Raymond Lahey, the former bishop of Antigonish, served eight months in prison for possession of child pornography before being released Jan. 4. CNS photo/Chris Wattie, Reuters

Disgraced former bishop Raymond Lahey dismissed from clerical state

  • May 17, 2012

OTTAWA - Raymond Lahey, the former bishop of Antigonish, has been dismissed from the clerical state.

His dismissal comes due to his conviction last year of possessing child pornography for the purposes of importation to Canada. He pleaded guilty in an Ottawa courtroom May 4, 2011 to the charges and served eight months in prison before being released Jan. 4.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops announced May 16 that the Vatican had informed the conference of its decision to defrock Lahey and that the former bishop has accepted the Decree of Dismissal.

As stated in Canon 292 of the Code of Canon Law, the penalty brings a "loss of rights and duties attached to the clerical state, except for the obligation of celibacy; prohibition of the exercise of any ministry, except as provided for by Canon 976 of the Code of Canon Law in those cases involving danger of death; loss of all offices and functions and of all delegated power, as well as prohibition of the use of clerical attire," said a statement released by the bishops' conference.

The decree also requires Lahey to pray the Liturgy of the Hours in reparation for the harm and scandal he has caused, as well as for the sanctification of clergy.

New norms to deal with priests who use child pornography became Church law in May 2010. The list of grave acts to be judged by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) included the possession, acquisition or distribution of pornographic images of a minor under 14 years old for the purposes of sexual gratification by whatever means and using whatever technology.

Lahey was arrested in September 2009 after border security at the Ottawa airport checked his personal computer and found a large cache of pornography. The 71-year-old Lahey told his sentencing hearing Dec. 19 that he was addicted to Internet pornography and that he had been involved in a 10-year relationship with a man.

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