Now that the trial of the man accused of the murder of Angelika Kluk is over it is possible to comment on the events as they affect the Archdiocese of Glasgow.
At times it seemed that Fr Gerry Nugent was the one on trial. He was not. It is only fair to recall that his "open house" policy at St Patrick's resulted in many needy people being helped directly or indirectly over the years. Many applauded this policy, without perhaps taking into sufficient account the dangers inherent in its operation in today's society.
On the other hand the prudence expected of any priest in such circumstances was not exercised. His weaknesses and lack of judgement have been exposed.
It is my duty, on behalf of the whole Archdiocese, to apologise to all who have been hurt or scandalised by what has been revealed to have taken place.
Fr Nugent's own admissions reveal conduct which has fallen well short of that which is expected of every priest and he has betrayed the trust placed in him by reason of his office.
I have taken steps to ensure that Father Nugent will no longer exercise active ministry within the Archdiocese, nor will he be recommended for service elsewhere. I asked for and accepted his resignation as Parish Priest on 5th February 2007.
I have no intention of adding further to these remarks other than to ask you all * whether within the Catholic community or outside of it * to pray for all the victims of this awful case, and especially for Angelika whose bright life was so cruelly extinguished in its early shining.
Notes to editors:
St Patrick's Church is expected to re-open after planned maintenance work in the autumn. It is expected that Archbishop Conti will lead a formal ceremony which will acknowledge within its ritual the awful circumstances of Angelika Kluk's death. A new parish priest will be appointed in due course for St Patrick's to lead that community.
The Archdiocese co-operated fully with the police, the Crown and the defence counsel throughout the prosecution of the case against Peter Tobin including providing access to church records, premises and the provision of information.
Fr Nugent will not be assigned to any parish. He has been retired from priestly service. He will no longer exercise any ministry within the Archdiocese. The Church continues to have a duty of pastoral care for Father Nugent, however it is for him to decide how he wishes to spend his retirement.
The Archdiocese is aware that rumours are circulating in some quarters about Fr Nugent's previous sexual conduct. We wish to set the record straight on this. During his 40 years of priestly service the Archdiocese has received one anonymous complaint against Father Nugent of inappropriate sexual activity. That complaint was in 1993.
It was in the form of an anonymous letter and anonymous phone call alleging a sexual assault. The caller was advised to report the allegation to the police. The caller would not give her name and refused to meet officials of the Archdiocese. Despite this lack of detail, the late Cardinal Winning confronted Fr Nugent. Father Nugent admitted an inappropriate consensual sexual encounter. Psychological assessment of Father Nugent concluded that this was the result of alcohol dependency for which Father Nugent accepted treatment and counselling.
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