The Scottish Conference of Catholic Bishops has been ordered to pay more than £450,000 to a former priest who was sexually abused at a school for boys wishing to enter the clergy.
As a teenager in the 1970s, the ex-priest suffered “infamous” sexual abuse at the hands of the “spiritual director” of a Scottish seminary.
Between the ages of 14 and 16, he was assaulted in his dorm bed two or three times a month.
At the age of 18 he left college and attended a seminary in Rome and was later ordained a Roman Catholic priest in Scotland.
In 1996, her attacker was convicted and sentenced for separate, unrelated offences.
For many years, the victim exercised his role as a priest in an “effective and respected” manner.
However, the trauma of being “subjected to despicable sexual abuse by his spiritual director…has plagued him for many years.”
Judge Lord Clark found that his personality, his ability to function and his life were altered as a result.
“He did what he could to block the memories and effects of the abuse from his mind, but there came a time when he couldn’t do that anymore,” Lord Clark concluded.
“As a perhaps obvious consequence, remaining in one’s role as a priest was burdened with intolerable difficulties. The loss he suffered and continues to suffer can never be adequately addressed by a simple award of damages. »
Lord Clark heard testimonies that as a result of the abuse the victim had lost faith in the Church.
The former priest’s sister said she saw changes in his behavior. He had become obsessive and compulsive and very easily irritated. She felt like he had gone into hibernation and become more reclusive, confused, and uptight, going from “gregarious and witty” to “isolated and withdrawn.”
He became “a social hermit” because of the abuse and torture he suffered, the judge heard.
Later, the victim asked to officially leave the priesthood, which involved writing a request to the pope.
In his letter to the Pope, he wrote: “Having served as a priest since [redacted]I found it increasingly difficult to exercise my priestly ministry due to the effects of a period of psychological and sexual abuse that I suffered as a teenage seminarian at the minor national seminary of [the College].”
His request to leave the priesthood was granted and he ceased to be a Roman Catholic priest.
Lord Clark concluded that the deliberate and repeated sexual assault and abuse resulted in psychiatric injuries that caused him to “secularize” – to leave the priesthood.
Lord Clark concluded that the damages award should include compensation of £55,000 and a further £400,000 for consequential losses resulting from leaving his post as a priest.
The Bishops’ Conference of Scotland has apologized to the former priest.
A spokesperson said: “The Catholic Bishops of Scotland extend a deep apology to the individual in this matter who has been hurt and suffered as a result of inexcusable and intolerable actions.
“We reaffirm our deep and unwavering commitment, made over the past decades, to creating and maintaining a robust safeguarding system to ensure that the church is a place of safety for all.”