March 6, 2012 ( - The internationally-reported child porn possession case of Bishop Raymond Lahey of Antigonish, Nova Scotia is indeed a sad one for the Catholic Church.  Yet from it, many valuable lessons can and should be learned, not only for the benefit of the Church, but also for the building of a culture of life.

Bishop Lahey was caught with child porn on his computer at the airport in 2009. Of the 155,000 pornographic images on the computer, 588 photos and 63 videos depicted young boys in sexual acts.  Lahey was sentenced this past January 4th to eighteen months in prison, but was released right after the trial since he was given two-for-one credit for the 8 months in jail he had already served.

Lahey told the court that he was a homosexual and had been in a steady homosexual relationship for 10 years. He hoped, he said, to return to this relationship after prison.

One of the first lessons to glean from this sad story is the need for effective action by fellow clergy when they have knowledge of grave scandalous actions by their brother priests or even their bishops.  How many of his fellow clergy, his brother bishops, his close friends and colleagues knew of Bishop Lahey’s dark secret - not only the porn addiction, but also his homosexual relationships and his repeated trips to Thailand, widely known as a major destination for those wanting to engage in pedophile adult/child sex?

It defies reason to conclude that at least a few fellow clerics, if not more than that, did not know of Lahey’s serious problems.

In fact, Bishop Lahey’s problem with pornography, and other clerics having been advised of it, dated back more than 20 years.  A few short years after Lahey was ordained auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of St. George, Newfoundland, a sexual abuse victim found pornography at Lahey’s house and reported it to a priest.  In 1989 Shane Earle told Fr. Kevin Malloy of his find. Malloy reported it to then Archbishop Alphonsus Penney, but the trail ends there. . . . .

One of the major road-blocks to having such scandals avoided and put to a swift end is the culture of fear created by these scandalous clergy and Bishops.  Bullying and other strong-arm tactics are often employed in cowing faithful, orthodox clergy, and even fellow bishops into silence. This has actually been rather common, as LifeSiteNews has learned to its dismay over the years.

The 2006 investigative report issued by his own former Diocese of Springfield noted that Bishop Daniel Ryan had “engaged in improper sexual conduct and used his office to conceal his activities.” He had fostered “a culture of secrecy ... that discouraged faithful priests from coming forward with information about misconduct.”

But there is more than fear which dissuades faithful priests and bishops from exposing the scandal or their brother clergy.  A misguided sense of personal loyalty, false charity, and an all-too-convenient rationalization that avoiding needed corrective action is in fact a way of guarding the faith, often come into play.

As we have seen over and over again regarding the numerous cases of grave and ongoing sexual scandal, these sentiments are terribly misguided and in fact accomplish the opposite of what they propose. 

Obviously when such abuses are dealt with, charity is extended to the victims of abuse.  But beyond this, it is true friendship and charity not only to the Church, but also to the offender, to expose him to the proper authorities in order that the offender may be relieved of his duties.

Bishops and other clergy involved in such scandal do themselves and the faith much harm in living double lives. In exposing the scandal and having the offender relieved of his duties, the courageous and determined whistleblower performs an act of charity for his brother clergy. The offender is enabled to seek the forgiveness and help which he needs to overcome his addictions and live out his life (and afterlife) in peace. 

Our Lord Himself warned of the seriousness of religious leaders leading the faithful astray.  “It is impossible that scandals should not come: but woe to him through whom they come,” He said.  “It were better for him, that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should scandalize one of these little ones.” (Lk 17:1-2) (The lessons of the Raymond Lahey scandal.)