Scottish priests who father children may be allowed to continue serving the Church and their communities.
The Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, through the Catholic National Endowment Trust (CNET), has said that bishops may be allowed to discern the best possible course for a serving priest in this position. The CNET’s general secretary Hugh Bradley said that the “simple default position” of insisting that a priest who fathers a child should leave the priesthood would have to be reviewed and amended. He said that “every bishop would want to discern the best ways in which it is possible for the father of a child, who is a priest, to fulfil his responsibilities. Each case should be judged on its merits”.
The issue is a contentious one in Scotland, where the former bishop of Argyll and the Isles, Roderick Wright, controversially resigned from the episcopacy in 1996 amid reports that he had been having an affair with his housekeeper, and had fathered a son with another parishioner in the 1980s. Vincent Doyle, the founder of Coping International, a charity that supports children of priests, thanked the Bishops’ Conference for its statement.
The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has also indicated that it would be up to bishops to discern what to do in these cases. A spokesperson told The Tablet: “Every bishop in England and Wales is willing to meet anyone in their diocese in a similar situation.”