A priest who went on the run following child sex abuse claims has secretly returned to the Vatican to empty his bank account, it has emerged.
27 November 2011
The Rt Rev Dom Laurence Soper is wanted over allegations of assaulting youngsters while he was abbot of Ealing Abbey in west London.
The 69-year-old ex-banker disappeared from his current posting in Rome in March, when he was expected back in Britain to answer bail.
It is thought he hid in monasteries on the Adriatic coast before secretly returning to the Italian capital by train to empty his account in the summer.
He may now be hiding in the Balkan state of Montenegro, where he has friends, according to a Church source. Mr Soper taught at Ealing Abbey from 1972 until 1984, when he was made abbot, and left in 2000. He was arrested last September but had been allowed to return to Rome to work.
The abbey is at the centre of an inquiry by Lord Carlile QC after a former monk was jailed in 2009 for a string of child sex assaults at a neighbouring Roman Catholic school. There is also an internal Vatican investigation.
Fr Elias Lorenzo, a prior at St Anselmo in Rome, the Benedictine monastery where Mr Soper had been working as treasurer, said yesterday: ‘He is not hiding here or in the Vatican – that would be too Dan Brown.’