[From the Archdiocese of St. John’s Newfoundland website]
16 May 2012
I wish to take this opportunity to address the people of the Archdiocese of St. John’s concerning the latest information that we have from the Holy See in Rome regarding the former Bishop of the Diocese of Antigonish, Raymond Lahey.
On March 16, 2012, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI issued a decree stating that Raymond Lahey has been removed from the clerical state. This is one of the most serious penalties that the Church can impose. The imposition of this penalty will mean that Raymond Lahey will no longer function as a cleric. He is not permitted to exercise any ecclesiastical offices or roles and is not permitted to preside at any of the sacraments or religious services, or wear clerical garb. Please be assured that any sacraments that he performed prior to this decree continue to be valid and effective.
While the action taken by the Holy See concludes both the criminal and canonical processes that are connected with this story, I fully realize that much hurt, sadness and anger continue to be present in the hearts of many as we reflect on these events. The lives of many have been seriously altered as a result of the challenges that have arisen. Moreover, the life of Raymond Lahey has been radically changed by his actions and this decision. As a bishop and leader in many spheres within the Church and beyond, Raymond Lahey had been a knowledgeable teacher and capable leader, who generously gave of his gifts and talents. Many fields of service and possibility are now closed to him. This is truly a tragedy on many levels. My heart goes out to all who have been hurt.
This decision taken by the authorities in Rome reminds us all of the serious harm caused by all forms of pornography, especially child pornography. Pornography is far from a victimless crime. People are hurt in the making, viewing and distribution of pornography. The first victims are the children whose lives are ravaged in the process of human trafficking, degradation and abuse that characterizes this deplorable industry. Those who view the images created and distributed are also victimized and, over time, can become de-sensitized to the human cost of what they are doing. There are other victims created as people become desensitized and moral decision-making is compromised.
The Church stands against pornography in all its forms. The Church stands for the dignity, freedom and healthy development of individuals, and for the good of society. Our call is to be a voice for those who are rendered voiceless. Let us take this opportunity to renew our commitment to stand for the protection of children and of all those who are endangered or abused in any way.
Archbishop of St. John’s
Statement of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB)
on Raymond Lahey
On May 4, 2011, then Bishop Raymond Lahey entered a plea of guilty in civil court to the possession of child pornography. He was sentenced in accordance with civil law on January 4, 2012. It remained for the Holy See to follow the canonical procedures in effect for such cases to determine what appropriate disciplinary or penal measures would be imposed. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has now been informed by the Holy See that Raymond Lahey has been dismissed from the clerical state. According to Canon 292 of the Code of Canon Law, the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state has the following effects: loss of the rights and duties attached to the clerical state, except for the obligation of celibacy; prohibition of the exercise of any ministry, except as provided for by Canon 976 of the Code of Canon Law in those cases involving danger of death; loss of all offices and functions and of all delegated power, as well as prohibition of the use of clerical attire. Raymond Lahey has accepted the Decree of Dismissal, which also requires him to pray the Liturgy of the Hours in reparation for the harm and the scandal he has caused, and for the sanctification of clergy.