Some of those scholars were mentioned as sources in his dissertation, even while particular verbatim passages from them were reproduced without citation. In other cases, identical or nearly identical passages from published scholars who were never referenced as sources at all were included in the dissertation, Schachenmayr showed.
Schachenmayr also suggested that Robson might have used a plagiaristic technique called the “pawn sacrifice,” in order to avoid detection of plagiarism.
“Citing some sources with apparently great vigilance can be used as a way of distracting the reader from the fact that other passages are not properly cited,” Schachenmayr explained.
Regarding the scholars from whom Schachenmayr reports he seems to have plagiarized, Robson told CNA: “I recognise some of the authors you have quoted and did quote from them.”
Still, he said, “the authors cited can only have been a minor part of what work I did as far as I can remember.”
Robson told CNA that he completed his studies- a doctorate in sacred theology as well as a licentiate in canon law- while he was serving as a spiritual director for seminarians at the Pontifical Scots College, where he was assigned from 1998 to 2006.
He studied during that time “to prevent myself going mad,” the bishop said.
“I have never claimed to be an academic and have not touched any study - I have not had time - since I came home,” he added.
“The studies were never really important to me - simply a means to spending what would have been otherwise an uncomfortable few years in the heat of Rome.”
“My directees were the much more important part of my work,” the bishop added.
Robson is a convert to Catholicism; he became a Catholic in his late teens. The bishop was ordained a priest in 1979, and worked in pastoral ministry, and as secretary to the eventually disgraced Cardinal Keith O'Brien, who resigned from the rights and duties of a cardinal in 2015 amid allegations of predatory sexual behavior toward priests and seminarians.
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Robson was assigned to the Scottish seminary in Rome in 1998.
He told CNA he “had no desire to become a bishop...and yet was appointed in 2012 as an auxiliary bishop and as an Ordinary since 2013.”
After two years as an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, Robson became Bishop of Dunkeld in January 2014.
The bishop served from 2013-2015 as a member of the McLellan Commission, which studied the Catholic Church in Scotland’s handling of clerical sexual abuse claims and the culture that allowed abuse to occur.
Priests who know Robson described him to CNA as a supporter of his priests, “a Catholic, and a believer.”
The bishop is regarded as an outspoken pro-life advocate and an advocate for Catholic education. In 2019, the bishop launched in his diocese a “Year of Re-Evangelisation” and a formation program for catechists.