Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Resignation... and Explanation

Early Saturday, Pope Benedict accepted the resignation of Bishop Raymond Lahey of Antigonish, on Nova Scotia's north coast, for undisclosed "personal reasons."

Having inked a CAN$15 million (US$ 14 million) settlement with the diocese's clergy sex-abuse victims in mid-August, the lack of transparency behind the move -- and the 69 year-old's talk of seeking "personal renewal" in his departure letter -- led to buzz that the strains of office simply proved too much for the well-regarded prelate.

Against that backdrop, the true motivator emerged earlier today:
A Roman Catholic bishop from Nova Scotia, who resigned suddenly over the weekend, has been charged with possessing and importing child pornography.

Lahey, a native of Newfoundland who was with the Antigonish diocese until his resignation, was returning to Canada from the United States on Sept. 15 when he was arrested at the Ottawa Airport after members of the Canada Border Services Agency performed a random check of his laptop computer.

No court date has been set.
Ordained a bishop in his native Newfoundland in 1986, Lahey was transferred to Antigonish in 2003.

As the bishop's resignation was announced, the Holy See named the Maritime province's metropolitan -- Archbishop Anthony Mancini of Halifax -- as apostolic administrator of the 130,000-member northern church pending the appointment of a permanent successor.

As word trickles out, more developments.....
[The bishop] was released at the airport pending further investigations. Police say a warrant was issued for the arrest of Lahey when charges were laid on Friday.

Father Paul Abbass, a spokesman for the Archdiocese [sic] of Antigonish, said he learned of the charges from media reports and hadn't been told about the charges before the bishop resigned Saturday.

"I'm sad, I'm shocked," he said from Frenchvale, N.S., where he is the parish priest. "I think I'm mostly concerned about our people, about our priests, about our diocese."

Abbass said he had learned a couple of days before Lahey issued his letter of resignation that he was considering stepping down, but knew nothing more about the personal reasons the bishop cited.

He said he didn't know where Lahey was when he tendered his resignation, saying only that he had been away on meetings "for last week or so."