Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
October 26, 2009
Lahey charges cast a shadow over CCCB plenary
Canadian Catholic bishops given consolation and guidance
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
CORNWALL, ONT. - The child pornography charges laid against Bishop Raymond Lahey cast a pall over the weeks leading up to the annual gathering of Canada's Catholic bishops.
In his last report to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops as president, Winnipeg Archbishop James Weisgerber said it "might be tempting" to use the phrase annus horribilis to describe them. But the phrase is not part of our Catholic tradition, he said.
"For Christians, it is always Annus Domini, the year of the Lord," he said. "Our overall perspective is that of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and of being called to labour in his vineyard."
"The arrest of Bishop Raymond Lahey has been especially painful, because of the seriousness of the charges, and also because it involves a former member of our assembly, an episcopal colleague, a close associate and, for many of us, a friend," he said.
The serious charges merit thorough investigation by competent authorities, he told the 90 bishops present for the week-long plenary meeting Oct. 19-23. He reminded them of the presumption of innocence until the charges are proven.
"As bishops we are united in concern and prayer for each other and for all of those whose lives are impacted by the crime and sin of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse," he said.
"These include the victims and their families; the local community and society in general; the Christian community in a special way; and also the perpetrators, as well as anyone who has been accused, whether justly or unjustly."
He reaffirmed the bishops' commitment to safeguarding against violations of human dignity in the priorities they agreed on 20 years ago, pointing to how the document From Pain to Hope continues to be an important pastoral resource.
NUNCIO SPEAKS TOO
As well, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, the papal nuncio, referred to the Lahey situation in his remarks to the assembly.
Though he did not name Lahey, Ventura said that he had shared with the bishops, their priests and the Church "the tears and cry of suffering" of Halifax Archbishop Anthony Mancini who had given a poignant statement on learning of the charges against the former Antigonish bishop.
Ventura quoted Mancini who had said, "At this time when so many hearts have been broken, we need to know again or for the first time, the healing grace of God's love."
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