Vatican decries Canadian bishop's actions, offers prayers for diocese

.- The Vatican condemned “sexual exploitation in all its forms” and offered prayers for those affected by a Canadian bishop who recently plead guilty to importing child pornography into the country.

“Recognizing the confusion and anger that this case has engendered among many of the faithful, we underscore our pastoral concern for those who have experienced great pain as a result of these events,”
read a statement issued by the Vatican on May 5.

Bishop Raymond J. Lahey was jailed on May 4 immediately after pleading guilty to importing child pornography.

Bishop Lahey, 70, formerly led the Diocese of Antigonish, Nova Scotia and was arrested in 2009 after Ottowa airport workers found him in possession of child pornography as he reentered the country from a trip abroad.

The bishop's lawyer informed the court on Wednesday that he wanted to give up his right to bail and be directly imprisoned out of remorse for his actions.

“The Catholic Church condemns sexual exploitation in all its forms, especially when perpetrated against minors,” the Vatican said, noting that in “a special way our thoughts and prayers are with the people of the Diocese of Antigonish and all the Atlantic region.”

The Vatican statement added that although “the civil process has run its course, the Holy See will continue to follow the canonical procedures in effect for such cases, which will result in the imposition of the appropriate disciplinary or penal measures.”

The Canadian bishops' conference also weighed in after the guilty plea on May 4, echoing the Vatican's stance against sexual exploitation and emphasizing that the conference “continues to work to prevent such behavior and to bring healing to the victims and their families.”                                                                                              

“We reiterate the Catholic Church’s long-standing condemnation of the possession, distribution and use of child pornographic images in all forms, and renew our resolve to do everything we can to promote the dignity and respect of the human person,” the bishops said.

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