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Archbishop Martin Currie spoke with CBC News Sept. 30 about the impact of pornography charges being laid against Catholic Bishop Raymond Lahey Sept 25. ((CBC))

News of child pornography charges against a Newfoundland-born Roman Catholic bishop have sparked a range of emotions in his home province.

Former Antigonish, N.S., diocese bishop Raymond Lahey, 69, is charged with possessing and importing child pornography.

"I was shocked. I was saddened. I was angered," said the Archbishop of St. John's, Martin Currie. "It's a form of child abuse and exploitation and that's what angered me that something like this could take place." 

Lahey was charged on Sept. 25 after a search of his computer at Ottawa International Airport more than two weeks ago. He was released at the time, but his laptop computer was seized and police said a forensic examination revealed child pornography.

Lahey resigned from his position with the church in Nova Scotia on Saturday.

A warrant has been issued for his arrest. He currently can't be found, Ottawa police Const. Jean-Paul Vincelette said Wednesday.

Stirs up the past

These latest allegations are another setback for the Roman Catholic Church in Newfoundland and Labrador, an institution that's been trying to restore people's faith after years of scandal.  

"It will stir up in people, again, all of the history that has gone on in the past, of the abuse. That's what I fear may happen," said Currie in St. John's on Wednesday.

The charges prompt memories of the now notorious Mount Cashel orphanage of St. John's.

The orphanage opened in 1875 to care for orphaned and needy boys. It closed in 1990 after charges were brought against brothers for sexually abusing or beating boys who lived in the orphanage in the 1960s and 1970s.

In 2003, 81 victims of abuse at the former Mount Cashel orphanage were awarded nearly $16 million in compensation for physical and sexual abuse from the Christian Brothers who administered the facility.

The orphanage building was demolished years ago.

Currie fears the response to news of the charges.

"I think people become disillusioned, if you will. You know, if you can't trust the chief shepherd, who can you trust?" said Currie. "I think it will affect people that way."

In the summer another Newfoundland and Labrador priest, Rev. Des McGrath, committed suicide after he was charged with sexual abusing a boy in western Newfoundland decades ago.