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I’m being bullied for exposing ‘gay mafia’ in Scottish Catholic Church, claims priest

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“I have privately asked Bishop Toal again and again to return to a parish but have been ignored,” Father Despard told the BBC.

“It’s unjust, I’m still waiting here. I have no avenues left but to speak out publicly. I feel I have been systematically bullied and silenced by the church.

“Bishop Toal now wants me to publicly apologise but I don’t see the reason to say sorry. I’m not sorry for telling the truth.

“I feel vindicated by some of the things that have come to light about historic practices within the Catholic Church in Scotland.”

The Church disputed his account, saying it had asked for a “personal apology”. A spokesman declined to clarify who he was asked to apologise to.

Father Despard was evicted from his parish home following court action in 2014. He lives in a flat that is paid for by the Church.

He remains officially employed by the Church but his suspension means he is unable to carry out certain religious duties, such as saying Mass.

He added: “In my case, I fear the Catholic Church [is] waiting for me to die to end the stalemate.

“It’s cruel and a sign of the bullying they have been doing for years. I have done everything possible to make amends but won’t say sorry.”

‘He was fantastic for the parish’

He has some support within his local community, with a Facebook group backing him having over 350 members.

“He was fantastic for the parish,” Helen Duddy, a retired NHS clerical worker who is campaigning to have him reinstated, said.

“If I was doing a petition tomorrow for his return I would get between 500 and 1,000 signatures locally calling for him to be returned. It’s very sad.”

A spokesman for the Diocese of Motherwell said: “Father Despard was asked to make a personal apology to those still living who were written about in his book and who remain hurt and offended by it.

“To date, these apologies have not been made. Any consideration on suitability for public ministry remains a matter for the bishop.”

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