Monday 20 January 2014
Attention British Catholic Bloggers
We all know that the media has a field day when a Roman Catholic priest or brother is accused, usually by Roman Catholics, of having either had an affair with or sexually abusing someone--usually another Roman Catholic.
Our hurt that a priest has (or may have) hurt one or more of us (again, Roman Catholic) laypeople or priests, behaving shamefully and sacrilegiously, is compounded by the media's salacious interest in the case, sometimes reviewing it again and again, giving the impression that there are more accusations than there actually are, and as many convictions as there are accusations. This leads to public contempt towards ALL church-going Roman Catholics, and public approbation for merely tribal Catholics who loudly declare themselves separate from "all that rubbish." And this is particularly painful in the United Kingdom, especially Scotland, where, since the Reformation, Roman Catholics have been a marginalized and very often reviled minority.
And for all these reasons, it is a matter of great joy that the Edinburgh High Court has quashed the unjust conviction of Father Mark Paterson, O.Carm. Father Mark Paterson, former Catholic chaplain at Aberdeen University, did not sexually assault his accuser. Father Mark Paterson did not behave shamefully and sacrilegiously. And a short paragraph or paragraphs in a few British newspapers and blogs have briefly mentioned that the conviction was quashed.
That is not enough. Father Paterson has been maligned in the press. The nasty testimony of his (adult, female, non-student) accuser was described in salacious detail in the tabloids. However, the testimony of his defenders has not been read by the public until now. The news was not, for example, in this week's Catholic Herald, as we might have expected (but this may be because the paper went to press before the editors heard the news).
Not good enough. Bells should be ringing from Papa Stronsay in the
Orkney Islands to the Abbey of Saint Cecilia in Ryde. However, that's not going to happen overnight. Just as it was left to a layman to work for seven years to get Father Paterson's conviction appealed, it has been left to British Catholic bloggers and social media to get the word out.
So let's get the word out. Please repost this post, or post "The conviction of Father Mark Paterson, O.Carm. for sexual assault has been quashed" and then link either to my article at Catholic World Report or to this post at Laodicea.
It's not PC to say so, but it is a fact: some accusers of priests are just making up malicious stories for gain. And, given this case, one even begins to wonder if a Roman Catholic priest can get a fair trial in Scotland, even today.
Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream (Amos 5:24).