Thursday, May 5, 2011

It's enough to make me nauseous . . .

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).



Keith said...

Very few crimes make me as angry as abusing children. I think the reason is because I can't comprehend it. He knows it's wrong and he's been part of an earlier settlement. How does he justify his actions to himself? Does he think that he won't have to answer in the next life?

All I have is questions...

One last question: Germany is notorious for child pornography?

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure there are creatures more evil in the world than those who corrupt innocents for their own pleasure. As you say, Peter, this - individual- truly had best examine his conscience and heart carefully and deeply.

Dad29 said...

It seems that Rome has this perp in its crosshairs; not likely that he'll be Bishop-ing.

trailbee said...

What a devastation and loss of trust of the victimized children, their parents, the entire religious community. It can never be repaired.
What a waste of a Bishop, and all other priests and brothers, who have been involved in this; this flaw that cannot be changed, no matter how much counseling and rehab.
We, non-Roman Catholics, also know it occurs in other denominations and deep down in our hearts pray that our children are safe where we have brought them for their religious training.
Thank you for the post. I tend to think this must be very difficult for you; the worst being that maybe this is not the end.

Terri said...

Did you read this!

scroll down past the ads to get to the story, by Randy Sly

Terri said...

Here is the main part of the article:
It was only the third time it had happened to me in my nearly thirty-five happy years as a priest, all three times over the last nine-and-a-half years.

Other priests tell me it has happened to them a lot more.

Three is enough. Each time has left me so shaken I was near nausea.
It happened last Friday . . .

I had just arrived at the Denver Airport, there to speak at their popular annual "Living Our Catholic Faith" conference.

As I was waiting with the others for the electronic train to take me to the terminal, a man, maybe in his mid-forties, waiting as well, came closer to me.

"Are you a Catholic priest?" he kindly asked.

"Sure am. Nice to meet you," says I, as I offered my hand.

He ignored it. "I was raised a Catholic," he replied, almost always a hint of a cut to come, but I was not prepared for the razor sharpness of the stiletto, as he went on, "and now, as a father of two boys, I can't look at you or any other priest without thinking of a sexual abuser."

What to respond? Yell at him? Cuss him out? Apologize? Deck him? Express understanding? I must admit all such reactions came to mind as I staggered with shame and anger from the damage of the wound he had inflicted with those stinging words.

"Well," I recovered enough to remark, "I'm sure sorry you feel that way. But, let me ask you, do you automatically presume a sexual abuser when you see a Rabbi or Protestant minister?"

"Not at all," he came back through gritted teeth as we both boarded the train.
"How about when you see a coach, or a boy scout leader, or a foster parent, or a counselor, or physician?" I continued.

"Of course not!" he came back. "What's all that got to do with it?"

"A lot," I stayed with him, "because each of those professions have as high a percentage of sexual abuse, if not even higher, than that of priests."

"Well, that may be," he retorted. "But the Church is the only group that knew it was going on, did nothing about it, and kept transferring the perverts around."

"You obviously never heard the stats on public school teachers," I observed. "In my home town of New York City alone, experts say the rate of sexual abuse among public school teachers is ten times higher than that of priests, and these abusers just get transferred around." (Had I known at that time the news in in last Sunday's New York Times about the high rate of abuse of the most helpless in state supervised homes, with reported abusers simply transferred to another home, I would have mentioned that, too.)

To that he said nothing, so I went in for a further charge.

"Pardon me for being so blunt, but you sure were with me, so, let me ask: when you look at yourself in a mirror, do you see a sex abuser?"

Now he was as taken aback as I had been two-minutes before. "What the hell are you talking about?"

"Sadly," I answered, "studies tell us that most children sexually abused are victims of their ...

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