Press Release from Bishop Brian Dunn
May 5, 2011
Now that the criminal case against Bishop Raymond Lahey, former Bishop of the Diocese of Antigonish, has been concluded, I wish to take this opportunity to address the people of the Diocese and all those across our region who have been so impacted by this recent event.
Yesterday, Bishop Raymond Lahey was found guilty of the importation and possession of child pornography. This is indeed a very sad day as we witness one of our Church leaders convicted of these very serious charges connected with child pornography. As a Church, we condemn pornography in all its forms since it seriously degrades humanity; we especially find repugnant any forms of child sexual exploitation because of the lasting consequences that these have on the gift of childhood. Here in this diocese we are particularly aware of the harm that occurs when minors are sexually exploited. The Gospel calls us to respect the human dignity of every person. It further offers us a moral challenge as we acknowledge that pornography permeates every aspect of our society and poses a serious affront against this principle of human dignity.
Since coming to this diocese, one of the aspects of my ministry has been to deal with the response to Bishop Lahey’s charges. I have certainly come to appreciate how deeply this has affected so many people and at so many levels. This incident, along with the cases of sexual abuse of children by some clergy of the diocese, has clearly caused many to question their relationship to the church.
Today, I would like to express my solidarity with those who are hurting and promise that I will continue to work toward healing, reconciliation and reform. I am humbled at the commitment, faith and strength of all those who have continued to find ways to be faithful in the midst of these troubled times. For this I wish to express my gratitude, particularly as I find myself inspired by your courage and example. To those who have found it necessary to absent themselves from our faith communities, I will continue to work to regain your trust and remind you of how much we miss your presence.
In response to the trial of Bishop Lahey, we are challenged as Christians to recognize human weakness as a dimension of this criminal activity; at the same time, we expect our leaders to be outstanding in strong faith and good morals, providing good example to those they are called to lead and serve.
At this time, I would also like to address a few words to the victims of past sexual abuse by clergy. So many of you bravely came forward with a sincere desire for justice, truth and reconciliation. I am sure that the matters that are being addressed today were particularly hurtful to you when first discovered and I am sorry that you now have to reopen some of your initial pain. Let me assure you that this diocese has over the past year continued to seek our shared goal of reconciliation and we will do everything within our power to continue along this path.
As we receive the decision of the court, this is a time for reflection and prayer and as we move forward, we do so with a commitment to action so that we may be a church rooted in the Gospel. Today, I wish to re-commit the entire Diocese of Antigonish to a journey where we continue to be a church which stands as a witness to truth, service and love.