Friday, October 2, 2009

Antigonish Bishop Faces Child Pornography Charge

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Bishop Raymond J. Lahey of the Diocese of Antigonish
Photo Courtesy: http://www.thecasket.ca/

Bishop Raymond J. Lahey (69) of the Diocese of Antigonish in Nova Scotia, Canada, has been charged with possessing and importing child pornography in his laptop computer. He resigned as the bishop of the diocese before the news of the charge became public on September 30, 2009.

"Images that were of concern"

Bishop Lahey -- a theologian, liturgist and former professor of theology at the Memorial University in St. John's in New Foundland -- was returning to Canada from the USA on September 15 when his computer was randomly checked at the Ottawa airport. In the initial check-up, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) personnel came across "images that were of concern," reports the Canadian Press.

The CBSA officers then seized the bishop's computer and other media devices and let him go pending further investigation. After a thorough forensic examination and audit of the computer, the Ottawa police were handed over the results of the investigation. On that basis, the police, on September 25, laid charge against Bishop Lahey and issued a country-wide warrant for his arrest as his latest whereabouts were not known to them or to other bishops. On October 1, the bishop turned himself in to the Ottawa police and was released on bail. He is to appear at the court hearing on November 4.

His Resignation

On September 26, Bishop Lahey, in a letter to the priests, deacons, Religious and laity of the Diocese of Antigonish, wrote: "I want to let you know that after much thought and careful consideration, I decided to submit to the Holy Father my resignation as Bishop for personal reasons. I have now received word that the Holy Father has accepted my resignation and made a formal announcement in Rome this weekend."

Archbishop Mancini as the Apostolic Administrator of Antigonish Diocese

On September 30, Archbishop Anthony Mancini of Halifax in Nova Scotia was named the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Antigonish until a new bishop takes over.

Reacting to the news of the charge, Archbishop Mancini said: "I am shocked and saddened by this devastating news. For the priests and people of Antigonish Diocese, this is a terrible moment."

In a press release on October 1, Archbishop Mancini, as the Administrator of the Diocese of Antigonish, wrote: "As Apostolic Administrator for the Diocese of Antigonish, I have come to be with you in the midst of this sadness, pain and anxiety. I come with what I have, that is, my care and concern. It is in this sense that I understand the shepherding role that I am asked to exercise here...I am well aware that everyone is in shock. I am concerned with all who trying to find any meaning in this devastation. I d not have the solution to this problem, or the capacity to take away the pain, or the means to erase this tragedy. It may be that some would wish for a quick solution to the problems we are facing, but all that I know is that whatever the solution may be, it will be a matter of collaboration and faith, and we all must do our part."

Archbishop Mancini concluded his press release thus: "We are going through a very painful contemporary experience of the mystery of our Faith, which is all about Passion and Death yes, but it is also about the promise of Resurrection, without which we have no future. So I call on you to be hopeful because we believe in new life and new possibilities."

Bishop Lahey Brokered Clergy Sex-Abuse Settlement

Bishop Lahey has been quite known for his cooperation with the clergy sex-abuse cases in his diocese. From 1950 till recent times, several priests in the Diocese of Antigonish were involved in sex abuses. On behalf of his diocese, the bishop came to a $ 15-million settlement with the victims of sexual abuse by priests. A Nova Scotia court approved this settlement on September 10.

Conclusion

It is not clear or known yet why and how child pornography found its way into the laptop computer of Bishop Raymond J. Lahey. As the case progresses, it may be clearer in future.

If he was not responsible for it, why did he surreptitiously and instantly submit his resignation from the bishopric of Antigonish for "personal reasons?" Other bishops even did not know about the charge until they heard it from the media.

The Internet has become a great purveyor of pornography. Before the Internet, people would have to go out and secretly find places to get access to or acquire pornography. Now everything is available in homes through the blessing of the computer and the Internet. Religious people are also increasingly falling prey to this.

Several years ago, a seminarian in Toronto was arrested on charges of possessing child pornography through his computer (Procuring child pornography is a crime in many countries. If anyone downloads child pornography in his computer at home or office, the police have the means to detect it). Another seminary student in Denton, Nebraska, USA, was also arrested in November, 2007 for accessing child pornography through his laptop computer. In 2004, St. Poelten seminary in Austria became an international news when thousands of pornographic photos, a substantial number of them dealing with child pornography, were detected in the computers of seminarians. There were cases of homosexual activities between seminary directors and seminarians, too. Later the seminary was closed down under a big uproar from the local Catholics. In some other countries, a number of Catholic priests have been arrested on child pornography charges.

If the Bishop Raymond J. Lahey's charges prove true, we can just painfully say: "Et tu, episcopus (And you, too, bishop)?" Bookmark and Share