular, hardworking priest. “We know what this is really about.” Read more
Obviously, we have no way of knowing whether what is reported in the Observer article is accurate or not. We have to take it at face value, in the absence of any other reliable information. However, it could be one of those “there’s more to this than meets the eye” situations. Suffice to say that Catholic Truth has had cause to contact Fr Lawson in the past, so we are keeping an open mind on this at the moment and will merely add an observation that it’s interesting to see what it takes to have a priest dismissed. Annoying the bishops? It’s certainly not writing heresy in the Catholic papers week in and week out, and similar related dissent, that’s for sure!
Having said all of that, we reported some years ago that the Church in Galloway was in meltdown. But is it any different from the Church in the rest of Scotland? Frankly, I doubt it. What about you?