The bishop appointed to oversee a Nova Scotia diocese tainted by sex abuse allegations and child pornography charges says he recognizes it will take time to bring people back to the embattled church.

 

Bishop Brian Dunn, appointed Saturday by Pope Benedict, takes over the diocese of Antigonish two months after his predecessor, Bishop Raymond Lahey, was charged with possessing and importing child pornography.

 

Dunn, the auxiliary bishop of the diocese of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., said it will be a challenge to restore people's faith in a parish also tarnished by decades-old charges of sexual abuse by its priests.

 

“Whenever there’s a tragic situation like this, you know, healing takes time,” he said from Sault Ste. Marie after the announcement was made.

“So I'm very aware that it's going to be difficult.”

Dunn said he won’t take up his role until the new year, when he expects to begin travelling through the sprawling diocese and its 118 parishes and missions.

Father Paul Abbass, spokesman for the Antigonish diocese, said he's relieved the Vatican made the rare move of quickly appointing a replacement for Lahey.

“There's a lot of pain and struggle that so many people in the diocese feel,” he said from Sydney. “It really changed in some ways how people see church. Right now it's a struggle and he is going to step into the middle of that struggle.”

Lahey was charged in September with possessing and importing child pornography after he was stopped at the Ottawa airport.

The 69-year-old clergyman resigned his position and has been staying with other priests in Ottawa since he was granted bail Oct. 1. He is due back in court next month.