Vicar who posted foul-mouthed messages on Facebook and complained about going to church investigated by senior clergy


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The Independent Online

A vicar who posted foul-mouthed messages on Facebook and complained of going to Church on Sunday is being investigated by senior clergy after a complaint from a parishioner.

Canon Dr Paul Shackerley of Doncaster Minster said that “sin is such fun”, and boasted of relaxing and drinking alcohol.

Seemingly not one for the liturgical hard line, Dr Shackerley began his posts at 7pm on a Saturday evening. “I think I will put my feet up. I've done f*** all today other than jazz lesson and visit a friend. I hear the fizz of tonic in my gin beckoning,” he wrote.

"Alas, I have religion tomorrow. At least I'm not preaching this week. Preaching next week at St Mary Abbotts Kensington though. Best make that a good one eh?"

The comments were “liked” by eight of his Facebook friends, including the church’s director of music, Darren Williams. Perhaps aware that the comments could rile the more devout members of his congregation, Dr Shackerley urged them to “Stop swearing. There will be others watching in”.

After he was rumbled, he told the Yorkshire Post that a meeting had been arranged with the Bishop to discuss the matter.

 Bishop of Doncaster Peter Burrows said: "We are aware of the complaint and we will be investigating it. I think we all know that things like Facebook, Twitter and other social media are immediate ways of communicating 'in the moment'.

"But we do as clergy need to be very conscious of making the distinction between something that might have what I would call a work focus and something that might have a more personal or private focus.

“Obviously for clergy these two lives are often not completely separate, but I will be seeing Paul as soon as I possibly can so that we can talk about what has happened in this case.

“There are a number of quite complex and difficult issues for the church that have been raised by this. They will need to be addressed and we do take seriously the complainants' comments.”

The anonymous letter which alerted the press to the vicar’s social networking blunders has been sent to senior clergy and other dignitaries in South Yorkshire. It claims that “in the opinion of many Doncaster residents”, such behaviour renders him “totally unfit to serve the church at all”.

“Your priest colleague uses language that most would find abhorrent for a man in his position and pretty distasteful for anyone, as a matter of fact,” it continues.