A PRIEST who has campaigned for the Catholic Church’s hierarchy to act against a fellow priest he claims abused him has been dismissed from his diocese and issued with a formal warning for speaking to the press, it has been claimed.
Father Patrick Lawson, who has described the church as a “big mafia” which is seeking to “destroy him,” is understood to have been issued a decree of removal by Bishop John Cunningham last week.
Fr Lawson claims that as a seminarian, he was abused in 1996 by Father Paul Moore, a parish priest, at St Quivox Church in Prestwick. He has also said that the church has failed to deal appropriately with his complaint over the intervening 17 years.
The allegations strike yet another blow to the church’s credibility as it seeks to move on from the scandal surrounding Cardinal Keith O’Brien and decades of abuse in the Catholic boarding school, Fort Augustus Abbey.
Fr Lawson, who is recovering from cancer, is believed to have been removed from the Diocese of Galloway after being sent the decree, which forced him to hand over the keys of his parish house. He was appointed by Bishop Cunningham in 2005 to St Sophia’s in Galston and St Paul’s in Hurlford.
In July, speaking to The Observer newspaper using the pseudonym, Father Michael, he said: “It’s a tragic story. 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.”
In a statement prepared by Bishop Cunningham to be read out at all masses in St Joseph’s Deanery, reference was made to a “canonical process” between the bishop and Fr Lawson.
It stated: “Father Chambers of St Matthew’s, Kilmarnock has been appointed with effect from 3 September as administrator of Father Lawson’s parishes until such time as the process in question is completed.
It added: “No comment can be made on the canonical process since the church’s law, in order to protect the rights of those involved, requires confidentiality. Your prayers are asked once more for all your priests and for your bishop.”
Peter Kearney, director of the Scottish Catholic Media Office (SCMO), was not available for comment.