Top Roman Catholic church officials are expected to discipline Raymond Lahey, a Canadian bishop who was sentenced Wednesday after being convicted of importing child pornography.

Lahey, a Newfoundlander who was the former head of the Diocese of Antigonish in Nova Scotia, was sentenced Wednesday to 15 months in prison and two years probation.

He was released from custody Wednesday afternoon because he received a two-for-one credit for time served since he pleaded guilty eight months ago. At a hearing in December, Lahey apologized for his actions.

Lahey, 71, pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography for the purpose of importation to Canada.

Lahey, originally from Newfoundland and Labrador, was caught in 2009 at Ottawa's airport after authorities checked his personal computer and found a large cache of child pornography.

'Life of prayer and penance'

In Newfoundland, Martin Currie, the archbishop of St. John's, said Catholic officials in Rome are responding to the case.

"The Vatican has informed us that they are looking toward any possible disciplinary canonical penalties that the church itself may impose," he said.

"There are three possibilities. First would be dismissal from the clerical state altogether. Secondly, he could be sentenced to a life of prayer and penance in a monastery, which in a sense would be house arrest. A third would be that he may be able to celebrate eucharist privately, but he would not be able to identify himself as a cleric by title, by address or by association."

Lahey was a parish priest in eastern Newfoundland beginning in the early 1960s. He was a bishop in the western Newfoundland diocese of St. George's between 1986 and 2003 and in Antigonish, N.S., until 2009.

Lahey stepped down as bishop of the Antigonish diocese in September 2009, before the charges against him became public. His resignation came just weeks after he announced a $15-million settlement between the diocese and dozens of victims who had been sexually abused as children by priests.

Currie says he will make a statement to parishioners at Sunday mass on Jan. 8.

Currie said the statement will express regret and assure people the church is working to ensure its officials aren’t involved in crimes like Lahey’s again.

Lawsuit alleges sexual assaults

Lahey is still facing a civil lawsuit filed in St. John's in 2010 that claims he sexually assaulted a former resident of the infamous Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John’s in the early 1980s.

The lawsuit was filed by Todd Boland.

Boland claims the sexual assaults, which his lawyer Greg Stack described as "fondling," happened over four years beginning in 1982.

In a statement of defence filed in court in June 2010, Lahey denies all claims of wrongdoing in the lawsuit.