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Canadian bishop surrenders to police on child-porn charges, must stay in Trappist monastery

Catholic World News - October 02, 2009

Bishop Raymond Lahey of Antigonish, who resigned last week after he agreed to a $13-million diocesan abuse settlement and was wanted on child pornography charges, has turned himself in to police. Police say that child pornography was found on his laptop during a random laptop check at Ottawa’s airport.

“The images recovered from the laptop allegedly include lewd sexual pictures of children,” the Ottawa Citizen reported. Bishop Lahey posted $9,000 bail and must reside at the Cistercian-Trappist Monastery of Our Lady of Calvary in Rogersville, New Brunswick. Under the terms of his release, he is forbidden to possess pornography, use the Internet or e-mail, or be present at any public place frequented by children.

“I was shocked. I was saddened. I was angered,” said Archbishop Martin Currie of St. John’s, Newfoundland. “You know, if you can't trust the chief shepherd, who can you trust?” “We are going through a very painful, contemporary experience of the mystery of faith,” said Archbishop Anthony Mancini of Halifax, Nova Scotia’s leading prelate and now apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Antigonish. “I call on you to be hopeful because we do believe in new life and in new possibilities.”

“Let me first speak to those victims of past sexual abuse and to all for whom these recent elements and news rekindles past pain,” he added. “These recent revelations take on the character of another victimization and I wish that it were not so. Because it is not what our community of faith is supposed to be about.”

Asked at a press conference whether the Church would permit the ordination of women or permit priests to marry, Archbishop Mancini said, “If we could do that tomorrow, we would not be eliminating the temptations that bring people to live secret lives.”

As parishioners and newspapers weighed in on the case, the Globe and Mail editorialized:

This tendency, over and over and over, to down play, stonewall and foot-drag rather than assume clear and unequivocal leadership simply has to come to an end.

We are not speaking, after all, of allegations of money laundering or bicycle theft. The extremely brave Canadian police investigators who are made to look at images of child pornography will tell you that these are not Playboy-style images of naked children. They are images that depict devastating acts of violation and cruelty perpetrated against our most vulnerable, the young …

Parishioners need to know that the Church shares the public's revulsion at such behaviours and will minister to the abiding pain so many of their sons and daughters have experienced in the past decades, rather than deepen it.

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