Priest who faced abuse claims to stay out of public ministry

Fr Paul Symonds who was not charged by civil authorities to ‘live as retired priest’

In a statement the diocese of Down and Connor said that in October 2009 it was notified by the civil authorities “of concerns of a safeguarding nature raised against Fr Paul Symonds”. File photograph: Christian Hartmann/Reuters

In a statement the diocese of Down and Connor said that in October 2009 it was notified by the civil authorities “of concerns of a safeguarding nature raised against Fr Paul Symonds”. File photograph: Christian Hartmann/Reuters

 

The diocese of Down and Connor in Northern Ireland has decided a priest who faced child abuse allegations but was not charged by the civil authorities should remain out of public ministry.

In a statement on Friday the diocese said that in October 2009 it was notified by the civil authorities “of concerns of a safeguarding nature raised against Fr Paul Symonds”.

In accordance with church policy it said Fr Symonds “stepped aside to facilitate a full investigation by the civil authorities”.

However “in 2011, after statutory investigation, with which the diocese and Fr Symonds co-operated fully, and during which Fr Symonds was never charged with a criminal offence,” it said “the determination of the Prosecution Service was not to prosecute”. After which, as is procedure, “the church’s own internal canonical inquiry resumed”.

That canonical investigation “has reached the decision that Fr Paul Symonds will live as a retired priest without any public ministry”, it said.