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Image caption The two men have been at the centre of controversial allegations in the past
The former president of the Catholic Church in Scotland (CCSC), Cardinal Donald Welsby, has rejected the latest claims against the Church, saying the allegations were “unprecedented” in their sensitivity and the church would “take every measure” to protect individual rights and interests when dealing with victims of abuse.
Former US ambassador to the Holy See John Roosa and two other men, the former Catholic priest Martin Cranie and the former Scottish government minister Sir Keir Starmer, say they were sexually abused by priests as youngsters.
In recent weeks, the two men have launched a lawsuit against the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian Church).
Their lawyer, Kevin Curran QC, said the victims had not been sufficiently informed.
The suit alleges that the church should have given victims the same opportunities to be heard.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that he had met Cardinal Welsby in 2002 but that he had not been aware of the allegations.
He said he was “pleased” that he had been involved but he was “totally wrong” to make the allegations against the church in the “most sensational way”.
“It’s entirely irresponsible”, the Rev Michael O’Meara, a member of the Presbyterian Church in Scotland (PCS), said.
“There are people who are innocent, some are, some of them were. The way this kind of thing is being treated makes me think that they don’t think they have a cause for complaint.
“The general position is that people who abuse children do something wrong. The evidence in this case has led us to believe that is not the case and we believe there’s a proper way to deal with it.”
The Church has said the allegations have to be dealt with on a case by case basis, with a report to the church’s safeguarding commissioner due in March.
The church has asked the police to investigate Mr Roosa, Mr Starmer and John Cavanagh, the former MP for East Dunbartonshire.
The allegations of sexual offences against the church – which have not previously been made public – were disclosed in February by the former chief of staff to the secretary of state for education, Kenneth Clarke.
The victims are