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 - Bishop Raymond Lahey’s trial on charges of possessing and importing child pornography has been set for the spring of 2011.

The trial will begin April 26, 2011 and run until May 6, Assistant Crown Attorney David Elhadad told CCN.

The former bishop of Antigonish, N.S., is not expected to appear in an Ottawa court until his trial starts in more than a year’s time. Lahey has been living in a retired priest’s residence in the Ottawa archdiocese since Oct. 9.

CCCBOTTAWA - Following a poll indicating that 54 per cent of Canadians believe the Vatican has perpetuated a culture of silence on clerical sex abuse, Canada’s Catholic bishops issued a statement saying they share concerns about sexual abuse and continue to improve protocols to deal with the issue.

The survey, conducted by Ispos Reid, also said eight per cent of Canadians over 18 claim to personally know someone sexually assaulted by a priest. However, 37 per cent of Catholics believe Pope Benedict XVI is being unfairly targeted and 80 per cent believe the proportion of abuser priests is small.
{mosimage}OTTAWA - The Pope’s latest social justice encyclical Caritas in Veritate could launch a revolution of divine love says a Harvard-trained economist and Jesuit priest.

Speaking at Saint Paul University  on Mar. 1, Fr. Bill Ryan urged parishes and dioceses to launch small group-study sessions of the document to bring about Church renewal.

Bernard PrinceOTTAWA - A lawyer representing the Pembroke diocese says the church was “upfront and proactive” in dealing with a complaint of sexual abuse by a priest and followed the wishes of the victim in not calling police.

Attorney Charles Gibson was responding to recent publication of details from a 1993 letter sent from the Pembroke bishop to the Vatican’s ambassador. Media reports suggested the letter showed there was a high-level church cover-up to avoid scandal.
{mosimage}OTTAWA - Bloc Quebecois MP Francine Lalonde made yet another pitch for euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in the House of Commons March 16 with her private member’s Bill C-384.

Only about 10 MPs were in the House for the debate. It will have one hour of debate before a vote on second reading. If it passes it will be sent to committee for further study.

2011 censusOTTAWA - Canada’s Catholic bishops have joined the chorus urging the federal government to reconsider its plan to abolish the mandatory long-form census.

“A great deal of this information, based on data gathered by Statistics Canada, is most helpful to all faith groups,” said Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) president Bishop Pierre Morissette in a letter to Industry Minister Tony Clement.

OTTAWA - Jack Layton was not religious but the former NDP leader is being remembered as a deeply spiritual man whose commitment to a caring society had a Christian foundation.

OTTAWA - Conservative MP Joy Smith plans to introduce five pieces of legislation to combat human trafficking, including a change in prostitution laws to punish men who buy sex, particularly from underage women.

“What I want to do is target the market,” she said.

Though the details of her legislation are embargoed, Smith said she likes the Nordic model that treats the women and children involved in prostitution as victims and criminalizes the men who buy sex or make money off exploiting prostitutes. Penalties could include fines and/or jail time.

The Nordic model was adopted after hard evidence showed the harms that developed in some countries that had tried legalizing prostitution, she said. Legalized prostitution leads to an increase in violence against women, increase in child rape and child pornography, and a rise in human trafficking, she said.

OTTAWA - At Bishop Raymond Lahey’s sentencing hearing here Aug. 4, his lawyers tried to show his child porn collection was smaller, less sophisticated and less hard-core than others examined by an Ottawa Police detective.

Detective Andrew Thompson, who found 588 child porn images, 60 videos and a file containing fictional stories on the bishop’s laptop and other devices, agreed Lahey’s collection was smaller than some he had investigated which had included hundreds of thousands of illegal images. And while Thompson agreed many of Lahey’s images were on the soft-core end of the spectrum, showing adolescent boys in nude poses, he stressed some were “quite graphic” and included “torture and stuff like that.”

The expert in child pornography investigations and computer forensics admitted he has seen worse child pornography than those in Lahey’s collection, but some of the bishop’s worst images “were right up there.” None of the material depicted infants, for example, but “the explicit images of torture are disturbing,” he said.

He told the court that the unusual combination of images, videos and stories showed that “Mr. Lahey has gone out and searched for stuff like that.”

OTTAWA - When Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast left Montreal for Toronto on Aug. 13, 1961 to begin his novitiate in the Society of Jesus, he admitted shedding some tears aboard the overnight train.

“I think it was just leaving my parents and my friends,” he said. “I knew I wasn’t going to be back for some time.”

But he awoke the next morning to a new adventure and a sense of joy that has accompanied him, with a few exceptions, ever since.His life as a Jesuit has taken him from Toronto to Montreal, on to Halifax, Regina and Ottawa with sabbaticals in Rome and Jerusalem. A Scripture scholar, he has moved from teaching high school students to teaching university students and seminarians in Toronto, Halifax and Regina, and to teaching the faithful at large in the episcopacy, first in Toronto as an auxiliary bishop, then to Halifax and Ottawa as archbishop.

“My life has been very happy,” he said. “Even with a few crisis places, basically it’s been happiness every day.”