Priest who said Catholic Church suffered a ‘culture of homosexual bullying’ made to leave parish

PinkNews logo on pink background with rainbow corners.

A priest, the author of a book which alleged that the Catholic Church suffered from a “culture of homosexual bullying”, has been made to leave his parish.

Bishop Joseph Toal back in 2013 removed Father Matthew Despard from his post at St John Oglivie Church in Blantyre, which is part of the Archdiocese of Motherwell.

The church has brought a case against Father Despard for breaking canon law by writing the book ‘Priesthood in Crisis’.

He wrote the book ‘Priesthood in Crisis’ in 2010, but he self-published it on Amazon’s Kindle store in March in the wake of the resignation of Cardinal Keith O’Brien.

The book claimed that a powerful ‘gay mafia’ covered up a culture of sexual bullying.

Parishioners walked out of a service, voicing opposition to the removal of the priest, which was confirmed by a spokesman for Bishop Toal.

He was later reinstated after appeals, but has now been told he must vacate the parish.

Father Despard was told he had “injured the good reputation of a number of people, both lay and clergy.”

Friends of Father Despard in April 2013 spoke of fears that he may be sacked for publishing the book.

Cardinal O’Brien, 75, resigned as leader of the Scottish Catholic Church in late February 2013 following accusations by several priests of inappropriate “sexual conduct”.

The allegations surfaced one day after Cardinal O’Brien told the BBC that male priests within the Catholic Church should be able to marry female partners.

The cardinal’s progressive stance on heterosexual matrimony ran counter to his views on LGBT equality.

Last November, Cardinal O’Brien was named ‘Bigot of the Year’ by Stonewall due to his staunch opposition to marriage equality.

In 2012, he stated that same-sex relationships were “harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing” and compared equal marriage to slavery and child abuse.

The same year, he admitted that his “sexual conduct” had been “below the standards expected” of him. 

A Vatican inquiry concluded in April – and no further action against Cardinal O’Brien was taken.

Cardinal O’Brien announced his departure from Scotland as part of a period of “spiritual renewal”.