Monday, 7 April 2014


Fr Matthew Despard


"Let me assure you that Father Despard's behaviour - whatever that might be suggested by Andrew Young (another Blog Reader) would pale into insignificance in comparison to the outrageous active gay antics of a considerable number of Army RC Chaplains at the time he was serving. I witnessed it at close hand. Your hair would curl!

Father Despard, for all his faults, was not liked by the majority of his colleagues and was forced out for "not fitting in" - which didn't mean that he was doing anything wrong, just that he didn't fit in with the gay culture of the time. That culture was all pervasive, vindictive, nasty and exclusive. Oh, and highly active as well. I could say a great deal more! And if you were an Army RC chaplain and not gay and active, it meant that you were straight but were probably in the army because you had a child out of wedlock and it was a way of supporting that child, which was most certainly the truth in at least two cases. 

Now Father Despard may be no saint, he may be uncomfortable to have around, he may lack the diplomatic niceities which enable us all to get on and he may have been ill advised to publish his "tell all" book. But he has been abominably treated by the Army RC Chaplaincy, bis Bishops and his Diocese because of his inconvenience, and because he has raised the lid on the bullying gay culture that pervades in, for example, the Army RC Chaplaincy, and the Church in Scotland (see Cardinal O'Brien for a prime example of that ilk).
Fr Tom Butler - Maryport, Cumbria

Father Tom Butler, I believe, came to the end of his time in the Army, namely the end of his commission or age 55 when you are retired (I would remind you on a nice pension, no doubt in his case after twenty odd years of service at well over £ 22,000 per annum indexed linked for life which he will immediately at 55), but his particular problem I would suggest is the bottle, which exacerbates an underlying predilection. I'm sure, Bishop Pat, that would have been the case when he accosted you, he would have been the worse for wear and emboldened to make the approach. Other than that, he is actually a very nice chap. Perhaps even a good priest. Damaged, yes, but then are we not all damaged in some way?

What really gets my goat in all this stuff is the existence of a nasty, bullying, muscular and invariably gay culture in the Church and amongst the clergy (you see it in the Vatican prissiness of monsignor as well as in the rather more mundane dioceses). Clergy suffer because they are "not in" and lives are made miserable. Power plays a big part of it. Its very evident in Scotland, as described by Father Despard, and witnessed by the behaviour of Cardinal O'Brien.
Card Keith O'Brien

How the f**k did that man manage to get where he got? Surely somebody knew what he was up to? And surely his hubris cannot have been so massive that he allowed himself to take on serious leadership roles knowing his predilections and behaviour? I find it hard to forgive him his idiotic pride and hubris, thinking he could lead a double life and get away with it at such a senior level. And, at the same time come out so stridently against orientations which he himself was living out !!  It is one thing to have inconsistencies in one's own life, but to go public in criticising those whose very weaknesses you have is ....well, hypocritical and just plain dishonest. I think that's what did for him in the end. Those who had been damaged by him could not take his public hypocrisy and more.

Enough said!

Bishop Pat says:

Thank you SERVING BLOGGER for your deeper insights. In all these situations we need the TRUTH. "The Truth shall set you free".

Of course Father Despard is not perfect. Which of us are? Maube he is not easy to live with?

But he strikes me as a genuine priest - struggling to have a prayer life and serve people.

He has most definitely been maltreated by his Diocese of Motherwell and by the Gay Mafia in the Army RC Chaplaincy team. It seems to me that his sincerity as a priest was a challenge to them as they lived out their very dysfunctional and crazy lifestyle. So instead of facing the challenge they got rid of the challenger. Instead of listening to the message they shot the messenger!

Father Butler was not a heavy drinker when I knew him. He "approached" me totally sober, and at early times of the day. He was a victim of child abuse himself by a Catholic teacher and a Catholic priest. I explained all this to his bishop - Michael Campbell of Lancaster - who did not want to know me.
Bishop Campbell

Its interesting that Cardinal O'Brien is now in hiding in Campbell's diocese in Cumbria too ???

Is O'Brien there with / without his knowledge and with / without his help ????

We do know that Pope Francis' investigator - Bishop Charles Scicluna - is visiting the UK and Scotland tomorrow for a couple of days:
Bishop Charles Scicluna
I wonder will he talk to Father Despard? I wonder will he talk to Cardinal O'Brien? I wonder will he talk to Bishop Campbell? I wonder will he be in Cumbria?

They used to move "problem" priests from parish to parish. Is it Church policy now to send "problem" priests to Cumbria?

+Pat Buckley



  1. As a practising Roman Catholic in Cumbria I am hoping that our area is not becoming the new "dumping ground" for priests with problems. Our current and previous bishops were Irish - not natives - and I would not like to think that here in Cumbria we are not having an "Irish solution" to a UK problem. Can I hasten to add that both my parents are Irish and I love the Irish. But I just wince at the Bishop Casey, Father Cleary, Father Smyth sagas. I know Cumbria is sometimes called Little Ireland. But I think that we need 21st century responses to psychological and psychosexual problems in the priesthood.

  2. I am a gay priest in a committed relationship with a partner for 7 years. I resent anyone talking about me in terms of "psychological and psychosexual problems". I am mature, integrated, spiritual, human, etc. Some "straight" people and priests have problems.

    Westminster Priest

    1. Are you a Roman Catholic priest? Did you take a vow of celibacy? If so, your problem is not your homosexuality, which is your own business. Your problem is your breaking of your vows.

  3. Fr Butler it seems took some refuge in the bottle. Well so did I. I cant talk about Fr Butler but I can reflect on my own experience. I am an alcoholic sober now the guts of 15 years. I could add sane but my wife Clarice might well dissagree. My family drank because there was no other way for them to relax, escape laugh or cry. I'm talking 60's and 70's Co Roscommon. I believe I had a predisposition to become alcoholic. I yearned for the Priesthood but the oil was not dry on my hands until I found I did not feel "normal" in the job. The issue was my hetrosexuality and I was denied in practice the permission to develop as a functioning sexualy active male. I also enjoyed a pint with the lads which I saw as normal but the lads in the twisted collars ridaculed me for. In the end I said fek them all and retired to my room with Mr Hennessy Cognac-Great stuff in moderation! Sligo is like Ballykissangel & Craggy Island combined. Eventually things exploded I got "caught wit me troosers doon" and I legged it to the England where with Gods help I reinvented and rebranded myself. I did not trust Dominic Conway or others clergy to manage my case properly and the perceived bitchiness of the all powerful parish secretary-lay/female did not help either. I can see how clergy can be confused and repressed but how the fek in this day and age can they carry on as they are. It beggers belief. They are no good to themselves or anyone else. What is the Irish R Catholic Church proclaiming or preaching. What the fek have they done to the Word of God. Are there any genuine parishioners any more and who gives a jot for their spiritual welfare-Sean

  4. Hi again:

    just a couple of qualifications from my original post.....

    Father Tom Butler.....he is a decent guy, and I think he has made a good fist of some difficult hands....such as the abuse he suffered himself, and his penchant for the bottle. He is still working away, probably much loved by his parishioners, in spite of any weaknesses and fragilities that he may have. But for the grace of God.... So, I'm not sure that the foibles of his youth should still stand as the test for judging him now. I know, + Pat, that you wrote to his Bishop and let him know of your experiences with him. I suspect that Bishop Campbell didn't completely ignore your contact, but placed it in the balance of Father Butler's years since then in ministry, and the ministry he is still able to give to the Church. Father Butler may not be perfect, then none of us is. But, let's give the guy a chance.

    Cardinal O'Brien....maybe I was just a bit too harsh on him ? I still think he should have had the sense to decline leadership promotion, but self delusion happens to us all. I do worry that he is being hounded at present, and I suspect that he will be taken apart by the filleting knife in the near future. He's to be made an example of. In spite of Pope Francis' bonhomie etc., he is a tough guy and I reckon he has made a decision to make an example of Cardinal O'Brien - pour encourager les autres ! He's just moved on the Bishop of Bling in Germany for the same reasons, I think. But, back to Cardinal O'Brien. He is the product of his upbringing, training and the culture of the Church in Scotland. He ruled in that style as well. Sadly, he is coming to grief because of his behaviour and the way he ruled. Although, there will be another side of him which many will remember with fondness. But, he is yesterday's man, an example will be made of him, and hopefully clergy and particularly Bishops will take note and amend their ways and behaviours and styles of leadership.

    As for the correspondent from Westminster who says he is a gay priest in a committed relationship, I have no doubt that he is physiologically and psychosexually sane and balanced. However, Holy Mother the Church still does not. She thinks he is 'intrinsically disordered' by orientation, and given that he is a priest Holy Mother the Church thinks he is way out of line because he is not observing his promise of celibacy, both physically and emotionally. I admire him for navigating a way through the morass of the life in which he finds himself and for finding some kind of relationship that keeps him sane, happy, off the streets, and emotionally stable. Nothing wrong with that. But, don't expect Holy Mother the Church to be warm and fuzzy about that, If She finds out, he will be hauled over the coals.

    There are two problems here. Firstly, the way the Church views pretty much every moral situation regarding people and the way they live their lives through the spectrum of the the loins and genitals. What nonsense ! Until we come up with a more sensible and mature way of understanding people and their emotional and physical and relationship needs, we will continue to have a narrow and unjust set of criteria for human value.

    Secondly, the business of compulsory clerical celibacy is a complete nonsense. It does not work. It never has worked. It has been and still is responsible for grave unhappiness and disorder amongst priests. A huge proportion of priests have to find ways around it in order to preserve their sanity and stability, and if they don't then they usually fall in to graver disorder or grave unhappiness. The Church is responsible for great misery amongst priests, and one day they will have to answer for such an oppressive requirement before The Lord.

    Enough for now !

    1. And so say I agreeing with the last paragraph above Yes absolutely Soooo "why the fek is nobody doin nothing" ? Sean

    2. I wonder what Vincent Cardinal Nichols would make of one of his priests being in a committed gay partnership for seven years? Westminster Priest are you mature enough to "come out" to Vinnie and live openly as a gay part of God's creation? I think you know what the reaction would be in Ambroseden Avenue dear Father. As Vinnie said to one priest of his diocese: "Stay out of my "In-Tray" Father, or I'll have your guts for garters!" Gone are the compassionate days of George Basil Hume, or even the bumbling, incompetent Murphy-O'Connor, alas.

  5. I agree with the comments above. I have told my religious superiors about my life and their advice: "Be discreet, Father". We have actively gay men in the English RC episcopate too - although they have so far managed to keep themselves under the radar. They live their lives in fear and are watching the O'Brien saga with some trepidation.

    Westminster Priest

    1. Catholics are sick to the stomach of fake priests. What shepherds we have, God help the church.

  6. I think that should be Church with a capital C.

  7. Just found out about Fr Despard through a Facebook link. Googled him and have been led all over the place - his book, his parish, his suspension, his seminary experiences. As a cradle Catholic who spent five of my teenage years training to be an Irish Christian Brother, I think I can claim to have some relevant insights into the Church and its interactions with sexuality. But that's not the exact point I want to make here. I want to give added gravitas to the description Fr Despard gave about his experiences in the seminary he attended in Scotland. Whilst Cardinal Vincent was Archbishop in Birmingham, a female colleague of mine found herself at Oscott Seminary one lunchtime, eating with the staff and seminarians. This would be about 11 or 12 years ago. She commented, jokingly, to the priest next to her about the "good looking young men" on the seminarians' tables. "You're wasting your time," he replied. "They're all spoken for - with each other!" Depressing, I thought at the time. One day the church will have to allow priests to marry and have family lives. Celibacy is not a prerequisite of priestly vocation. Most of the Apostles were probably married! No the Church needs to rethink its position and allow priests to express their leanings, be they hetero or homo. The hypocrisy and double standards has gone on long enough. The Vatican is just as bad. Cover up it is for sure. Fr Despard should consider his position and, if he wants to continue his ministry, should give serious thought to becoming a C of E Anglican Vicar. I'm certainly giving serious thought to joining my local CofE church.