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A British cathedral is under investigation by the Vatican following rumors that it hosted a “sex party” during the pandemic lockdown.
The Catholic church is investigating claims that a priest at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Newcastle, U.K., brought parishioners to his residence attached to the church. The claims stem from another investigation into the resignation of Robert Byrne, who was the Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, according to the Guardian.
Worshippers from the congregation told church higher-ups that Father Michael McCoy, who serves as dean of the cathedral, asked them to go to a party even when such get-togethers were banned.
“A number of complaints were made by individuals within the diocese after information came to light about a sex party taking place in the priests’ living quarters attached to Newcastle Cathedral,” a diocese source said, according to the Sunday Times.
The same priest died by suicide in April 2021 after he found out that he was under investigation by local authorities for child sexual abuse, the Guardian reports.
McCoy joined the cathedral in 2019 by appointment by Byrne. The outlet reports that Byrne was not suggested as being at the party. He resigned his role in December. He told church members that his office, “has become too great a burden.”
He told worshippers, “My own discernment has caused me to recognize that I now feel unable to continue serving the people of the diocese in the way that I would wish.”
The Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency, an independent commission created in 2019 to investigate structures and arrangements to prevent potential harm, is currently investigating the diocese to which the cathedral belongs.
“The scope of the investigatory work will cover any reported abuses, alleged abuses, safeguarding concerns and the culture of safeguarding in the diocese as a whole,” the group’s chief executive officer, Steve Ashley, said.
The chair of the CSSA and former chief prosecutor of the northwest of England, Nazir Afzal, said, “There should be no doubt that we will leave no stone unturned when it comes to keeping people safe, and this includes investigating the safeguarding culture in Hexham and Newcastle.”
In response, the local diocese said it would, “continue to work productively and swiftly with both organizations, learning where it needs to, not from rumors and misinformation, but from the facts and evidence provided.”