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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

125 responses

  1. Personally I feel that the arrivals of Pope Francis and Archbishop Cushley here in Scotland, have been used by the “going forward” brigade to try to gloss over all that has gone on here in Scotland.
    Just very occasionally in the SCO there is a letter of disquiet on what went on here for the last 40 or more years, but only very occasionally.
    There has been no transparency and no one has been called to book in the Archdiocese of St Andrews — or elsewhere ——-at least that is how it appears to some concerned people.
    Mercy is something we all hope for but with mercy goes justice. And is justice being seen to be done? I can’t see it.
    There is a festering beneath the surface and one result has been the eruption that burst in Fr Despard’s parish.
    I hope and pray that the hierarchy here do not think all is fine now with the arrival of a popular Pope; and that the same old, same old can continue.

    • Where does one start?… I am or rather I was a ‘gay’ Catholic. I no longer consider myself a Catholic having registered with my (former) parish an ‘actus formalis defectionis ab Ecclesia catholica’. I am one of the few, I suspect, to have ever gone to such lengths or at least I like to think so. I am not bitter. In fact I have gained much from my time spent within the Catholic Church. I maintain a positive anthropology of the ‘human condition’.

      It is for positive reasons that I write. It is for positive reasons that I no longer believe. It is for positive reasons that I speak out. Fr Despard has been portrayed by some, I say some and not many quite deliberately, as some sort of ‘aberration’. His story is not false. Though I must make clear that I have no personal awareness of Fr Despard and his story, I do have personal knowledge of the Church in Scotland; of it’s Priestly formation programme; and of it’s ‘secretive’, gay subculture. There have been many who have attempted to hide within the Clerical walls of the Church. What gay man would not be tempted by a life where one ‘gets to dress up’, ‘speak about curtains and finery’ and embrace a ‘male dominated life’?

      People should read, “The Silence Of Sodom” by Mark D Jordan

      • Er… hello there – some username!

        Well, you’re correct not to consider yourself a Catholic now – you are not. You are, in fact, an apostate and having abandoned the only religion on the planet which God wills and which, therefore, matters in terms of your (and my) eternal salvation, I tremble at the very thought of what awaits you when you hand in your dinner pail, to quote one of my all time favourite authors, PG Wodehouse. I hope you haven’t got this “God is all merciful so He won’t send me to Hell anyway, if He really exists…” notion in your head. Nope. Doesn’t work that way, unfortunately, or I’d try it myself. God’s mercy stops at our death – then we meet His justice. Big time.

        As for Professor Jordan’s book – well, the reviews are not good. Apparently it’s full of inaccuracies and so I’ll pass, thanks, all the same.

        We’re aware (though short on facts) that there is a subculture of homosexual activity within the Catholic Church / priesthood in Scotland so if you have documentary proof to share with us, I’d ask you not to publish it here but contact us by email at editor@catholictruthscotland.com or snail mail, postal details on our website Contact page.

          • Not if you think being a loving caring church means disobeying Christ’s command to show that we love Him by keeping His commandments. Was He being “unloving” and “uncaring” when He said that? Should He have conducted an opinion poll among the apostles/disciples to make sure nobody felt “marginalised”?

  2. The fact that this priest chose to write and publish a book about the scandal is one thing. Which raises many questions in itself.
    The idea that people would shout out during Mass is not good. I have a very little experience of this bishop. When I wrote to him ( as the Scottish bishops rep) regarding major changes to posture during the Sanctus, the Agnus Dei and the Blessing – ie. that the faithful were now to stand and not kneel. He ignored my little Catholic peasant letter. I then watched the bishop on his you tube site explaining this major change where he “explained” that he had had an Italian priest visiting and that the priest had remarked that we do a “lot of kneeling”. This was bishop Toal’s reasoning. What a sad little man.
    The fact that the clergy have lost the sense of service does not give the faithful the “right” to sink to the clergy’s standards.
    During Mass the non-sense of lay people touching the blessed Sacrament,
    childrens “liturgisits” parading in and out of the church during Mass,
    the sixties aren’t we all lovely type drivel “hymns”,
    the sermons that only hint at the ten commandments, the magesterium, the real presence.
    The children then parading back into Mass where we are given the “joy” of getting to listen to the inane little interaction between the priest and the children about their picture they drew and other such piffle ( not that that could not be a very good thing in a different setting from the Mass)
    Children being taught to walk up to communion as if they were in a burger king queue and then putting their hands out.
    The noise of the “community” chatter long after Mass has ended at every Mass.
    The fact all the churches are locked outside of Mass times ( in this arch diocese)
    The fact that the Rosary is not led/ encouraged by the priest and as a prayer does not happen.
    The fact that their is no exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, I have to travel to England to receive that privilege.
    The fact that many parishes are in fact publishing in their newsletters ” we are a parish preparing for the shortage of priests” type of lay people gonna be the new “ministers” non -sense.

    If you have read this far then I am sure you understand I could go on…..
    So yes I could scream, I could shout, but not in the Presence, that is not good.
    But yes shout about it and make your abhorrence clearly known, the garbage we have had inflicted on us, the lies, the scandals, the arrogance ( it is maddening) but not in Mass and not in the presence of The Most Holy Trinity in the tabernacle.
    Show respect and reverence and be in awe in His presence, at all times.

    Well, there, I have had my little say, now I better get to work.

    • You mention exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. In one church in the Galloway diocese only a matter of weeks ago, probably around six or seven, exposition was offered because there were ‘many people who would welcome the opportunity for a period of quiet prayer before the Blessed Sacrament and to that end there will be
      exposition every Wednesday for one hour.’ That hour was from 8.30PM until 9.30PM.

      The ‘many’ turned out to be between six and a dozen, although there was never twelve in at the same time. It lasted no more than four weeks and was dropped without comment. People like myself (who did a round trip of around 30 miles) didn’t even have a say in the matter. The last priest who tried it had to give it up because none of the many Eucharistic Ministers, or whatever they are called, were willing to answer a plea for them to officiate at the service I have a feeling that the same thing happened this time also.

      I strongly resent the fact that I am denied the pleasure of attending exposition because the ordained ministers, who fill the altar on a Sunday, would rather sit at home and watch rubbish on TV than spend an hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament. In fact, they only need to turn up for a few minutes at the beginning and at the end. You see, the people who do attend aren’t worthy to do the needful.
      Not that I would consider myself worthy.

      Martin Aelred, the (popular) singer, has kindly agreed to return once again at Christmas time to warble a few songs inside the same church while the Blessed Sacrament will probably be confined to a corner. You can be sure that he will get more than half a dozen admirers.

      Martin is allowed to sing in church while the rosary group gets shunted into the hall.

  3. What did Fr. Despard actually argue for in his book, ‘Crisis in the Priesthood’? Did he call for married Priests, women Priests etc?

    I am disturbed about the behaviour of the parishioners in this Church. They are disrespecting Christ who is present in the Blessed Sacrament. Even if you strongly disagree with the Bishop, you should not shout and bawl at him. I was about to ask if this sort of carry on happens in SSPX Parishes, but they probably give no reason to shout and scream.

    My tongue is swollen any way, from all the time I have spent biting it in my NO Parish.

    • Fr Despard decided to be a whistleblower when the news broke about Cardinal O’Brien so he told of his own experiences of witnessing homosexuality in seminary and named priests in the diocese who he thought were homosexual. Sometimes he didn’t name them but it might be possible to work out who he meant. His book was published on Kindle but has been pulled by Amazon after legal threats. He didn’t give proof of what he was claiming, that is his problem, I think. He used Catholic Truth reports a few times as part of his evidence but not any other source, as far as I can remember.

  4. I note that the poll re right/wrong to take part in a ‘near riot’ in this church is fairly evenly divided, and I must say that this reflects my own state of mind. I understand Graeme Taylor’s position perfectly, but wonder, if all those present in that church had acted as he would have done, what message our diabolically disorientated clerical masters would have taken from it. Certainly they wouldn’t rejoice because those Catholics were full of awe in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament (do they believe in It themselves?) – rather they would scent another victory as they go (for now) on their merry way. I think of Christ’s famous anger as He drove the buyers and seller out of the temple and wonder if imitating Him in this is now our only recourse. The situation is similar, and I expect that, as the pontificate of of Pope Francis continues, there will be many more such situations as these. Pope Benedict did put the brakes on the continuing post-Vat.II disintegration of the faith to some extent, and now they are off – whoopee, we ain’t seen nuthin’ yet!

    • I don’t think the anger in the church was anything to do with objecting to the crisis in the church in the way we think of it. They are typical modern Catholics. They are just objecting to their priest being suspended, probably because they like him, although I’m sure they also object to covering up abuse. I’d be surprised if the same people objected to homosexual priests though – I think it’s just a popularity thing, mainly.

      • It was announced, back in April I think, that no action was to be taken against Fr Despard, although his book was suppressed. So what has happened now to cause this very dramatic change of heart?

        • I think one or two of the priests threatened to sue Fr Despard, so maybe that has something to do with it.

          • So, because one or two priests threatened to sue Fr Despard he was found guilty without trial and booted out. At least it must have saved a few pounds (for once) in lawyers fees as well as ensuring the anonymity of the two priests.

            I wish I could afford to sue people willy-nilly without worrying about the costs.

          • One priest, a Father Kane, I think, publicly said he would sue Fr Despard. His name didn’t appear in the book, but he was easily identifiable. But again, that was some months ago, and one would have thought if suspension was merited, it would have been carried out then.

  5. I agree that the behaviour of those parishioners who responded to this news in a rowdy way should hang their heads in shame. Its hardly surprising though, given that most N.O. Catholics view mass chiefly as a social event, and so display the standards of behaviour to match. (I am surprised I haven’t seen anyone snacking at a N.O. mass yet).

    I personally am not familiar with Fr Despard, or his book, so cant comment on what he alleged and against whom, or how accurate these allegations were. I do think that people should be allowed to “blow the whistle” without fear of sanction though.

    I know one Diocese of Motherwell clergyman, who claims that Despard is a disgrace – claiming he does rushed, token masses with one-word homilies, or even says during mass that he cant be bothered doing a homily. But then its clear that he does enjoy significant support among his own parish. So there is a lot of confusing information which seems to highlight contradictions between claims.

    Anyway, Bishop Toal has said that the action has been taken due to how Fr Despard chose to release his information, not over the fact that he is a whistleblower.

    My main impression overall that Bishop Toal has shown great incompetence by appearing in the lead-up to a mass – when parishioners are already arriving – and choosing that very moment to depose Despard. It seems incompetence is the great hallmark of the Scottish Bishops. He caused a situation where people were turning up expecting mass and instead finding a maelstrom of emotion and discontent. So, perhaps there is some mitigation to be considered for those who did behave inappropriately.

    It would have been far better to visit Despard after a sunday mass, then issue a clear statement during the week. This would have given people a few days to digest what was happening, meaning by the time the next sunday mass came around, people would be informed and not displaying knee-jerk reactions based on surprise and initial impressions. Perhaps the Bishop thought his presence would be an authoritative / calming influence and that the people would appreciate him coming to explain things to them. He obviously thought wrong, perhaps because he is (as a stand-in) not particularly well known to the local people.

    Of course, that parochial anti-Catholic rag, The Herald, ran the story as a headline – but I was heartened to see the quality press did not stoop to such levels. Naturally the BBC had a segment on the radio this morning, some some “Church commentator” being quizzed, given the BBC has its own scandals to divert attention from.

    Regarding of the truth in Despards case – when ti comes to these types of issues, none of the press have yet had the nous / guts to ask why so many homosexual men (Cardinal O’Brien included) seem unable to control themselves around younger men or adolescent boys.

    • Gabriel Syme:

      I know one Diocese of Motherwell clergyman, who claims …

      If that clergyman is a Catholic priest, and even if he isn’t, I hope he reads this thread and realises the folly of gossiping with people who are going to report his comments on a publiic forum.

  6. Pope Benedict was almost crucified by the media for not dealing with the clerical abuse scandals and yet in Pope Francis’ case it is never mentioned.

  7. The essence of the problem is that despite the issues the Bishops have lost all, respect, trust and authority. Might the “Real Presence” have approved. This month’s red nose Vatican award goes to His Lordship Bishop Toal.

  8. I think Fr Despard was right to publish his book. There’s huge problems in the Church in Scotland. It seems he tried for years to bring these problems to the attention of those in charge.

    Now, the article says the statement was read out before Mass began. I assume them that the shouting happened at this point and not during Mass. Apparently someone shouted “There’s a crisis in the Church.” Well, I say “so say all of us.” Good for them for stating the obvious.

    • I don’t think they meant crisis in the church as we think of it, though – I took that to mean the whole Cardinal O’Brien affair or child abuse. I don’t think many of them would be on here arguing that Pope Francis is a problem!

      • Well, the Cardinal O’Brien issue is a symptom of the crisis so I stand by the comment. Good on them!

        As for calling out during Mass – I confess I have done this. Once, a priest aske just before Holy Communion “Do we have any ministers of the Eucharist here?” I shouted out, “Aye, you!” Remember Our Lord took a whip to those who were buying and selling in the temple. These modern bishops are doing far more damage.

  9. Something like this would never have happened 30 or more years ago and that’s for sure. As somebody already said, Catholics no longer have any respect / reverence regarding churches even when the Blessed Sacrament is present. They chatter, laugh before and after Mass and, why not, when the self same churches are used for social events or their congregations are addressed by all and sundry, protestant ministers, salvation army, jack the lad and whoever.

    The bishops no longer command respect from either their priests or lay people. They try to be one of the lads and end up on the margins of their flocks, being of no use to anyone. What galls me too is the access they have to OUR hard earned cash and the uses they make of it. Who, for example, will pay for these lawsuits? AND, why are dissolute clergy financially supported by US without our knowledge or permission?

    • Your comment about the bishops having lost the respect of the faithful reminds me of the correspondence between Cardinal Heenan and Evelyn Waugh at the end of Vatican II when the Cardinal queried whether or not the people were losing respect for the Bishops – I can’t recall who said what, but one of them acknowledged that the answer to that question at that time was “not yet.”

      Now, it is definitely true. Sadly, there is little respect for the current crop of Modernist bishops who have betrayed their office.

      • Wasn’t Cardinal Heenan against Vatican II? I have a hunch he was, as was Cardinal Gray, although they did implement the reforms albeit in a cautious manner. Correct me if i’m wrong.

      • On the other hand, there is still plenty of respect (or crawling) by the majority who can see nothing wrong, no matter how serious, with anything the clergy does.

  10. CROFTERLADY

    How much more would it cost to support them if they had wives and families, not to mention lucrative contracts with bonuses, attendance money, gate (pew) money, pension funds, free health insurance and schooling for their children, etc.

    These are the type of conditions you can get where there is a shortage of manpower and, if some get their way, women-power.

  11. This is just a quick word to ask for prayers for Fr Despard. I’ve had a call from one of our readers, not a parishioner of St John Ogilvie, Blantyre but a man who knows Fr Despard well. He attended the 11 am Mass on Sunday, where parishioners again voiced objections, and walked out after the Bishop and priest had processed into the sanctuary but before Mass began. Apparently there is a full report in today’s Herald but I’ve not been able to locate it online for technical reasons. Perhaps someone else will do so and post the link, for which thanks in advance…

    Our reader asks for the support of Catholic Truth for Fr Despard, and I’ve given assurances that we are already on record as being supportive of him. I also told him about this thread so he will no doubt inform Father.

    Please pray for Fr Despard – as you can imagine, he is very deeply affected by this action, which is not – as far as I can make out – being processed in the proper manner.

    Let’s ask St John Ogilvie and Our Lady of Fatima to strengthen him at this time.

    • I would also ask that Father Despard is remembered in all our prayers.The scenes during 11am mass at St John Ogilvie’s were truly shocking(I am parishioner who attended with 3 children unaware of the previous evening’s events)There was shouting following the start of mass with 90% of people leaving and congregating outside until mass ended when many re-entered the church demanding a meeting – the statement read out on Saturday evening was not read out on Sunday-instead we were told to read it at the back of the church.The behaviour of many was unacceptable within the church but was understandable given the shambolic way this situation was dealt with.I fear that so much damage has been done here that it is only a matter of time before our parish closes

      • Rebecca,

        I spoke to a priest today (not Fr Despard) who pointed out that if the parishioners had not made such a public scene, the bishop would have ignored them. Despite his offer to meet with them after Mass, this priest suggested, the bishop would have quite likely made his excuses and left, and they would have been denied the opportunity to speak their minds.

        My own foremost thought is to wish that Catholics would rise up across the land, not only in support of Father Despard, to whom my heart goes out, but to protest about the destruction of the Church. The Vatican II project has all but extinguished the Faith here, with the various clerical scandals merely being a consequence of the apostasy in which we are now engulfed.

        If only those Catholics – as I said to the two good people who rang me today – would rise up to object about having to attend a Mass concocted by a Freemason and a Pope who is causing scandal by his every public utterance, just about, that would be terrific.

        In the meantime, of course we pray for Father Despard, but we pray also for a deeper awakening among Catholics in Scotland, that they will come to realise that they were confirmed Soldiers of Christ, in order to defend the traditional Catholic Faith – not the Modernism foisted on us since 1962.

        St John Ogilvie pray for us all !

        • I agree-the bishop was dismissive and failed to respond to questions and request for meeting after mass-I think this attitude lead to much of the anger and distress felt by the parishioners and reinforces the ‘do as you are told and accept without questioning’ attitude which exists within church hierarchy in scotland

  12. According to the description given, the incident that took place at St John Ogilve parish is almost identical to the one in the video below. In this case a allegedly ‘modernist’ French bishop has taken canonical measures to remove an allegedly ‘orthodox’ priest. To the great dissatisfaction of the congregation.

    Editor: the video you posted was replaced with an error message (no. 500), so I’ve removed it.

    • Thanks, Pew Catholic, that’s the one, but it’s not recognising my password, so I can’t get access to the whole article. I’ll presume others can, though, so thanks for posting it. I knew you’d come in handy one of these days 🙂

  13. I certainly do not all the details but, it seems to me that this poor priest is being picked on. Why doesn’t he just defect to the SSPX and take his congregation with him? He’d be a lot happier and out of the grip of apostate bishops. Also, he would encounter the true Faith and so would his parishioners.

      • Fr Despard is a diocesan priest. We know little about him beyond that and the fact that he wrote a “whistleblowing” book.

        One of the bloggers on the old blog asked if it would be sinful to read Fr Despard’s book (it’s now impossible to read since it’s been pulled by Amazon) and I thought I’d post my response to that blogger (Michelangelo) since it is pertinent to this discussion:

        MY COMMENT IN REPLY TO MICHELANGELO…

        Michelangelo,

        I read Fr Despard’s book after a priest told me that he’d quoted Catholic Truth three times (well, he actually said twice, but – in fact – he quotes us three times) and it never once crossed my mind that it would be sinful to read it. Indeed, since not one priest – not even the Bishop – has publicly denied the allegations made by Fr Despard, a case could be made for saying that we (or at least those of us who live in the Diocese of Motherwell) have a right and a duty to read it. I was glad, for example, when the Catholic Times published Fr John Breslin’s “outing” of himself to his parishioners because at that time he used to occasionally supply in my local parish. I was able to warn the then parish priest, gave him a file of documentary evidence when he purposed to be amazed, and then had the measure of our PP when he continued to permit Fr Breslin to supply. It’s about being armed and prepared for the battle, Michelangelo – do you really want to be bankrolling one of those “outed” priests?

        I emphasise that my remarks about the allegations are made in the context of no denial on the public record. Until there is such a denial, there will not be one penny piece of mine going into the Motherwell Diocese. END OF MY REPLY TO MICHELANGELO…

        Now, I say it is pertinent to this discussion for two reasons:

        (1) as far as I know, although there have been legal threats against Fr Despard by at least one of the priests named or implicated in the book, not one has publicly denied the allegations. In my book (excuse the pun) that is very revealing. Were any such allegation to be made about me, I’d have a statement out there before you could say “not guilty.”

        (2) Fr John Breslin, who “outed” himself as a “gay” to his congregation (as reported in the Catholic Times) has never been suspended. He retired and is still used for supply work. We’ve reported in a great deal of detail about Fr John Breslin, whose links with the “gay” rights movement go way back. Nor has the openly homosexual supporter of Quest (movement for LGBT “Catholics”) – Fr Gordon Brown, Edinburgh – been disciplined in any way. Last time I checked, he, too, was doing supply in Edinburgh while saying Masses for Quest. I attended one of his Quest Masses in the company of Miss McMoneypenny and heard him preach a homily which concluded with an exhortation, not to go out and spread the Gospel, but to spread Quest.

        So, it seems odd – to say the least – that actively homosexual priests are left to spread the homosexual message (literally) while a “whistleblowing” (on the “gay” culture in the Scottish Church) is suspended.

        It really does make one wonder just how far up the chain of command this culture is embedded.

        Added a little later: note, too, that Fr Gordon Brown hit the headlines in a Scottish Tabloid (Sunday Mail) when he claimed there was a whole “network of gay priests” operating under the noses of the Scottish Bishops. Not a peep about that. Was there any investigation? What is going on?

  14. My goodness, this priest is being persecuted. The poor man. Maybe he should look elsewhere to minister. When one thinks about the shortage of priests and the way good priests like him are being treated, well, it just leaves a body speechless! I met several priests on the continent who have set up their own parishes. Admittedly, they are traditional ones, but maybe Fr. Despard should think of such a course.

  15. This Bishop had no right to confront his congregation in this way just before Mass so he should be removed from office for the way he treated the congregation and the disrepect he has shown towards the Blessed Sacrament.
    He surely must have known what the people in this parish felt about Fr. Despard.
    I think this reaction by the folk at St. John Ogilvies shows that they must be very angry with the way thier priest has been treated and I think it was right for them even in church to let the Bishop know how they feel because he has been ignored and what he has to say has been silenced over a long period of time.

    No doubt with this new ‘Pope’ the Bishop must feel that he has more clout so he can behave in this way. It doesnt look good.
    St. John Ogilvie , please pray for Fr. Despard and for the Church.

    • Clotilde,

      I agree that the Bishop had no right to confront his congregation in this manner and just before Mass too. Shambolic is the only word I can find to describe it.

      Fr Despard truly needs our prayers. The Church also needs our prayers and badly.

      • I suspect that if the Bishop had NOT turned up to speak to the people himself he would have been accused of cowardice or of dismissing the parishioners as of no importance. He was in a no-win situation.

        Of course we should pray for Fr Despard, but also for Bishop Toal who has inherited what looks like a very messy situation that was not of his making. I will be praying that justice is done, and seen to be done, to all concerned, including those Fr Despard accused, whether rightly or wrongly.

        BTW, I did not respond to the poll on this topic. I would have needed a third option – There is no way for us to know.

        • Eileenanne,

          The problem with that theory is that the bishop did dismiss the parishioners. I hear that he wouldn’t listen to them.

          Also, I think there is a way for us to know if there’s been an injustice to Fr Despard – it doesn’t seem likely that the whole parish would be behind him if he was deserving of being suspended from his priestly duties. That should be a last resort, surely? The fact that it wasn’t, suggests an injustice to me.

          • Josepnine,

            The Bishop could hardly have been expected to enter into discussion with what sounds like an angry mob about something that should surely be confidential until it is fully investigated and resolved. It may not be formally sub judice, but I do think it should be treated as such. Ill-informed speculation is not helpful, and anyone with genuine inside information should not be posting it here.

            I don’t think the fact that Fr Despard is supported by a number of his parishioners can necessarily be taken as evidence of injustice to him. I think many if not most parishioners would support their PP whatever he may have done or be suspected of.

            A newspaper report said thet Fr Despard’s allegations would be investigated along with his manner of making them. The former is surely what he wanted and the latter is what he must have expected.

            • Eileenanne,

              From the telephone calls I have received from some of the parishioners involved, these were not hot tempered teenage thugs, but serious, elderly people, who were upset, some to the point of tears. Hardly “an angry mob”.

              As for maintaining silence until the matter is fully investigated and resolved, that should have been done without suspending the priest. They’ve had plenty of time to conduct an investigation. Having put the matter into the public domain, Bishop Toal can hardly be surprised if Catholics discuss it. We could do what the apostles did when Our Lord was arrested and put on trial – flee,, mind our own business, trust the authorities – but we’ve chosen not to follow that shameful example.

              As for “ill informed speculation” – not at all. We are not discussing Father Despard’s decision to write his book or its contents. Most here haven’t read his book. A principle is at stake and it that which is under discussion.

              How is it, we ask that this priest has been suspended from his priestly duties for writing an expose of the extent of homosexuality within the Church while other priests, guilty of much more serious matters, are not only not suspended, but often protected and promoted. Child-abusers are an obvious example, but there are plenty of other examples, such as the retired priest in Aberdeen who writes every week in the Catholic Times and regularly in the Scottish Catholic Observer, spewing out hatred of the traditional Faith, writing heresy (no physical resurrection or Real Presence) and (in this week’s edition) publicly insulting the Sri Lankan Cardinal Ranjith. His bishop, Hugh Gilbert of Aberdeen, will not even respond to criticism of Mgr Loftus, let alone suspend him.

              And in light of the fact that – apart from one priest – nobody named or implicated in Fr Despard’s book has publicly denied anything alleged, and that the Bishop (Devine) said there would be no further action, it is not only permissible to record our misgivings about this suspension, but it is imperative. Bishop Toal may be happy to hang Fr Despard out to dry – we refuse to follow suit.

              So, whether or not you think Fr Despard’s case should be discussed here, I suspect he will be very pleased. Anyone who has ever been unjustly dismissed from employment, nearly always silenced by being forced to sign confidentially agreements, needs all the support they can get, particularly in the matter of having their injustice publicised.

              Having said that, as we said to a similar objection (let’s not discuss this…) over on the canonisation thread, nobody is obliged to participate. If you think it’s the wrong thing to do, well… don’t.

              • You quoted a description of the events as a “Mass riot”. I get the pun on “Mass”, but that still leaves the word “riot”. Riots often involve angry mobs, so I stand by the words I used as I expect you stand by yours.

                If a teacher, doctor or other professional is accused of some serious misconduct, it is absolutely normal practice that they be suspended pending investigation. That is all that has happened to Fr. Despard. No injustice has (yet) been done to him, unless it was Bishop Devine’s statement that no action would be taken. Surely Fr Despard WANTS his allegations looked at? If they are found to be justified and if he truly had no other way of being listened to than writing his book, then he will be vindicated. If the case goes against him, he will have no reason to sign a confidentiality agreement. That usually happens only if there is substantial compensation involved.

                …nobody is obliged to participate. If you think it’s the wrong thing to do, well… don’t.

                All that’s required for evil to flourish is that good men do nothing – a maxim that I am sure influences your tenacity in opposing the things you believe are wrong.

                • Eileenanne,

                  The word “riot” appeared in the newspaper report, which is why I used it – but placed it in inverted commas, if you note.

                  As for your assertion about confidentially agreements/substantial compensation involved – absolutely wrong. Absolutely. I know personally of cases where unfair dismissal has occurred with the traumatised employee (on bad union advice) signing and receiving a pittance. Less than a three months salary in one case that I know of personally.

                  As for your concluding sentence, yes, that’s fine if you think we are doing evil and you want to have your say, fine by me.

                  Except you never come on to help out when we are opposing REAL evil – where is YOUR opinion on any of the stuff we publish? Mgr Loftus? Have you offered a view on the Ecumenical thread, re. the SSPX priest who led a group to pray the rosary in the Argentine cathedral before its desecration via an inter-faith event? You nearly always come on here to take issue with US ignoring the detail of what we report. You’d sooner conduct a lengthy conversation on the rights or wrongs of my headlines than admit that a pope, bishop or priest (apart from Fr Despard) could possibly be in the wrong.

                  Must get back to the grindstone now, but not before I correct your major argument: teachers, doctors etc. who are suspended pending investigation, are suspended due to an allegation of a serious offence.

                  Of what serious offence has Fr Despard been accused?

                  • I have no idea what Fr Despard has been accused of. That is between him and his bishop who obviously thinks there is something that needs explanation. However, it seems clear that he made serious allegations about other priests. It is difficult to see how these can be properly investigated with Fr Despard still in his parish.

                    I am unclear about how you think Bishop Toal and/or Bishop Devine ought to have handled the publication of Fr Despard’s book.

                    I did say that you QUOTED the word “Riot”. I saw the inverted commas.

                    I only comment on the things that interest me or when I believe I have something to say that has not already been said. I know nothing of Mgr Loftus and even less about the SSPX, so I don’t comment on them. I tend to just ignore ecumenical events so I have nothing to say about them either.

                    That is pretty much all I have to say about this subject for now.

                    • One more wee thing:
                      You’d sooner conduct a lengthy conversation on the rights or wrongs of my headlines than admit that a pope, bishop or priest (apart from Fr Despard) could possibly be in the wrong.

                      I have made absolutely no judgement about who is right or wrong in this case or in any other case where the facts are not public.

                    • “I have no idea what Fr Despard has been accused of…However, it seems clear that he made serious allegations about other priests. It is difficult to see how these can be properly investigated with Fr Despard still in his parish. ”

                      I’ve never heard of anyone being suspended because they made allegations. It’s usually the person who’s being investigated for the allegations who gets suspended, not the person making them.

                      I don’t know anything about Mgr Loftus either but the quotes given in Catholic Truth which can easily be checked as the paper, date etc. is always given, absolutely shocks me and I feel I ought to add my voice to those who have taken the trouble to raise my awareness. Based on the man’s own writings over a period of years, I’d say that he should be disciplined.

  16. Frankier,
    parish priests should be leading (or at least supporting 2 or 3 within their parish to lead) a non babbled Rosary every day of the week.
    The priest should offer exposition at least once a week ( that is clearly an absolute minimum)
    not lay people (eucharistic “ministers” my eye!)
    These are marks of a Catholic priest, it is not about how many attend, it is about the honour and love and reverence offered to Almighty God and to Our Lady. These are the effective signs that will and do evangelise.
    When a sinner finds a Catholic church open with people actually praying inside, my! What a sign.
    ( and of course not one with lay busy bodies welcoming one at the door, or babbling their self important tosh in the aisle or gossiping about inane non-sense and certainly not on the sanctuary acting as if they were priests or in the case of the poor women (duped into this non service) as if they were Church of Scotland “meenisters”
    Priests who do not provide these/offer and encourage these have, clearly, lost the faith and are in a spiritual mess. There bishop needs to do his job. It aint rocket science.

    • Graeme

      I agree entirely. On only one night was the priest in attendance, probably because none of the “meenisters” were keen on nipping along 100 yards or so to the church. It is not my parish, that is why I had to do a round trip of around 30 miles and I ain’t no chicken.

      If it had been announced that the local COS minister was giving a sermon that night the church would have been mobbed, but if it is only Our Lord himself who is present then why bother. After all, Eastenders or Coronation Street is more important.

      It is obvious that the rosary is considered only for the slightly uneducated, it is not for the smart guys. It only takes 10 seconds to recite a Hail Mary, if the priest even suggested that everyone should say a Hail Mary on entering the church (rather than walking straight into a pew and sitting down) that would give the full five decades within 10 seconds in a congregation of 50.

      If I suggested that I would probably be accused of being an antiquated religious maniac.

      • Frankier,

        That’s a very interesting post and I agree with you that the modernists write off the rosary pray-ers as “uneducated”. Think about that – it means they think Our Lady uneducated since she taught it to St Dominic and asked the Fatima seers to spread the message that we should all say the rosary every day. Modernism = arrogance in IMHO.

  17. Could anyone advise:

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

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

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

    Thanks for any advice.

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

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

    • Gabriel Syme,

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

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

        • Pew Catholic,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Douglas-Home:

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

        Todays Herald front page headline:

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

        • Gabriel Syme,

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

      • Crofterlady,

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

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

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

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

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

          🙂

    • That’s not very nice.

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

  18. Miles, that’s a very interesting link if somewhat long! The end of the last paragraph really jumped out at me:

    “That gigantic task requires normal, masculine priests, neither sexually infantile men, nor softies. More than ever, when it comes to screening Church personnel, a certainty should be taken for an uncertainty”.

    And that’s what we have for the most part, SOFTIES! Yes, girlie priests with no mettle who let the female busybodies run their parishes.

    • Frankier,

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

      Luv ‘n stuff…

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

    • Spero,

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

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

    My letter:

    Dear Sir,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Yours faithfully,
    Editor, Catholic Truth

    • An excellent letter editor.

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

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

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

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

      • Gabriel Syme,

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

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

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

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

    • Graeme Taylor,

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

      For Information

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

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

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

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

    • Dominie Stemp,

      Thank you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Frankier,

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

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

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

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

    • Neri,

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

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

    • Dominie Stemp,

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

    • Dominie Stemp,

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

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

    • Helen Ann Hawkins,

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

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

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

      God bless you – and welcome!

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

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

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

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

    • bigjohnw73,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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