“New sex abuse crisis in Scottish Catholic church” & related articles

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Priest claims he was abused by older cleric, and church is punishing him for speaking out

The Guardian (UK)

The Observer,

Paul Moore

Father Paul Moore admitted sexually abusive behaviour. Photograph: Ayrshire Post

The Catholic church in Scotland faces a fresh sex-abuse crisis involving some of the country’s senior clerics. The Observer has seen documents suggesting a scandal similar to the one that led to the resignation of Cardinal Keith O’Brien as Archbishop of Edinburgh and St Andrews.

As a seminarian, a priest known as “Father Michael”, who wishes to remain anonymous while an appeal to Rome is made, said he was sexually assaulted by a parish priest, Father Paul Moore. Father Michael said the church failed to deal appropriately with his complaint over a 17-year period, and that he is now being ousted from the church while, he feels, his abuser is being protected.

Father Michael is recovering from cancer but has been refused permission by Bishop John Cunningham of Galloway to reduce his workload during his convalescence.

The church has demanded that he resign or face removal. The priest, who reported Moore to the police in 1997, said he feels this treatment amounts to punishment for whistle-blowing.

“It’s a tragic story,” said Father Michael. “It’s about cover-up, deceit and lies. The church is a big mafia, and they trash you. They will do everything to destroy me.”

The bitter internal division comes just days after the “new broom” appointment of Vatican diplomat Leo Cushley to replace O’Brien, who resigned after admitting inappropriate sexual behaviour towards priests in his care. Father Michael requested Cardinal O’Brien’s intervention in 1996 and again in 2013. O’Brien expressed “shock”, he said, but said he could not help. Father Michael also appealed to Cunningham’s predecessor, Bishop Maurice Taylor, and, recently, to O’Brien’s temporary successor, Archbishop Philip Tartaglia. Tartaglia, the senior cleric in Scotland, claimed he could not help as he had no authority in the matter. “I think it is better for me to return these documents to you,” he wrote in March 2013.

Father Michael alleged the assault took place at St Quivox church in Prestwick in 1996. “I woke to find Moore fondling me under the bedclothes. I placed a chair behind the door and would sometimes hear it rattling,” he said. He claimed the incident was repeated and he didn’t know where to turn.

While Moore was away from the parish, a young man visited. He claimed to Father Michael that Moore had sexually abused him as an altar boy. He gave Father Michael details of another alleged victim.

Father Michael claims that Taylor insisted he remain in the parish and advise Moore to visit him. Confronted by Father Michael, he alleges Moore reacted violently and a scuffle broke out. Suddenly, Moore began to weep, confessing everything, including inappropriate behaviour with relatives. He also admitted the abuse to Taylor.

Moore emerged, euphoric, from a subsequent meeting with Taylor. He understood that the bishop said Moore had come voluntarily, so nobody could blame him. Father Michael said he was instructed by Taylor to remain silent. But he became suicidal and informed police about the incident with Moore.

Taylor later said that he spoke to the authorities, but that was after Father Michael had reported the matter to the police. The Procurator Fiscal told Father Michael the case would proceed, but it did not happen.

Moore, who now lives in a church-owned home, is reported to have said that he regretted any of his actions being seen as abusive, and he had not intended them to be so. Taylor refused Father Michael’s repeated pleas for help, it is understood, only allowing him counselling when a centre waived the fee. Moore, however, was sent to Southdown, a Canadian treatment centre for clergy with psychological problems, for reasons that were not made clear. “A letter has been issued to the parish saying I am on leave of absence after sabbatical,” he wrote to Father Michael.

When Moore returned from Canada he went to Fort Augustus Abbey, following which Taylor tried to place him in a home for the elderly in Scotland. Protests ensued and Moore retired to the church property. “He should have been laicised,” insisted Father Michael.

When Taylor retired, Father Michael lobbied his successor. “I know Maurice made mistakes but it’s too late,” Bishop Cunningham allegedly told him. “What would Maurice think of me?”

In 2004, Father Michael was posted to a three-church parish. He merged two but when he was diagnosed with cancer, doctors advised him to drop the third. In February, the Diocese’s vicar general, Willie McFadden, told parishioners to put complaints in writing. Father Michael was told there were 23 complaints but more than 130 letters of support, including one from the parish council, which has petitioned Rome. “This is really about his stance over Paul Moore,” one member claimed.

In June, Bishop Cunningham insisted that Father Michael, who is in his mid-fifties, retire. Still physically weak, he sought counselling. Supportive letters from both his doctor and his therapist were sent to the Bishop but he feels they were used against him.

Last week, a letter signed by Bishop Cunningham told Father Michael he must retire because of “your ill-health, both physical and psychological, as you yourself have detailed to me in your letters and in those sent by your medical doctors and psychotherapist”.

Father Michael has been told to leave by mid-August. “What I have had to face is something very evil. Had I known what I would experience when I was lying on the floor at ordination, I would have stood up and walked out. I focused my life on priesthood, thinking it was about goodness, kindness and everything I wanted to aspire to. I discovered it was nothing like that.”

The Catholic Church refused to comment, “due to the complex legal situation, criminal, civil and canonical”.


Fresh claims over Catholic Church sex abuse

BBC News Scotland

26 July 2013

Fr Paul Moore

Fr Moore’s victim has spoken for the first time about the abuse

A BBC investigation has revealed fresh concerns about the way the Catholic Church handles child sex abuse cases.

Retired Ayrshire priest Fr Paul Moore admitted abusing children to Bishop Maurice Taylor nearly 20 years ago, but the claims were initially covered up.

Fr Moore’s victim has spoken publicly for the first time about the abuse, and the BBC has learned the priest is still being looked after by the church.

Bishop Taylor accepted the diocese had bought Fr Moore a house to live in.

However, he said he had ordered him not to be involved in public ministry again.

The revelations come as part of a wider six-month BBC Scotland investigation into child abuse at the now-closed Fort Augustus Abbey School in the Highlands.

The investigation, which will be broadcast on Monday, heard that Fr Moore confessed to abusing more than one boy to the then Bishop of Galloway, Maurice Taylor, in 1996.

The bishop elected not to go to the police, but to send him to a treatment clinic for child sex offenders in Canada.

Bishop Taylor withheld the real reason for the priest’s departure from his parish in Prestwick, and said he was on a sabbatical in Canada.

Bishop Maurice Taylor

Bishop Maurice Taylor denied deceiving parishioners over Fr Moore’s whereabouts

On his return from Canada, Fr Moore was sent to Fort Augustus Abbey, which was run by Benedictine monks.

The attached school was by this time closed, but the abbey remained open and Fr Moore joined monk Richard White there – who was also a self-confessed paedophile, later jailed for five years for child abuse.

The programme reveals that following the abbey’s closure in 1998, Bishop Taylor tried to get Fr Moore a job saying mass for nuns at a nursing home. They refused after hearing about his admissions about child abuse.

The BBC spoke to one of Fr Moore’s victims, who was abused by the priest when he was a young altar boy in the late 1970s.

Tony, not his real name, is speaking publicly for the first time.

He said: “(The priest) was somebody you looked up to, you trusted, you believed in. And you would not think they would do any wrong.

“One of my memories was when it was just the two of us on the beach when we were getting dressed – he (took) an interest in drying me. He (got) quite aroused by this.”

Fr Moore went on to sexually assault the 11-year-old.

‘Removed him’

Tony told the BBC he was offered no support by the church after Fr Moore’s confession, and even bumped into his abuser in a street in Ayrshire.

Fr Gerard Magee, a priest based in Kilwinning, criticised the church’s handling of the case.

He said: “Bishops have bent over backwards in the past to protect the good name of the church, such as it is, and to protect their own credibility, such as that is, but when we’re talking about child abuse you know you have to ask the question what’s creditable about child abuse? Nothing.”

He added: “It makes me ashamed. Not only ashamed of what happened to the children, but what was worse was the cover-up by the hierarchy in the church.”

The BBC documentary also reveals that Fr Moore is living in a house which was purchased by the church.

In a statement, Bishop Taylor said he did alert the authorities to Fr Moore’s child abuse admission. However, this did not happen until eight months after Fr Moore’s confession.

He said: “In April 1996, Fr Moore told me of actions which had occurred years previously. On his admission of these to me I removed him from the pastoral ministry.

Fort Augustus Abbey

Fr Moore was sent to Fort Augustus Abbey after receiving treatment at a clinic in Canada

“I sought advice on how to handle Fr Moore’s admission from social workers, experts in child protection and legal figures.

“The initial advice I was given was that since no allegations had been made against Fr Moore but that he had made personal admission to me, I didn’t need to inform the authorities.”

Bishop Taylor denied misleading the parish about Fr Moore’s whereabouts.

He said: “I have no memory of describing Fr Moore’s leave of absence as a sabbatical; in The Galloway Newsletter he was simply described as having leave of absence. At no point did I have the intention to deceive the parishioners.”

The bishop said he arranged a meeting with the procurator fiscal in Kilmarnock in November 1996.

“He told me that he would be informing the police of what I had told him,” Bishop Taylor said.

“The Crown Office informed us in 1999 that they had decided not to proceed with any action but the case remained open.

‘Done differently’

He added: “A house was purchased… for his use, I cannot remember the price but we were spending around £40,000 for such properties at that time. The house remains the property of the diocese.

“I was never made aware of who the ‘alleged victims’ were… I could not approach people whose identity was unknown to me.

“Things would have been done differently in some aspects if we had had the Guidelines for Safeguarding that the Church now operates with.”

Bishop Taylor said he had not tried to appoint Fr Moore as chaplain at a nursing home, merely to say Mass there. He added that the suggestion was rejected by the Mother Superior, and it was a decision he “wholeheartedly accepted”.

Fr Moore told the BBC: “I regret if any person believes that past activities of mine were abusive: that was certainly never my intention, or my understanding of the matters discussed with Bishop Taylor.

“Those matters were fully investigated by the police, and the Procurator Fiscal confirmed in 1999 that no proceedings should be taken in relation to them.”

For the past six months, the BBC has been investigating allegations of serious physical and sexual abuse at Fort Augustus Abbey School over a 30-year period. The programme contains testimony from victims, speaking openly for the first time about about their experiences at the hands of Benedictine monks.

You can watch BBC Scotland Investigates: Sins of Our Fathers on on Monday 29 July on BBC1 Scotland at 21:00, and for a week afterwards on the BBC iPlayer

9 Responses to “New sex abuse crisis in Scottish Catholic church” & related articles

  1. Sylvia says:

    I commend “Father Michael” for speaking out, and also those nuns who refused to be saddled with a predatory priest as their chaplain.

    I’m sure there is more dirt to come in this despicable saga.

    • Miecul says:

      Here’s the Documentary “Sins of Our Fathers” you can download it or watch it on the below link. It’s disturbing just like the rest of the Documentaries and Movies made about these monks and wantabe men of God. They’re not the only ones who should be held accountable. Anyone who covers up any of these crimes should be held to the same punishment. What would the authorities do if anyone of us withheld information about a crime?
      I’ve listed another site with many other documentaries and movie titles. Some you can watch from that site. If you have time there’s one called “The Magdalene Sisters 2002” It’s audio only and very disturbing. Don’t let any children listen to her story.



      • Sylvia says:

        I don’t think we can get5 the video “Sins of Our Fathers” Miecul. I tried earlier without success. I just tried again. No luck. I get the message: “Currently BBC iPlayer TV programmes are available to play in the UK only, but all BBC iPlayer Radio programmes are available to you. …”

        If you know a way to activate the video from somewhere other than the UK could you give me/us a step by step instruction?

        • Miecul says:

          I watched it there for a bit, I also downloaded it, because I was having bandwidth problems. I burned it to a DVD so I can watch it on my TV. I don’t like watching shows on my notebook.

          Right below the video is a link “Download Options” download the file for Windows Media Player.

          Before I could watch it, it did a small update. Let me know if you run into problems.

  2. Tanya says:

    Rev. Anthony McSweeney, a Roman cleric of the English diocese of East Anglia, was charged with numerous sexual offences related to children and will reappear at Westminster Magistrates Court, London on Sept.04 2013. McSweeneys arrest is part of a larger police investigation that may have wider ramifications; it is being alleged that figures in British public life have been involved in this scandal.

    I refer readers to this article from the Crawley Observer;


    I then refer readers to this page from the Roman Diocese of Arundel and Brighton, England, website;


    Compare the addresses….Old Brighton Road North for both the charged and the ordinary of a diocese that has no jurisdiction over McSweeney.

    I am curious if McSweeney is residing at the bishop’s residence or is in church property there? What faculties have been granted to him and what supervision has been instituted to accord with any restrictions by the Arundel and Birghton diocese.

    I have contacted the Roman bishop of the said diocese. Rt.Rev. Kieran Conry to respond. Will the omerta culture prevail?

    • Sylvia says:

      I’m not familiar with how things are generally handled over in the UK Tanya, as in what it means or might mean that Father McSweeney’s address is the same as that of the Arundel and Brighton Diocesan centre and/or Bishop Kieran. I don’t have directories from the UK and am unfamiliar with the UK dioceses. I have no idea if he had his faculties revoked, and if he did, I have no idea if he has been granted faculties by another diocese or by whom. I don’t know where he is incardinated, or if he has ever changed his incardination. I highly doubt that he is saying Mass or hearings confessions anywhere right now. I could be mistaken, but I truly doubt it. For countless reasons I just don’t keep tabs on predatory priests out of Canada to that degree Tanya, and, while I may be mistaken, I doubt that others who follow the site do either.

  3. Tanya says:

    As an addendum;

    If McSweeney is residing at the Bishops House then why?

    There is a Scouts Camp Site opposite the episcopal residence. The Stanford Scout Camp Site.

    Usually there are stringent restrictions when charges of this kind are made. There is a local Roman chapel. in the village of Staplefiled. Is McSweeney sypplying there?

  4. Tanya says:

    Hello Syliva. Thank you for your reply.

    All part of a universal immutable pattern within the Roman Communion.

    I suspect that, unlike most of the readership of your invaluable site. I do not accept any of the transcendental claims of Roman Catholicism, Christianity or indeed any religious identity or memory group. Religion interests me from a anthropological and sociological perspective. Why such groups continue to actively collude and enable those in abusive power relationships genuinely perplexes me.

    I did live in arctic Canada for 3 years. Living in a number of these isolated communities of the high arctic I did become acquainted with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate(OMI) and did find many who virtually sacrificed their lives on the altar of service to the Inuit and Inuvialuit peoples of the region

    Yet at the same time I became only too aware of the acts of cultural and social genocide committed by these same clerics in the name of their missionary imperative. The consummate arrogance underpinning these strident and cruel actions have irreparably damaged fragile people. It is precisely this mindset that has created mayhem in southern Canada; as your blog so admirably depicts.

  5. Judy Hageman says:

    I would like to comment on the Father Michael story:
    Firstly, the identity of “Father Michael” has now conclusively been established to be
    Father Patrick T.J. Lawson of Galston, Scotland.
    Secondly, it is indeed true that Galloway bishop, John Cunningham had removed Father Lawson from his position as parish priest of Galston’s St. Sophia Catholic Church in early September of 2013. Essentially, this very intrepid and tenacious Scottish Catholic priest whistle-blower and clergy abuse survivor, was being wrongfully punished by the Scottish Catholic hierarchy for his courageously going public ( via the British media) about his being sexually abused approximately 18 years ago (while he was a seminarian) by clergy abuser, Father Moore. And, Father Lawson was not only speaking publicly on behalf of himself as a clergy abuse survivor but also on behalf of other clergy abuse survivors (in particular those who had also been victims of Father Moore’s.
    I do also greatly admire and respect Father Lawson’s bravery, stamina, and all round chutzpah; for he has been relentlessly and determinedly fighting a persistent battle both for himself and his fellow clergy abuse survivors with the Scottish church hierarchy for nearly 18 years. That takes a lot of gumption on his part to keep on fighting instead of his giving up.
    And, despite his having cancer, his having lost his St. Sophia pastor job, and his having been wrongfully and cruelly persecuted by the mean spirited, deceptive Scottish Catholic church powers that be, he still continues on relentlessly with his fight for true genuine justice. Not only has he filed a legitimate complaint over his wrongful removal from his church parish with the Vatican’s high canon court but he has also filed a formal employment complaint,with the help of his Glasgow lawyer, Cameron Fyfe, with the British courts.
    In closing, I have been so impressed with Father Lawson’s overall amazing chutzpah and incredible character and integrity, that I have launched on March 29, 2014 an online petition on his behalf on the highly popular Care2 online petition website. If anyone is interested in signing it, then he/she can go online to: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/729/979/713/justice-for-father-patrick-lawson/
    Thanks very much for allowing me to mention my petition in defense of Father Lawson and his just cause. Do much appreciate it!
    Judy Hageman
    Edmonton, Alberta Canada

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