Dear Editor: I would like to comment on the trial and sentencing of Bishop Raymond Lahey. I don’t know how long we Catholics can continue to be hit with scandals like this, and hope to survive and function as a moral and religious institution in society.
For one thing the devastating effect on the credibility and trustworthiness of Catholic clergy is incalculable.
The church’s official response continues to be so diplomatic that the general public rightly intuit that the Church leadership still don’t “get it.” Within the Catholic family itself there has been a parallel silence.
If the clergy have thoughts on this crisis they are keeping them to themselves. Meanwhile, lay Catholic organizations, such as the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Women’s League, parish councils in every parish, and the people in the pew are also remaining silent. Why?
Meanwhile, the leadership is failing to provide a vehicle for public discussion within the Catholic community. When there is scandal in a family or organization and a process is not put in place to deal with the anger and disillusionment of the members, the toxic climate will continue, and give rise to cynicism, apathy and despair.
“What cannot be talked about cannot also be put to rest: and if it is not, the wounds continue to fester from generation to generation:” B. Bettelheim
It is clear to me that the church is attempting to manage this crisis. That approach is not working. There is an urgent need to ask questions, that might seem, from an institutional perspective, unthinkable. If we continue to silence the prophetic voices in our church the price will, ultimately, be catastrophic.
Speaking directly to Bishop Lahey’s sentencing I am shocked that the Canadian justice system, which did refer to the bishop’s good work in the community, failed to speak to the enhanced moral responsibility Bishop Lahey carried as a public religious leader and how devastating his conduct was as a consequence. After all his sentencing filled the news outlets of our nation not because of the crimes he committed but because he was a public religious leader.
Finally, I cannot understand how our courts passed by in silence the fact that for Bishop Lahey to purchase and import child pornography, children had to be abused and if he and others were not purchasing this material such children would not have been abused. The direct connection between child porn and child abuse is being missed and as a result society is failing, yet again, to protect our most vulnerable, young children.
Nicholas O’Keeffe, Saint Mary’s Hermitage, Codroy Valley