A priest who claimed the Scottish Catholic Church was run by a ‘powerful gay mafia’ has alleged that he has been ‘bullied’ by the church. Father Matthew Despard was suspended from his duties in 2013 after he made the shocking claims in a self-published book. A ruling made by the Vatican in 2016 said he could return to work- but only if he makes a public apology for his claims. But Father Despard has refused, saying that he is not sorry for ‘telling the truth’. After publishing his book Priesthood in Crisis, he was suspended from duties at his parish at St John Ogilvie’s in Blantyre, South Lanarkshire. Father Despard remains in employment with the Church, but has been banned from performing certain religious duties, such as saying Mass, the BBC reports. He raised his case with the Roman Rota in Italy in 2016, an internal court for the Catholic Church, where he was told to withdraw the book, he has. But Joseph Toal, the Bishop of Motherwell, said that Father Despard must apologise for any ‘hurt and offence’ caused by his book. The suspended priest refused to apologise, saying his claims have been shown to be true after reports about the Scottish Catholic Church. Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who was once the most senior Catholic cleric in Britain, resigned in 2013 after claims of sexual misconduct against priests as far back as the 1980s. ‘I have privately asked Bishop Toal again and again to return to a parish but have been ignored,’ Father Despard told the BBC. ‘It’s unjust, I’m still waiting here. I have no avenues left but to speak out publicly. I feel I have been systematically bullied and silenced by the church.’ He said the last ten years have been ‘incredibly hard’ on him. He told the BBC that Bishop Toal now wants him to publicly apologise, adding: ‘I don’t see the reason to say sorry. I’m not sorry for telling the truth.’ He said that he fears the Catholic Church are ‘waiting for me to die to end the stalemate’. He said it was ‘cruel’ and showed the bullying they have done ‘for years’. Father Despard is still supported by many in his former parish. A member of a support group that has over 350 members said that he was ‘fantastic’ for the local parish. Retired NHS clerical worker Helen Duddy told the BBC that if a petition was launched tomorrow it would get 500 to 1,000 signatures in favour of Father Despard. A spokesperson for the Diocese of Motherwell told the BBC: ‘Father Despard was asked to make a personal apology to those still living who were written about in his book and who remain hurt and offended by it. ‘To date, these apologies have not been made. ‘Any consideration on suitability for public ministry remains a matter for the bishop. The post Priest who said Scottish Catholic Church was run by ‘powerful g@y mafia’ claims he has been ‘bullied’ after being told he can’t return to work untilheapologises appeared first on Linda Ikeji Blog.