FATHER Frank King was rebuked by the Bishop of Motherwell Joseph Toal over a series of messages he sent on Facebook to Tony Moore.
BY Stuart McDonald
A PARISH priest has been removed from his post after a complaint was made to church bosses that he harassed a former altar boy online.
Father Frank King was rebuked by the Bishop of Motherwell Joseph Toal over a series of messages he sent on Facebook to Tony Moore.
The 29-year-old yesterday told how he was stunned when King, 50, started bombarding him with messages asking to meet up.
The priest contacted him online and repeatedly asked him to go out for dinner or meet up at his house.
When Tony, a hairdresser, didn’t reply to the messages, the priest at St Aidan’s church in Wishaw, Lanarkshire, tried to call him several times.
Tony had a meeting with Bishop Toal, where he showed him the messages and raised concerns about King’s behaviour.
Shocked: Tony Moore(Image: Pressteam)
Church bosses yesterday said King had been warned about his use of social media and has been relieved of his duties.
Parishioners were informed he would not be conducting services when they attended Mass at the weekend.
Tony, of Wishaw, told how he met King briefly in a restaurant in May last year when he was dining with a mutual friend. The priest later added him as a friend on Facebook.
He said: “When he first added me on Facebook, I wasn’t really sure who he was. He sent me a couple of messages just asking how I was, which I replied to just to be polite.
“But then I got a message from him asking me to come to his house to have a drink. I thought it was a bit strange and I didn’t reply.
“I then couldn’t believe it when I looked through his Facebook photos and saw he was a priest.”
Tony added: “I hadn’t heard anything from him for more than a year but then last month he started messaging me again.
“He was saying things like, ‘We need to get together’, ‘Why don’t you come to mine’ and ‘Don’t be shy’.
“They were inappropriate and provocative. It continued for three days. I was getting messages at all times of the day and night.
“I found it really creepy and I couldn’t believe I was being pestered like this by a priest.
“I had given absolutely no indication that I was interested in meeting up with him. It made me feel really uncomfortable and I went to my mum and told her what had been happening.”
Tony, his mother and sister met Bishop Toal last week.
He said: “The bishop looked through the messages but he never wrote anything down about what they said and then he asked me if I was surprised by it.
“He said he would speak to Father King and get back to me. He phoned me later and said he had spoken to Father King, who he said was very upset about it.
“He said Father King had said he thought he remembered me from when I was an altar boy and that’s why he had added me on Facebook. I have no memory of him.
“The bishop then said he had told him the messages were inappropriate and that it would not be happening again.
“I don’t know if he has done anything wrong legally but it is certainly morally wrong.”
A Diocese of Motherwell spokesman said: “This matter was not referred to the police. The priest concerned was asked to exercise care when using social media.”
Meanwhile, it emerged at the weekend that a priest from Perth has been suspended over historic abuse allegations.
The Catholic Church called in police after the allegations emerged against Father Tom Shields, the priest at St John the Baptist church in Perth.
He has been ordered to stand down from his duties while the claims are investigated.
Sadly another shocking scandal for the Catholic faithful of Scotland.
Since the Cardinal O'Brien scandal, there has been one scandal after another to rock the faith of the Scottish Catholics.
There are all kinds of scandals and problems worldwide in the Catholic Church - but the prevailing one seems to be the gay scandal of seminaries, dioceses and religious orders.
It seems that many of these scandals are born in the seminarians with seminarians and priests abandoning their professions and promises.
We saw it in Ireland with Maynooth and indeed with The Irish College in Rome.
It seems that they had similiar problems in Scottish seminaries and in The Scots College in Rome.
These are not isolated incidents.
They suggest a very clear pattern - a pattern that the Pope and the world's bishops are going to have to address.