Vatican backs reinstatement of Gippsland priest

A Morwell, Victoria priest has won his appeal to the Holy See Congregation for the Clergy against his removal as parish priest by the Bishop of Sale diocese, according to local reports.

Into the Deep, a newsletter published by self-described "orthodox Catholics" in the diocese of Sale, reports that Congregation for the Clergy has upheld an appeal by Fr John Speekman against his removal as parish priest of Morwell in Victoria's Latrobe Valley by Bishop Jeremiah Coffey.

The newsletter says that the Decree upholds Fr Speekman's appeal on the basis that Bishop Coffey did not provide any evidence in his second case which had not already been found insufficient in the first case.

As a result, the Congregation found that an earlier July 2004 Decree calling for Fr Speekman's reinstatement as parish priest of Morwell still stands.

Fr Speekman was originally appointed to Morwell by Bishop Coffey in July 2000.

In late 2001, a school principal is reported to have made an accusation of "psychological harassment" against the priest.

After a Catholic Education Office enquiry found that Fr Speekman was guilty of bullying and verbal abuse, Bishop Coffey removed Fr Speekman from governance of the parish schools without giving reasons.

Eventually in July 2003, Bishop Coffey issues a Decree removing Fr Speekman as parish priest of Morwell.

Fr Speekman formally requested revocation of the Decree setting in train the appeal process to the Congregation of the Clergy.

Fr Speekman To Be Returned! Vatican issues second Decree in his favour (Into the Deep, December 2006)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Sale diocese
Sale Decree 2004

Bishop considering options on Rome support for "bullying" priest (CathNews, 25/8/04)

Rome overrules Aussie Bishop (Online Catholics, August 2005)
Letters (Online Catholics, 29/8/05)

1 Dec 2006