Parish re­lief as priest is in clear

Po­lice: No case to an­swer

Rutherglen Reformer - - Front Page - Kenny Smith

The parish priest of St Bride’s in Cam­bus­lang has been cleared of any wrong­do­ing af­ter an al­le­ga­tion of his­tor­i­cal sex­ual abuse.

Fa­ther Paul Morton was put on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave last Septem­ber by Catholic Church au­thor­i­ties whilst the claim was in­ves­ti­gated, but he al­ways main­tained his in­no­cence.

How­ever, on Thurs­day evening, af­ter an in­ter­view last­ing less than an hour, he was in­formed there is no case to an­swer.

A Po­lice Scot­land spokesman said: “We can con­firm po­lice have car­ried out an in­ves­ti­ga­tion fol­low­ing an al­le­ga­tion of his­tor­i­cal sex­ual abuse, and no fur­ther po­lice ac­tion will be taken.”

Fr Morton’s fam­ily, friends, parish­ioners and mem­bers of the wider com­mu­nity are de­lighted, hav­ing stood by him through­out the al­le­ga­tions to give him their full sup­port.

In a state­ment to the Re­former, Fr Morton’s broth­ers and sis­ters said: “Our fam­ily wish to make clear for the public record that, with the dis­missal of the al­le­ga­tion, Paul has been com­pletely ex­on­er­ated. His in­no­cence, which he has

main­tained from the be­gin­ning, has fi­nally been con­firmed.

“We wish also to make it clear that at no time was he charged with any of­fence and that the po­lice en­quiry is now of­fi­cially ended.

“We, his fam­ily, wish to af­firm that the in­tegrity of this ded­i­cated, hon­est and prin­ci­pled man is in­tact and we know that his rep­u­ta­tion will be im­me­di­ately re­stored. With­out doubt, he will go on to sur­mount the huge dam­age which has been done to his life and we know that he will con­tinue to give hon­ourable ser­vice with his head held high.

“The fam­ily wish to ex­press their heart­felt thanks to the huge num­ber of parish­ioners and friends who have stood by him dur­ing th­ese last months. ”

Fr Morton’s brother, Michael added: “Po­lice Scot­land have ex­haus­tively in­ves­ti­gated an al­le­ga­tion made against Fr Paul by an in­di­vid­ual. No charges were brought against him and no re­port is to be sent to the Procu­ra­tor Fis­cal, due to there be­ing no other ev­i­dence, of any kind, to sup­port the orig­i­nal al­le­ga­tion. The po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion is now at an end.”

The Re­former spoke with sev­eral parish­ioners who were united in their de­light, and all want to see their priest re­turn.

Cam­bus­lang man Damian Bro­gan said: “Fr Morton is a gen­tle­man, a great hu­man be­ing. I’ve spent hours in the parish church with him over the years - he al­ways had time to spend with ev­ery­one.

“I can’t begin to imag­ine what he’s had to deal with over th­ese last few months. Ev­ery­one has been sup­port­ing him in thought and prayer. I’d be de­lighted to see him back - I know he would be wel­comed with open arms.”

Parish­ioner An­nette Quinn added: “The Fa­ther mar­ried my hus­band and I, he chris­tened the two chil­dren and he buried my dad - he’s done a lot for my fam­ily through hard times and good - he has been a huge part of our lives, and been there in the com­mu­nity for oth­ers.

“He has been a good friend as well - and he has never asked for any­thing in re­turn.

“The last few months have been dev­as­tat­ing for him per­son­ally, for his fam­ily, and for the whole parish.

“Now this is over, we re­ally want to see him back at St Bride’s. What he’s been through has been heart­break­ing, as we have all been pray­ing for him.”

Dr Kieran Din­woodie told the Re­former: “Fr Paul is a good man and faith­ful priest who has helped thou­sands of peo­ple in their lives. Now it is our turn to help him in his re­cov­ery and re­turn to min­istry.

“The parish of St Bride’s want our priest back and want to help him heal. I hope that our Bishop will recog­nise his duty of care for Fr Paul’s wel­fare and al­low him to re­turn to St Bride’s.”

An­other parish­ioner, who asked not to be named, added: “It’s been go­ing on since last au­tumn, and it’s been a ter­ri­ble thing to do to a good man.

“Fr Morton has worked his fin­gers to the bone for the parish.”

A friend of Fr Morton’s added: “I am re­ally glad that this ter­ri­ble or­deal is over for Fr Paul, and he can rebuild his life. It’s taken too long to reach this out­come, but I am pleased for him.”

Fr Morton was or­dained into the priest­hood at St Leonards in East Kil­bride on June 28, 1985, and moved to St Bride’s in 2000.

He pre­vi­ously took a sab­bat­i­cal from St Bride’s, but was so popular with his parish­ioners that they started a pe­ti­tion which was sent to the Bishop of Mother­well, re­quest­ing he re­turn to St Bride’s af­ter­wards.

Fr Morton has taken part in a num­ber of fundrais­ing ac­tiv­i­ties over the years, re­ceiv­ing spon­sor­ship from the parish, as St Bride’s has raised well over £100,000 for char­ity.

In­no­cent Po­lice have ended their in­ves­ti­ga­tion into an al­le­ga­tion of his­tor­i­cal sex abuse against Fa­ther Paul Morton 140313mor­ton_1

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