Vatican laicizes Canadian bishop convicted for child pornography

Ottawa, Canada, May 17, 2012 / 12:32 pm (CNA).- The Vatican has dismissed from the clerical state a Canadian bishop who pleaded guilty to the possession of child pornography.

“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,” the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said May 16.

Bishop Raymond Lahey of Antigonish, Nova Scotia was arrested in 2009 after Ottawa airport workers found hundreds of images of child pornography in his possession on his return from a trip abroad.

In May 2011 he pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography and was immediately jailed.

After the disgraced bishop was jailed, the Vatican responded to the case with a condemnation of “sexual exploitation in all its forms, especially when perpetrated against minors.” It also voiced pastoral concern for those who experienced “great pain” as a result of the scandal.

The latest Vatican decree is the response to the bishop’s crime under Church law.

The bishop’s dismissal from the clerical state means that he loses the rights and duties of the priestly state, except for his obligation of celibacy. He is prohibited from exercising any priestly ministry, except in case of emergency.

In January the former bishop was sentenced to 15 months in jail and two years of probation. However, he was given double credit for his time in custody before sentence and was released upon probation at the close of his trial, CTV News reports.

Bishop Lahey’s successor, Bishop Brian J. Dunn, in January announced a diocesan gathering scheduled for October 2013 to address questions and concerns about the direction of the Church and to give a clear focus for pastoral care.

Bishop Dunn said the gathering will give “a new impetus and new direction as we live out our faith.”

“The recent events that have touched every person in our diocese have led to a great deal of reflection upon the Church’s need to bring justice, compassion, healing, hope and new life to the people of God,” he said Jan. 6.

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