Joseph Devine

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This article is about the Catholic bishop. For the Governor of North Dakota (1861-1938), see Joseph M. Devine. For the Scottish footballer (1905-1980), see Joe Devine.
Styles of
Joseph Devine
Mitre (plain).svg
Reference style The Right Reverend
Spoken style My Lord
Religious style Bishop Emeritus
Posthumous style not applicable

Joseph Devine (b. 7 August 1937, Kirkintilloch[1]) was the Roman Catholic Bishop of Motherwell in Scotland.[1]

He was educated at St Ninian's School, Kirkintilloch, St. Mary's College, Blairs and St. Peter's College, Cardross. He was ordained priest on 29 June 1960 at the Pontifical Scots College in Rome.[1] He received his Ph.D. in 1964 from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome.

He was private secretary to the Archbishop of Glasgow from 1964-65. He was assistant priest at St. Robert Bellarmine, Pollok, Glasgow (1965-67) and at St. Joseph's, Helensburgh (1967-72). He was on staff at St. Peter's College, Cardross (1967-74).

He served on the staff of the Episcopal Vicar for the Lay Apostolate from 1974-83. He was appointed as Auxiliary Bishop on 5 May 1977, aged 39.[1] He was ordained bishop by Thomas Joseph Winning, Archbishop of Glasgow, in St. Francis' Church, Gorbals, Glasgow, on 31 May 1977.[1] He was translated to the Diocese of Motherwell on 13 May 1983, aged 45.[1]

Bishop Devine handed his resignation to the Vatican on 7 August 2012, his 75th birthday, as required by canon law. The Diocese of Motherwell was a Sede Vacante until his successor, Bishop Joseph Toal, was appointed. Joseph Devine is now known as Bishop Emeritus of Motherwell.

Public views on denominational education[edit]

In September 2002 Bishop Devine said "Denominational education is an enabler of sectarianism", also "Roman Catholic schooling is divisive - sometimes it's a price worth paying".[2] He justified the remarks by saying "The Catholic community believes that with denominational schooling comes the creation of a common set of values - a coherent system that has the academic curriculum and moral and spiritual life in tandem".[2]

Public views on Parishes[edit]

In February 2008 he called for an audit of police officers to combat sectarian discrimination against Catholics.[3] The discrimination includes denying promotion to Catholics above a certain rank.[3] Anti-sectarianism charity Nil by Mouth supported the call.[3]

Public views on homosexuality[edit]

In March 2008, as part of a public lecture on Sectarianism and Secularism, Devine drew controversy when he spoke about a perceived "gay lobby" attending Holocaust memorials "to create for themselves the image of a group of people under persecution." He idenitified this as part of a "giant conspiracy". Devine explained, "Like Mel Gibson, who said, 'I'm going to pick a fight', so am I...The homosexual lobby has been extremely effective in aligning itself with minority groups. It is ever present at the service each year for the Holocaust memorial, as if to create for themselves the image of a group of people under persecution."[4][5]

Devine went on to criticise the decision to honour Sir Ian McKellen for his work for equality and, by way of illustrating the advances made in equality for gays, pointed out that Oscar Wilde had been jailed for homosexual offences. He also took the opportunity to give advice to parents of gay children. "This must be a nightmare moment for any parent. I would try to handle it with a degree of compassion. But I would not tolerate that kind of behaviour. I would not condemn but I would not tolerate it."[4][5]

Critics of Bishop Devine cite that between 5,000 and 15,000 gay men were held in concentration camps by the Nazis as members of an "anti-social group." Historians estimate that 60% of them died while incarcerated.

In 2007, Bishop Devine stated that he would close the Roman Catholic adoption agencies rather than help same-sex couples to adopt children, and earlier in the year suggested that homosexual men and women would not be fit to teach in classrooms.

Financial Controversies[edit]

In November 2008, Bishop Devine attracted controversy when he demolished his home in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire in order to build a new residence at an estimated cost of £650,000.[6] This occasioned criticism from many among his flock in the diocese, and from beyond. His purchase of the now demolished house also caused controversy in the tabloid press, who claimed that he had considered the acquisition of a property with a swimming pool. This was denied by Bishop Devine.

Sexual abuse scandal[edit]

In April 2013, The Observer alleged that as Bishop of Motherwell, Devine had protected priests who had sexually abused children and tried to silence or discredit their victims.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Bishop Joseph Devine, Bishop Emeritus of Motherwell, Scotland,
  2. ^ a b Bishop admits sectarian problem, 22 September 2002, retrieved 3 July 2009
  3. ^ a b c Scots police face sectarian audit, Jason Allardyce, The Times, 27 February 2008, retrieved 3 July 2009
  4. ^ a b Catholic bishop hits out at 'gay conspiracy' to destroy Christianity, Tristran Stuart-Robertson, The Scotsman, 13 March 2008, retrieved 3 July 2009
  5. ^ a b Bishop criticises gay community, BBC News, 13 March 2008
  6. ^ Grand Devine's, Charles Lavery, Sunday Mail, 23 November 2008
  7. ^ Deveney, Catherine (7 April 2013). "Catholic priests unmasked: 'God doesn't like boys who cry'". The Observer. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Francis Thomson
Bishop of Motherwell
Succeeded by
Joseph Toal