Parishioners from the parish of St John Ogilvie’s in Blantyre sent me a copy of the letter from Bishop Toal read out at Mass yesterday. Unfortunately, for technical reasons I cannot post it here but it is quoted in a report in Herald Scotland which you can read if you click on the photo of Bishop Toal.
Essentially, Bishop Toal is asking everyone to accept his decision to suspend Fr Despard.
As I have said repeatedly, I don’t know Fr Despard, but it does seem that there are some kind of double standards going on when a priest like Fr Despard can be suspended for what may be an ill-judged decision to write a “whistleblowing” book while Fr Lawlor in Glasgow, who hit the headlines for his involvement in a sex incident in front of his tabernacle, was not only not suspended, but is currently a popular speaker on Catholic premises all over the place, at the invitation of dissidents. Seems there’s an injustice here.
The question is, again, one of obedience. Is Fr Despard right to fight this suspension? Remember, Bishop Toal is administering the Diocese of Motherwell until a new Bishop is appointed. The previous Bishop (Joseph Devine) announced that there would be no further action against Fr Despard.* The parish is deeply divided. Is there anything we can say to help resolve the matter – I know there are parishioners keenly awaiting this thread. Can we help them?
* It seems that Bishop Devine announced only that he would not pursue the matter with the Diocesan Tribunal but did not rule out pursuing the matter with the National Tribunal – see my comment below, 6 January, 2014, 9.19pm.