According to British media, the dean of St Mary’s Cathedral was to invite the faithful to the living quarters of St Mary’s Cathedral in Newcastle during the quarantine. The Vatican is investigating reports of a party that was supposed to be held there. In December, the bishop of the local diocese, Robert Byrne, resigned.
The investigation into the alleged party is taking place as part of clarifying the circumstances surrounding the resignation of Bishop Robert Byrne as bishop of the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle in December 2022, The Guardian informs.
The Sunday Times has obtained a letter to the clergy and staff of the diocese in which the Archbishop of Liverpool, Malcolm McMahon, said he had been asked by the Vatican Dicastery for Bishops to prepare an “in-depth report on the events leading up to Bishop Byrne’s resignation”. Archbishop McMahon currently leads the diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, pending the appointment of his successor.
Investigating the alleged event
Robert Byrne as bishop of the diocese left in December. He explained his resignation by saying that the position of bishop “became too much of a burden.” “I have decided that I now feel unable to continue to serve the faithful of the diocese in the way I would like,” he wrote in a letter to the clergy. However, there have been speculations that his resignation may be related to the alleged party. One of the local priests, Michael McCoy, was to invite the faithful to a private party at his apartment during the lockdown in 2021. However, it is not known whether Byrne attended the event or whether he knew it was taking place.
According to British media, there were complaints from the faithful that McCoy had encouraged them to attend the event. “After reports of sex parties taking place in priests’ homes, there have been several complaints from individuals in the diocese,” The Sunday Times newspaper said, citing a source in the diocese. In April 2021, Father McCoy committed suicide four days after it was revealed that police were investigating him for alleged child sexual abuse.
“The scope of the investigation will include all reported abuses, alleged abuses, safety concerns, and a safety culture across the diocese,” said Steve Ashley, director of the Catholic Safety Standards Agency (CSSA), which launched an inspection of the diocese last week at McMahon’s request. He added that independent recommendations would be made as soon as possible.