A Scottish bishop has defended the decision to suspend a priest who had written a controversial memoir claiming there was a culture of homosexual bullying in the Catholic Church in Scotland.
The Bishop of Argyll and the Isles, Joseph Toal, who is also
administrator of the Motherwell diocese, said in a letter read in all
parishes last Sunday that the actions of Fr Matthew Despard of St John
Ogilvie’s Church in High Blantyre, Lanarkshire, had caused “concern and
anxiety” to a significant number and that he saw no alternative to
continuing the “penal judicial process” begun against Fr Despard by the
Bishop Emeritus of Motherwell, Joseph Devine, who stood down from the
diocese last year.
Some parishioners walked out of church when the news was announced in November that Fr Despard was being suspended.
It has left the diocese divided over the issue.
Fr Despard’s book was
published online and claimed a there was a “powerful gay mafia” running
the Church in Scotland, and was released after the resignation of
Cardinal Keith O’Brien who stepped down following accusations of sexual