Parishioners call for return of priest
Parishioners at St Bride’s Parish Church are urging the Bishop of Motherwell to let Father Paul Morton return.
The Reformer has been inundated with messagers of support for Fr Morton, after police ended their investigation into an allegation of an historic incident of sexual abuse without charge.
And they are united in their joy, as well as wanting the priest to return to St Bride’s, where he has been based since 2000.
Fr Morton has always been popular with his parishioners. After he previously took a sabbatical from St Bride’s, a petition was sent to the Bishop of Motherwell requesting Fr Morton return to St Bride’s.
Fr Morton left the parish late last September when the accusation was first brought to the police, before the investigation was ended on April 30. At the time, Bishop Joseph Toal asked parishioners to pray for their priest - but they were given no explanation about his absence.
A spokesman for the Diocese of Motherwell said: “Bishop Toal met with Fr Morton and learned that the police had found no evidence to corroborate the allegations made against him.
“They had, therefore, concluded their investigation and will not be bringing charges nor referring the case to the procurator fiscal. This information has now been confirmed to the Diocese by the police.”
After the Reformer revealed the news last week, our Facebook page has been packed with messages of joy.
A delighted Siobhan Paterson said: “Fr Morton is our parish priest and we pray he will be returning to us. I, for one, will be extremely disappointed in the Diocese of Motherwell if they do not reinstate Father to our parish and will certainly, with others, take all concerns to the Bishop.
“Father has done nothing wrong, he should be allowed to return to his home now and when he is ready.
“Fr Paul Morton is an upstanding member of the community of Cambuslang and beyond. Messages of support have come from near, far and across many walks of life and religion which is testament to the type of man/priest he is. Bishop Toal asks for patience. We have been patient since October 2014 when Bishop Toal came to our parish to tell us this devastating news. I have watched our parish become a shadow of its former self.
“We will continue to pray for Fr Morton till he is back where he belongs.
“We have stood by Fr Morton and have never doubted him. God bless him.”
Karen Galloway added: “We will do everything in our power to get Father Morton back where he belongs. He knows the people who backed him 100 per cent, he knows who he can trust and feel safe with.
“The Bishop really has no right to keep him away from his parish, he is innocent. He ripped our priest out of our parish with no explanation, no support was offered to the parishioners either. He has had eight months to decide what he would do when Father was proven innocent - he is dragging his heels. Fr Morton should be back where he belongs, when Father feels the time is right to come home to us. We aren’t going away nor will we give up!”
Fiona Pitcathley agreed, saying: “Fr Morton is the kindest and most dedicated of priests. He will be welcomed back with open arms.
“In time, I hope he can begin to rebuild his life after what can only be described as a torturous ordeal.”
And Beverley Owens said: “I was elated when I heard this news. Fr Morton is the kindest and most caring person that I know. He has a warm and generous heart. I have never and would never ever doubt him.”
And another parishioner, Maryann Stillie McGee, felt : “It’s time Father was back home and what a welcome he will receive.”
A delighted Monica Watson said: “The truth wins through! What a price to pay. It will have taken its toll on a good man. Very best wishes and I am sure the parish will uplift and heal him”, while Lynne James-McGonigle added: “Delighted at the news - never doubted him.
“I said to my children we might be getting Father Morton back, and my six-year-old’s reply was ‘ Yippee, ya dancer’.”
Veronica Williamson agreed: “So glad about this news. I only hope he recovers from the accusation .
“He must have went through hell all these months. I don’t think that he will be allowed back to St Bride’s - they will probably move him to another parish which will be sad. St Bride’s parishioners should all fight to get him back if this happens.”
Fr Morton is popular outwith the church too.
Martina McDermott added: “Father Morton - what a lovely man. He would always stop for a chat. I am not a Catholic, but I never believed for a second that this kind and gentle man did anything wrong. I hope the parishioners at St Bride’s get Father Morton back.”
And Davy Robertson O’Neil agreed: “The man should get his job back right away.”
Return St Bride’s parishioners are calling on the Bishop of Motherwell to allow Father Paul Morton to return to their church