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antigonish agonistes

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Oct 19, 2009

Canadian bishop Raymond Lahey is currently awaiting trial, charged with possessing and importing child pornography. The disgrace of Lahey's misdeeds has been amplified by the embarrassingly infantile moral cowardice he has displayed at every stage of the business: he even lies like a six-year-old.

Every other day new and sordid details are added to the picture of Lahey's secret life as particulars from police reports and warrants are made known. All indications are that we're in for six or eight months of humiliation in the media following the now-familiar pattern: feeble ecclesiastical denial instantly crushed by a solidly documented revelation of moral squalor.

If Lahey were an upright man, he wouldn’t have asked the Holy See to open the back-door for early resignation under the Dash-2 provision or tendered the ludicrous "personal growth" excuse to cover his exit. Whether he's technically a criminal or not is for the court to decide, but the dishonor he's brought to his priesthood is already an accomplished fact.

So why doesn't Lahey plead guilty now? It would spare the Canadian taxpayer the expense of a trial. It would spare all Catholics the death-of-a-thousand-cuts feeling as the media revisit the particulars of his sexual deviancy before, during, and after his weeks in court. It would spare Lahey the need to invent more falsehoods that dig him in even deeper. And perhaps, just perhaps, it might give a good example of a bishop who can act like a man and tell the truth about himself when it's difficult to do so. Even the heathen might interrupt their scoffing long enough to think, "Hey, this guy was a slimeball, but he fears Him who can cast both body and soul into hell."

If I were Lahey's defense attorney, I'd want no part of a guilty plea. But then a defense attorney is not responsible for the souls of the Christ's flock. Lahey's brother bishops are. If it mattered to them, they could certainly convince their exceptionally invertebrate brother -- they don't come any softer -- to do the right thing for the good of the Church.

If it mattered.

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