The county Tyrone priest, Father Martin McVeigh, who showed 16 gay porn images to primary school children, received “rapturous applause” from the congregations of Pomeroy as he took leave of his duties.
In March, McVeigh was giving a PowerPoint presentation from his USB stick to a room of Holy Communion children and their parents, when gay porn images popped up on the overhead screen. The meeting was in preparation for the children at St. Mary’s School, in Pomeroy, receiving their First Holy Communion.
Although McVeigh has maintained his innocence, he has been criticized for his actions following the parent meeting. According to the Belfast Telegraph, the priest destroyed his USB stick, which stored the pornographic images in question. He said that these images were not his and he had destroyed the evidence in “anger and disgust”.
McVeigh was absent from parish life since the incident, however, McVeigh returned to the pulpit this weekend to celebrate his farewell masses at Pomeroy and Altmore parishes.
The Mid Ulster Mail reports that McVeigh read a statement from Primate of All-Ireland Cardinal Sean Brady, after his last Masses on Sunday.
He went on to give his personal message to the congregation. He said, “Firstly I would like to acknowledge that the past three months have been a very difficult time for our parish, my family, and for myself. I deeply regret again and again my failure to check, in advance, the presentation to the First Communion parents.”
“I had absolutely no knowledge of any offending imagery on it.”
On destroying the evidence he said, “My decision to destroy the offending imagery later that evening was in reaction to my shock, anger and disgust at the time and a poor attempt, on my part, to ensure that they would never be shown again and to rid myself, our Chapel and our parish of everything such pictures represented.”
McVeigh continued, “I accept that my hasty action complicated the whole affair and confused many of you, my friends and parishioners, but I assure you, in good faith, that I am innocent of what some people have accused me of.”
His statement continued, assuring the congregation that a full forensic investigation had been carried out on his computer equipment and no offending imagery had been found. He also said that the policies of the school, with regard to computers, was to be reviewed. He added that any CCTV footage that would have been evidence to the display had gone missing and the police were investigating.
In closing he said, “I am deeply humbled and overwhelmed by your prayers and support during this time and I am grateful to Cardinal Brady for allowing me to have time out to recover as this incident has taken its toll on my health.
“I look forward to seeing you again on completion of this leave and will remember you in my prayers - and hope that you will continue to remember me in yours.”
His speech was met by “rapturous applause” in both churches.
A spokesperson for Pomeroy Pastoral Council Finance Committee released a statement in support of the priest.
They said, “During the next few months we hope that the Christian spirit of forgiveness, healing and reconciliation will permeate through the parish so that we learn to move on from this sad event and become a more united parish.”