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WHY IS PERVERT STILL A PRIEST?; Winning saw sick images but cleric keeps on working.

Byline: ANNA SMITH

THE leader of Scotland's Catholics, Cardinal Thomas Winning, last night admitted he had seen the sickening gay porn images kept by Father Jim Nicol.

A statement from a spokesman on his behalf said: "When the Cardinal was alerted to the material which had been downloaded, he immediately went to Father Nicol's home where he saw three images on a computer."

But the church said Cardinal Winning did everything he could under canon law.

The spokesman added: "Since Father Nicol is not a priest of the Archdiocese of Glasgow but, rather, a priest of Motherwell Diocese, the cardinal has no legal jurisdiction over him.

"The cardinal therefore immediately contacted the Bishop of Motherwell Bishop Devine), who does have such power, to inform him of the situation and ask that the necessary steps be taken.

"The cardinal also had Nicol removed from his position at the Marriage Tribunal."

He added: "At no point was the cardinal made aware of any images of the priest himself.

"The material which he did see, he found to be shocking and repulsive."

Cardinal Winning vowed to his flock that he would root out pervert priests.

Sick individuals preying on youngsters would have no hiding place and the naming and shaming of perverts was to be tackled with a confidential "shop-a-priest" hotline.

This was the church's way of taking a firm grip on child protection in the wake of a catalogue of sex scandals.

Yet the church did not call in the police even after viewing the depraved images.

When a Daily Record investigation uncovered the facts behind the sex scandal, we asked the church:

What exactly did Bishop Devine do when he was informed that Father Jim Nicol was downloading porn?

Were the images involving any adolescent or under-age boys?

Were police called in and what happened?

Why is Nicol still serving as a priest in a parish?

Bishop Devine admitted they knew about the porn but insisted that Nicol, of St Anthony's parish, Rutherglen, was fit to serve as a priest.

The Catholic press office said: "When it was discovered that Father Nicol had downloaded pornographic images to his computer, his bishop immediately removed him from his post.

"The police were informed and they decided not to pursue the matter. Father Nicol was sent for professional assessment to Maryland.

"The assessment concluded that there were issues in his life which needed to be addressed, and counselling could be undertaken.

"On returning to Scotland, he began a course of counselling which continues.

"At no time was there any indication given to anyone in the church that these images involved under-age persons. The professional advice given to the church was that Father Nicol was no threat or danger to anyone."

In 1996, Cardinal Winning described child sex abuse as a "dreadful disease" and promised that all complaints would go to the authorities.

Special child care officers were appointed to each diocese and a national co-ordinator brought in to advise on handling each allegation.

It followed a string of child sex cases involving priests amid claims that the church hierarchy had covered up the abuse for more than 20 years.

One of the worst cases involved Father Desmond Lynagh who brutally abused young trainee priests at Blairs College, near Aberdeen.

Lynagh left Blairs College in 1977 but he received therapy and stayed a priest.

The church hierarchy did not report it to the police.

He was unmasked after one of the boys broke his 17-year silence and Lynagh was finally jailed for three years.

It was revealed the church had paid pounds 42,000 in compensation to one of his victims.

And it emerged the church had a secret fund to pay off victims of pervert priests.

The Record revealed that Cardinal Winning was named as a shareholder in an offshore account in Channel Islands-based insurance firm Catholic National Mutual, set up in 1979.

Earlier this year, Father John Fitzimmons claimed the late Cardinal Gordon Gray was among the high-ranking clergy who failed to take action against Lynagh.

Father Fitzimmons, of St John Bosco's Church, in Erskine, said: "We thought the church would deal with it but even that didn't happen."

Canon Joseph Terry, 72, was jailed for six years for indecency against girls aged seven to 16 between 1963 and 1971 as a parish priest for Ballachulish and Kinlochleven.

Father Adrian McLeish, who abused a string of boys and boasted about it on the internet, was jailed for six years in 1996.

He abused four boys in his Durham parish over six years and hoarded the UK's biggest-ever child porn collection.

Children at Nazareth Houses at Cardonald, Kilmarnock and Aberdeen were subjected to abuse by nuns during the 1960s and 1970s.

Sister Alphonso was found guilty of cruelty and put on probation.

In September, pervert Father Michael Hill was released after three and a half years of a five-year sentence for nine attacks on children.

The church was again accused of a cover-up after allowing evil pervert Hill to continue to work as a priest.

In lesser scandals, Roddy Wright, Bishop of Argyll and the Isles, vanished from Oban in 1996 with divorced mum-of-three Kathleen MacPhee.

And it emerged Bishop Roddy had a love child 15 years before to a parishioner.

One of his young priests at Oban, Father Sean McAuley, later booked into a US sex and alcohol addiction clinic.

Parishioners had complained that Father McAuley was involved openly in a relationship with a youth he described as his nephew.

SEVEN PEOPLE WHO BROUGHT SHAME ON THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN SCOTLAND

LYNAGH: Abused trainee priests

TERRY: Jailed for indecency to young girls

McLEISH: Abused young and boasted about it

ALPHONSO: Found guilty of cruelty

HILL: Nine attacks on children

WRIGHT: Vanished with divorcee

McAULEY: Booked into sex and alcohol clinic

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Should Father Nicol be allowed to continue as

a Parish Priest ?

YES 0901 560 7824

NO 0901 560 7825

Calls cost 10p
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Nov 24, 2000
Words:993
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Next Article:WHY IS PERVERT STILL A PRIEST?; Vital question Catholic church has to answer in new scandal.


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