North-east Abbey Rocked by Child Sex Abuse Allegations

By Jon Hebditch and John Robertson
Press and Journal
August 8, 2015

Pluscarden Abbey

A mediaeval monastery in Moray has been rocked by allegations of child sex abuse.

Pluscarden Abbey is now at the centre of a police probe into claims youngsters were molested.

It is understood the investigation is focused on allegations a young boy was violently sexually abused and two others suffered physical harm at the 13th century Roman Catholic site in the 1960s and 1980s.

Two men have separately come forward to discuss the alleged abuse with support group White Flowers Alba.

The Roman Catholic Church has been rocked by allegations of abuse in the north and north-east in recent years.

Last month retired priest Colman McGrath, 76, was found guilty of abusing three teenage boys in the 1970s and 1980s at Blairs College junior seminary in Aberdeenshire.

In June it was revealed that nine men have been reported to the procurator fiscal in connection with alleged abuse at the former Roman Catholic boarding school Fort Augustus in the Highlands.

Andi Lavery, who claims he was abused at Fort Augustus, founded White Flowers Alba with Chris Daley, who says he was abused at Nazareth House in Aberdeen.

He said: “When people report abuse to me I’m not happy. It’s a nightmare because someone else has been abused.”

Pluscarden is the only medieval monastery in Britain still inhabited by monks and being used for its original purpose.

They left the abbey at the end of the 16th century, but returned again in 1948, and it is currently home to 20 monks who have chosen to live a disciplined life of prayer and contemplation.

The abbey recently announced plans for a ?4million renovation, to include a new library and facilities to allow women to stay.

It is a popular retreat for Christians and holidaymakers.

Last night Moray MP Angus Robertson described the abuse claims as “extremely worrying”.

He said: “I would encourage anyone with any relevant information to get in touch with the police.”

Yesterday Brother Michael De Klerk of the abbey stressed that the allegations were historical.

He added: “We are going to fully co-operate with police in all their investigations.”

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Police Scotland can confirm that officers are investigating a report of non-recent abuse at Pluscarden Abbey in Moray. Inquiries are at a very early stage.

“Police Scotland will investigate all forms of child abuse regardless of when incidents have occurred and ensure that reports of child abuse are investigated thoroughly.

“Anyone who has been a victim of abuse can come forward in confidence, knowing that we will listen and we will investigate.”

The current Roman Catholic Bishop of Aberdeen, High Gilbert, is a former Pluscarden monk

A spokesman for the diocese of said: “The abbey, bishop and diocese of Aberdeen are of course aware of the police investigation that has just commenced, with regard to historical allegations.

“They will all provide full co-operation with the police and any other parties in relation to these allegations.”








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