Sr. Nuala Kenny, who served on the commission investigating claims of child sexual abuse at the hands of priests in Newfoundland and Labrador, presented her arguments for change in the Roman Catholic Church at Dalbrae Academy on Sunday.
MABOU — A Roman Catholic nun told a crowd of more than 200 people Sunday the church hasn’t properly addressed the issue of sexual abuse at the hands of priests since the Mount Cashel orphanage scandal of the 1980s.
Sr. Nuala Kenny, a pediatrician, was a member of the commission looking into child sexual abuse by priests in St. John’s, N.L., from 1989-1991. The commission recommended the creation of the Canadian Conference on Catholic Bishops ad hoc committee on child sexual abuse.
A large crowd came to listen to what Kenny had to say at Dalbrae Academy in Mabou.
“It nearly killed me to be a nun, a baby doctor, sitting there listening to people describe what had happened when men of God, priests of my church, had offended against their children and teenagers,” Kenny said.
“It nearly broke my heart. The devastation that occurred was truly heartbreaking, but I thought we learned something, I thought we wrote something important.”
The reaction from clergy was to turn a blind eye to the abuse, and to move the offending priest to a new parish, she said.
Without participation by Canadian bishops to deal with the systemic problems that made sexual and physical abuse possible, the church can’t begin to heal itself so it can tackle other problems such as declining church attendance, Kenny added
“We have not addressed, ‘Why has it happened the way it has happened? Why have we dealt with it the way we have?’
“I believe our bishops and our priests need our help big time. I’m not sure we’re going to get that, but it is an issue of concern to me that we’re never going to answer where the Lord’s leading us until we do it together.”
With the bishop of the Diocese of Antigonish, Brian Dunn, looking on, Kenny doesn’t hesitate to bring up the name of the diocese’s former bishop, Raymond Lahey.
Kenny commended Dunn for attending her presentation instead of “running away from it.” The audience gave Dunn an extended round of applause.
Lahey, 71, pleaded guilty in May to importing child pornography and voluntarily went to jail to begin serving time even before a formal sentencing.
Close to 600 photos, mostly of young teenaged boys, were found on Lahey’s laptop and a hand-held device when he was stopped at the Ottawa International Airport in September 2009.
Hearing the news of Lahey’s arrest and charges on her car radio, Kenny said she had to pull over to the side of the road and admitted she was shocked and nearly became physically ill.
“As you know, Raymond Lahey was a priest in Newfoundland at the time of our inquiry. My thought was, ‘Oh my God, what did we not do,’” Kenny said.
Lahey is currently in the sentencing phase of his trial, with another hearing tentatively scheduled for December.
- – September 26, 2011 at 11:24:57
Until they allow priests to marry, this will continue until the end of time.
- DAVE FROM BARRIE
- – September 26, 2011 at 06:35:15
Untill women are allowed to be priests in the Catholic church things will not change…yet people continue to attend Sunday service and continue to have blind faith in the church.Just this last week a priest was arrested and charged with sexual assault in Hamilton Ontario and it goes on and on…Sadly the Pope continues to pay lip service to this and claims things are getting better….The only way things will get better is for Catholics to speak through their wallets and actions of not going to mass…After a severe downturn in cashflow the Pope may get the message and put in true reforms…
- – September 26, 2011 at 11:18:05
Such an uneducated comment for you to say Catholics should speak through their wallets and actions of not going to mass. Should we not send our children to hockey and baseball because the coach molested children? Should we not send our children to school because a teacher had molested a child ? Why is it OK to stop attending Church but yet still continue to attend or participate in some of the sports where coaches had sexually molested our Children? There were instances where a leader of the Boy Scouts had sexually assaulted several boys as well. Does this mean we should not allow our children to join or attend Boy Scouts. It is not the Church . It is those who work within . Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
- BLIND FAITH
- – September 26, 2011 at 00:09:46
That Mount Cashel orphanage was a whole bag of wrong.
- – September 26, 2011 at 11:27:28
If she was on the committee who investigated Mt. Cashel, she has no credibility as far as I am concerned. What we need are priests and religious who actually follow their faith. It’s obvious the former bishop did not; my question is who turned a blind eye and let him into the seminary in the first place, let alone made him a bishop.