Popular priest set to make a return
Parishioners express their delight
Parishioners at St Bride’s have expressed their delight at the possible return to the parish of Father Paul Morton.
The Catholic Church confirmed last week it had completed its investigation into an allegation of historic sex abuse made against the priest.
Father Morton was cleared by the police in April this year after an eightmonth investigation but still faced a further probe by the church.
Immediately after he was cleared, parishioners launched a petition calling for his return. It was eventually signed by over 2000 people.
The Reformer understands that the church investigation is the second of three stages.
A source said: “The first is the police investigation itself and then there is the church investigation.
“That is now absolutely fine, but then there is a brief period of making sure he’s ok to return, mentally.
“There’s no doubt though that a big, big hurdle has been cleared.”
The news has been welcomed by church goers as well as his family.
A message signed by his brothers and sisters said: “We also wish to offer our heartfelt thanks to all his friends in the parish and beyond who from day one have never doubted his innocence and sought justice on his behalf. We now await Paul’s return to his parish of St Bride’s.”
In an additional statement to the Reformer, they added: “The family would like to add that Father Paul’s return to ministry is absolute proof and vindication of his total innocence of any wrongdoing.
“Father Paul is a man of great spiritual and personal integrity and his return to St Bride’s will be welcomed by his parishioners, the wider Catholic Church and his many friends in other faithbased communities in the Cambuslang area.”
One parishioner placed a Christmas decoration with a picture of Father Morton on it on the church’s Christmas tree before the evening service on December 24.
And the Facebok group, Bring Back Fr Paul Morton to St Bride’s Cambuslang, posted a message saying: “Happy Christmas Father Paul Morton. God Bless you today and in the days ahead as we await your return with hope and joy in our hearts.”
Church goer Kieran Dinwoodie told the Reformer: “The congregation is excited, relieved and hopeful. I think ‘hopeful’ is a very important word here.
“We are hopeful we can get our priest back and let him come back to his parish and his community because that’s where he belongs.
“While it’s been a hard time for everyone there’s a real need to focus on healing now.”
Bishop Joseph Toal, of the Diocese of Motherwell, confirmed the canonical investigation had uncovered no evidence of wrongdoing.
He added: “I acknowledge that this has been a long, painful time for Father Morton personally – facing such allegations has been a heavy cross to carry.
“The parishioners of St Bride’s, his family and friends, and indeed the Diocesan community have found it difficult, and I thank you for the prayers and support offered for Father Morton. A good number of people have written to, or contacted me, through the period of Father Morton’s absence from St Bride’s and I acknowledge here these expressions of care and concern for your parish priest and friend. It is beneficial for me as Bishop to listen to the voice of the lay faithful in difficult situations.
“It was Father Morton’s 30th anniversary as a priest earlier this year and I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the excellent service he has given to the Diocese of Motherwell, and to pray with him and those who have benefited from his priesthood that the years ahead may be richly blessed.”
wish A decoration left on the Christmas tree at St Bride’s following news of Father Morton (main) being cleared by the church