I've written at length about the child sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church. They're amongst the most emotionally draining and saddest posts I've ever written for this blog . . . so you can imagine how I felt to read this news from Canada.
A Roman Catholic bishop has been found guilty of importing child pornography in a case that has sent shockwaves through Canada and the Church.
Bishop Raymond Lahey was stopped at Ottawa Airport [in 2009] after border guards found 588 images and dozens of videos of naked boys as young as eight on his computer and phone.
He was also carrying a bag of personal sex toys. He was found guilty on the charge today.
It is extremely rare for a bishop to be found guilty of a criminal charge. The case will also likely act as a test of the Vatican's new strict sex abuse laws, which it approved last year.
The bishop’s crimes are especially shocking for Canadians because Lahey was the public face of an historic apology and $15 million (£8million) settlement for victims of sexual molestation by a priest in his diocese.
. . .
Lahey was charged after being intercepted at Ottawa Airport while returning home from a trip to Europe in September 2009.
Police claimed the 70-year-old former head of the diocese of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, was targeted after being evasive during questioning and refusing to make eye contact with border guards.
Further investigations revealed extensive travel since 2005 to countries notorious as sources of child pornography, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Spain and Germany.
A forensic examination of Lahey’s computer and several memory sticks revealed hundreds of files and around 60 videos, some of them showing boys between the ages of eight and 12 engaged in sexual acts.
He was also in possession of numerous texts featuring themes of humiliation, degradation and slavery of young boys.
After some of the images were discovered Lahey initially denied having an interest in child pornography, but told the officers that ‘he was attracted to males aged 20 to 21'.
The native of Newfoundland and Labrador resigned from the Antigonish diocese the day after he was charged but before his crimes became public.
. . .
The Vatican claimed today it was considering ‘appropriate disciplinary or penal’ action against Lahey: ‘The Catholic Church condemns sexual exploitation of all kind, in particular when minors are targeted,’ a statement said.
There's more at the link.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, a Papally-approved summary of the Church's teaching, states that:
1558 "Episcopal consecration confers, together with the office of sanctifying, also the offices of teaching and ruling. ... In fact ... by the imposition of hands and through the words of the consecration, the grace of the Holy Spirit is given, and a sacred character is impressed in such wise that bishops, in an eminent and visible manner, take the place of Christ himself, teacher, shepherd, and priest, and act as his representative (in Eius persona agant)." "By virtue, therefore, of the Holy Spirit who has been given to them, bishops have been constituted true and authentic teachers of the faith and have been made pontiffs and pastors."
. . .
1560 As Christ's vicar, each bishop has the pastoral care of the particular Church entrusted to him, but at the same time he bears collegially with all his brothers in the episcopacy the solicitude for all the Churches: "Though each bishop is the lawful pastor only of the portion of the flock entrusted to his care, as a legitimate successor of the apostles he is, by divine institution and precept, responsible with the other bishops for the apostolic mission of the Church."
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
I pray that Bishop Lahey may most urgently and humbly seek God's mercy and forgiveness . . . because if he dies with this on his conscience, I suspect he'll have a very hard time explaining the state of his soul to the Lord who exhorted us: "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea" (Matthew 18:6).