Friday, October 2, 2009

"Sad News" - The Guardian Angels - Mass at Our Lady of the Visitation Parish, South Gloucester


The past couple of days have been very difficult for the Roman Catholic Church in Canada, particularly in Nova Scotia, where I spent fifteen wonderful years as a teacher (1975-81) and as Archbishop of Halifax (1998-2007). Knowing many of the Catholics on Mainland Nova Scotia from numerous happy and sad encounters over the years, I can imagine how devastating the news has been for them and their faith.

I learned the news of the charges against Raymond Lahey, former Bishop of Antigonish, while engaged in the Pastoral Visitation of six parishes on the eastern edge of the Archdiocese (near the Quebec border).

I was shaken by the news, realizing the impact it would have on Catholics across the country; heartbroken, too, for a man whom I respected; and my heart goes out to all those caught up in the web of pornography of every kind, but particularly child pornography.

Hearing the news which precipitated his resignation as I left Ecole St. Gregoire in Vankleek Hill for a visit with seniors, my reactions were like those felt on hearing of someone's death: disbelief, anger, fear and concern for the victims of abuse.

On returning to the rectory, my vicar Abbe Daniel Berniquez and I went into the church to pray in silence before the Lord of the Church and of our lives, begging for healing in this matter.

In his comments in recent days, Archbishop Anthony Mancini, who is acting as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Antigonish invited Catholics to bring this burden to the parish celebration of the Eucharist, where we bring all our troubles. This is how we can continue to be the community of faith for and with one another in these trying times.

He observed: “We are going through a very painful contemporary experience of the mystery of our Faith, which is all about Passion and Death yes, but it is also about the promise of Resurrection, without which we have no future.”

May the celebration of the Year for Priests, and the prayers for holiness that the Pope has called for, obtain for us, by virtue of God's redeeming mercy, healing and wholeness in "spirit, soul and body" (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

* * * * * *

Today's feast of the Holy Guardian Angels reminds of God's special care for each person made in the divine image and likeness, a special messenger from God to guide and help us.

The quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church below on the ministry of angels and the prayer to one's Guardian Angel are a great consolation in times of spiritual disorientation and weariness with the way leaders, even our religious ones, can let us down.

Let us continue to be united in prayer.

"From infancy to death human life is surrounded by their (the angels) watchful care and intercession. Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life. Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united to God."

The Catechism of the Catholic Church #336.

Angel of God,
my guardian dear,
To whom God's love
commits me here,
Ever this day,
be at my side,
To light and guard,
Rule and guide.

Last Sunday morning, I visited the Church of Our Lady of the Visitation, one of the archdiocese's earliest parishes (founded 1845) and a jewel that has been well-preserved by the devoted parishioners over the years.

Father Brian Hennessey is in his seventh year as pastor and, assisted by Msgr. Everett McNeill, is overseeing the construction on a new hall with facilities for receptions that, it is hoped, will facilitate long-term financing of the project.

Between the 9 and 11 o'clock Masses, there was a ceremony to celebrate the progress made on the parish hall.

The Knights of Columbus were out in great number and Ottawa Ward 20 Councillor Doug Thompson (former mayor of Osgoode) was in attendance to present to the parish a cheque from the City of Ottawa drawn from funds available for projects such as the preservation of trees on the property, a contribution much appreciated, as were his friendly remarks on the role Our Lady of the Visitation Parish plays in the South Gloucester-Osgoode region.


  1. Your Grace - thank you for your support! Your witness of faith is a blessing and God uses it to help us focus on the reality of good shepherds in our Church and your words to direct us in continued prayer.

  2. Sad New For Catholics? If you wish to shed tears, shed them for the children who have been forced to live their young lives as internet sexual slaves so that scum like Bishop Lahey could satisify their perverted desires in darkened rooms, lit only by the dim light of their computer screens.
    I have been a Roman Catholic for 63 Years, but I am sick of this continued Criminally Depraved Indifference to the sufferings, sexual butchery and sexual slavery of children. I don't feel sorry for Lahey and others like him. He is not a child. He knew that what he was doing was not only criminally wrong, but also Sacriligous in the Sad And Sorrowful Eyes of Our Crucified Lord.
    PLEASE, Stop Making These Perverted, Unworthy Men of Our Church Out To be The Victims Of Their Own Weaknesses. Stand For The Rights And Dignity of Children!

  3. Bishop Lahey must have been promoted to the episcopate on your watch in Halifax. One wonders how thorough the vetting of such appointees has been. One newspaper report alleges (and I repeat, alleges) that as long ago as 1980 the police were informed of the presence of pornographic material in the bishop's home. If there is any truth in the story, the question is whether the Church was aware of it when Lahey was elevated. In the western world's spy agencies all incumbent officers are regularly subjected to intensive positive vetting procedures, including lie detection tests. Should the Church not have a similar system, in everybody's interest? Otherwise these kinds of scandals, pertaining to present incumbents, are going to continue to surface, for years to come, costing the church hundreds of millions if not several billions of dollars, and this is in fact the least of the problem. Also, I cannot understand why bishops who become aware of criminal actions among the clergy, are not constrained to immediately report the situation to the civil authorities, and why, if such people have been sheltered, those bishops are not also criminally prosecuted as accomplices after the fact.

  4. The last comment raised the question of why criminal actions are not reported to the police. When a priest learns of a sin during confession, they are strictly forbidden from telling anyone else about it. I imagine there's an ancient legal precedent throughout Christiandom sheltering the clergy from being prosecuted as accomplices. The authorities must have decided long ago that it's better to have guaranteed discretion in the confessional than another source of testimony during trials.

  5. Concerning Bishop Lahey, What has happened is a horrible crime to the the victims and sad time for the church. However, it is also not a time to lose faith and not to go into despair. The only thing that will end this crisis is prayer (especially in front of the blessed sacrament)for priest so that they do not fall into Satan's temptations and especically prayers for the vicitms. Without prayer an reparation of sins to our Lord there will be no change.

  6. Rick, of course I was not referring to matters disclosed in the confessional, but learned outside of the confessional. In fact, when a bishop learns of such criminal activity, the errant priest (or now, even bishop) should not be permitted to avail himself of the confessional for the purpose of escaping criminal justice, and this goes for both the criminal and higher church officials who, apparently, have been harbouring and shielding such people, and not only in Canada. This not a time for despair and breast beating, but for vigorous action. Regular, intensive, mandatory "positive vettings" (including professional lie detector tests administered by an outside agency) of present incumbents would go a long way. Not even so much in the interest of the offenders, but the larger interest of the Church itself.

  7. I do believe that the Hierarchy is totally
    responsible for the Demise of our Church
    These men are not Priests they are pedophile's
    in Priests Clothing and they should have been
    exposed a long time ago, There is a lot of good
    men carrying the cross for these people,
    This might be why we are short of new priests
    I think It's time to clean house