A GLASGOW priest has said there are parallels between the Jewish Holocaust and the sexual abuse of children that has blighted the Catholic Church.

Father Jim Lawlor said that, while he wasn’t directly comparing the mass executions of the second world war under Hitler's Nazis and child abuse by priests, there were similarities because of the ‘vulnerability’ of those affected.

Fr Lawlor has created a permanent memorial in a prominent area of The Immaculate Conception church in Maryhill to remember those, ‘harmed by our behaviour' and hopes other parishes will follow his lead.

He acknowledged that 20 years ago, it is unlikely a memorial such as this would have been placed in a Catholic church, but said that even older parishioners had acknowledged the need for it.

He said that while working in Barlinnie jail, inmates would reveal they had suffered childhood abuse, ‘as if they were telling me the colour of their eyes.’

The memorial is dedicated to ‘All victims of abuse, of any kind, in Catholic institutions' and acknowledges the abuse ‘with deep shame and sorrow’ calling for 'healing and change' within the church.

A major inquiry is underway in Scotland, looking at allegations of physical and sexual abuse at around 70 institutions, including former children’s homes and leading boarding schools.

Read more: Former altar boy says he was sexually abused and beaten over three years 

Father Lawlor said: “I’ve been a priest for 30 years and if I had known 30 years ago that my organisation and in my life as a priest, would be bound by this...I can’t get my head around it. It is unspeakable.

“We feel massively ashamed about the mess we have got ourselves into.

“I have preached very explicitly about some of what is happening, and what has been reported in the media.

“Some people might say, such a little thing as a candle, it’s powerless but our church is all about symbolism. It is a gesture that says, we haven’t forgotten.

East Kilbride Connect:

“There was a kind of sense that we have to do something. We wanted to send out a message to all the people all over the world who have been harmed by our behaviour.

“It’s in a very prominent place, it’s where a lot of people go and we will make sure it is burning all the time.

“To not do anything....well, silence colludes. In the 1980s and 90s, you wouldn’t have seen this.

“People were saying we can’t pretend that this isn’t happening. Even some of the older parishioners - the ones you might not expect - have said that. 

“I worked in Barlinnie ten years ago and the thing that struck me was how endemic sexual abuse was. And that’s not to minimise what is going on in my church.

Read more: Children suffered abuse at Catholic run care homes, abuse inquiry finds

“The men would tell me they had been sexually abused as if they were telling you the colour of their eyes. We are the Catholic Church, there is more expected of us.”

The parish priest aid the idea for the permanent memorial was sparked during recent trip to the Czech Republic and was placed in the church during November, when Catholic churches remember deceased family and friends.

He said: “I was in Prague for a couple of weeks and they had a lantern burning to remember those lost in the Jewish Holocaust. It was something that really rang true for me.

“That this church and this memory will never be in darkness.

“I’m not comparing this to the Holocaust but there are parallels because of the vulnerability of those affected.

“It was a spontaneous thing but it is something that has really captured people’s imaginations. 

“The lantern is now surrounded by flowers that have been placed there by parishoners. It was in the porch initially, but it is now in front of the statue of Our Lady.

“We had a film crew in the church, filming a version of Alan Warner's play, The Sopranos (about a Scottish girl's choir on the rampage) and all these hardened roadies were coming up to look at it."