Priest applauded over vow to fight sex ‘slur’

Fr Robert Kane
Fr Robert Kane

A PRIEST got a standing ovation in church when he threatened legal action against a fellow cleric over claims of homosexuality and theft.

Fr Robert Kane, parish priest at St Teresa’s in Newarthill, is angry at allegations made in a controversial book which has caused uproar in the Roman Catholic community.

Its author, Fr Matthew Despard, claimed in ‘Priesthood in Crisis’ there is a culture of sexual bullying in the church in Scotland.

He made allegations about a number of individuals and, although people have not been named, some believe it’s clear whom Fr Despard is referring to and are planning to sue for defamation.

Fr Kane told parishioners from his pulpit that he denies the claims which he believes relate to him and is considering legal action.

Councillor Peter Nolan, who represents Newarthill on North Lanarkshire Council and is a parishioner at St Teresa’s, said people have given Fr Kane (64) their backing.

He said: “Fr Kane knew this would soon be in the public domain and wanted to nip it in the bud. He got a standing ovation when he made his statement from the pulpit and said the matter’s with his lawyers. I can speak on behalf of the parish when I say there is wide support for him.

“He has done an excellent job in Newarthill and I think people appreciate that. We all hope he gets through this ordeal.”

Fr Despard (48), who is originally from Motherwell, is parish priest at St John Ogilvie in Blantyre. Fr Kane spent a short time there before moving to Newarthill.

Fr Despard said: “It’s not him I referred to. He’s way off the mark here and I think he’s jumping on the bandwagon.”

The book was published online earlier this year, but has since been withdrawn. Fr Despard is being investigated under church canon law in relation to the book and could be removed from the priesthood if disciplinary charges are upheld.