NEWCASTLE, England (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Vatican is investigating a homosexual "sex party" at an English cathedral after its bishop quit and the cathedral dean, who organized the event, killed himself following allegations of abuse.
The archbishop of Liverpool, Malcolm McMahon, is leading the inquiry into the resignation of Bp. Robert Byrne, who resigned as bishop of Hexham and Newcastle in December, revealing that his office had "become too great a burden" to bear.
Bishop Byrne has been reported to police following an allegation of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest from the diocese of Arundel and Brighton.
A letter from McMahon said that he had been asked by the Vatican's Dicastery for Bishops to prepare "an in-depth report into the events leading to Bishop Byrne's resignation," The Sunday Times reported.
Individuals complained about the party and said "the cathedral had become a laughing stock."
The party, which reportedly featured a drag queen, was held in the presbytery adjoining St. Mary's Cathedral in Newcastle during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Father Michael McCoy, the cathedral dean abruptly appointed by Bp. Byrne to replace the popular previous incumbent Fr. Dermott Donnelly, is said to have approached several worshippers in the diocese and asked them if they would like to attend the party.
On April 10, 2021, Canon McCoy's body was found hanging in an apartment on City Road in Newcastle, four days after Northumbria police informed the priest that they were investigating "a non-recent allegation" of child sex abuse against him.
Authorities told the 57-year-old dean that he would be invited for a voluntary interview in due course and that the complainant was yet to provide a full account to Northumbria police.
A toxicology report found alcohol in his system, which was one and a half times the legal drink-drive limit, as well as "higher than therapeutic levels" of prescribed medication. A pathologist said that these did not cause or contribute to his death.
Canon McCoy had moved into an Airbnb apartment but was wanting to find another place to live and was making inquiries into other properties, the inquest learned. Coroner Karen Dilks concluded that the priest had taken his own life, and she gave a ruling of suicide.
In July 2022, Fr. Dermott Donnelly, best known for being the brother of British television presenter Dec Donnelly, died from a suspected bleed in the brain. Before Bp. Byrne replaced him with McCoy, Donnelly served as dean of St. Mary's Cathedral from 2013 to 2019.
Meanwhile, a diocesan spokesman said the Hexham and Newcastle diocese had "previously invited" the Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency to conduct a review "following the resignation of Bishop Byrne in December 2022."
Steve Ashley, CSSA's CEO, confirmed that they had begun an "official independent unscheduled safeguarding review" on Thursday. The review will cover "any reported abuses, alleged abuses, safeguarding concerns and the culture of safeguarding in the diocese as a whole."
Meanwhile, the CSSA is conducting a separate investigation focusing on convicted sex offender Fr. Tim Gardner and his relationship with the diocese.
At Southwark Crown Court in London, Gardner pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography and was given a suspended prison sentence of eight months after he was caught in 2014 with 500 indecent images of children and 5,000 prohibited pictures on his computer.
The judge described Gardner's computer password as "so revolting" that it should not be read out in court.
The friar, who was based at St. Dominic's Priory and taught religious education at Maria Fidelis Catholic School from 2006 to 2012, even lobbied the government as an adviser to the Catholic Education Service.
Gardner was allegedly offered church-owned accommodation after his conviction, but senior diocesan personnel stepped in to block it.
Richard Scorer, a specialist abuse lawyer at Slater & Gordon, told Church Militant, "These appalling revelations suggest serious failings of leadership, and indeed a profound moral vacuum, at the top of the diocese of Hexham and Newcastle. Ordinary Catholics who contribute to the collection plate are entitled to so much better."
Scorer, who acts for many victims of abuse in the Catholic Church, elaborated:
These disclosures reinforce my sense that the senior layer of the English Catholic Church needs a comprehensive clear out. But I'm afraid I have little confidence in any "investigation" by the Vatican. Pope Francis has shown himself to be untrustworthy on the abuse issue, so we can have little hope that any investigation will result in serious change.
A Charity Commission spokeswoman said that the government regulator is "aware of potential governance and safeguarding concerns at the diocese of Hexham and Newcastle" and "have opened a regulatory compliance case and are engaging with the trustees."
In 2017, Vatican gendarmerie raided a drug-fueled homosexual orgy at an apartment at the Palazzo del Sant'Uffizio (Palace of the Holy Office), used by the secretary of Cdl. Francesco Coccopalmerio, one of Pope Francis' key advisers.
The flat where they discovered hard drugs and a group of men engaged in homosexual activity is in the same building as the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith.
At the time, Coccopalmerio was president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, the Church's most important canon law office.
Francesco Antonio Grana, who broke the story, says Pope Francis, whose Casa Santa Marta residence is just 500 yards from the Holy Office, was aware of the raid and knew of the priest's capture.
In 2020, a residential building secured for migrants by Pope Francis' almoner Cdl. Konrad Krajewski was used for a drug-and-alcohol-fueled illegal gay rave on New Year's Eve, Church Militant reported.
The event was advertised on Facebook as offering a "faggot, free and rebellious" New Year.
[The featured picture shows Bp. Byrne with Canon McCoy in Newcastle Cathedral.]