Bad optics

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More apologies.  Again.  I’ve had a touch of the flu, my computer went kaput, and all in all I’m having a bit of a time getting re-settled after my 10 weeks in Ireland.

I don’t know quite what happened’ with the computer, but I ended up with the dread black screen.  I didn’t seem to have a virus and the computer is less than a year old, but  –there you go – such is life with computers!    Fortunately I was able to retrieve my files – then it was on to restoring to original factory settings, reloading and updating all software, and trying to sort out how to import the saved files.  All a bit of a headache and at times I didn’t even want to look at the darn machine.  Anyway, the long and short is that I never did manage to import my previous settings but did get my emails and files.  The restoration job is  essentially done :).

For those who didn’t check New to the Site on the Home pageI posted several articles a few days ago.   I did have comments on most but will now limit to two questions, one for each of two articles.  Then I’ll move on to news that the priests of the Diocese of Antigonish headed off for counselling, and then  to news of the announcement that Bishop Brian Dunn, an auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Sault Ste Marie Ontario, will replace Bishop Raymond Lahey, the disgraced Bishop of Antigonish Nova Scotia.

(A) Previous postings

(1) 17 November 2009: Former cadet officer awaits sentencing for sex assaults (access link via Of Interest page )

A publication ban on the name of a convicted molester?  A ban on the identity of a convicted molester who is out and about pending sentencing!!!  And no one knows who he is?!!!

Where did this come from?   And why?   Can anybody who was in the courtroom that day fill us in? 

(2) 17 November 2009:  Former premier being roasted to benefit CTC (access link via The Inquiry – Blue drop-down menu – “Community” witnesses – Sean Adams ) 

I don’t know if Sean Adams is still planning fundraising events for the Children’s Treatment Centre.  No matter.  For me this is all about perceptions, specifically the fact that Ed Lumley was involved in a Children’s Treatment Centre event.

Given that it is now well known that Lumley played a role in pulling strings to allow convicted American clerical paedophile Carl Stone to stay in Cornwall, I am surprised.  As far as I’m concerned it doesn’t look good.  Bad optics.

(B) Counselling session for priests

Can you believe it?  The Lahey scandal prompted someone to decide that the priests of the Antigonish diocese should head off for a weekend of counselling

09 November 2009:  Priests in Antigonish get counselling

What in the name of goodness has happened to the vocation of the priesthood when it is deemed that priests are incapable of seeking strength and peace from God and the Sacraments of the Church? 

They need counselling to deal with the Bishop Raymond Lahey scandal?!

I can not believe it! 

How did the great Saints of the Church get by in troubled times?  They turned to God.  Not counsellors.  Not psychologists.  They turned to God.

What of the Martyrs?  In the months which often preceded their deaths did they turn to counsellors and/or psychologists to find peace and solace?  No.  They turned to God.

This is so terribly pathetic.  So very secular. 

What kind of spiritual direction can laymen hope to receive from clergy who need counsellors to see them through tough times?

Note that  the Antigonish clergy had a psychologist from Southdown to help them along.  The psychologist presumably “spoke about the challenges of the vocation as well as the issues of child pornography and pedophilia.” 

Note that “issues of child pornography and paedophilia ‘ were  discussed.  Not issues of child pornography and homosexuality.  No.  Paedophilia.  The operatvie word this time is paedophilia.

Seems to me no one can quite make up their minds these days what the problem is which is afflicting so many of our Catholic clergy.  On one hand the message is that it’s homosexuality, not paedophilia.  On the other hand the message is it’s paedophilia not homosexuality.  And on yet another hand we’re emphatically told ‘No. No. No,.  It’s eubophilia, not paedophilia.’

Regardless, in the instance at hand Lahey himself allegedly said emphatically that (a) he is sexually attracted to males between the ages of 20 and 21, and (b)  he is not  attracted to anyone under age 18. 

That I would say denotes homosexuality?

On top of that we have word that Lahey was also allegedly caught with pornographic pictures of young boys as young as eight or ten.

Would that not, even in this day and age of political correctness, denote homosexual paedophilia? 

No matter.  A Southdown psychologist apparently helped the allegedly troubled clergy by discussing paedophilia and pornography!

Paedophilia and pornography? 

What of the bishop’s self proclaimed homosexual proclivities? 

This is all too pathetic for words.

Surely throughout those 48 hours away from their flocks there was at least one wee session where the clergy were debriefed/counselled/lectured or whatever on the obviously touchy issue of homosexuality and child pornography?

And, silly question perhaps, but, was there any real talk in those 48 hours of sin? and of God? and of Jesus Christ and His suffering? and of the moral teachings of the Church? and of the Sacraments?

I hope so.  I wouldn’t count on it, but, I do hope so.  A little back to basics in the Church wouldn’t hurt.

© Perceptions

Bishop Brian Dunn will replace Bishop Raymond Lahey as Bishop of the Diocese of Antigonish.  I have posted a number of articles with a fair bit of information about the new bishop of Antigonish.  Scroll down to read them all.

I was personally surprised that Lahey’s replacement was chosen with such exceptional speed.  It is not unusual for a diocese to drift along for months on end waiting a new bishop.  Not so for Antigonish.  Perhaps there was haste because the big class action settlement which Lahey negotiated might flounder if the bishop’s seat were not filled with haste?  Perhaps collections have reached an all time low?  Perhaps Dunn was instantly seen as the one and only man capable of wooing the troubled masses?  I don’t know, but it was quick.  Very very quick. 

Haste aside, I am surprised at the choice. 

It’s all about perceptions. A little like the choice of the conflict riddled Justice Normand Glaude as commissioner for the Cornwall Public Inquiry.  Bad optics. 

Or perhaps it’s a little like the old adage that justice must not only be done but must also be seen to be done.

Anyway, before I go on let me make clear that I don’t know anything of Bishop Dunn.  He may well be a good and holy man.  I pray that he is. 

That said I must say that when I looked at his background I was floored that someone somewhere determined that Bishop Dunn is the right man at the right time to pick up the reigns and lead the troubled flock in Antigonish.

Before going on I must say a quick and I believe necessary word about Archbishop Alphonsus Penney.

Archbishop Penney

 Penny, the former Bishop of the scandal plagued Archdiocese of Saint John’s Newfoundland, was born in St. John’s Newfoundland.

Penney chose then Father Raymond Lahey (also born in St. John’s) to serve as his Vicar General.   While still in that post Lahey testified at the sex abuse trial of Brother Burton.  (Look at this account of what can only be described as Lahey’s child-molester- friendly testimony.)

Prior to serving as Archbishop of St, John’s, Penney was Bishop of the neighbouring Diocese of Grand Falls. 

Penny was forced to resign as Archbishop of St. John’s in 1991 after a  commission of inquiry essentially concluding that he had responded abysmally to allegations of child sex abuse levelled against priests and religious brothers in his diocese.

More recently we learned that in the late 80s Penney was allegedly told that Shane Earle had been seen porn in Lahey’s bedroom sometime in the mid 80s.  By the time Penney was allegedly given the news Lahey had moved up the Episcopal ladder and had served three years as Bishop of the neighbouring Diocese of St. George’s Newfoundland. 

It is unclear if Penney was told that the porn was kiddie porn.  It is also unknown if he was advised that, according to Earle, there were also used and unused condoms in the Lahey bedroom.   No matter.  Had Penney been concerned and/or interested he could certainly have found out.  A meet with Earle would have filled in all the details. 

Clearly and unfortunately, witness Lahey’s continued years as Bishop of St. George’s, 2003 installation as Bishop of Antigonish and more recent arrest on charges of possessing and importing child pornography, Penney did nothing.

Back now to  Bishop Brian Dunn.  Two points:

(1)   Dunn, like Lahey and Penney, was born in Saint John’s Newfoundland.  Like both he was raised within the boundaries of the Archdiocese of St. John’s.  It is not a large .

 (2)   Although raised in the Archdiocese of St. John’s Dunn chose to be ordained for the Diocese of Grand Falls.  It would seem that he chose to pursue his priestly vocation in Grand Falls while Penney was Bishop of Grand Fall.  As far as I can see the only thing which prevented Dunn from serving under Penney in Grand Falls was Penney’s installation as Archbishop of St. John’s in 1980.  Penney’s move to St. John’s transpired just months before Dunn’s ordination.

Is it just me?  I personally think the optics here smell to high heaven.  The common denominators are St. John’s and Penney.  I can’t quite put a finger on it, but it strikes me as odd that a greater effort wasn’t made to find a bishop with no real or perceived connections to Lahey.  

Perhaps Dunn is a man of such profound holiness that, bad optics or no, he is the right man for the job?  Wouldn’t that be refreshing?  As always, we shall see…. 

Enough for now,

  Sylvia
(cornwall@theinquiry.ca)

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2 Responses to Bad optics

  1. AbsentObserver says:

    I think many of us know the name of the cadet officer … all you really have to do is think back to a couple of years when there were stories published about this. His name wasn’t always protected by a publication ban.

    It would be interesting to find out why a ban was ultimately imposed by the court.

  2. Sylvia says:

    True enough AbesentObsever. I’ve figured it out.

    But what of those who didn’t know the identity of this convicted child sexual predator while he was out and about in their community enjoying his anonymity?

    The man should have been behind bars, then a publciation ban wouldn’t make a bit of difference. If he was behind bars he wouldn’t have had opportunity to harm one single child.

    Why are judges so willing to kowinlgy put children at risk?

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