Claims a lockdown “sex party” was thrown by a priest at a cathedral are being probed by Catholic Church bosses.
A drag queen was allegedly among booze-fuelled revellers.
The Vatican has ordered an inquiry, being led by the Archbishop of Liverpool.
It was launched following the departure of Robert Byrne, the former Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, in December.
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There is no suggestion the bishop attended the alleged party in a property adjoining St Mary’s Cathedral, Newcastle, or was aware of it.
It is understood the Pope’s advisers want an “in-depth report” into the circumstances surrounding his resignation.
A source told The Sunday Times: “A number of complaints were made by individuals within the diocese after information came to light about a sex party in the priests’ living quarters.”
A second church source claimed: “The cathedral had become a laughing stock.”
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Bishop Byrne stepped told worshippers when he stepped down that the role had become “too great a burden”.
It is believed that he replaced popular Father Dermott Donnelly, older brother of TV star Declan Donnelly, with Father Michael McCoy in 2019.
During lockdown in 2020 — when churches were closed except for funerals — McCoy is said to have invited several worshippers to the party.
McCoy, 57, took his own life in April 2021, days after discovering he was being investigated by police over a historical child sex abuse allegation.
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