School board to examine issue of building bearing disgraced bishop’s name

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What’s in a name can be a philosophical debate, but when it’s on a school it becomes another matter entirely.

Chris Noseworthy Former Regina High School

The Western Star (Corner Brook,Newfoundland)

09 December 2011

By Cliff Wells

Special to the Star

The name of Raymond J. Lahey, a man who led the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. George’s from 1986 until 2003, can be a particularly loaded one considering the former bishop pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography and waived bail in May.

Lahey’s sentencing hearing, which began in August, is set to resume in court in  Ottawa  Dec. 19.

Along with the court docket in  Ottawa, his name appears on the ceremonial cornerstone of the former  Regina  High School in  Corner Brook. The building, owned by the Roman Catholic Church, is in the process of being redeveloped into a junior high school.

TheWestern  School District  board made a decision about two years ago to ask the province to redevelop the building as the city’s junior high school. The facility is expected to be complete by the end of August 2013 in time for opening in September of 2013.

Chris Noseworthy raised the issue in his blog “On The Nose” on The Western Star’s website Wednesday [scroll down for blog]. He believes the man’s name should be removed from the building, although he is generally against the practice of revising history. Having a criminal’s name removed from a junior high school, especially one convicted of such a repugnant crime, is the proper course for all involved, he thinks.

“I feel that since the man confessed to such a shocking and abhorrent crime, especially for a man in his position, it is the best move to take it down,” Noseworthy wrote.

When contacted, Ross Elliott, director of education and chief executive officer of the  Western  School District, wanted to make a single comment on the situation.

“This is the first time this has been brought to our attention as a concern, and we will assess this matter as we go forward,” Elliott said.

He refused to put a timeline on a decision and would not comment on any discussions on the matter that might have to happen with the Diocese of Corner Brook and  Labrador, which holds the title to the building.

Bishop Peter Hundt could not be reached for comment on the situation as of press time.

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Comments

SPEEDY

– December 9, 2011 at 16:19:18

am sorry Mr. Hickey but I stick to my comment, however I will not say you are wrong and you are certainly entitled to your opinion. As for myself I have seen and heard enough about abuse in our church that I cannot be satisfied with anyone who is guilty of having child porn in his possession having his name as the cornerstone on a Junior High School.

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SADDENED AGAIN

– December 9, 2011 at 16:19:12

To CB Girl……..It bothers me when people don’t read carefully what I said. You said I referred to the kids as “outcasts”. I will again repeat what I wrote. Here it is for you. Please Read closely my dear.”……….”God confirms you…the Bishop is just his instrument. Does this incident make the students who were confirmed by Lahey outcasts? Of course not.” So CB Girl,…. as you can see…. I did not say the kids were outcasts. I would be calling my own kids outcasts. No, the kids aren’t outcasts because they were confrmed by Lahey. Lahey had a darker side that is now seen by all.. If any good can come out of this, I say let the Catholic Church investigate his doings inThailandand do something about child sexual abuse there as well. I’ve often said there’s enough gold in theVaticanceiling and walls and picture frames and Bishops’ings to eliminate poverty and abuse in many places in the world. Let all this be a lesson to all catholics. This has been going on for centuries. Sad but true!

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EUPHEMIA

– December 9, 2011 at 14:56:16

The last song Johnny Cash wrote to leave as his great work of his art before he passed “When the Man Comes Around” talks about Jesus and the 2nd coming the Saints and evil people let us not even mention their name, so his name will not live on. Take it down,who needs a reminder of the evil man can do when he lets the devil enter, crimes against children are crimes against the Holy Spirit.

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CHRIS NOSEWORTHY

– December 9, 2011 at 12:38:04

John, I have made a number of attempts to email you and explain why some comments are not printed. Our terms of service are clearly linked on this site and you must agree to them in order to submit a comment. I will gladly work with you to ensure your submissions are within the guidelines. I have had to reject very good comments from you because of one or two unacceptable statements. This bothers me as much as it does you. Fostering discussion on this site is what I want to do. If you want that too, email me with specific concerns and we can work it out. Thanks.

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JOHN

– December 9, 2011 at 12:37:59

Weather or not he did good for the church back then, is irrelevant .We only know what he was charged with now. This “behaviour” could of went on for a very long time. When he was arrested at the airport, he was on his way back fromThailandI believe. Do you think he was there to enjoy the beaches or to do gods work? I dont think so. What we do know is what he has admitted to. Look at all the cases that come out in the news years and years later. Many abuse victims would rather just forget than deal with it. I personally think he is guilty of much more than we know about. This ceremonial cornerstone should be taken down and fed exed to his prison cell, exactly where he belongs.

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CBGIRL

– December 9, 2011 at 12:23:33

Take it down. Some good came from him, but some horrible bad. If he was convicted of stealing a can of ham cause he was hungry, that’s a different story. But to celebrate a man who has confessed to possession of child porn on a school which will educate children? No way. If ya want to put a reminder of him somewhere, how bout his mugshot on a dart board? Or add a placard below, with the listed charge and his sentence? If we leave the good visible, why hide the bad? To Saddened- kids or anyone who came in contact with him are not outcasts, no matter the level of involvement. To suggest that makes no sense in my eyes.

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JOHN HICKEY

– December 9, 2011 at 12:23:17

First of all, Mr. Lahey admitted to possession of what was determined to be child porn..He wasn’t charged with any crime directly or indirectly related to the rape or abuse of children..For those of you who feel there’s a link between the two, you are grossly misinformed..Everyone who knew this man declared that he indeed did a lot of good work for each diocese he worked in. He was very instrumental in helping victims of sexual abuse by priests and brothers get the compensation they deserved..Frankie and Speedy, your knee-jerk reaction is typical of uninformed rednecks..I say, a piece of cornerstone on a building isn’t going to degrade the building or it’s history..I have no respect for Mr. Noseworthy and his blog..He shoves his ideals down our throats and when we attempt to reply in print to his skewed rhetoric, it doesn’t make it to print. Our opinions may not be popular, but we have a right to them and to see them get the same consideration as those who seem to dominate the opinions section..

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SADDENED

– December 9, 2011 at 09:14:54

It is most unfortunate to see this now. However, this was Lahey’s darker side. The good he did do as a Bishop was noteworthy. I once taught the confirmation course while he was the bishop. My own kids were confirmed by him. But as I asked in class, “Who confirms you?” ….Of course they all answered “The Bishop”. “No, I said, “God confirms you…the Bishop is just his instrument.” Does this incident make the students who were confirmed by Lahey outcasts? Of course not. So I believe his name should stay and be a reminder of the darker side of any human. Let this be a lesson and public reminder to the RC Church and all catholics. Be wise and not foolish. Don’t make a God out of your church. Do not put priests on a pedestal today…( or out of fear like in the past ).Be cautious and be clear on your faith. There has been so much wrong doing in the name of faith. Let his name(Lahey) stand on the building and let us all be aware of what this implies. Comments?

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WILLIAM

– December 9, 2011 at 12:22:43

Remove his name! It would be hypocritical to leave it there, also it would be a constant bleak reminder of his dark side. He betrayed people’s trust and most of all, he betrayed his church and GOD

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FRANKIE

– December 9, 2011 at 09:14:03

Yes, take it down. There should be no question about it. As a matter of fact, it should have been removed long ago when that sicko was first charged. There should certainly be no debate about this!!!!!!!

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SPEEDY

– December 9, 2011 at 08:26:25

Yes, take it down as soon as possible.

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On the Nose with Chris Noseworthy

[Professional Blog] Disgraced bishop’s name should not be left on junior high

The Western Star

07 December 2011

While plans for converting the formerReginaHigh Schoolinto a junior high are still in the preliminary stages, it would be a good time to decide if the cornerstone plaque bearing the name of disgraced Bishop Raymond J. Lahey should be taken off the building.

Lahey confessed to charges of possession of child pornography on his laptop earlier this year. He was searched after returning from an overseas trip.

The majority of necessary upgrading of the site appears to be on the inside as the outside looks reasonable enough to the untrained eye. This means that this little issue could get overlooked.

The reasons for removing the plaque are obvious, but there are some reasons not to do it too.

I brought this up on Twitter Tuesday night, where @Brad_Evoy suggested it could be left with the name chiseled off of it as a memorial of shame. I think it is a very good idea, but it would be best used in a different situation.

@sabre_skye felt it was wrong to remove it. She knew Lahey and felt he did so much good in his life, he still deserved the memorial. I agree with the sentiment, but again I feel that since the man confessed to such a shocking and abhorrent crime, especially for a man in his position, it is the best move to take it down.

Generally, I am against revisionism. I was against removing the word N-word from “Huckleberry Finn.” In the context of the novel, the word itself it a portal into the mindset of the characters. Yes it poses problems for modern audience, however the more shocked you are by Huck’s use of the word, the poignant the relationship between Huck and Jim becomes.

However, I don’t believe we will gain any meaningful insights into the human condition by answering questions about why a convicted paedophile has his name on a junior high school.

The whole practice of putting these plaques on buildings is unnecessary glory-mongering anyway.

I remember having a chat prior to the opening of thenew cityhall, regarding who should be named on any plaque. Should it be the team that started the project or the ones who were there on the day of?

I was OK to let prior practice decide then, but I am less content to do that in the case of Lahey. At first, I wasn’t sure if I would remove such a plaque off a brand new building, now though I am convinced now.

 

2 Responses to School board to examine issue of building bearing disgraced bishop’s name

  1. Sylvia says:

    An interesting furor in the offing in Corner Brook, Newfoundland?

    I personally believe that it creates further scandal to leave the corner stone.

    For that matter, I feel the same about all the little ditties Lahey composed – they should be expunged from Catholic hymnals.

    Your thoughts?

  2. Michel Bertrand says:

    chip it off.

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