Paedophile priest performed Catholic Mass for children following return from US treatment centre

Interior of The Lady Chapel, Westminster Cathedral, - Timothy Budd / Alamy Stock Photo
Interior of The Lady Chapel, Westminster Cathedral, - Timothy Budd / Alamy Stock Photo

A paedophile priest who was sent to the US for “therapy” returned to the UK and was allowed to carry out school inspections and perform Mass for children, it has emerged.

Father Joseph Quigley, 56, a former national education advisor for Roman Catholic schools, sexually and physically abused a boy and locked him in a church crypt.

Last week Quigley, of Aston, Staffordshire, was convicted of a string of child sex offences, and was found guilty by jurors at Warwick Crown Court.

A judge said that “a lengthy prison sentence is inevitable” for the “sado-masochistic” priest, and remanded him in custody while a report is prepared on him to assess the danger he poses in the future. He is due to be sentenced in January.

During Quigley’s trial it emerged that when the allegations of abuse first came to light in December 2008. He was removed from his parish and sent to the St Luke’s Institute, a treatment centre for priests based in the US, for six months worth of “therapeutic intervention”and that the police were not informed.

The decision was made when Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the current Archbishop of Westminster and most senior Catholic in the UK, was Archbishop of Birmingham - a role he held from 2000 to May 2009.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols -  David Rose
Cardinal Vincent Nichols - David Rose

However it has now emerged that after his “therapy” in the US, Quigley not only visited a primary school to offer Mass, surrounded by children, but he also continued to carry out school inspections.

The Telegraph has seen photographs of Quigley, a past pupil and former Chair of Governors at St Thomas More Catholic Primary School, Birmingham, from December 2009 offering a Mass of Thanksgiving for a teacher’s retirement. This took place just months after he returned from the US.

This newspaper has also seen an inspection report from Rye St Antony School, an independent Catholic school, a day and boarding school for girls aged three to 18 and boys aged three to 11. The school report details that Quigley was one of two reporting inspectors in May 2011.

Responding to the developments, a Catholic abuse victim who has given evidence to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, said: "The fact that Joe Quigley was still going into schools and representing the Diocese on inspections just beggars belief.

“The Church had already received complaints about him and had identified that he was in need of 'treatment'.

“The fact that the Church could get this so wrong and that such bad mistakes had been made leaves the Church and its current leadership with little credibility.

“There must be independent, external oversight of its safeguarding and new leadership if any effective changes are to be made."

The decision to send Quigley to the US was made not only when Cardinal Nichols was Archbishop of Birmingham, but also after both the Nolan (2001) and Cumberledge Commissions (2007) had recommended a serious overhaul of the Catholic Church’s safeguarding procedures.

In response, a spokesman for Cardinal Nichols said: “Joseph Quigley was removed from parish ministry and sent for professional assessment and therapy in January 2009, following a complaint that had been made in December 2008 about his behaviour with another man, whom he had first met as a VI Form Student.

“He returned to the Diocese in the summer of 2009. Archbishop Nichols was appointed to Westminster Diocese in April 2009 and left the Birmingham Diocese in early May 2009. He played no part in the assignment of Joseph Quigley to ‘restricted duties’.”

A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Birmingham added: “The Archdiocese is committed to the ongoing improvement of safeguarding and in light of the recent trial we are further reviewing the files associated with the case regarding Joseph Quigley and the subsequent management of this case.

“The complaint made in 2008, initially by a third party, was considered by the Archdiocese of Birmingham’s Safeguarding Officer and Safeguarding Commission.

“Advice was sought from the police, in the person of a member of the Commission who was a serving officer. A serving probation officer was also a member of the Commission.

“The decision was made that the matter should be referred to the Children’s Services manager who had responsibility for those in positions of trust.”