Thursday, October 8, 2009

Bishop Lahey Affair and the Question of Catholic Priesthood and Celibacy -- 2

Unpriestly Activity in the "Year for Priests"Bishop Raymond J. Lahey of the Diocese of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, led a double life -- his public persona was quite opposite to his private life. His child pornography affair burst into the limelight at a time when the Catholic Church all over the world has been observing the "Year for Priests" since June 19, 2009. The theme of this special year is "Faithfulness of Christ, Faithfulness of Priests." The role and mission of the clergy in the Church and in modern society will be highlighted through promotion of different initiatives throughout the Catholic Church.

On the occasion of the Year for Priests, Pope Benedict XVI, in a letter to all Catholic priests, placed emphasis on the life and mission of a priest. In this letter, he highlighted the exemplary life of St. Jean-Marie (John-Mary) Vianney, an ordinary French parish priest (1786-1859), who was renowned for his very austere, sacrificial and holy life. In the same letter, the pope quoted this saintly priest thus: "The reason why a priest is lax is that he does not pay attention to the Mass! My God, how we ought to pity a priest who celebrates [Mass] as if he were engaged in something routine!"

Scandals Are Bad Examples, Condemned by Jesus

What Bishop Lahey did with his child pornography catalogues is scandalous. He was so indifferent to consequences and callous that he left these within reach of others in his residence and invited boys to spend weekends with him. If he did anything physical with some of these boys, it must have been the ultimate scandal in the book. We yet do not know what he did with his child pornography in his laptop computer.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) says: "Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor's tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a great offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense," (CCC#2284).

The same catechism book continues: "Scandal takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it or the weakness of those who are scandalized. It prompted our Lord [Jesus Christ] to utter this curse: 'Whoever causes one of these little ones [children] who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea,' (The Bible: Matthew 18:6)", (CCC#2285).

CCC#2285 continues: "Scandal is grave when given by those who by nature or office are obliged to teach and educate others. Jesus reproaches the scribes and Pharisees on this account: he likens them to wolves in sheep's clothing," (The Bible: Matthew 7:15)

CCC#2287 says: "Anyone who uses the power at his disposal in such a way that it leads others to do wrong becomes guilty of scandal and responsible for the evil that he has directly or indirectly encouraged. 'Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come!' (The Bible: Luke 17:1)."

Unfortunately, Bishop Lahey, being a Catholic priest and theologian, knew and taught these teachings of the Catholic Church, but he himself fell short of them.

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