Priest closes account over online comments

THE vicar of Doncaster has closed down his facebook account after he was caught in the centre of a four-letter online rant.

A formal complaint was made to church bosses after posts on Canon Dr Paul Shackerley’s account included swearing and comments such as “sin is such fun” and alas, I have religion tomorrow” - a reference of not wanting to hold church services on a Sunday.

But after ‘apologising unreservedly” following a meeting with Bishop of Doncaster, Peter Burrows, the priest-in-charge at Doncaster Minster has now decided to close his account.

It is not the first time the clergyman has caused controversy - he has had a number of facial piercings and some parishioners were upset when the minster was closed over the Christmas period,

In a statement released by the Diocese of Sheffield Bishop Peter said: “I have met with Canon Paul Shackerley and he deeply regrets the use of inappropriate language on his Facebook page which he has now removed.

“Whilst meant in a jocular sense he recognises that some of the language was unfitting. He has apologised unreservedly.

“He sincerely regrets the embarrassment caused to the his congregation, the wider Church and, of course the people of Doncaster.”

Dr Shackerley, is one of Yorkshire’s most high-profile vicars.

The comments sparked concern among parishioners and led to an anonymous complaint to the Bishop of Sheffield, Dr Steven Croft, the Bishop of Doncaster, the Lord Lieutenant of South Yorkshire, David Moody, who represents the Queen and Doncaster mayor Peter Davies.

One of the posts written on a Saturday night, which said: “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?”

In his next post, Dr Shackerley wrote: “Stop swearing. There will be others watching in.”

The letter which tipped off senior church officials to the comments states: “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.

“His present behaviour makes him totally unfit to serve the minster or the people of Doncaster, and totally unfit to serve the church at all in the opinion of many Doncaster residents.”

In April, Dr Shackerley spoke of the pitfalls of internet sites like Facebook in the wake of a student jailed for using Twitter to racially abuse footballer Fabrice Muamba.

He said: “I have known employees receive disciplinary and dismissal notices for inappropriate postings.”