Statement of Archbishop Currie on the Laicization of Raymond Lahey

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[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.

+Martin Currie

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.

18 Responses to Statement of Archbishop Currie on the Laicization of Raymond Lahey

  1. Sylvia says:

    “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.”

    Unnecessary words at a time like this.  We really don’t need to hear ‘poor Raymond Lahey.’  The man was a disgrace. His actions have brought great pain, confusion and suffering to the laity.  The laity is still reeling.

  2. PJ says:

    “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.”

    What a pile of [email protected]…hollow words with no substance. They have used these words for reconciliation time and time again, only to ensure that their “flock” will continue to give them money so they can defend and treat their own…and to h*ll with the victims.

  3. Mike Mc says:

    As you know, Sylvia, this story both sadens and hurts, as well as angers. Bishop Lahey was my bishop, confirmed my students, my own teenage child as well. I often wonder what they must think of all this.I’m sure their faith has been tested. Maybe they have lost their faith.

          I am disappointed in Rome’s stand on all this. It seems to me that the expression that I aways heard from youth “once a priest always a priest” still stands. Lahey is no longer a Bishop but has still been “ordained” and that, according to the Church, does not leave him. (Correct me if I’m wrong).
      Sylvia, I too am annoyed by Currie’s words: ” 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.”

      I don’t think that should have been said. It was too insensitive.

        But I must admit these words are true. I know what you are thinking…”Mike has been fooled like so many other disbelieving people we see in this site who react about their beloved priest.”
     
         But whether you think he was a wolf in sheep’s clothing or just a bad person, he did function as a Bishop and I can personally attest to that. Was there a dark abyss in this man? Definitely! Was there an addiction? Yes. Was the so called “devil” in possession of him?  Perhaps. Who’s to really know.  Was he a bad person? I think people have made up their minds already.

      But the Church once again has its Catholic “old boys club” hold on us, in a way. They say he has to be celibate and pray the Liturgy etc. How foolish. 

    Instead of just saying the man is now “OUT” of the priesthood completely, they say he still retains something.

    Well personally, I think Raymond Lahey chose his path and would have probably died a Bishop if he hadn’t been caught. He was in serious conflict with his warped sexual desires and his priesthood. This problem probably existed before he even became a priest. 

    If the man was homosexual, I can only imagine the confusion within his personal makeup. Why he became a priest and passed the test (got through the psychological tests) is beyond me. But it’s obvious that this site shows many a priest confused and misdirected. Perhaps the priesthood is indeed a haven for such people.
          But the bottom line is that this man and others have broken the Law and abused children, whether physically or through pornography and the evil that surrounds pornography, and now they must pay the price…that being a prison sentence or being on the sex offenders list. You  kind of wish they would all have both! 
       One issue often ignored in here….and it’s ignored because no one dare play the role of God….but that issue is the future of one’s soul. 
         I think whether Lahey is now relieved this is all behind him  and whether he remains celibate or says his Church suggested prayers or has a future homosexual relationship etc, he has to be concerned with the future of his soul. The afterlife is at stake with any believing human, obviously, but in the light of the Catholic “holy priesthood”, I often wonder if the biggest punishment is the realization that they stand before God at some point in their existence. It’s got to be psychologically tough!

         In a moral and criminal sense, I’m sure many of these priests mentioned in this site who are only now being revealed for something they did 25 years ago, are not only coming to grips with the very serious  moral wrong they did, but are also wondering the future of their soul. But only God can ultimately judge…I know that.

       I wish Raymond Lahey peace and hopefully he, now as a layman, (in my eyes)  can do something to right the wrongs he has done. Maybe he can personally direct his remaining years to help the poor abused child victims in Thailand, a country that seems to be rocked with sexual problems. It sure would be better than hiding in a room saying his RC canon law Liturgical prayers till he passes from this earth!!

  4. Sylvia says:

    I understand what you’re saying Mike Mc.  I’ve been there too with those I once admired and respected.  In my case that was a long long time ago, but I lived through it and, though I didn’t recognize it at the time,  that was in a very small part of led me to where I am today.

    I too do not understand why he was not released from the obligation to celibacy.  It can be done, though from what I read it is a rather drawn out process.

    As for his obligation to recite the Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office), I get the impression that that was something to which he agreed. 

    My understanding of the obligation to say the Liturgy of the Hours is
    that in this instance it is a penalty imposed with a mind to the salvation of his soul.  I suppose we can all scoff at it (as I admit I did when I first saw it), but if he still has some faith left then he will be thinking of the state of his soul and of what will become of him after death.

    Will he do it?  That I don’t know know, but I hope that he does.  You yourself mention the salvation of his soul – I think praying the office would be a good way to draw his mind and heart to God.  If he wants to save his soul he needs to re-connect with God.  Yes, God will judge him, and, as with all of us, it is up to him to be prepared to meet Him.

    I wish Hell on no one.

    I wouldn’t for a moment want to see him off to Thailand helping the poor abused children there.  I think that would amount to what we call or used to call  “an occasion of sin.” I don’t think it would be wise at all Mike Mc for Raymond Lahey to put himself in that situation, not if he wants to turn his life around. I honestly think he would be better off praying the Liturgy of the Hours.

    Sadly, I agree with you too that had he not been caught Raymond Lahey would probably would have died a bishop.  Perhaps for him a blessing in disguise? 

     

  5. Mike Mc says:

    A blessing in disguise? Yes. Same with every other priest that gets accused and is found guilty. If not a weird blessing, then definitely a  strong reminder to all of us catholics that the church is wounded. I believe the priesthood is suffering and has to clean up its act.  Abusing priests? They may just be a whole lot of psychologically wounded or sick or evil men within the prisethood that have snuck in. I don’t know. But I do know that many may think they are called, but few are chosen. At least that is what I always thought.
       But today, in light of what’s normal  and healthy for men and women….celibacy.. I don’t think is natural. (It might be for some). As for men only within this priesthood,…another unatural thing. As for those in charge of the Church…..secret vaults and rules and gold encrusted palaces, and  cigars and alcohol bank accounts…. and again a men only attitude,… this is definitely wrong.
       So a blessing in disguise? Could be….if it causes the Church to humble itself and reform as well as repent.

    Hardly a blessing for those victims, however, is it?

  6. Sylvia says:

    We don’t see eye to eye on celibacy and an all male priesthood.  

    I too have trouble with those clergy who live the life of Reilly.  Not all do.

    I have trouble with the great pains which were and are taken to keep the dirty little secrets in the dark.

    As for a blessing for the victims, I was thinking in terms of Lahey being caught, and as much as he might not have thought so, it was a blessing for him.    It is true that abuse  is never ever a blessing for the victims, but if we think in terms of the abuse coming to an end once the predator is ‘caught,’ or that there will be no other victims while the predator is in jail. 

  7. JG says:

    *Sylvia,

    Your last paragraph, above..are you saying Lahey was an abuser?…He was in possession of child pornography…sick for sure but any proof he abused any children?…!!!

    Shouldn’t we be careful about painting everyone with the same brush?…especially someone who is still around to speak up for himself…:)

    jg

  8. Sylvia says:

    No, JG, I am not saying Lahey is an abuser.  My comment about a blessing in disguise referred to Lahey being
    caught.(Mike Mc said: “Sadly, I agree with you too that had he not been caught Raymond Lahey would probably would have died a bishop.  Perhaps for him a blessing in disguise?”) 

    From Mike Mc’s comments as a whole, including reference to “abusing priests”   I understood  “Hardly a blessing for those victims, however, is it?” to refer to victims in general, and not to those who were depicted in the porn which Lahey had in his possess.    I was broadening my statement regarding Lahey to respond to what I thought Mike Mc was saying.

    Which victims was Mike Mc referencing?

  9. Mike Mc says:

    First of all to JG……although Lahey was not accused of abuse in the literal sense, we don’t know what actually happened in Thailand. Also, those kids who he viewed in his pornography files, were they not probably abused? Just look at Slum Dog Millionaire movie…it might have been a different abuse but those kids there were abused. No matter what Lahey was doing in Thailand, I don’t think he was up to any good there. Do you?

    To Sylvia, I hope you take a moment to read all I write here, ok? About the statement “hardly a blessing for those kids” etc…..I was just making a gut level opinion that despite Lahey getting caught and that probably or possibly being a chance for his soul, the poor kids who do get abused…what about them? No blessing for them. That’s all I meant. It was not a comment towards you.

    Finally, Sylvia, about priests being only men. You and I differ on that issue somewhat. But really, if I were to say, “Men should be the  pregnant carriers of babies.” You’d say, “No Mike, that’s just not possible.” (Although you probably wish it, eh? lol) Or if I said “Sylvia, women should still not be allowed to vote.” I’m sure I’d hear it pretty good from you!!!Right?

    Well, where do you come from to think that the RC Church should allow only men to be priests? Are you still bowing down to this all male “old boys club” I refer to?  I mean you know as well as I do that an all male exclusive priesthood is ultimately the doings of the Church and not Jesus, its founder. Don’t get me wrong, Sylvia. I am a product of the 1950s and grew up in a Church where we didn’t eat meat on Fridy, where unbaptised kids went to Limbo, where altar boys were boys (isn’t that a loaded statement!), where women wore hats in Church, and where women were not allowed io be priests. I mean my sister wanted to be a nurse…and never considered being a doctor. I would never have been encouraged to be a nurse back in the 50s and 60s. 

      But times have changed. Some of the women’s lib stuff was mere foolishness… and it was and still is a male dominated world. But in light of just the topic of  sexually abusive priests that your site presents, don’t you think our Church needs honest, compassionate, loving, motherly,  women of empathy in Church leadership? Yes, there are men with those qualities too. I know that. But the bottom line is: do you think the same ratio would have existed with women priests as it does with the male clergy with reference  to sexual abuse within the priesthood if we had had women priests since the 1930s?

    (I direct thsi question to Sylvia, but anyone can answer please)

  10. Sylvia says:

    I fixed up my comments (17 May 6:32) to avoid any further confusion. They were directed at JG not Mike Mc. 

    That said, why Mike Mc do you insist on bringing the site back to these issues?   I have asked time and again that the site not degenerate into debate and argument over celibacy and women’s ordination.  Perhaps someone out there would consider starting a blogsite specifically to address those issues?  You could link into articles here and go for it. 

    Try as I might I honestly don’t understand how such debate would purge the priesthood of predatory priests, or how it would assist victims struggling to come forward, or aid those victims struggling through the legal system, or educate those who know little to nothing about the deleterious effects of child sex abuse, or, for that matter, how it would ensure that priests keep their hands out of the collection plate.

    Your question re the ratio which might exist were women ordained is both hypothetical and in reality far fetched.  It could not be and it will never happen Mike Mc.  Not in the Roman Catholic Church. You can advocate and lobby and speculate and disagree all you want, but you are banging your head against the wall. It is a doctrine of the Church.  Whether you like it or not, it is not going to change.

    I think in the here and now the job at hand is to get the predators out of the priesthood, and in the interim protect the vulnerable from those predators, expose those who continue to deceive and betray us, and last but by no means least, support and give voice to the victims and their families.  

    Really Mike Mc, I strongly recommend  that you and others who want to debate these issues set up a blogsite which would allow you to do exactly that.  Think about it:  I would have no say at all, and you would have complete freedom to take the debates where you want 🙂  I am not being dismissive here.  I am serious.  I don’t enjoy intervening time and again, any more I am sure than you and others enjoy my interventions.

  11. Esperanza says:

    *Sorry, but my heart doesn’t go out to Raymond Lahey.  He was deceitful and treated informed and devout Catholics with disdain, which is the norm today, by the way, in the Catholic Church in many places.  He admitted to being a homosexual in a ten year relationship. Why did he remain in office.  He lived a lie.  The clericalism which is rampant in the Church today leads his brethren to make saccharine statements about the good he did. I’m sure he wasn’t doing much good on his trips to San Francisco, Bangkok and Vietnam.  Good riddance.  I sincerely hope the Church doesn’t decide that they have to pay him a salary out of compassion as they have done in other cases.

    Esperanza

  12. JG says:

    *To Mike Mc and Sylvia,

    My apology for making my last comment before signing off and leaving for a quick vacation. AAAHHHH!…

    I am answering with the sound of the waves rolling on the beach behind and the seagulls above…Paradise!

    To Mike first of all, I absolutely understand and feel sick at the thought that Lahey may not have been a tourist in Thailand,  to view the scenery…I understand the dept  of the destruction …It is beyond my compression how this has been allowed to go on and I would be first to volunteer to take down ST-PETERS one stone at a time if it meant saving just one child from this abuse by adults, by clergy.  And I think I would not be alone! There can be no justification for viewing, covering -up or being a party to anything remotely connected to abusing a child. Mike , my comment was also directed at Sylvia…

    Sylvia,

    “Blogging the sex abuse scandal and betrayals of trust in the Roman Catholic Church in Canada”

    I was being “nasty” with you by making reference to “painting  all priests with the same brush” to repeat your words from the Bishop O’connor tread…where I simply started to think about the “healing circle” of the Native People….and how appropriate it might have been…which led me back a few hundred years. Mike Mc asked a genuine question and then an avalanche…I was trying to communicate with Mike …on the relevance of Native “forgiveness” as “they” view it..Just thinking!…out loud!

    I don’t think the abuse we “know “about started all of a sudden just fifty ears ago…and it may not have started as sexual abuse but as abuse of power…maybe theft, violence,…and it evolved until we arrive in the present day. History tends to repeat itself so if we imagine it, it probably happened.

    I don’t know what happened 400-500 years ago but there were some forms of abuse probably which led to some massacres…of good and probably some real bad clergy. To arrive at some sort of answer  to try and avoid repeating the same mistakes in the future we will have to review and understand the past. I don’t think the Jesuit’s accounts were entirely accurate, for many reasons…Money, favors…Take your pick! I don’t think they can all be painted with the “holy” brush….but we will never know for sure. They are all gone and that has proven to be a “blessing” for many and for the “continuity” of things as usual!

    The institution and the men are not very far apart and to agree to “question” one and not the other will only give us a failing grade. My opinion. So I continue to “challenge” and to question “everything”… 

    The catholic church and its “hierarchy” have not been like the good parent, the “good shepherd” it was suppose to be and until the changes become clearly apparent, I will think of it as an inconsiderate, spoiled child with  only its self interest in mind. We then have the reverse role of “the parent”, all of us who care about making our world a better place. If it is not right as it is now, maybe it has to evolve into something better.

    It is not by defending it as it is that it will become more. My opinion.

    On the same related subject, Sylvia, you may want to find a link (?) for last night, on CTV Halifax evening news, where Steeve Murphy interviewed Archbishop Anthony Camari ( I think that’s his name!) Interested how he comes across to someone else…I wasn’t personally impressed…sort of arrogant, nonchalant …to remain polite. He said Lahey was now just as any other catholic, nothing more…he remains a Bishop and a priest..?? Steeve Murphy I thought should have asked him if that was to allow him to continue receiving a salary/pension from the church…

    Signing off a while. ….R&R    🙂

    jg

  13. Mike Mc says:

    “…..any more I am sure than you and others enjoy my interventions.”

    Au contraire, Sylvia. I see you as an intelligent person and I appreciate your thoughts, even if you disagree with me. 

        You really think my thoughts are not connected with this site? Sylvia, I am trying to figure out this holy priesthood that I had so much faith in. Since the Newfoundland priest and orphanage fiasco…and then the Bishop Lahey abomination, I have been trying to re think and figure out this priesthood and its abundant sexually abusing priests..that seem to exist within the RC Church ALL OVER THE WORLD!!!

        Sylvia, I personally know two anglican priests, both women, with Theology degrees from St Mikes and elsewhere in Ontario, who are good pastors in their churches. One is a Minister in Newfoundland and is awesome! She is gifted and remarkable.

       So my question is not hypothetical. I think you just can’t come to grips with the truth. And the truth of thematter is that if the RC Church in the last 100 years had had women priests who might have also been mothers, I don’t think for a minute that any of them would have been sexually abusive to children as the men priests we see on this site.
     
        Some of the abusive priests here are dirty old men, sick with lust, who can’t get  in control of their frustrated pent-up sexuality. Some say they are “mentally sick”. Maybe. But the majority of abusive priests know full well their evil  secret deeds and just continue to do them. They actually had help from Bishops who moved and placed them in other parishes where they abused again.

      Sylvia, Catholic docrine or not, I suggest you get your head out of the holy Catholic sand and realize it’s time for the priesthood to clean up its act and start having women in roles within the organization of the Church. If you think God only calls MEN, then you are still in the Dark ages. It’s MEN who only call MEN. Think about that!!

        So long, good bye and good luck with your site. To JG, all the best. You are a solid thinker.
         To all victims of abuse, peace and God’s love. I hope you heal with not only God’s grace, but the RC Churche’s financial help.
        To all priests……clean up your act, and stop wasting our Catholic donated money on lawyers and prolonged court battles…..Would you Just admit you have a most serious problem within your male dominated priesthood, then repent, reform and start looking at God’s feminine side and all that has to offer.

    All the best,
    Mike Mc

  14. Sylvia says:

    I am sorry Mike Mc that you are leaving.  I truly am.  I had hoped we could address the issues of clerical sexual and betrayals without getting bogged down in these arguments and debates. 

    A few final comments in response:

    (1) You are impressed by two female Anglican priests.  I am sure you are well aware that the Anglican Church has been torn asunder over the issue of women’s ordination. Only weeks ago an entire parish was received into the RC Church here in Ottawa.  There are many Anglo-Catholic parishes throughout the world doing likewise.  So, the move to ordain women came with a great price and heavy losses for the Anglican Church; 

    The amazing thing, at least for me, is that in the midst of this sex abuse scandal, these former Anglicans chose to become part of the Roman Catholic Church. 

    (2) I have said before and say again, we of the female gender are not all angels.  I have had many a bad dealing with females who are very adept at abusing positions of authority.  But that really isn’t the point.  The point is did Christ want and establish a male priesthood?  I believe He did.  The fact that many/some men/priests abuse their positions of trust does not mean that all do; 

    (3) You are convinced that had we had women priests there would have been no sexual abuse of children.  That I don’t known, but I do know the horror stories of what some nuns did to children in schools in Ireland – that included horrific accounts of child sexual abuse; 

    (3)  You say it’s time to start “having women in roles within the organization of the Church.”  Where have you been Mike Mc?  There are women everywhere in the Church: they are, to name but a few of their many roles,  lectors, Eucharistic ministers, chaplains, canon lawyers, chancellors, parish administrators, professors; 

    (4) You say: “Catholic doctrine or not”?  Does it really and truly mean nothing to you?; 

    (5)  You say: “If you think God only calls MEN, then you are still in the Dark ages.”  So be it.  That’s both what I think and believe; 

    (5)  You say: “It’s MEN who only call MEN. Think about that!!”  You lost me here;

    (6)  Finally, you say on one hand you are searching for answers, but on the other I get the distinct impression that you believe you have the answer, and the answer as you see it is women’s ordination. Perhaps I misread, but that’s how I read your final post.

    You are angry with me for not advocating or condoning women’s ordination.  That’s who I am Mike Mc.  I have said so often that debating and arguing these issues here causes nothing but strife and, here we are. Strife. I always thought – perhaps hoped? – that the site could address the issue of clerical sexual abuse and betrayals without getting into these debates. 

    The predators and those who cover-up on their behalf must be rejoicing.

    I wish you well Mike Mc. 

  15. Sylvia says:

    JG, Enjoy your holiday 🙂

    I found the interview: it is with Archbishop Mancini of Halifax.  I can’t download it, but here is a link: http://watch.ctv.ca/news/#clip681664

    Too late now to comment, but not impressed with the  ‘ha ha ha.’  For goodness sake, a bishop has just been defrocked!

  16. TH says:

    *A bit of info for those who believe that only males have abused Catholic children/teens – watch the movie entitled “The Magdalene Sisters”.  It is based on a true (now defunct)  institution Ireland.  

  17. Esperanza says:

    *I wish some faithful, informed Catholics who suffered under Raymond Lahey in St. George’s and Antigonish would blog.  I have heard from them about the disgraceful way he treated them but don’t have first-hand experience of his episcopacy.  However I must say the two Atlantic bishops referenced on this site are beyond disappointing. It seems as if they are circling the wagons fearful of breeching collegiality by condemning one of their brethren.  No one is saying that a person cannot be forgiven but this man was not a leader and did nothing to advance the reign of Christ the King. He should not be lauded for having done so.   He has admitted to being in a homosexual relationship for ten years.  At the very least he has been deceitful  – living a lie.  What about sacrilege? Is it any wonder Catholics are dropping out in dioceses led by bishops who have no courage and seem to be nothing but time servers. It seems as if our clergy and bishops have lost the Faith and see themselves as chairmen of service clubs. There are many organizations in which they could serve as social workers or fundraisers for charities.  Let’s encourage them to vacate their positions and move on so that the younger, faithful priests can
    take up the challenge and renew the Church for the good of all.

  18. Esperanza says:

    *I should have said breaching.  Typo.

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