Cam­paign to seal Fr Mor­ton’s re­turn is gath­er­ing pace

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Dou­glas Dickie

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.”

Sup­port Fa­ther Mor­ton

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