We all hope a new year will dawn with much brightness, hope and promise of change. Good luck with that this year.
First, Bishop Raymond Lahey, Roman Catholic leader and purveyor of child porn, was freed from jail this week after serving eight months of a 15-month sentence. He was guilty of bringing into the country tens of thousands of pornographic images. Hundreds showed boys forced into sex acts and torture.
A judge sentenced him, then set him free, giving him “double credit” for the eight months served while awaiting trial. The judge bemoaned how onerous it is for judges to balance the crime against the “personal circumstances” of the offender. I thought he would have bemoaned the horrors of the children whose lives have been ruined by pornographic merchants such as Bishop Lahey.
Lahey’s case has further strengthened the feeling on the streets that the powerful and the privileged are easily forgiven for their offences. The underprivileged and the dispossessed are the people who get the real serious punishments.
Also, it has strengthened the feeling, among supporters and non-supporters alike, that the Catholic Church truly is adrift. It recently spent 10 years and huge resources updating its Roman Missal prayer book to become more archaic, more sexist and more elitist than it has been in recent times. Meanwhile, the Vatican has been silent on the Lahey outrages.
The church, and the Canadian justice system, missed an opportunity here to send messages helpful to our anything-goes society. Sentencing Lahey to a few years labour in an isolated convent operated by nuns devoted to the dispossessed would have telegraphed the message that the Catholic Church is urgently working on things that matter. The message from the Canadian justice system would have been that punishment does not need to be either soft or hard. It should be thoughtful, intelligent, innovative, and of course devoid of self-serving references to how onerous sentencing is for our well-paid, privileged judges.
I had a feeling the New Year was off bad start when the ball began to drop at New York’s Times Square. On CNN, hosts Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin were engaged in one of most awkward and silly TV performances ever (and that’s saying something). Then Kathy decided to be really entertaining; she stripped to her bra and panties.
Watching the undressing of a desperate entertainer, who is as attractive as a can of smashed Spaghetti-Os, didn’t fill me with brightness and hope for the New Year.