Joseph Toal

Joseph Anthony Toal
Bishop of Motherwell
Church Roman Catholic Church
Diocese Diocese of Motherwell
Appointed 29 April 2014
Installed 23 June 2014
Predecessor Joseph Devine
Personal details
Born (1956-10-13) 13 October 1956 (age 65)
Roybridge, Scotland, UK
Nationality Scottish
Denomination Catholic
Residence St Gerard's Presbytery, Bellshill, Scotland
Previous post(s) Bishop of Argyll & the Isles
Coat of arms Joseph Anthony Toal's coat of arms

Joseph Anthony Toal (born 13 October 1956) is a Scottish Roman Catholic bishop. On 29 April 2014 he was named by Pope Francis as the fifth Bishop of Motherwell, having served as Bishop of Argyll and the Isles since 2008.[1]


Born in Roy Bridge, Inverness-shire, Scotland on 13 October 1956, he was ordained a priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Argyll and the Isles at St Columba's Cathedral in Oban on 10 July 1980.[2]

After ordination Toal served in Daliburgh and Ardkenneth on South Uist, Campbeltown and Benbecula before being appointed spiritual director at the Royal Scots College in Salamanca, Spain, in 1999. He was then vice rector before becoming rector of the College.[citation needed]

Toal was appointed bishop of the Diocese of Argyll and the Isles by the Holy See on 16 October 2008 and consecrated to the episcopate on 8 December 2008. The principal consecrator was Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews & Edinburgh. The principal co-consecrators were Archbishop Faustino Sainz Muñoz, Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain and Bishop Ian Murray, Bishop Emeritus of Argyll & the Isles.[2]

Toal has been given the names of complainants who allege Cardinal Keith O'Brien committed predatory sex against them. Toal stated to The Observer newspaper, "It's been hard listening to what's being said, but it's important we hear what they're saying and the gravity of the situation. If I can help in some way, I will."[3]

On 29 April 2014, Toal was appointed by Pope Francis as the fifth Bishop of Motherwell. He was installed on Monday 23 June 2014 in Our Lady of Good Aid Cathedral, Motherwell.


Matthew Despard complained about what he called a culture of homosexual bullying within the Catholic Church and alleged that higher-ranking clergy ignored or facilitated abuse. Toal arranged for letters to be given to Despard's parishioners strongly critical of Despard and later suspended him. Toal condemned Despard for questioning his authority. The overwhelming majority of parishioners walked out during a Mass which Toal held in Despard's former church. Parishioner, Geraldine Penches who was loudly applauded by others in the congregation described Matthew Despard as, "a very honest man" adding, "This is more scandal to rock the Catholic church which has to be hushed up. Because Father tells the truth he is removed from his priestly duties. We the people are the church, not the bishops."[4] There are complaints that Despard was disciplined without being represented and a petition calling for his reinstatement got over 1,000 signatures.[5]

Toal maintained the accusations Despard made were false and defamatory.[6][7]


  1. ^ Pope Francis appoints new Bishop of Motherwell Archived 29 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b "Bishop Joseph Anthony Toal". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 6 October 2010.
  3. ^ Cardinal Keith O'Brien still a danger, say abuse accusers
  4. ^ "Mass walkout during service",; retrieved 23 January 2016.
  5. ^ "1300-strong petition fights for suspended priest",; retrieved 23 January 2016.
  6. ^ "Shamed Cardinal urged to tell life story by former Irish leader",; retrieved 23 January 2016.
  7. ^ "Parish fury as Catholic Church suspends rogue priest over 'sexual bullying' exposé",; retrieved 23 January 2016.
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Bishop of Motherwell
2014 - present
Preceded by
Bishop of Argyll & the Isles
2008 – 2014
Succeeded by