Last night, I had a telephone call from a gentleman in the Diocese of Motherwell, who expressed concern about the fact that the family of a deceased lady, Teresa Howie RIP, had asked if their former (now suspended) Parish Priest, Fr Matthew Despard, who is a personal friend of the deceased and family could officiate at her funeral on Monday next. The permission was refused. The PP is going off on holiday, so presumably another priest, with no connection to the family, will be sent in to conduct the funeral.
The caller asked if we could help, so I emailed the diocese last night as follows:
“For the attention of Bishop Toal
I have been contacted by friends of a deceased lady – Teresa Howie of St John Ogilvie parish – whose funeral is scheduled to take place in that parish on Monday morning.
I’m told that the family asked for Father Matthew Despard to officiate at the funeral because he is a friend of the deceased and family but that this request was refused.
I am aware of Fr Despard’s situation within the diocese. Nevertheless, this seems a very harsh and unnecessary decision.
Since we always seek to avoid undue publicity if at all possible, I await your response before taking any further action.
Will Fr Despard be permitted to conduct Teresa Howie’s funeral?
Kind regards (Editor, Catholic Truth]
This morning, I received the following reply:
I reply on behalf of Bishop Toal
It will not be possible for Fr. Despard to celebrate the Funeral Mass for Teresa Howie, R.I.P.
Fr. James Grant
I replied to his reply to simply thank him for his prompt reply.
Consider this: there are priests out there guilty of many shocking scandals, which range from publicly preaching against the Faith to hitting the tabloid headlines due to being caught in sexual scandals. In the latter case, there is one such Glasgow priest who does the rounds within the archdiocese, giving talks to the intelligentsia. There was no “punishment” of any kind for him. Yet Fr Despard has paid a very heavy price, for what, at worst, could be described as a lack of good judgment – and I’m not even sure about that, since I hear fairly regularly from people who know the Diocese of Motherwell very well and argue that his expose was necessary; I don’t know enough about that but certainly he has paid a heavy price and continues to pay a heavy price for writing his book, in good (if misguided) faith. Click here to read more about Fr Despard’s case.
So, I’m doing what I promised the caller – giving some publicity to the refusal of the Bishop of Motherwell to permit Fr Despard, family friend and friend of the deceased lady herself, who has been one of his staunchest supporters throughout this difficult period of his suspension, to conduct her funeral. Seems vindictive to me. In any case, please pray for the repose of the soul of Teresa Howie, and for consolation for her family at this sad time.
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