Catholic Culture Dedication
Catholic Culture Dedication

lahey in the dock

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Dec 15, 2009

“Play the man!” Those words of encouragement (addressed to Nicholas Ridley before his burning at the stake) might be repeated with more propriety to Bishop Raymond Lahey before his court hearing tomorrow. Lahey’s manhood, to be blunt, is not much in evidence. Busted at the border for kiddie-porn, he lied to the patrol agents, tip-toed dishonestly out of his bishopric, and in the interim has let his brethren shoulder the public burden of his public disgrace. For all that, it would be a great step forward if Lahey could at least play the man and plead guilty to the charges, accepting the consequent punishment as his due, and sparing the Church the spectacle of his whimperings in the witness-box.

Will Lahey face the music and give us all an edifying example of the dignity of contrition? Well, he could if his brother bishops made his duty clear enough to him. The current indications are not encouraging:

Archbishop James Weisgerber, who speaks on child abuse cases for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, said Lahey “has a right to human dignity,” especially as he has not been convicted.

Totally wet. Like any person, Lahey “has a right to human dignity” even if he is convicted. And, more to the point, Lahey is not the injured party in this matter. The question Weisgerber should be concerned with is not what his fellow citizens owe to Lahey but what Lahey owes his fellow citizens. Yet Weisgerber, echoing Wilton Gregory’s “We have all been enlightened” line, deflects the blame from Lahey by suggesting he was caught up in a hurricane that soaked us all:

In terms of pornography, Weisgerber said, “it's a wake-up call for the country. When I was a young man, if people wanted pornography (they) had to put on a trench coat and go to the drug store, and deal with the humiliation of it. Well, now it’s piped into your home.”

Sorry, but “the country” does not need this wake-up call. All sorts of folks manage to live their entire lives without having pornography piped into their homes, though the Archbishop may not have made their acquaintance. In Lahey's case we’re talking about gay porn and kiddie-pix downloaded and stored on his computer. That’s not a mistake in channel-surfing.

Lamer still is Weisgerber’s implicit plea that a senior clergyman ought not to be expected to exercise a higher degree of self-mastery than a confused and hormonally supercharged sixteen-year old in his bedroom. Instead of making greasy excuses for his colleague, Weisgerber should make it clear that Lahey failed to abide by Church teaching, that this teaching remains valid, and that God imposes no obligation for which -- to him who asks -- he does not give the grace to accomplish.

We don't need a reminder about the trench coat.

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