Priest at centre of pictures scandal to leave area29/04/2012 - 12:16:47
The priest at the centre of a stand-off over the accidental showing of pornographic images at a presentation to parents in a Co Tyrone primary school is to leave the area.
Parish Priest of Pomeroy Father Martin McVeigh announced his decision following a row that has brewed for weeks after parents were outraged when the indecent images of men were screened as the clergyman began a PowerPoint presentation in preparation for their children’s First Holy Communion.
The priest, as well as Catholic primate Cardinal Sean Brady, issued statements today where Fr McVeigh denied being responsible for the images, and said he destroyed the memory stick carrying the pictures because he was shocked in the aftermath of the incident.
Both Catholic church figures said he will leave the parish and take a break from his work, though the cardinal said the priest would return to the Diocese at some future date.
The cardinal said computers at the parish were examined as part of an inquiry and no inappropriate images were found, but a laptop stolen from the church in the aftermath of the incident had not been examined.
Fr McVeigh said: “The last month has been the most difficult of my life. I refer to the meeting of March 26 last with parents of P4/R4 in Saint Mary’s Primary School and my presentation prepared for the upcoming First Holy Communion.
“I deeply regret my failure to check, in advance, my presentation.
“I had no knowledge of any offending imagery existing in it. After the images were inadvertently shown, I immediately removed the memory stick from the laptop.
“In my shock and upset and in my concern to ensure that the images would never be shown again, I destroyed it later that evening.”
His statement to parishioners added: “I appreciate that the incident was very serious in nature and caused much anxiety and distress, particularly to those who were present on the evening in question and I apologise unreservedly for the hurt caused.
“I want to assure you however that I was not responsible for the presence of the offending images and in this respect I ask you to accept my innocence.
“In the hope of bringing resolution and healing to the division and pain within the parish, I have taken the decision to ask Cardinal Brady to allow me to leave the parish of Pomeroy and to take sabbatical leave. The memory of this awful episode will remain with me for the rest of my life.
“Finally, I ask you for your forgiveness for all the hurt and turmoil caused. I remain committed to my priestly vocation and want you all to know that you will be foremost in my thoughts and prayers and I humbly ask for a remembrance in yours.”
Cardinal Brady said the incident had caused “concern and offence to those who were present”.
He added: “Since that time the diocese has undertaken an investigation into two computers in the sacristy as well as computer equipment both in the parish office and in the Parochial House used by Father McVeigh.
“These have been forensically examined by an independent technical expert and no inappropriate imagery has been found.
“However an additional laptop, which was located in the sacristy, was stolen in the period following the March 26 meeting with parents. This stolen laptop did not form part of the technical examination and its theft was reported to the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland).”
He said he joined with the priest in agreeing “with the parishioners of Pomeroy that this offensive incident has caused anger and genuine concern throughout the community”.
Cardinal Brady added: “I join with Father McVeigh in expressing sorrow and regret that such an incident occurred at all. With Father McVeigh I apologise especially to all present on March 26.
“This has been a traumatic time for the whole parish community and for Father McVeigh personally. He has requested a leave of absence and I have agreed to this request on the understanding that he will, on its completion, return to the diocese.
“The diocese will now work to ensure that procedures and policies are put in place for the proper monitoring and use of computers in parishes and other Church environments, especially where these computers can be accessed by a number of people.”
more stories like this:
- once per day, no spam.