A Catholic bishop has spoken out after one of his clergymen had been caught on camera apparently snorting cocaine.
Media reports in the last 24 hours show footage and stills – seemingly taken on a mobile phone – of Stephen Crossan (37), who formely ministered at St Patrick’s Banbridge.
He bends down to a table an sniffs a line of white powder up his nose.
He is no longer based at the parochial house where the incident is believed to have happened, and is on an “extended leave” from the priesthood.
In a statement, Bishop of Dromore Dr John McAreavey said: “In May 2015 Stephen Crossan, a curate in the Diocese of Dromore, requested and was granted leave from his pastoral duties in Seapatrick Parish on health grounds.
“Since then he has been undergoing a period of counselling whilst also considering his own future.
“At the start of February 2016 Stephen Crossan informed the Bishop that he now wished to take an extended leave of absence from the priesthood. “This was acceded to and last weekend a letter to this effect was read out at masses in Seapatrick parish.
“The Bishop had no knowledge of the incident, which allegedly occurred in the Parochial House in July 2015; however he is concerned for the health of Stephen Crossan and will pray for and support him and his family through whatever issues he is facing at the moment.”
The PSNI were asked if they were investigating the incident.
A spokeswoman responded: “Police are aware of the article in a Sunday newspaper and are making enquiries.”