Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
October 19, 2009
Nuncio expresses sorrow over charges facing Lahey
He invites Catholics to 'prayer, silence and hope that Church can overcome its sins
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
TORONTO - Canada's outgoing papal representative offered words of "deep sorrow and emotion" over the recent arrest of retired Bishop Raymond Lahey on child pornography charges.
Giving the homily during an Oct. 7 Mass for Toronto theology students, Archbishop Luigi Ventura invited students and faculty members to "prayer, silence and hope" that the Church can overcome such sins.
Without mentioning Lahey by name, Ventura reassured those at the Mass that the Canadian Catholic Church was working to "establish safe environments and protect children and young people."
"The Church in Canada bears the wounds, together with the victims, of a tragic past and has made and continues to make systematic efforts to prevent the repetition of such abuses and exploitation," said Ventura, who is being transferred as apostolic nuncio to France.
"Yet we can never underestimate the destructive power of sinfulness and evil that tears apart the fabric of our community. God's grace will overpower these forces," he added.
Lahey, who abruptly resigned as bishop of Antigonish, N.S., for "personal reasons" Sept. 26, was arraigned five days later in Ottawa on charges of possessing and importing child pornography.
OUT ON BAIL
He was released on $9,000 bail with strict conditions that include staying away from the Internet. He is scheduled to appear again in court Nov. 4.
During his homily, Ventura invoked the words of Pope John Paul II at the conclusion of World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto, when the pope urged young people "not to be discouraged by the sins and failings of some of (the Church's) members."
The archbishop quoted Pope John Paul as saying: "The harm done by some priests . . . and religious to the young and vulnerable fills us all with a deep sense of sadness and shame.
"But I think of the vast majority of dedicated and generous priests and religious whose only wish is to serve and do good.
At difficult moments in the Church's life, the pursuit of holiness becomes even more urgent."
Ventura added parenthetically that he would include bishops with those who had harmed the young.
Celebrating the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, the archbishop also encouraged the students and faculty from the University of St. Michael's College, Regis College and St. Augustine's Seminary gathered in a chapel at the University of Toronto to pray the rosary as a way to "pursue this path to holiness."
Since Lahey's arraignment, reports have surfaced alleging that he had pornographic images in his residence more than 20 years ago, when he was a priest in the Archdiocese of St. John's, NL.
In early October, Archbishop Martin Currie of St. John's asked for a review of what archdiocesan officials might have known, the archdiocese said in a statement.
The archdiocesan statement said Currie would release more information if it comes to light during the review.
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