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Anorak | Was The Story of The Alleged Durham Priest Paedophile Suppressed To Time With Pope’s Visit?

Was The Story of The Alleged Durham Priest Paedophile Suppressed To Time With Pope’s Visit?

by | 17th, September 2010

ONE site the Pope is not going to visit during his UK Grand Tour over the next three days is the once secretive, and locally sometimes infamous, Roman Catholic Seminary for training young men to the priesthood Ushaw College, Durham.

With near perfect timing the Northern Echo yesterday celebrated the end of the Dog Days and revealed to it’s readers:

A priest has appeared in court charged with possessing child pornography.

Father John Shannon was a lecturer at the 200-year-old St Cuthbert’s Seminary, also known as Ushaw College – the Roman Catholic training centre for priests in the North of England.

“Fr Shannon has been suspended from duties since his arrest at Esh, near Durham City, three months ago. The arrest was prompted by information passed by the seminary to Durham Police.

“Fr Shannon was charged with 16 counts of making an indecent photograph of a child on or before June 16, when he was arrested. The offences are alleged to have been committed at Esh and relate to images classed as between levels one and four in severity….level five being the worst. Fr Shannon was charged with a further count of possession of 763 indecent photographs of children when he appeared at Consett Magistrates’ Court.

He was not asked to plead and was bailed to an address in Cambridgeshire, to return for a scheduled committal hearing next month”.

What’s odd about this story is the fact Northern Echo looks to have held it back until the Pope’s arrival.

Later in the Darlington paper’s tale comes the confirmation of a ‘let’s use it at the right time’ editorial policy.

“In a joint statement, St Cuthbert’s Seminary, the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, and Durham Police said: “As a result of information provided by St Cuthbert’s Seminary to Durham Police, Father John Shannon, a priest of the Diocese of East Anglia, was arrested on June 16 at Esh, County Durham.

“A full investigation was immediately launched, resulting in Fr Shannon being charged with a number of offences on August 6. He appeared at Consett Magistrates’ Court on August 17. Fr Shannon was suspended on June 16 and has resigned from his duties at St Cuthbert’s Seminary”.

Timing is all, but is this suppression of a cracking news story (and a court appearance of exactly a month ago) and a questionable use of a Press freedom?

On the other hand: does anyone remember Deep and Abiding, the yarn which appeared in Anorak a full six months ago and keeping up with the Anorak habit of being ahead of the game? This was a by-product of Ushaw College and from more years ago than I care to want to remember.

There is a long tradition of local suspicion about the Seminary and, as stated at the beginning of this, there is local infamy about the place. It has long warranted a more than passing investigation. Many minds have been improved and, some say, enlightened at Ushaw … in other cases lives may have been, allegedly, ruined.

Only one of the Church’s institutions the Holy Father may have to address in the very near future. – AGW

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Susan Boyle performs at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow, ahead of an open-air mass by Pope Benedict XVI.



Posted: 17th, September 2010 | In: Key Posts, Reviews Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink