Roman Catholic priests in Scotland were “out of control sexually” under the leadership of the disgraced Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the Church’s former adviser on child abuse claims.
By John Bingham, Religious Affairs Editor
Alan Draper has accused the Church leadership, of being “unwilling” to expose supposedly celibate priests who were leading “double lives” in the 1980s and 1990s.
Mr Draper, a lecturer in ethics from Dundee University, was brought in to advise Scottish bishops on abuse allegations but was removed after a disagreement.
He has disclosed that bishops were aware of 20 separate cases in the Church between 1985 and 1995 but he alleges that they were “reluctant” to take matters further and rejected his call for independent experts to be brought in.
He is now calling for files relating to Catholic Church in Scotland to be handed over to judge led inquiry.
His comments came just days after the former head Church in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O’Brien – once a fierce critic of homosexuality – left in disgrace after admitting making sexual advances to young male priests.
The scandal has overshadowed the run-up to the Conclave to elect a new pope next week amid claims of a Vatican “cover-up”.
Victims’ campaigners have called for the Cardinal’s handling of all allegations of abuse under his authority to be re-examined in light of his admissions.
Last week one former victim of abuse was reported as claiming that his complaints had been laughed off.
And last night lawyers disclosed that a handful of fresh allegations have come to light in the days since the allegations about Cardinal O’Brien were first aired in the media.
Now Mr Draper has openly accused the Church of being reluctant to risk exposing priests who were living secret lives – as, it has since emerged, cardinal O’Brien was.
He told the BBC: “I was very concerned about their unwillingness to actually expose individual priests who were leaving double lives.
“They were very reluctant to do that, and I felt that was totally inappropriate. It’s not what your sexuality is, it’s how you’re managing your sexuality.
“Certainly there’s strong evidence to say some of the priests were out of control sexually, whether they be homosexual or heterosexual.
“The file should be made open to an independent group, preferably chaired by a judge.”
Last night the Catholic Church in Scotland dismissed his remarks saying the number of cases reported in Scotland each year was “small” and “have only very rarely involved a member of the clergy”.
It added that Mr Draper had been replaced “when others with greater competence were engaged” and insisted that all cases had been reported to police.
The BBC carried an interview with one man who alleges he was abused by a priest from the age of nine who said: “There are many people out there who have been abused.”
Speaking just two weeks ago Cardinal O’Brien, who became Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, laughed as he emphasised how child protection guidelines were once much more lax than today.
Speaking about whether the US Cardinal Roger Mahony, who is accused of covering up abuse allegations, should take part in the Conclave to elect the next Pope, he said: “If he is being judged on what he did in 1980 well of course the rules were a wee bit different then – in all aspects of society as to what we did with allegations of child sexual abuse 20 or 30 years ago.
“The whole world has changed almost in that length of time and certainly our attitude to child sexual abuse has changed.”