PSNI probing cocaine storm cleric Fr Stephen Crossan
A bishop has said he will pray for the health of a Banbridge priest allegedly caught on camera taking cocaine and displaying Nazi memorabilia at his parochial house.
Fr Stephen Crossan (37) has become the centre of controversy after a Sunday newspaper reported he snorted cocaine at his home on the grounds of St Patrick's Church in Banbridge after a party last July. A video of the incident was uploaded onto the national newspaper's website.
The Belfast Telegraph can also reveal that a police investigation has been launched. When contacted, a PSNI spokesman said: "Police are aware of the article in the Sunday newspaper and are making enquiries." In the short video, Father Crossan is seen at a house party being handed a rolled-up £10 note. He can be heard saying "I shouldn't", before snorting what's believed to be cocaine from a plate.
Pictures were also published of Nazi memorabilia including a golden eagle with a swastika on a mantelpiece and a Second World War German officer's cap. The Sun on Sunday said Fr Crossan had defended himself, saying: "It was just the one night and that was it. I do not have an issue with drugs."
He added: "I'm no Nazi. I collect historical stuff. There's stuff there from every country."
Fr Crossan added that he was on sick leave with depression at the time, had since left the Church but was being supported by the parish.
Bishop of Dromore Dr John McAreavey said in a statement he had "no knowledge of the incident", but confirmed Fr Crossan was now taking an "extended leave from the priesthood".
He said he was "concerned for the health of Fr Crossan and will pray for and support him and his family through whatever issues he is facing at the moment".
The Bishop also confirmed that in May 2015 Fr Crossan, a curate in the Diocese of Dromore, was granted leave from pastoral duties in Seapatrick Parish on health grounds.
Since that time he has received counselling "while also considering his own future".