Bishop Lahey, formerly bishop of Antigonish, will have his day in court. On the face of it, he is guilty of importation and possession of child pornography. Nor is his behavior that of an innocent man who has been framed.
Archbishop Mancini of Halifax, in whose province Antigonish lies, was surprised and shocked by the news. He responded with letter to the Catholics of Nova Scotia. In it he says
Like you, my heart is broken, my mind is confused, my body hurts and I have moved in and out of a variety of feelings especially shame and frustration, fear and disappointment, along with a sense of vulnerability, and a tremendous poverty of spirit.
At this time when so many hearts have been broken, we need to know again or for the first time, the healing grace of God’s love. Such healing grace can only come from all of us sharing together our faith and convictions that, in spite of sin in all its forms, mercy is stronger than anger, forgiveness is more powerful than rejection and reconciliation is more transformative of spiritual devastation into new life possibilities.
But Mancini leaves out the word that comes before forgiveness and reconciliation: repentance. Lahey has shown no repentance, nor have the officials of the Church who failed to root out abuse. I know Mancini, and I know how he handled allegations of abuse in a Catholic institution in Montréal, an institution I was supporting financially. When told about suspicions about a priest, he said “Not again,” the priest was sent to Rome and then reassigned to a parish. I think Mancini should reflect on how he may have enabled abuse and whether he needs to repent.
Repentance, full confession of sins and desire to make amendment, has been lacking, both on the part of the criminals and of the bishops who enabled them.