Cam­paign­ers call for Fa­ther Mor­ton’s re­turn

2037 sign pe­ti­tion for re­in­state­ment

Rutherglen Reformer - - COURT CASEBOOK - Niki Ten­nant

Cam­paign­ers call­ing for the re­in­state­ment of a Cam­bus­lang priest who was sus­pended over un­founded al­le­ga­tions of his­toric sex­ual abuse have de­liv­ered a 2037-sig­na­ture pe­ti­tion to the Chan­cel­lor of the Dio­cese of Mother­well.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the ‘Bring Back Fa­ther Paul Mor­ton to St Bride’s Cam­bus­lang’ cam­paign handed over the pe­ti­tion to Fa­ther Jim Grant al­most a year af­ter the priest was re­moved from his home and parish fol­low­ing the anony­mous claims.

Fa­ther Mor­ton was cleared on any wrong­do­ing early this year af­ter be­ing falsely ac­cused in 2014.

Many wor­ship­pers at St Bride’s now want him re­in­stated and have crit­i­cised the Catholic Church for drag­ging their heels on the is­sue.

There was no public re­ac­tion from Joseph Toal, the Bishop of Mother­well, who or­dered the priest’s sus­pen­sion in the first place. When de­liv­er­ing the pe­ti­tion to the Chan­cel­lor, cam­paign­ers again high­lighted their ob­jec­tions to the bishop’s si­lence.

They say he has again re­fused to meet them, with no ex­pla­na­tion.

A cam­paigner, who asked not to be named, said the re­sponse to the pe­ti­tion has been over­whelm­ing – and Fa­ther Mor­ton has been hum­bled by the sup­port.

The spokesper­son said: “In no other work­place would some­one con­tinue to be re­stricted fol­low­ing a thor­ough po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion that re­sulted in no case to an­swer.

“We reach out now to Bishop Toal, that he will lis­ten to the united voice of many and we pray that he will re­in­state Fa­ther Paul Mor­ton to the parish of St Bride’s in Cam­bus­lang with­out any fur­ther de­lay.”

Fol­low­ing what his four broth­ers and two sis­ters say was an eight-month or­deal, Fa­ther Paul Mor­ton at­tended Hamil­ton Po­lice Of­fice in May. And, fol­low­ing an in­ter­view which lasted less than an hour, all al­le­ga­tions against him were dis­missed.

The priest’s fam­ily said in a state­ment the anony­mous al­le­ga­tion had been “an un­war­ranted and in­com­pre­hen­si­bly malev­o­lent act per­pe­trated by a ma­li­cious in­di­vid­ual.”

Signed by his six sib­lings, the state­ment added: “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, 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.”

They de­scribed Fr Mor­ton’s “dam­ag­ing and dis­tress­ing or­deal” and said it had taken its toll on his “health, emo­tional well-be­ing and on the very essence of his be­liefs.”

They added: “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.”

No-one from the Catholic Church in Scot­land was avail­able for com­ment.

Or­deal Fa­ther Paul Mor­ton

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