Deborah Gyapong, Canadian Catholic News

Deborah Gyapong, Canadian Catholic News

Deborah Waters Gyapong has been a journalist and novelist for more than 20 years. She has worked in print, radio and television, including 12 years as a producer for CBC TV's news and current affairs programming. She currently covers religion and politics primarily for Catholic and Evangelical newspapers.

{mosimage}OTTAWA - Catholics who fight for freedom of speech and of religion are applauding a tribunal decision that declared the Canadian Human Rights Act censorship provision unconstitutional.

On Sept. 2, Canadian Human Rights Tribunal member Athanasios Hadjis concluded Section 13(1) and some other portions of the act are “inconsistent with s. 2(b) of the charter, which guarantees the freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression.” Section 13(1) says that material “likely to expose” various enumerated groups to hatred and contempt contravenes the act. There is no defense for truth or intent since the act merely looks at the effects on vulnerable minorities, even if there is no proof any damage has occurred.

{mosimage}OTTAWA - Antigonish Bishop Raymond J. Lahey turned himself in to Ottawa police Oct. 1 to face charges of possession and importation of child pornography.

He appeared in court later that day and was released on $9,000 bail and put under strict conditions that include staying away from the Internet. His next court date is Nov. 4. In the meantime, he must
stay in Rogersville, N.B.

{mosimage}OTTAWA  - The president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops is urging Members of Parliament to choose good palliative care instead of assisted suicide or euthanasia.

As debate approaches for Bloc Quebecois MP Francine Lalonde’s private member’s Bill C-384, an Act to Amend the Criminal Code (right to die with dignity), Archbishop James Weisgerber took aim at the “misleading and unclear” terms framing the debate.

{mosimage}OTTAWA - The 40 Days for Life campaign of prayer, fasting and vigils outside abortion facilities kicked off in cities across the country on the eve of the Sept. 23 start to the campaign.

The movement, which originated in the United States, is gaining momentum and has spread to five provinces, with eight sites in seven cities: Fredericton, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Kitchener, Ont., Winnipeg and two sites in Toronto.

{mosimage}Bishop Raymond Lahey’s evasive behaviour coupled with a passport stamped with exotic locations known for child pornography prompted a Canadian Border Services agent to examine the contents of his laptop.

Lahey, 69, faces charges of possession and importation of child pornography in the form of “graphic computer images.”

{mosimage}OTTAWA - A sea of empty chairs on the floor and a virtually empty gallery greeted Bloc Quebecois MP Francine Lalonde’s opening speech on the first hour of debate on her bill to legalize assisted suicide Oct. 2. 

Only about 20 MPs were present, scattered along the margins.

“My conviction has grown stronger, and that is why I am introducing an amended bill on the right to die with dignity, Bill C-384,” said Lalonde. 

{mosimage}OTTAWA - As Antigonish parishioners coped with the “pain and anxiety” of the arrest last week of their former Bishop Raymond Lahey on charges of possessing and importing child pornography, a retired Newfoundland priest said he reported Lahey for possessing pornography 20 years ago.

Acting on information from a boy who had visited Lahey’s residence in the mid-1980s, when Lahey was still a parish priest, Fr. Kevin Molloy went to former St. John’s Archbishop Alphonsus Penney in 1989 to report some “bad news with respect to Bishop Lahey,” Molloy recounted in an Oct. 6 interview. Molloy said he subsequently phoned Lahey and told him of the allegation.

{mosimage}OTTAWA - Canada’s Catholic bishops will release funds to the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (D&P), at the same time increasing their oversight of the agency.

“Aware that Development and Peace is already engaged in this process of renewal, the bishops decided, in the interval, to support Development and Peace and its 2010 Share Lent collection,” said a statement released Oct. 23, at the close of the five-day Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops annual plenary in  Cornwall, Ont.

{mosimage}OTTAWA - The Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) has written a strongly worded letter to Parliamentarians and Senators opposing euthanasia and assisted suicide.

“Keeping in mind that Canada has rejected the death penalty, it would be a contradiction and an injustice to consider allowing some people to directly and intentionally kill others, especially at a time when they are most vulnerable,” wrote COLF director Michele Boulva in an Oct. 15 open letter.

{mosimage}CORNWALL, Ont. - The child pornography charges laid against Bishop Raymond Lahey cast a pall over the weeks leading up to the annual gathering of Canada’s Catholic bishops.

In his last report to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops as president, Winnipeg Archbishop James Weisgerber said it “might be tempting” to use the phrase Annus horribilis to describe them. But the phrase is not part of our Catholic tradition, he said.