THE PSNI is making inquiries about video footage of a Catholic priest apparently snorting cocaine in a room with Nazi memorabilia at his Co Down parochial house.
Fr Stephen Crossan can be seen sniffing a white substance through a bank note during a night of drinking at the house beside St Patrick's Church, Banbridge.
The 37-year-old places a cigarette in an ashtray and seems to say "I shouldn't" before snorting the powder off a plate, The Sun on Sunday reported.
In a statement yesterday, Bishop of Dromore John McAreavey said Fr Crossan has taken an "extended leave of absence".
The bishop said he had no knowledge of the incident, which allegedly happened last July following a party.
The Sun on Sunday said Fr Crossan told them he took the drugs but added: "It was just the one night and that was it."
A source also said when a group went back with the priest to his home they found Nazi memorabilia including flags, hats and an eagle with a swastika on a plinth on his mantelpiece.
Fr Crossan told the newspaper he is "no Nazi" and he collects historical items from every country.
He said he had been on sick leave with depression at the time of the video, and that he had since left the Church but was being supported by the parish.
Fr Crossan moved out of the parochial house some weeks ago and it is understood he intends to leave the priesthood permanently.
In his statement, Bishop McAreavey said Fr Crossan had asked for and been granted leave from his pastoral duties at Seapatrick parish in May last year.
He said Fr Crossan had been receiving counselling and was considering his future.
The statement said the priest had asked for "extended leave of absence from the priesthood" at the start of February this year.
It added that Bishop McAreavey was concerned for the priest's health and "will pray for and support him and his family through whatever issues he is facing at the moment".
The PSNI said: "Police are aware of the article in a Sunday newspaper and are making enquiries."
Fr Crossan, from Tullylish near Gilford, is a former pupil of St John's Primary School in Gilford and Lismore Comprehensive College, Craigavon.
He studied for the priesthood in Maynooth and was ordained in 2008.
Fr Crossan was appointed to Seapatrick parish as curate in 2012 and had earlier served in St Peter's parish, Lurgan, and Tullylish.
Just weeks before taking leave last year, he had spoken publicly of his faith and "scenic route" into the priesthood, having initially left Maynooth because he felt he was too young before returning four years later.