Priest Dismissed By Catholic Church

A priest has been dismissed after being found guilty by the Catholic Church of "canonical offences''.

Father Thomas Mullen was removed from the church following an ecclesiastical investigation, though the Crown Office did not proceed with a prosecution.

Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, said the Holy See has been examining allegations of abuse involving minors with the "greatest care and urgency'' in recent years.

Parishioners at Our Lady of Lourdes in Dunfermline were told of the decision regarding Father Mullen on Sunday.

In a letter to parishioners, the Archbishop said: "With the canonical process now completed, I regret to inform you that, in a trial which finished recently in Rome, Father Mullen was found guilty of certain canonical offences.

"As a result, he has been dismissed from the clerical state. This means that he may no longer function as a priest, present himself as such or celebrate the sacraments.''

He added: "I know this is a harsh blow for many of you and I share your sense of shame and distress. I also feel for the family and friends of Father Mullen, who will recall with affection the good that he also accomplished while a priest among you.

"While it is right to do so, we ought to remember that this sentiment must be balanced against the gravity of the abuse of minors, something which cannot go unheeded, above all when found in someone who ought to be an unequalled example of goodness and purity in our midst.''

The Crown Office said it had noted the Catholic Church's announcement.

A Crown Office spokesman said: "The procurator fiscal at Dunfermline received a report in 2011 concerning this individual in connection with alleged incidents in 1976 and 1993.

"After full and careful consideration of the facts and circumstances of the case, Crown counsel decided that there was insufficient available evidence for a prosecution and as a result no criminal proceedings were taken at that time.

"The Crown reserves the right to proceed in the future should further evidence become available and the complainers were advised of this decision by the procurator fiscal in February 2012.''