Wednesday 3 May 2023

Executive Summary

Herewith, the Executive Summary from the Canonical Investigation Report into the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle.

"Allegations that lewd parties took place at St Mary’s Cathedral during the pandemic are simply untrue. What did happen is that following the sanitisation of the cathedral after permitted services the volunteers who carried this out were invited into the cathedral house for refreshments. On occasion after long days the volunteers were offered a take-away meal and a glass of wine. At the time, covid regulations were in force and a report was made to Northumbria Police, but no action was taken. Subsequently, as part of this investigation a further report has been made to the police, who once again decided to take no action. Bishop Byrne was not present at any of these gatherings."

So there.

"The sale of Bishop’s House at West Denton and the purchase of a replacement at Gosforth attracted publicity in the local, regional, and international media. Although the relocation realised a financial surplus it was considered by many priests, deacons, and people in the diocese to be an error of judgement. Gosforth is a middle-class area where property prices are high and out of reach for most people in the diocese. Bishop Byrne could have relocated to a property that served his and diocesan needs in a less conspicuous area at a lower cost. This would have been a sign of his willingness to come closer to his people."

Which "priests, deacons, and people in the diocese"? Who gives any thought to this sort of thing? Who even knows about it? And big houses tend to be in middle-class areas, that is just reality. A bishop could live in a one bedroom flat, or in a monastic cell, but those po-facedly suggesting such a thing fail to understand what a Bishop's House does. "The relocation realised a financial surplus." Again, then, so there.

"The sad death by suicide of Canon Michael McCoy brought great sorrow to all those who knew him and had benefited from his many years of service to the diocese. During those years, there had been two occasions when Michael McCoy had been the subject of safeguarding plans regarding boundaries relevant to working with older teenagers. There had been no allegations of a sexual nature against Michael McCoy until April 2021. His death by suicide followed a visit by Northumbria Police saying that such an allegation had been made against him. In considering Michael McCoy’s appointment to the Cathedral, Bishop Byrne had been notified from more than one source of the safeguarding issues. It was an error of judgement to then promote a priest with a safeguarding record to a high-profile position. Instead, Bishop Byrne could have paid greater heed to ensuring that Michael McCoy was appropriately managed given the safeguarding concerns which had been raised."

What does any of that mean? If "there had been no allegations of a sexual nature against Michael McCoy until April 2021," then what were his "safeguarding plans regarding boundaries relevant to working with older teenagers"? This has the whiff of a certain feminist generation's swivel-eyed hostility towards any independent social, intellectual or spiritual relationship between older and younger males, purely because it is beyond their control. And they well and truly control the Catholic Church in this country. Along with most other things. Major political projects have been brought down in no small measure for the same reason. But Canon McCoy coordinated school chaplaincy in this Diocese for many years, so is the safeguarding-industrial complex admitting that he was doing so while subject to one of its "plans"? There remains no suggestion that he was guilty of the allegation that was used to hound him to his death.

"A further error of judgment occurred regarding Timothy Gardner, a member of the Dominican order, who is a convicted paedophile who Bishop Byrne has known for many years. They were seen associating together in public in Newcastle and it was known that Gardner was a frequent visitor at Bishop’s House. Despite being advised by senior priests in the diocese that this was an inappropriate relationship Bishop Byrne insisted that it was a pastoral relationship and therefore appropriate and refused their advice. Bishop Byrne failed to understand the risks he was taking both for himself and the diocese."

Risks of what? "Associating together" how, exactly? Someone in the Church has to have a pastoral relationship with convicted paedophiles, although it is worth pointing out that this one has never been to prison and has never been accused of a contact offence. There is no suggestion that Bishop Byrne offered him any role in the Church.

"During the investigation the issue of academisation of schools was brought to my attention. I am fully aware of the strongly held views on this topic, and the concerns that were raised during Bishop Byrne’s tenure. Education is an important area of mission in this and all dioceses, and one which I will be looking into further in the coming months."

In their shared historic fiefdoms, such as the North East of England, the liberal wing of the Catholic Church is symbiotically related to the right wings of the British Labour Party, of the American Democratic Party, of the Australian Labor Party, and so on. At least in Britain, those political machines' strongest powerbases are in the state-funded schools, meaning that the Catholic ones are dominated by liberals as a subset of Labour Rightists, and indeed vice versa. It is undeniably the case that academisation was and is an existential threat to all of that.

"There are other matters that have emerged leading up to and following Bishop Byrne’s resignation which are internal to the diocese of Hexham and Newcastle and are not directly of public interest. I do not propose to comment on these, save to say that there are no concerns in terms of governance or the operation of the Diocese."

So there.

"The safeguarding review carried out by the Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency is near completion and will be published in full in the next few weeks. I have been encouraged by the interim reports to date and am satisfied that safeguarding in the diocese is safe."

So there.

"Bishop Byrne’s resignation was accepted by Pope Francis on 12 December 2022."

It does not take five months to decide whether or not to make an arrest pursuant to one allegation of sexual assault by an adult against another adult, and all rumours as to what Bishop Byrne was now doing presuppose that he holds an Enhanced DBS check, which he certainly would not hold if he were subject to such a Police investigation, or probably if he ever had been. There has never been a Police investigation into His Lordship. He should now sue every media outlet that had suggested that there was one. An Oratorian does not take a vow of poverty, and the English Oratories have friends who could afford any lawyer in London. I alone have publicly defended Bishop Robert Byrne CO. I have done so from the very start.


  1. Pat Buckley is absolutely furious.

    1. There are some very sore losers on there today.