Catholic priest is suspected of abuse

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The Independent Online

A priest suspected of abusing children has been ordered to stand down from his public duties, the Catholic Church confirmed last night.

A priest suspected of abusing children has been ordered to stand down from his public duties, the Catholic Church confirmed last night.

Parishioners attending mass at St Thomas More parish in Sheldon will be told today that their priest, Father Gerard Flahive, 50, is now on "administrative leave" until an investigation by the police and child protection unit is complete.

The new Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, has issued a statement saying that the investigation relates to alleged incidents which took place more than 20 years ago.

The Catholic Church in Britain has been badly damaged by allegations of child abuse, and it is bracing itself for legal action from many victims.

The Birmingham archdiocese is under particular pressure to act promptly as three of its priests have been convicted of abuse: Sam Penney, Ted O'Malley and Eric Taylor from Father Hudson's Homes.

The Archbishop said that putting Fr Flahive on enforced leave was "prudent action" taken in line with church guidelines. There was no implication of guilt.

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