Catholics walk out of bishop's Mass in support of suspended priest
Scottish priest wrote about culture of homosexual bullying in Church
Suspended priest Father Matthew Despard (picture: Herald Scotland)
Only a handful of parishioners remained yesterday to take mass at St John Ogilvie's Church in High Blantyre with Archdiocese of Motherwell acting Bishop Joseph Toal after Father Matthew Despard was removed from his ministry the night before.
Before they went into church, people signed a petition calling for the reinstatement of Father Despard, suspended for writing a controversial memoir that claimed there is a culture of homosexual bullying in the Catholic Church.
When Bishop Toal, accompanied by Father William Nolan, tried to take mass, Geraldine Penches said she wanted to make a statement, and received a roar of applause from the congregation in a packed church.
Her short statement referred to Father Despard as "a very honest man" and said: "This is more scandal to rock the Catholic Church which has to be hushed up.
"Because Father tells the truth he is removed from his priestly duties. We the people are the church, not the bishops. When people said on Saturday night they wouldn't return, the Bishop said we'll close the church. I don't think Pope Francis would be very pleased with that."
After her remarks, the Bishop tried to continue with mass. The atmosphere was charged and some women were in tears. Most of the congregation walked out, with many queuing to sign the petition.
"I felt so strongly about this and what they're doing to Father Despard that I had to make a statement in the church," Ms Penches said. I won't be back for mass if Father Despard isn't here. The Bishop should be removed from the church, not Father Despard. I want to send an email to the highest office in the church. The church has caused more hurt than Father Despard's book ever did."
Source: Herald Scotland
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