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[06 FEB 01] CRIMES, FIRES & ACCIDENTS
Child Sex Abuse Priest Defrocked By Pope

The Pope has defrocked a Catholic priest who was jailed for sexually abusing young boys in his care.

Eric Taylor, aged 80, was convicted at Warwick Crown Court in 1998 of 18 sexual offences against boys and sentenced to seven years in prison.

Pop John Paul II has sanctioned the Decree of Laicisation, which returns Taylor to a layman and removes all his rights within the church as a priest.

The offences took place between 1957 and 1965 at the Father Hudson Society home in Coleshill.

Taylorís victims, all in their 40s and 50s, have been campaigning for years for the Catholic church to acknowledge that further action should be taken against the priest. They also demanded an official apology.

The church has previously refused to comment on the case, saying it was an individual matter, and not the responsibility of the diocese.

But it later emerged that Taylor had a previous assault conviction, and was allowed to stay with another priest in Kenilworth and work with children despite this.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham said Taylor had been told that he had been defrocked.

He said:

"On February 1, 2001, Eric Taylor received and accepted the decision of Pope John Paul II by which he is returned to the lay state within the Catholic Church.

"From that moment, he is no longer a Catholic priest.

"The request for dispensation was made jointly by the Archdiocese of Birmingham and Eric Taylor himself.

"It was made and has been granted for the good of the Church."

Archbishop Nichols added at a press conference:

"This is a moment of profound sadness for it underlines publicly failure in the life of a priest, the deep distress suffered by those who were abused by him and the sense of shame and sorrow carried by many Catholics, both people and priests.

"I again express my sorrow and regret for the events that took place those years ago. I assure all concerned that I will do everything I can to bring about reconciliation and a new start."

He said changes had been made to protect youngsters from rogue priests in the future.

"The atmosphere has changed very considerably in the last 10 years. There is now a keen awareness to provide safe environments for all children in the care of the Church whether it's for a few hours or many years."
 
   

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CWN / Crimes, Fires & Accidents / 6 Feb 01
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