The PSNI say they are making enquiries into claims of alleged drug taking by a Banbridge priest that appeared in a Sunday newspaper at the weekend.
Video footage of Banbridge priest Fr Stephen Crossan allegedly shows him snorting a line of cocaine in his house on church grounds during a party in July 2015.
A PSNI spokesperson said, “Police are aware of the article in a Sunday newspaper and are making enquiries.”
A statement on behalf of the 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.
“No further comment will be made.”
The party is supposed to have occurred following a night of drinking at Fr. Crossan’s home at St Patrick’s, Dromore Street in the town. Fr Crossan (37) is seen taking the drugs in a room filled with Nazi memorabilia.
During the footage Fr Crossan is heard saying ‘I shouldn’t’ before sniffing the white powder off a plate while talking to a friend.
Fr Crossan when confronted by a reporter is quoted as saying “It was just the one night and that was it. I do not have an issue with drugs.”
The Nazi memorabilia Fr Crossan possessed included flags, hats and an eagle with a swastika on his mantelpiece.
One source who was at the party told the Sun on Sunday: “At one point Stephen put on a cap and did the Nazi salute. It’s shocking. He’s supposed to be an upstanding member of society. He shouldn’t be taking drugs.”
The source also said, “Stephen said that he was a social worker but told us the truth when we realised where he lived on church grounds.
“We were really stunned to see all the Nazi stuff everywhere. It was all over the house. It reminded me of that Nazi room in Father Ted - I told him that and he laughed it off.”
Father Crossan from Tullylish near Gilford studied for the priesthood at St Patrick’s College Maynooth, then went to Rome and completed a degree in theology in 2007.
During his years at Maynooth, he was involved in various pastoral activities including prison and hospital chaplaincy, according to a parish website.
He was appointed to Seapatrick parish as Curate in 2012 and before this he served as Curate in St Peter’s parish, Lurgan and the parish of Tullylish.
Fr Crossan, who has been a priest for several years also trained as a teacher in London and worked for the Housing Executive for a time.
He was ordained in 2008.