tp-bishop-lahey

Raymond Lahey, former bishop of the diocese of Antigonish in Nova Scotia, is facing child pornography charges. ((CBC))

Ottawa police have issued an arrest warrant for a Roman Catholic bishop from Nova Scotia facing child pornography charges.

Raymond Lahey, a native of Newfoundland who was with the Antigonish diocese until his sudden resignation on Saturday, currently can't be found, Ottawa police Const. Jean-Paul Vincelette said Wednesday.

Sgt. Brigdit Leger of the Halifax RCMP said Ottawa police officers have spoken with Lahey, though they do not know where he is.

A spokeswoman for Anthony Mancini, the archbishop of Halifax who is overseeing the Antigonish diocese until a replacement for Lahey is named, said Mancini spoke briefly with Lahey by phone after learning of the charges through the media, but he did not know Lahey's whereabouts.

Lahey was re-entering Canada at the Ottawa International Airport on Sept. 15 when members of the Canada Border Services Agency pulled him aside for a secondary examination, according to a release from Ottawa police. Officers found images on Lahey's laptop computer "that were of concern."

He was released at the time. The computer was seized and police said a subsequent forensic examination of the computer revealed child pornography.

Lahey was charged on Sept. 25. No court date has been set.

The former leader of the diocese of Antigonish is perhaps best known as the man who helped broker a $15-million settlement with people who said they had been sexually abused by priests in the diocese, in some cases dating back to 1950. That settlement was approved by a Nova Scotia court on Sept. 10.

Ron Martin, lead plaintiff in the class-action suit that led to the settlement, reacted with shock when he learned of the pornography charges. Martin said over the phone that he needed to speak with his lawyer and declined further comment.

Sudden resignation

On Saturday, Lahey, 69, announced his resignation as bishop of the Antigonish diocese, which the Vatican accepted. In a letter to parishioners, Lahey said he needed time for "personal renewal."

'Is there anyone left that we can believe?'— Anthony Mancini, archbishop of Halifax

"While I will no longer be with you on this journey, I am confident that your faith and compassion will continue to sustain you as they have always done," he wrote at the time.

Mancini, who is heading to Sydney on Thursday to speak with Lahey's former parishioners and hold a news conference, said he didn't know of the charges against Lahey until he was contacted by CBC News.

"I didn't know what the nature of the resignation, what the reasons were," Mancini said. "And so, now I know what the reasons are."

Mancini said he was concerned about how this would affect the credibility of the church. 

"Shocked, hurt because it impacts on me as a leader who was trying to do my job." he said. "So, honestly, part of my concern is, is there anyone left that we can believe?

"I think many will see this as something that will make the church less credible than we are. It certainly reminds us all that if ever we thought that we had a perfect church, we certainly don't," Mancini said.

Rev. Paul Abbass, spokesman for the diocese of Antigonish, said the charges would not affect the legal obligations of the diocese to the multimillion-dollar settlement.

"Will this hurt the survivors yet again? I think, absolutely, it will," he said.

Lahey was named to the position of bishop of the diocese of Antigonish in 2003 by Pope John Paul II. He once served as a professor of theology at Memorial University in St. John's.