The PSNI is investigating an historic “safeguarding allegation” against a priest in the Diocese of Dromore.
Canon Francis Brown has voluntarily stepped down from his role within the Diocese of Dromore.
In a statement Canon Francis Brown said he had been informed by Bishop Philip Boyce, the Apostolic Administrator for the Diocese, that an allegation of an historic nature has been made against him.
The statement read: “The details of the allegation have not so far been made known to either myself or The Diocese.
“The complaint has been made recently and I understand that some time is required to have it investigated.
“Naturally, I have agreed therefore to step aside from my role as Administrator of the Parish for the time being to allow the investigation to be completed.
“In accordance with the agreed protocol I shall not be involved in ministry during that period of time.
“I wish to reassure all of my parishioners, my fellow priests, deacon and religious that I look forward to a thorough and expeditious examination of this matter and I expect to return to my work in the parish in the near future.
“I hope that you will remember me in your thoughts and prayers in the weeks ahead and I look forward to returning soon to again serve you in the Parish of Newry.”
A spokesperson for the Diocese of Dromore, said: “The Diocese and the priest are cooperating fully with this ongoing investigation and will continue to do so,” it said.
“While this allegation is being investigated – and as part of the diocesan safeguarding procedures – the priest has voluntarily stepped aside from all public ministry pending the outcome of the investigation.
“The Diocese cannot make further comment at this time whilst an investigation is ongoing.
“The Diocese advise anyone who may have a concern of a safeguarding nature to contact the PSNI, Social Services, or the Diocesan Designated Safeguarding Officer.”
The Diocese of Dromore covers parts of Counties Armagh, Down and Antrim and takes in key towns and cities likes Newry, Lurgan, Craigavon and Banbridge.