Nova Scotia archdiocese shocked by bishops pornography charges

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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HALIFAX - A bishop based in Nova Scotia has been charged with possessing and importing child pornography, just weeks after his diocese reached a $15-million settlement with people who said they were abused by priests as children.
Raymond Lahey, 69, resigned from his post with the Roman Catholic diocese of Antigonish on the weekend before news of the charges became public knowledge on Wednesday.
Police say Lahey was sent for a secondary examination at the Ottawa airport as he was returning from a foreign country on Sept. 15.
Ottawa police said in a news release that border services searched his laptop and "found images ... that were of concern."
The laptop and other media devices were seized by border guards.
"The forensic examination of the computer and media later revealed child pornography," the release says.
He was released at the airport pending further investigations and police say a warrant was issued for the arrest of Lahey when charges were laid on Friday.
Anthony Mancini, the Archbishop of Halifax, said he spoke briefly with Lahey on his cellphone earlier Wednesday after learning of the charges through the media, but he doesn't know where he is.
Father Paul Abbass, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Antigonish, said he learned of the charges from the media reports.
"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."
In August, the bishop announced a $15 million class action settlement involving sexual abuse in the Antigonish diocese that dated back to 1950. Lahey was not implicated in the case and had been in the diocese for only the last six years.
A notice Saturday from Mancini said that Pope Benedict had accepted Lahey's resignation "for personal reasons."
Lahey, a native of Newfoundland and Labrador who once served as a professor of theology at Memorial University in St. John's, informed his parishioners in a letter the same day that he'd resigned "to take some much-needed time for personal renewal."
John McKiggan, the Halifax lawyer, who represents the alleged victims in the class-action suit, said he was stunned when he learned of the charges on the news.
"Like many people I expect, I am very surprised," he said.
McKiggan said the settlement, which was announced Aug. 7, won't be affected by the charges because it had been approved by the court, and the diocese - not Lahey - was named in the suit.
Ronald Martin, whose brother wrote a suicide note in 2002 that led to charges of sex crimes against a priest from the diocese, filed the class-action lawsuit last year against the Roman Catholic diocese.
Martin wasn't available for comment, but his wife would only say from their home in Sydney, N.S., that they were shocked by the news.
"He's not doing so good," said McKiggan, who had spoken with Martin. "I think like everyone, he is surprised and distressed."
In his resignation letter, Lahey said: "I recognize that my resignation takes place at a time when the diocese is facing a variety of demanding challenges.
"While I will no longer be with you on this journey, I am confident that your faith and compassion will continue to sustain you as they have always done. ... I have already left the diocese to take some much-needed time for personal renewal."
In the suit, Martin claimed that the diocese failed to protect children in its care when it became aware of the alleged abuse.
The Nova Scotia Supreme Court certified the settlement on Sept. 10.

Organizations: Nova Scotia Supreme Court

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, HALIFAX, Antigonish Ottawa Frenchvale Newfoundland and Labrador St. John's Sydney

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