UK: Scots lawyer calls for Red Mass to be cancelled over Pope’s alleged failures to deal with child abuse

UK: Scots lawyer calls for Red Mass to be cancelled over Pope's alleged failures to deal with child abuse

An annual gathering of Catholic lawyers has become the subject of a row because of the church’s handling of child abuse, The Times reports.

Leading figures from Scotland’s legal profession gather annually at St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh for the Red Mass, which ushers in the new legal year.

One lawyer, however, has called for the event to be cancelled because of allegations that the Pope has failed to expose abuse within the church.

John Leyshon, principal solicitor with Peebles-based Leyshon WS, said the event was poorly timed, writing: “The church is in its worst crisis since Napoleon took the Pope hostage during the French emperor’s incursions into Italy.”

He added: “The Red Mass should be cancelled unless these matters are addressed in some way by the presiding clergy.”

Mr Leyshon said he thought the “parading of the Scottish legal profession before the archbishop in the current circumstances, where there is nothing said about this matter, amounts to complicity.

“A Red Mass which addressed the problems that we face and which would be an act of reparation to God for the depravity of sections of the Catholic clergy would be a public acknowledgement that everything now has to change. But to carry on with business as usual is an act of corporate solidarity with abusers.”

But Glasgow solicitor Austin Lafferty replied: “We all, as Catholics and others, know that the church is wrestling with the scourge of clerical child abuse. We hope and pray that Pope Francis is getting a grip on this and bit by bit, country by country, sorts it out.

“Infallible he may be in church teaching, but I don’t think His Holiness is claiming to wave a divine wand to fix the problem in one go. I am looking very much forward to a collegiate act of worship and uplifting reminder that as a congregation and a profession my colleagues and I can once again draw strength from each other and from our religious observance and faith.”

A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland said: “All abuse is utterly wrong and must be completely condemned, yet the false perception that the Catholic Church has an enormous problem and wider society hasn’t is a wilful deception.

“The church will continue to work to uphold and maintain the highest possible standards of care for all. While seeking to restore the faith and hope of anyone who has been failed, cancelling a Mass for the legal profession would be little more than empty grandstanding and serve no one.”

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