Campaign to seal Fr Morton’s return is gathering pace
Over 1200 people have signed a petition calling on Father Paul Morton to return to his St Bride’s parish.
But those campaigning on his behalf have been told the decision now rests with Rome, after his case was referred to the Vatican.
The popular priest has been away from the Cambuslang church since October last year.
He was placed on administrative leave while police investigated an allegation of historic sexual abuse, but he was found to have no case to answer and was cleared by cops.
Supporters of Father Morton collected signatures for the petition before four masses over the weekend.
An online version has gained over 600 signatures alone. A Facebook and Twitter page has also been set up to support the campaign.
A tweet was even sent to the Pope himself urging him to reinstate the 55-year-old.
The parish was rocked again last week when we reported that acting priest, Father James O’Kane, has been charged with drink driving.
A spokesperson for the organisers of the petition, said St Bride’s needed Father Morton back to help them“heal”. They said:“We’ve had a very positive response, not just from people in the parish but from people he has come across in previous parishes and in different walks of life.
“They feel aggrieved that this injustice is still happening.
“Father Morton has enriched the lives of all sorts of people, in all walks of life and of all religions. This is very much a community thing rather than just a parish thing —and we want him back where he belongs.
“I can only speak for his supporters, but we believe we need him back to heal in terms of what’s happened, and he himself will need to heal.“
One signatory of the petition said:“I had the pleasure of being a teacher and working along side Father Morton. He was so nice and kind to all he met and his generosity knew no end.”
Another wrote:“It’s a travesty of process and damaging for the parish.”
The petition is aimed at Bishop Joseph Toal, the Bishop of Motherwell, but the Reformer understands the decision is out of his hands.
In 2010, the Vatican brought in new regulations that stated once police investigations were completed, the case must be referred to Rome before a priest is returned to his previous position.
It is unclear how long that investigation could take.
A spokesperson for the Scottish Catholic Church, said:“Bishop Toal, met with Father Morton and learned that the police had found no evidence to corroborate the allegations made against him. Welcoming this news, Bishop Toal advised Father Morton that he would now seek canonical counsel and follow the procedures set out by the Holy See in the document, ‘Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela’.”
Bishop Toal added:“We will all require to be patient during this process, which is the prescribed way to proceed.
“I pray that this case will quickly proceed to a just conclusion and we will be able to welcome him back to active ministry.”
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