Hundreds of parishioners packed into a Catholic church rocked by historical sexual abuse allegations to hear the Bishop of Salford’s response to the shock police probe.
Canon Mortimer Stanley, 82, has been quizzed by police over alleged
sex attacks on children over a 20-year period while he was parish priest
at St Vincent de Paul Church, in Norden, Rochdale.
He joined the church in the early seventies and retired to his native Ireland in 2002.
Around 500 parishioners attended 11am mass at St Vincent’s, on
Caldershaw Road, today – when a statement on behalf of Bishop Terence
Brain was read out.
Child protection experts from Salford Diocese’s safeguarding
commission were also on hand to talk to any member of the congregation
following the service.
The statement, read out by safeguarding coordinator Fr Barry
O’Sullivan, said: “This investigation is still on-going and in fairness
to justice the diocese has avoided prejudicing the outcome. However, having listened to parishioners whose parishes have been
affected by such allegations in the past, as your Bishop I wanted to
communicate what action the diocese will take to support you as a parish
and your parish priest Fr Paul Brindle through this very difficult
time. After this mass this morning, your parish safeguarding
representative, Rob Finney, together with Mike Devlin, the chair of the
Safeguarding Commission, will be available at the back of the church, to
listen and talk to you should you feel the need.”
Bishop Brain’s statement added that the safeguarding representatives
would be available to go back to the church in the New Year if people
were too shocked or saddened to talk on the day.
Three women have claimed Canon Stanley indecently assaulted and
sexually abused them while they were pupils at St Vincent’s Primary
School, near the church on Edenfield Road.
The women were aged under-11 when it is alleged the offences happened between 1980 and 2000.
It is claimed the abuse was committed in a presbytery next to the school.
When a reporter from our sister paper the Irish Sunday Mirror
approached Canon Stanley at his home in Ballybunion, Co Kerry, he said:
“I’ve no comment to make, sorry.”
Asked specifically if he had any comment to make about the allegations made by the three girls, he added: “No...no.”
Police have appealed to other women who may have information to come forward.
Anyone with information should either call police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.