herald

Friday 21 September 2018

Mass still being held at church despite sex act photos scandal

One of the men pictured was wearing priest’s vestments. Photo: Anyka
One of the men pictured was wearing priest’s vestments. Photo: Anyka

A rural parish is continuing to hold Mass at a church where an alleged sex act was caught on camera.

A garda investigation has been launched into the incident after photographs emerged showing two men engaging in an apparent sex act on the church's altar.

Despite the controversy surrounding the parish, it is understood that Mass has still been taking place at the church in the wake of the garda complaint.

The photographs, which began to circulate last week, show a man in priest's vestments engaging in a sex act on the altar of the parish grounds.

A source told the Herald that, as the garda investigation is still ongoing, no internal action has yet been taken.

The church is still operating "as normal" until the full facts of what actually happened are confirmed, the source added.

Mass times have been scheduled for a number of days in the parish, including two yesterday.

A spokesperson for the diocese in question said that they could not comment until gardai had concluded their investigation.

On May 2, a complaint was made to a garda district, and officers were last week in the process of verifying the images which captured the sex act.

A person who obtained the images, who wished to remain anonymous, described the incident as "an abomination".

They also questioned how many people had received communion at the altar of the parish church since its violation, or had been confirmed, buried or married.

The individual also called for "some sort of exorcism" of the church.

"The photographs depict something that appears to be somewhat satanic," they told the Herald.

The graphic images show two men across what appears to be the altar of a small country church, and engaged in intimate poses.

There is no suggestion that the act is not consensual.

Sacrilege

It is not known what - if any - offence has been committed, although gardai will look at a range of legislation including those involving a lewd act.

The diocese concerned declined to give an indication as to whether the church has been re-consecrated.

The Catholic Church teaches that sacrilege occurs when sacred objects are used for an unworthy purpose. This includes the profane use of sacred vestments.

Church law also teaches that defiling a sacred place by sexual acts is sacrilege.

The images come as the Catholic Church in Ireland is facing many challenges, including the upcoming abortion referendum.

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