Former professor to speak on troubled state of Roman Catholic Church

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The Cape Breton Post

Published on January 19, 2012

SYDNEY RIVER — A former university professor with deep ties to the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy at the Vatican will give a lecture on the challenging times the church finds itself in.

Charles MacDonald of North West Arm is a well-known community leader who taught for many years in the religious studies department at Cape Breton University.

The Sydney Deanery Pastoral Council and the Council of Priests are sponsoring MacDonald’s lecture at Our Lady of Fatima Church hall on Sunday from 2-4 p.m.

The presentation entitled, The Catholic Church: Which Way Forward, will sketch important local historical developments in the recent history of the church and Catholic community.

It’s expected MacDonald will also suggest insights and practical steps to move the church forward, said Pat Bates, a member of the Sydney Deanery Pastoral Council.

The Diocese of Antigonish has been mired in controversy since September 2009, when Raymond Lahey was forced to resign as bishop. It was later uncovered he faced charges of importing and possessing child pornography in the Ottawa area.

Lahey pleaded guilty to the charges, and was sentenced to 15 months in jail earlier this month. Due to time already served on remand, Lahey was released immediately from custody.

The charges against Lahey followed an August 2009 legal settlement between sexual abuse victims at the hands of priests in the diocese dating back to 1950 and the Diocese of Antigonish.

The $18-million settlement has forced the diocese to sell many church buildings and other holdings.

“I hope to address concerns of active Catholics, as well as those of former Catholics who have an affinity for the church,” MacDonald said.

“I hope that members of other Christian churches and faith communities will be interested in attending since some of our challenges may well be shared with them.”

A discussion and question-and-answer session will follow the lecture.

MacDonald, who earned a doctorate in theology at a German university, was once a student of Pope Benedict.

In recent years, MacDonald has participated in conferences with the Pope and his former doctoral students.

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