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Article from Atlantic Catholic writer, Francis Campbell.

It’s business as usual in the Catholic Church.

Some seven weeks have passed since Bishop Raymond Lahey was arrested in Ottawa on child pornography charges. The bishop had recently presided over a $15-million dollar legal settlement for victims who had been abused by priests in the Antigonish Diocese dating back to 1950.

That settlement elicited allegations of sexual abuse by priests that had to that point remained unspoken. But now all the hushed whispers were coming to the fore. The numbers of young boys callously deprived of their youth and their innocence by sick and manipulating clergy throughout many of the small communities that make up the diocese escaped from soft murmur into open, public conversation. And it was almost too much for many churchgoers to bear.

Then a bishop, the very bishop who had brokered the settlement for abuse victims, was charged with possessing and transporting child pornography. It was enough to make Archbishop Anthony Mancini, the man now in charge of the entire Catholic Church in Nova Scotia in the wake of the heinous allegations against Bishop Lahey, utter these words in a letter to all Catholics in the province: “Enough is enough. How much more can all of us take?”

With that, the Archbishop promised that radical changes are necessary in the Church to regain people’s faith and prevent further abuse. The days and weeks tick by and the province’s faithful Catholics await the changes, radical or otherwise. If changes are taking place, they are too subtle for most Catholics to notice. And if they are taking place behind the scenes, it is in the Church’s best interests to make them known to the public.The time for secrecy has passed.

It was secrecy in dealing with offending priests that allowed the Church to foster a policy of relocation instead of rehabilitation. No, the time is now ripe for transparency within the Church. To regain people’s faith and to prevent further abuse, the Church must make changes and those changes must be made public.

I admit to not being much of a take-charge guy. When things go wrong, I often adopt a wait-and-see plan of attack, hoping that the things that have gone wrong will somehow right themselves. Reluctant reaction is my way to go. Being proactive is a foreign concept. But when forced to act to fix things or change things, I can usually muster up the good sense to get it done. The Church, it seems, has been taking the same approach. But to do nothing and hope for the best is not good enough for the Church, especially when radical change has been promised. Or have we, the churchgoers, sent our Church the message that the status quo is acceptable?
We continue to slide into our pews each week. When the collection plate is passed around, we continue to open our wallets and our change purses. We act as if everything is normal, everything is OK within the Church.

Bishop Colin Campbell, another former bishop of the Diocese of Antigonish, once
suggested that young abuse victims were partly to blame for the abuse waged against
them. He was wrong. We, the parishioners throughout Nova Scotia, have fallen victim to the Church’s status quo behaviour. Our acquiescence in our attendance and our blind monetary and moral support for the Church enables it to continue on as if no change is necessary.

This time, however, no one can argue that we the victims aren’t partially to blame for the Church’s indolence.


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