Lahey will be test of church’s new rules

The Ottawa Citizen

By Chris Cobb And Dan Neutel, Ottawa Citizen
January 4, 2012

Disgraced Catholic Bishop Raymond Lahey will be the first test of new church rules dealing with clerics involved with child pornography.

It is possible that Lahey, who is expected to be sentenced today after pleading guilty to possessing violent child pornography, will be defrocked by the Catholic Church.

“It is extremely rare for a bishop to be removed from the clerical state because typically bishops haven’t committed these types of crimes,” said Chad Glendinning, a canon law professor at Ottawa’s Saint Paul University. “But he has admitted his guilt so it makes it a little easier for the Holy See. They need not hold a full hearing to determine his guilt so could send the matter directly to the Pope and he could make the decision to dismiss him. But this isn’t automatic. It’s a possibility but not an inevitability.”

In May 2010, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith approved new rules to deal with clerics who use child pornography and made it a crime under canon law to possess child pornography. The Lahey case is the first to be dealt with under those new rules, so the Catholic Church will enter new ground in when it decides his fate.

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