The short (around 15 minutes) protest will be held on 16 November, 12 noon, outside St Gerard’s Church, Fleming road. Bellshill, ML4 1NF
Manifestly, Fr Despard is being treated extremely unfairly, and for what reason? For whistleblowing. For seeking to expose the extent of homosexuality within the ranks of the priesthood in Scotland. He was suspended from the active ministry and threatened with various law suits from individuals who did not follow through on their threats. The then Bishop, Joseph Devine, promised a thorough investigation into Fr Despard’s claims about homosexual clergy but that has not materialised either.
It is a disgrace that Fr Despard has been left for six years without a parish; at a time of acute priest shortages, he is not being allowed to live his vocation in service to the people of the Diocese of Motherwell. Yet, at least one known “gay” activist priest in the same Diocese has been permitted to work with the LGBT+ lobby to ensure that children in Scottish schools are indoctrinated with the “diversity” agenda.
Bloggers and readers are encouraged to join in the silent protest in support of Fr Despard, which is effectively challenging the Bishop to explain how, on earth, he can justify discriminating against this priest any longer.
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.
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.