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Parents in Northern Ireland were shocked when a priest's PowerPoint presentation in preparation for their children's First Holy Communion displayed gay pornography.

Father Martin McVeigh, the local Catholic priest, was giving the presentation to parents (and one child) at St Mary's School in Pomeroy when he inserted a USB stick into his computer. Images of men in various states of undress were then displayed via the school projector (16 in all, suggesting that someone wasn't too shocked to count) before McVeigh realized what was wrong.

"He was visibly shaken and flustered," parents told the BBC. "He gave no explanation or apology to the group and bolted out of the room. The co-ordinator and the teachers then continued with the presentation. Twenty minutes later he returned, he continued with the meeting and wrapped up by saying that the children get lots of money for their Holy Communion and should consider giving some of it to the church."

First Holy Communion is an important event for Catholics, during which children first partake in the ritual of transubstantiation, in which the church's collection of wafers and wine is transformed into the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ – at which point communicants eat the body bits, but not always have the opportunity to imbibe the fermented, grape-based blood.

Certainly there's nothing in the Catholic ceremony requiring the introduction of gay pornography, and it could be argued that McVeigh had inadvertently launched a presentation centered on the sin of Onan, who spilled his seed rather than obeying the law and impregnating his sister-in-law. (God was not amused.)

"Inappropriate imagery was inadvertently shown by a priest at the beginning of a PowerPoint presentation, causing concern to those present," said Cardinal Brady, the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, in a statement. "The priest has stated that he had no knowledge of the offending imagery. The archdiocese immediately sought the advice of the PSNI who indicated that, on the basis of the evidence available, no crime had been committed. The priest is co-operating with an investigation of the matter on the part of the archdiocese."

Before people rush to judge Father McVeigh, however, it's not clear if the offending images were manually stored on the USB stick and appeared due to AutoRun, or if this was a pop-up window caused by malware. The latter is still very common, usually picked up at websites unrelated to those subjects it advertises, and often over-reacted to, as the tragic case of former US teacher Julie Amero demonstrates.

In 2004 Ms. Amero was a school teacher in Connecticut giving a presentation to ten of her pupils when pop-up windows began displaying porn on her computer. She was suspended and then convicted three years later on four counts of risk of injury to a minor – charges that could carry up to 40 years in prison.

Luckily for Ms. Amero, some members of the computer-security industry decided to take up her case, and found that the school-issued PC was a Windows 98 SE machine with IE 5 and an expired antivirus subscription, and she had picked up porn-producing malware from visiting a website discussing hairstyles.

The judge ordered a retrial and Ms. Amero escaped with a $100 fine. She still lost her teaching license, however. ®

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