In wake of bishop’s child porn scandal, archbishop reassures diocese of God’s ‘healing grace’

In wake of bishop’s child porn scandal, archbishop reassures diocese of God’s ‘healing grace’

Archbishop Anthony Mancini
Archbishop Anthony Mancini


Urging Catholics to rely upon “the healing grace of God,” the Canadian archbishop who took over the leadership of  the Diocese of Antigonish after its bishop resigned has published a reflection about the spiritual aftermath of the “unbelievable revelations and allegations.”

Bishop of Antigonish Raymond Lahey was recently charged with importing and possessing child pornography after images “of concern” were found on his laptop during a search at the Ottawa Airport. The bishop resigned from his office for “personal reasons” and turned himself in to Ottawa police last Thursday.

The diocese’s new administrator, Archbishop of Halifax Anthony Mancini, in an October 2 letter to the faithful of the diocese considered the question of what to say to Catholics after such a scandal.

“What I want to say is: Enough is enough! How much more can all of us take? 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.”

In the archbishop's words, he has cried and silently screamed and asked God what the scandal means and what God asks of the archbishop and his priests.

“Is this a time of purification or is it nothing more than devastation? Are people going to stop believing, will faithful people stop being people of faith? Lord, what are you asking of us and how can we make it happen?” were the questions the archbishop asked.

He said he was calmed by the sight of the Scriptural phrase on a tapestry: “Be still and know that I am God.”

Archbishop Mancini compared Catholics’ experience of the scandal to the passion and death of Christ, without yet having gone through the Resurrection.

“It is as if we are presently sealed up in a dark tomb waiting for the power of the Spirit of God to overtake us and raise us up to a new day and a new future,” he wrote. “It is this Spirit of God, this Holy Spirit, which we must open our hearts to receive – for only the Holy Spirit can drive out the un-holy spirits with which so many have become obsessed.”

The archbishop wrote that Catholics need to know again or experience 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,” he continued.

He asked that Catholics find a foundation in their faith on which the Church can be not “a perfect society reserved only for the pure” but an assembly of “forgiven and resurrected human beings.”

Archbishop Mancini emphasized that people, priests and bishops are human. Not recognizing this will produce “inhuman expectations” and give rise to “inhuman behavior.” He also connected failure in “pastoral leadership” to misunderstandings of the relationships within the Church.

“Together, let us face the present crisis; let us find the heart needed to slowly reconstruct our relationships and our capacity to trust and to care,” the archbishop’s letter concluded. “It starts by being still before God and slowly reaches out to another person with love and acceptance. May the God of stillness and the Spirit of life bless all of us and may the person of Jesus Christ be the foundation of our lives.”