Sex abuse claims rock Catholic Church in Scotland

The Catholic Church in Scotland has removed three priests amid allegations of abuse. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
The Catholic Church in Scotland has removed three priests amid allegations of abuse. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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THREE members of the Catholic Church have been removed from their posts amid allegations of abuse, it has emerged.

The Church said 15 allegations had been made against clergy and lay members last year, ten of which related to sexual abuse. Three of the individuals have been removed from the ministry, and two cases are with the procurator fiscal.

The details emerged as the Scottish Government prepares to announce an inquiry into historical sexual abuse, a move the Church said it supported.

Ministers are today expected to outline details of the inquiry which will look into the abuse of children in care, including those who spent time at the Roman Catholic Fort Augustus School near Inverness and the Nazareth House children’s home in Aberdeen.

Details of the lastest allegations against the Church emerged in an audit report released yesterday by its Scottish Catholic Safeguarding Service. It said that, of the 15 allegations made in 2013, six were historical, meaning they took place in the 1980s or earlier. One of the cases relates to the 1940s.

They relate to 13 individuals – seven clergy and six lay members – who worked for the Church.

Ten of the allegations were of sexual abuse, two were of physical abuse, one of emotional abuse and two were of verbal abuse.

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A spokesman for the Church said: “The Catholic Church in Scotland seeks to safeguard the welfare of people of all ages who are involved in whatever capacity with the church and its ­organisations. The publication of this audit is an example of the commitment to transparency and openness made previously by Scotland’s Catholic bishops.

“The external Review of Safeguarding Protocols and Procedures being conducted by Dr Andrew McLellan will report in 2015 and the Statistical Review of all Historic Cases of Abuse from 1947-2005 will be published at that time also.”

The spokesman added that the Church supported “an ­evidence-based” inquiry into abuse in care.

The Church said ten cases had been reported to the police. The other five related variously to what it called “shouting at a group of children, poor boundaries and an abuse of power”.

There have been no prosecutions as a result of the 15 allegations, but two cases are with the procurator fiscal for ­consideration.

Two of the ­alleged ­perpetrators are dead, while three have been removed from ministry.

Dr McLellan, a former moderator of the Church of Scotland, was last year tasked with the inquiry into how the Catholic Church handles sex abuse allegations following claims from pupils at Fort Augustus that they have had been molested and beaten by monks at the school.

It came after Cardinal Keith O’Brien stood down as the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh when three serving priests and one former priest come forward with allegations of “inappropriate behaviour”.

Shortly afterwards, Cardinal O’Brien released a statement in which he said: “There have been times that my sexual ­conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, ­archbishop and cardinal.”

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