Fr. Thomas at a funeral service
Fr. Thomas at a funeral service

Rumours that Catholic priest Monsignor Eustace Thomas was sent on administrative leave pending a decision by Bishop Gabriel Malzaire on a matter affecting Father Thomas is just that- a rumour.

While refuting that story, Bishop Malzaire said findings and recommendations on the Fr. Thomas issue from a board in Trinidad were still pending.

"I have not received anything yet…the case is still in process in Trinidad and I am just waiting patiently. I wish that I did not have to deal with such matters, but as a leader these are some of the task that you are faced with. I can tell you that once I have received anything I will be faithful to my duties," Bishop Malzaire said.

Bishop Malzaire confirmed that presently Father Thomas, who was scheduled to take up duties in Salisbury on September 1, 2017, was on sick leave, to be followed by annual and sabbatical leave of absence which Father Thomas himself requested.

In August 2016 Bishop Malzaire issued a decree in response to a complaint against Fr. Thomas.

After quoting Common Norms of the Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC) which states that such complaints brought before the bishop must be taken seriously, Bishop Malzaire said in the decree that bishops are mandated to "promptly initiate appropriate action keeping in mind the canonical rights of the accused.

" As prescribed by canon 1717 the bishop should either personally or, as mentioned above through his Delegate initiate promptly and objectively a preliminary investigation in order to establish the objective basis of the allegation and of the substance, that is, of the object of the alleged delict," the decree stated. "Therefore, I Gabriel Malzaire, Bishop of Roseau does thereby decree that a preliminary investigation be conducted to establish the objective basis of the allegation of the substance of the object and the delict".

Bishop Malzaire has been accused of sweeping the matter under the carpet but a priest who is familiar with the issue has defended the Bishop saying that Malzaire is following the policy of the church.

"The Bishop has followed every guideline to the "t'. He has sent the matter to an independent investigator in Trinidad who gathers the evidence then writes a report to the review board, not the Bishop. All sides must be given equal opportunities. Then the review board writes a report to the Bishop who then sends it to Rome," said a priest who requested anonymity to discuss these sensitive church issues.

The source said that whatever decision or recommendation from the board, even if the priest is on a sabbatical, the Bishop must implement the verdict.

"He must carry out the decision or recommendations, whenever that is given, but for now that decision is pending and nothing can be done," he said.