Priest axed amid sex abuse allegations

St Mary's Church in Cleland
St Mary's Church in Cleland

A priest has been removed from St Mary’s Parish Church in Cleland as Police Scotland investigate historic sex abuse allegations.

Father Richard Rodgers was axed from the parish after a complaint was made to the Motherwell Diocese, and subsequently passed to police.

The 79-year-old has been removed from active ministry for an ‘unspecified period of time’ and will not be living at the parish house as the enquiry is conducted.

Bishop of Motherwell Joseph Toal recently stepped in to cover mass at St Mary’s, while cover from elsewhere in the Diocese will be put in place for parishioners in Fr Rodgers’s absence.

It is thought Fr Rodgers was also involved with St Mary’s Primary School and worked as chaplain at Cleland Hospital.

A spokesman for North Lanarkshire Council’s Learning and Leisure Services said: “We are aware of these allegations.

“As the matter is currently being investigated by the police, it would be inappropriate to make any comment.”

A spokesman for the Diocese said: “Following a complaint received by the Diocese and passed to Police Scotland, Fr Richard Rodgers will not be in active parish ministry for an unspecified period of time.

“Fr Rodgers has agreed to this and will not be living in the parish house or undertaking any public ministry. Fr Hugh Kelly, of St Brigid’s, Newmains, who will be assisted by the Holy Ghost Fathers from Carfin, will act as Administrators of St Mary’s.

“While the Diocese of Motherwell await the outcome of the police investigation, no further statements will be made.”

A spokeswoman for Police Scotland confirmed to the Times & Speaker that enquiries into the matter were continuing.