Parish ‘deeply divided’ over indecent images row, say elders
THE ongoing sense of confusion surrounding an incident during which sexually explicit images were shown at a First Communion presentation by the Parish Priest of Pomeroy, is causing deep divisions among friends and families throughout the area, the Tyrone Times has been told.
Following Fr Martin McVeigh’s appearance at Masses in Pomeroy over the weekend of July 7 and 8, at which some members of the congregations showed their support of the Killyman born priest with “rapturous applause”, a group of people claiming to be the “elders of Pomeroy Parish” have released a statement describing the situation as “most disgusting”.
The group, who are also members of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association, some for more than 60 years, says events in the Church of the Assumption in Pomeroy over that weekend have “really upset us”.
The statement continues: “Last Saturday night (sic) in Pomeroy church we witnessed something that was most disgusting. People had been returning to their own church for Mass in the belief that Fr McVeigh had taken sabbatical leave and was no longer celebrating Mass in the church.
“They had been hoodwinked by the statements of Fr McVeigh and Cardinal Brady who stated that Fr McVeigh was leaving the parish following the incident of inadvertently showing gay pornographic images to a group of parents of children preparing for their First Holy Communion.
“This Mass was a complete contradiction of the closing Mass at the Eucharistic Congress. This was not a Mass of the communion of the people. This was a Mass to cause division. It was for the small number of his followers who clapped and sang at their loudest to show their triumphalism over the rest of the parishioners who believe that the incident that Fr McVeigh was involved in has never really been investigated and too many questions remain unanswered.
“Two statements were read and we think these statements should not have been read from the altar of God. Did those priests who read the statements not show respect for the loving Body of Christ behind them in the tabernacle. What did Jesus do when he found these same people in the temple?”
Speaking to the Times, a representative of the group of elders explained the “shock” felt by them when Fr McVeigh appeared at the Mass, and believes the entire incident - which began with the offending imagery on March 26 - could have been handled much differently by the church authorities and their Parish Priest himself.
“As soon as it happened, there should have been a proper investigation or a suspension”, the spokesperson continued.
“What happened in the aftermath of this incident has lent so much frustration to people in Pomeroy.
“If you look at Cardinal Brady’s statement in April, that concluded by saying Fr McVeigh would sometime be returning to the Diocese, but not to the Parish.
“The situation since has been very divisive in the area. There are fears that the Parish could be torn apart. There are friends and even family members falling out because of their opinions on the issue.”
The elders’ statement concluded by saying:
“When we returned from church on Saturday night no one could say they had even attended Mass. We couldn’t even pray when we looked at the brazen acts on the altar and what was coming from those scattered around the church after all the lies and deceit of the past four months.
“It was sad to see two other priests who had a lot of respect among us who on Saturday night were up there on the altar giving support to Fr McVeigh. Who can we now trust to give spiritual guidance to our young people when we have become so disillusioned ourselves.
“What he did inadvertently on the 26th March 2012 and how that incident has been handled has raised a lot of questions. All we have been told are lies and more lies.
“What really happened to the memory stick? Next day he (Fr McVeigh) said that the memory stick was with the Ara Coeli in Armagh. Incidentally the delegation from Armagh did not begin any investigation until Friday 30th March. That was four days later.
“What other images were there on that memory stick? Why did an innocent man destroy the only evidence that could have proved his innocence?
“Did the police examine all the computers on the church property? When the parents questioned the investigator about the computers he examined he said he was shown three and they were all clear. He was surprised when he was asked about the other three as he was only aware of three computers.
“He was even more surprised to be told that a laptop had supposedly been stolen...Why on the day of the conclusion of the Ara Coeli investigation did the investigator seek to find out from two parents of P4 if they knew who could have tampered with the CCTV security at the church?
“Will Ara Coeli tell us how much the investigation cost? Or will it be the same as before when all dealings in our parish are secret.
“Attending Sunday Mass has always been very important to us but we will find it difficult to partake in the Mass for we do not know when or what type of stunt Fr McVeigh will pull.”
In his formal declaration of innocence to the congregations in Pomeroy, Fr McVeigh acknowledged that the past three months had been a “very difficult time” for the Parish.
He went on to say he deeply regretted his failure to check, in advance, the presentation to First Communion parents.
According to Fr McVeigh his decision to destroy the offending imagery was in reaction to his “shock, anger and disgust” and a “poor attempt”, on his part, to ensure they would never be shown again.
Stating that a further independent expert forensic examination of all parish computer equipment had established that none of the computer systems examined contained any inappropriate imagery, Fr McVeigh concluded by saying:
“As you may know, the company who installed the CCTV system confirmed to the police that this specialised equipment had, in fact, been tampered with two weeks after the incident in the school and some back-up footage had been deleted - the PSNI investigation into both this and the subsequent theft of the parish laptop is still in progress.
“The parish is now reviewing its policies and procedures in relation to all parish computers and related equipment to minimise the risk of this type of incident happening again.
“Fr. David Moore will take up the role of Administrator in my absence from Monday 2nd July and I invite you all to give him a warm welcome.”
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Dungannon
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 4 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 17 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 8 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: South