Bishop offers apology over ‘shame’ of school sex abuse
Bishop of Aberdeen Hugh Gilbert expressed “distress” in a Sunday mass at Fort Augustus parish church.
The small community was rocked last week by reports of sexual abuse spanning decades at schools belonging to the local abbey.
Speaking before the mass the bishop told Scotland on Sunday that he wanted “to say sorry for the hurt caused to the victims.”
He said: “I share the horror and shame. I’m afraid that people do terrible things. These things do happen, and unfortunately have, and it is a terrible tale of broken trust and integrity.
“I will be going there in order to speak with the parishioners and to say how distressed we have all been by the allegations that came out in the recent programme … and just to say sorry for the hurt caused to the victims.”
A BBC Scotland investigation aired last week revealed evidence and survivor testimony alleging that Benedictine monks at the Fort Augustus Abbey school and its prep school Carlekemp physically and sexually abused the children in their care.
Five men who were interviewed claimed they were raped or sexually assaulted by Father Aidan Duggan between 1953 and 1974 before he returned to Australia.
Another priest Father Chrysostom Alexander was also accused of repeatedly sexually abusing a pupil in 1977.
But when the boy’s parents complained, headmaster Father Francis Davidson did not alert police and allowed Alexander to return to Australia without mention of the complaint.
Both schools are now closed and Police Scotland have confirmed the cases are under investigation.
Preaching at 12.30pm mass in the parish church at Fort Augustus Bishop Gilbert said during a Baptismal homily: “It is a most bitter, shaming and distressing thing that in this former abbey school a small number of baptised, consecrated and ordained Christian men physically or sexually abused those in their care.”
English Benedictine Congregation Abbot President Richard Yeo has also offered an apology.
Bishop Gilbert added: “I join him in that.”
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