Friday 2 October 2009

Famous for "compassion" to victims of priestly sex abuse: Bishop of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, released on bail to faces charges of possession of child pornography

(Social Justice South Africa; c.f .Catholic World News [Catholic Culture News Brief] (Catholic; Independent; American) 01 / 10 | October / 2009; Rorate Caeli (Traditional Catholic; Independent) 02 / 10 | October / 2009 )

Editorial / Article by Marc Aupiais

Bishop Raymond Lahey, who was formally the Bishop of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, was famous for his "compassion" to victims of priestly sexual abuse, having just last week settled a settlement of $13-million, for victims of priestly abuse conducted in his diocese. He then resigned amid much speculation, it only being discovered later that the Canadian police wanted him in connection with child porn allegedly found on his computer, ciezed in a routine operation: September 15 at Ottowa airport

Writing Yesterday, prior the Bishop's surrender to police, when an arrest warrant had been issued, Catholic World News, noted the response of a local Archbishop:

"Archbishop Anthony Mancini of Halifax, Nova Scotia’s leading prelate and now apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Antigonish, said that he had not known why Bishop Lahey had resigned and that he was “shocked, hurt because it impacts on me as a leader who was trying to do my job.”

“So, honestly, part of my concern is, is there anyone left that we can believe?” he said. “I think many will see this as something that will make the Church less credible than we are. It certainly reminds us all that if ever we thought that we had a perfect Church, we certainly don’t.” Archbishop Mancini, who says that he spoke recently with Bishop Lahey by cell phone, appealed to the bishop to surrender to police."
(Catholic World News [Catholic Culture News Brief] (Catholic; Independent; American) 01 / 10 | October / 2009 )

Widely read Traditional Catholic Blog, Rorate Caeli, may well form part of the many, now more skeptical of the Canadian church, claiming:

"The now famous former Bishop of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, was released on bail to faces charges of possession of child pornography. Look at the picture of the bishop surrounded by his lawyers: isn't he the perfect poster boy for the Church in Canada?"
(Rorate Caeli (Traditional Catholic; Independent) 02 / 10 | October / 2009)

And calling the alleged possessor of child pornography:

"The face of the Church in Canada"
(Rorate Caeli (Traditional Catholic; Independent) 02 / 10 | October / 2009)

In the past, a number of the Canadian Bishops, have been criticized for supporting an ex facto pro-abortion protest in Canada, and, earlier this year a number of popular Catholic news services, claimed that the Canadian Bishops' humanitarian organization, Development and Peace, has used funding collected in parishes to fund pro-abortion advocates. The subsequent investigation into accusations, which was done by Canadian Bishops, was "facilitated" by the very group they were investigating, and therefore was accused of ignoring principles of natural justice.

One opinion of how this could have happened, is that:

Possibly, having been so involved in investigations of abuse, the bishop himself became tempted to make use of child porn, which always degrades children.

This particular case, is certainly being treated as a shock.


I would disagree with Rorate Caeli, this is not the face of the Church in Canada, Jesus Christ is- but their opinion is one read throughout the world, and certainly is one which many may unfortunately feel after this case. At least there is not another cover up, as long as the church chooses to be transparent on these issues, and let justice take its course, and take a stand against the abuse of pastoral authority, these terrible wounds in the short term, will certainly be noted, but then they will heal, justice having been done, as in the past.

Much of what I have read, is treating this case as ironic, the justice system being involved, the accusations of cover-ups from the days of John Paul II's pontificate, seem largely a thing of the past, under Benedict XVI, even as there are still cover up accusations, those in North America, seem to have quieted down significantly. The handling of this case by the church, is certainly notable this time.

We must note, that everyone, in the eyes of modern western secular law: has a right to legal representation. Without the Bishop involved having lawyers, how valid would a guilty finding be? At present it is only alleged that he is guilty, it is up to the courts to decide the case (or am I biased because I am studying law?).

According to Catholic World News:

"Bishop Lahey, 69, was ordained Bishop of Saint George’s (Newfoundland) in 1986 and transferred to the Diocese of Antigonish in 2003."
(Catholic World News [Catholic Culture News Brief] (Catholic; Independent; American) 01 / 10 | October / 2009 )

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