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Monsignor Lynn's conviction

Many will be elated that Monsignor William Lynn has been found guilty of one count of child endangerment. I'm not. It's a sad day for Lynn, and for the church. And yet, it's a necessary one.The Philadelphia jury, which acquitted Lynn on two other counts, worked extremely hard. I hope we'll see interviews with some of the jurors that explain their decision.Absent that, it's a little difficult to interpret the verdict with the information available. Sometimes, juries just compromise - no favor to Lynn, since it only takes a conviction on one count to expose a defendant to prison time and change the course of his life. For a defendant, there is really no such thing as a "mixed verdict," as this is being called.The jurors' questions during the long deliberation indicated that they were very troubled by the conspiracy charge, and the panel passed up the chance to convict Lynn of entering into an illicit agreement with his superiors. So - this is preliminary - it looks like a verdict that focuses on Lynn's personal responsibility. To reach it, the jury had to reject the so-called "only-following-orders" defense - a weak defense in any case.Had more bishops resigned in response to the clergy sexual abuse scandal - had there been true accountability from the bishops - I suspect Monsignor Lynn would never have found himself in jail. (He was held pending his Aug. 13 sentencing, a strong indication that he'll be sentenced to prison time) .Prosecutors have great discretion over which cases to pursue, and they are sensitive to the public mood. The church has done much to deal with the problem of clergy sexual abuse, but never held its leaders accountable. As a result, the legal system, first in civil cases and now in criminal, has become the mechanism for accomplishing that.That's far from over.


Commenting Guidelines

JM your link to a professional abuse minimizer David Pierre is not doing anybody any good. There are 4 times the number of Catholic school teachers as Catholic priests. So where are the 25 thousand Catholic school teachers who are creditably accused if as you say teachers are the problem not priests?. {Sandusky is Catholic too]

"Aha, theres a precedent in our Church history for putting a deceased person on trial."The dead have been judged by a Higher Authority, no? And they are where they can no longer harm anyone.Energies should go toward bringing the living to justice, removing them from the possibility of harming others, and allowing them to repent.

Yessiree, JH, it's the old "Why are you picking on Catholic clergy for sodomizing kids and covering it up?. Other people do it, too" defense. Always a winner.

It may be just a coincidence, but the Vatican has hired a Fox News correspondent as its Press Secretary.

VATICAN CITY The Vatican has brought in the Fox News correspondent in Rome to help improve its communications strategy as it tries to cope with years of communications blunders and one of its most serious scandals in decades, officials said Saturday.Greg Burke, 52, will leave Fox to become the senior communications adviser in the Vaticans secretariat of state, the Vatican and Burke told The Associated Press.Im a bit nervous but very excited. Lets just say its a challenge, Burke said in a phone interview.He defined his job, which he said he had been offered twice before, as being along the lines of the White House senior communications adviser: Youre shaping the message, youre molding the message, and youre trying to make sure everyone remains on-message. And thats tough.Burke, a native of St. Louis, Missouri, is a member of the conservative Opus Dei movement. Pope John Paul IIs longtime spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, was also a member of Opus Dei and was known for the papal access he enjoyed and his ability to craft the messages John Paul wanted to get out.

Very sad all around, though I do permit myself to be glad for the Philly victims. But there are scores of priests and scads of bishops who should also be imprisoned, but they will simply watch as this man twists in the wind. The injustices wrought by the leaders of the institutional church are truly breathtaking: injustice toward the people of God and injustice among themselves. And the fact that the Flynn verdict coincides spectacularly with the Sandusky verdict will give the bishops more spin-fodder: There IS justice for victims!!! See how bad other organizations are? See how our fancy oversight policies are working? See how "the church" does pay for its crimes??? Gag. Ann: always great to hear someone keeping the idolatry surrounding the current construal of the ordained ministry on the table. It is the root of MUCH evil in the church and a sin that must grieve the Holy Spirit deeply. Today was ordination day in Boston; couldn't bring myself to watch it on Catholic TV for even a minute.

JH: At least one MAJOR difference between abuse by Catholic clergy and abuse by others is that Catholics are brainwashed to believe that the priest is somehow "another Christ" in an exclusive, even idolatrous way. So with every case abuse by a priest comes the deadly sin of spiritual abuse as well. One priest abusing a child, youth or other vulnerable person is one too many. This is not to minimize the abuse perpetrated by non-clergy or to not take the suffering of those victoms utterly seriously, but there is an added component---straight from the pit of Hell---in abuse by a priest. I am also of the opinion that the idea that he priest "is" somehow "another Christ" is also from the pit. But that's another topic for another day...the perpetuation of this idea is one of the roots of clergey sexual abuse in he first place, and also why it was so easy for the abuse to be disbelieved, enabled and covered up. So in this sense it is VERY different from abuse by parents, coaches, teachers, etc.

The Vatican has hired a Nrews consultant?Why not just tell the truth?

Bruce: forgiveness is always possible, but reconciliation is only possible where there is admission of wrong, validation of the impact of that wrong on the one who suffered it, and willingness to make real amends where possible. With reconciliation comes restoration of trust. This SHOULD be the model for the Church's life, since it is claimed that the Church is founded on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But this is not the way those responsible for abuse and abuse cover-up in the Church have behaved; they have asked forgiveness but have witheld repentance and the rest. Forgiveness can free the person who has been wronged, but it alone cannot produce reconciliation and it alone cannot restore trust. This is a huge truth the bishops are deaf to, apparently. And this, for me, is the core of what I find scandalous in the whole sickening mess. That priests can commit any sin does not surprise or scandalize me; that bishops seek to cover it up and save their own butts is also completely understandable when we look at the frail, broken humanity we all share. BUT: once their crimes came to light, they STILL lied, got defensive, called out the lawyers, attacked the media...and today they still remain resolute in their arrogance, refusing any real dialogue or consultation, condemning theologians, investigating our Sisters with a view to controlling them, continuing to obsess about sexual sins they cannot commit (abortion and contraception), mucking up the liturgy, restoring a sense of "exaltation" to the ordained state, etc, ad nauseam. So the scandal for me is that I have come to doubt that these men have any wisdom or humility at all, and have come to believe instead that they have made the present institutional structure of the church into a god and are thus idolaters. As a body, they are just about the polar opposite of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is what has made me question over and over again why I stay. THIS, for me, is SCANDAL in the biblical sense of that word.

"Another study has concluded that people who only watch Fox News are less informed than all other news consumers." Could that have anything to do with the Vatican's thoughtfully developed choice of communications expert?

I ran into Bishop McCormack tonight at a dinner and could not help thinking how closely Msgr. Lynn's conduct resembles his. Exact same excuses; the script hasn't changed. Alas, McCormack and NH's auxiliary Christian should be in Lynn's place awaiting sentencing --- followed by a long list of others.JH: Yes, abuse in any context demands redress. Many like you have picked up on the comparison of public school teachers vs priests who abused; Bill Donohue and Cd Dolan, in particular, cite numbers, but they are wrong.Once again for patient readers here, that research was apparently based on the work of Charol Shakeshaft. Her methodology is seriously flawed, as is the way she defines sexual abuse and misconduct. She ends up quoting herself, basing her conclusions on one study alone that includes sexual abuse by anyone and other students instead of public school teachers as a comparison to priests."Among the questions asked of students by the one AAUW study was, during your whole school life, how often, if at all, has anyone (this includes students, teachers, other school employees, or anyone else) done the following things to you when you did not want them to? Made sexual comments, jokes, gestures or looks. A list of 13 other behaviors follows.The question seems to be the nexus at which sexual abuse in school is established. Thus, the 10 percent figure properly includes sexual abuse by fellow students and other non-school employees. That fact alone invalidates the AAUW study for Shakeshafts purposes. It also invalidates her conclusions. See the rest. a deconstruction of Dolan's repeated error, see Prof. Mark Silk's comments at Scroll down to Diarmuid Martin section.As a former school board member who dealt with a few abuse allegations, I assure you the level of transparency and accountability is far beyond anything in the church's record of tight secrecy --- abetted by claims of exemption from child protection laws under the First Amendment. There is simply no comparison. We faced elections and open budgets. Besides, neither administration or faculty claimed to be God's special representatives on earth with ability to use sacraments as tools of manipulation.In dioceses compelled to release internal abuse files to law enforcement or the public, the percentages of accused priests approaches 10%. See

'the perpetuation of this idea is one of the roots of clergey sexual abuse in he first place, and also why it was so easy for the abuse to be disbelieved, enabled and covered up.. . .'Forgiveness can free the person who has been wronged, but it alone cannot produce reconciliation and it alone cannot restore trust.'Janet --I agree that the idolization of priests has to some extent made the scandal possible, and it has made the effects on the children much, much worse, even, I imagine, analogous to parental abuse. But it was not entirely the priests' fault, I think. They too were taught that they were "other Christs", and some no doubt took it literally. That language really has to change. it's theologically dangerous. I think that now repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation might begin -- where there is repentance. But too many bishops have yet to admit that they were largely responsible for the mess that remains. I pray that the Lynn decision puts some fear of the Lord in them. Nothing like a pair of handcuffs to focus your attention on reality.

Ann: agree 100%! but we cannot seem to get to the heart of the matter with priests or bishops because it appears that the newer vanguard of "JPII priests" (thanks be to God there are fewer and fewer of them) are poised to reclaim their "other Christ" status ASAP, so the essential theological conversation and revision cannot happen. Surely there are priests who think for themselves and know how dangerous----and sinful----the "ontologically changed" and "transubstantiated" construal of the Sacrament of Orders is. I must assume that there are plenty of non-ordained who also know this (and I use every opportunity to talk about this to fellow Catholics; hearing Roger Landry say that ordination is a type of "transubstantiation" completely upended my sense of what I believed about the form of the Church, the status of women, etc). I have not yet had the stomach to look at the revised rite (translation) of Orders, but I suspect it is not going to be an encouraging sign. Until we deal with this self-perpetuating error, I thik much of what oes wrong in the church will continue to go wrong.

Surely being "other Christ's" does not translate to the sexual assault of children or the protection of such assailants. We owe it to ourselves to engage in responsible reflection about who Christ is. Anyone who wants to claim "other Christ" status to me is going to have to be open, humble, transparent, compassionate and honorable. Absent these qualities the claim is simply a manipulative push for very malignant power.

Why is it sad for the Church that one of its representatives was brought to justice? What is sad is that Lynn failed to do the right thing when it might have made a difference in the lives of children. Not only do all other protestations of sadness seem gratuitous, I have no doubt that if he had been acquitted the other side's celebrations would have been long if not loud. I am tired of living in a world where only the forces of darkness are granted permission to celebrate their victories.

Janet--Why do you say there are fewer and fewer JPII priests? I am seeing the opposite.

"But it was not entirely the priests fault, I think. They too were taught that they were other Christs, and some no doubt took it literall"I find it hard to believe that any man thought it was ok to sexually abuse chidlren because he was a priest. If such a small percentage of men were abusers, why the witchunt against the priesthood in toto? Let's dial it back a little, huh?

Hoping for the current ensemble of ordained voluntarily to clean up the current ensemble of ordained strikes me as fatuous. Fear that they might end up where Lynn is spending the weekend may be a more promising reaction to wish for than repentance. Cdl. Dolan in Atlanta this month thanked the Chairman of the National Review Board for "challenging us to keep up the good work." (NCR 6/13/12 D. Gibson) He was apparently unaware of David Gibson's other article (WSJ 6/7/12) headlined "U.S. Bishops Still Stonewall on Sex Abuse -- Ten years after the 'Dallas charter,' church leaders keep dodging accountability". Nine years ago, the Boston archdiocesan paper The Pilot reported on Mass. Attorney General Reilly's investigation results. His comments could be duplicated today for Philadelphia with a change of dates and names (then Daily, Banks, Hughes, Murphy, McCormack, and Law). Reilly found top Church officials were aware of abuse, they tried to keep it secret, their conduct was "absolutely deplorable'", and he regretted the state's inability to "bring criminal charges against top management". He said in 2003 "that the Church should reexamine whether those officials should remain in top positions". Since then, 2 DAs and 3 Grand Juries in Philadelphia have painted the same picture, updated. Furthermore, the first Jury (2001-2003) noted in its Finding 10 (p.8) the role of "many non-offender priests", abuse-aware priests who contributed to the coverups. The near-total silence of priests on the matter for years has been a notable feature of evolving events in Philadelphia. A criminal trial surfaced a few. Meanwhile, Finn, author of a long pastoral letter to his diocese on the dangers of pornography and what to do about them, awaits trial in Missouri for his failure to deal with a pornography problem in front of him. Those moved to forgiveness will find that it works through bars. John Paul II showed how for a different kind of crime. (For his view on abuse coverup, see above 6/22 6:25/7:04pm). As for the cardinals and bishops, as David Gibson concluded 3 weeks ago, "If church leaders want the laity and the clergy to follow them to the ramparts on these issues, they should demonstrate that they will hold themselves to the same standards they set for everyone else." Evidence shows that the state must make that happen because the church leaders won't.

Mark --The Church is faced with a moral problem whose size has not been seen for 500 years. Looking for simple, ordinary causes is not likely to account for an event so large. And justice requires we figure out the causes.Witchunts only happen when there is strong reason to think there is evil afoot. The witches are mythical, the evil is not.

Mark: it is the CULTURE of the preisthood that is bewitched and needs, righteously, to be for the numbers of JPII priests, they are getting fewer and fewer because the overall number of candidates is getting smaller. There were SIX ordained in Boston yesterday---SIX!!! And usually some of these are ordained here for other places. Catholic Boston, Ground Zero of the US abusive bishop-priest scandal. Imagine. I am all for the smaller numbers until the thing gets overhauled. The JPII version of the RC priesthood is a destructive cult. Good priests (and there are many) notwithstanding, the thng needs to come down and be rebuilt according to the pattern of the Gospel. I am not holding my breath, however, since I have never looked good in blue :)If I recall past exchanges between us correctly, you are in favor of the "alter Christi" cultic, "man set apart" or "transubstantiated" concept of the priesthood? Or perhaps I am mistaken on that account...

Idolaters and witches are of about the same value in Scripture, if I recall my Bible studies correctly.

Ann--You have not convinced me--I don't even think you've tried to--that in terms of the frequency of sexual abuse the Church is facing a problem it has not seen in 500 years, or that can't be accounted for by ordinary causes. I think, in your remarks disparaging of the priesthood as such, you are not discerning baby from bathwater.

Janet--If I recall our past exchange regarding the ontology of the priesthood, it ended badly, with you feeling put upon, so I'd rather stay away from that aspect of the conversation.However, I am interested in your perception that there are fewer JPII priests. You cite Boston as evidence. As you note, it's in a sense ground zero of the sexual abuse crisis in the US, so that's hardly a representative data point. Remember, priestly formation does not end at our shores, and JPII was the pope for the entire world. My understanding is that priestly formation, especially in third world countires, is thriving, such that they are sending "miissionary" priests to the US. What a wonderful way to "thank" the Jesuits and all the other missionary priests who went to Africa so long ago.The Lord works in mysterious ways!

Just want to clarify something: what the "other Christ" concept does to a sinful human being is give him a false sense of unimpeachability and a ready made source of incredible arrogance. Brainwash a man with this concept who is already pathologically disordered (as with pedophilia, ephebophilia) and you have the moral and spirtual equivalent of a nuclear weapon. I do not say that priests who have allowed themselves to be deceived into thinking they are "other Christ's" think that sexual abuse of children and other vulnerable people is OK. what I am saying is twofold: FIRST, the idea of the priest being "another Christ" in an exclusive, indispensable way is a form of idolatry that should have no place in the Christian community; and SECOND: the idea itself has perpetuated among clergy and bishops the idea that they are above the law, both moral and civil, when it comes to dealing head-on with these crimes. As far as I can tell, they are sorry only because they got caught and every inch of apology and trying to make amends has had to be dragged from them...and they are still doing it!!!! MOST IMPORTANT: One Christ is enough...we don't need "others" in order to have the church or the life that God desires to give us in Jesus. He is sufficient...he alone is the Mediator. We need this mediation to be ministered to us in the Sacraments, but that ministry through the ages has tended to conflate the minister and the Mediator. The tile "Father" is the simplest form of this disobedient confusion. I say we get rid of it and of the "other Christ" idea altogether...

The hiring of Burke. OPUS DEi/Fox muckymuck to be a Vatican spokesmen is the issue of"Vatileaks" so that as his Holiness says we can have more calm and peaceful activity there. Transparency, I guess, when one wantsi t and not when one doesn't. Hoo boy!No mention today in the papers of Fortnight for Fredom, but this hire got played up.PR is what we need, like people talking about witch hunts or the awful media.Cast the best light possible.Poor me -thought leadeship was about honesty (again).BTW, speaking of leaks, our AG in NM is responding to complainsts about the Guv using private e-mails by her minions to aid her PAc.A column today says that some time back, there was a precedent: the mayor of Las Vagas, NM refused to cooperate with a freedom of information request from the local paper there(the Optic) about misuse of private e- mails.After a number were leaked, the AG ordered him to comply, which he did, but started a new campaign "Who leaked public documents?"A cautionary tale for far away Rome???

Not sure that third world explosion of JPII priests is the "Lord's work" at the recent scandal and shamefully poor response has shown, Satan is also powerfully at work in the hearts of many in the church---especially the power-holders, so I am more circumspect. So there's at least one more difference between our respective views, Mark.

This is a customer review I wrote at Amazon back in 2003...since I am incompetent with the iPad, I have pasted the entire thing here, but if you read thru you will see what I am trying to say about the self-concept of the "other Christ" type of priest...Weigel asserts some astonishing things about the ordained in this book, and I highlight one of the most ridiculous ideas here ( and it is directly about the scandal): I just finished Weigel's book [The Courage to be Catholic] and have come away even more distressed than I thought possible, living here in Boston at "Ground Zero" of the clerical sexual abuse scandal. It's hard not to admire Weigel's passion, and his book is far more thoughtful than the profoundly insulting and poorly done "Goodbye, Good Men." However, his frame of reference (post-Vatican II) is far too narrow, and his undefined generalizations (e.g., "culture of dissent") are far too broad for this to offer any real and lasting solution. References to the Gospel, or any responsible, biblically based reflections are palpably absent; references to the Pope, of course, abound. His tricky little statement about the priesthood is fascinating: priests who "really believe" that they are "living icons" of Jesus CANNOT (Weigel's word) commit sins of sexual misconduct (but they can commit other sins...why is that)? Amazing! So the life of holiness and transformation in Christ are products of one's exaggerated (idolatrous?) self-concept and not the work of grace humbly depended upon and received? Right. I've met a few of the new vanguard of priests so admired by Weigel, men "formed in the image of Pope John Paul" (huh?), including one guy who tells folks that ordination is a form of "transubstantiation." (Where do these guys get this stuff)? Sorry, but turning the seminaries into neo-Tridentine boot camps is far from the answer. And can we honestly say that Weigel's proposal really reflects the mind of Jesus Christ? For those who love the Lord and the Church, the scandal is scary and heartbreaking indeed, but the "promise" that such a "renewed" priesthood holds for the Church is far more frightening. Holy Spirit, help us! There are a few surprises among Weigel's proposals: e.g., he does not think that celibate homosexuals should be barred from the priesthood; and, more notably, he indicates some limited role for the laity in choosing bishops. However, his overall vision of "reform and renewal" would, I think, necessarily preclude any real change.

I'm not dure that the Lynn conviction and the topic of future priests are so clisely connected -except .as the new thread starts to raise -issues of loyalty/pbedience vs. conscience andLynn's "I did the best I could."But, I agree that the coming clergy issue rings lots of problems in the command/control Church.A couple of years ago, there was a dustup in New York over Cardinal Egan that got tamped down.How much under the gun are today's clergy and how much weil the coming priests seem to mind?

Janet--I'm not sure how to parse your comment other than that you believe the sexual abuse crisis means that the third world explosion of JPII priests must be the work of Satan. That's a non sequitur (unless you can sequit it for me).

No, Mark, I am not connecting the two at all...just commenting that the growth of "priest population" in the developing world is not necessarily "the Lord's work.". This would prove especially true if we could suspect that ordination in those cultures is a "ticket up and out" into relative privilege, eventual Europeanization and final foisting on communities where there is a shortage of suitable candidates. I am of the mind that JPII caued quite a lot of damage within the church, even as he was an instrument of many good things outside the church. His personal vision of the priesthood is one form of that damage, so "JPII priests" coming from the third world are hardly something to praise God for in my estimation. The idolatrous construal that has come to accrue to the ordained state IS, in fact, profoundly evil and a deception of the Evil One. You think the growth in number of these men is God's work; I am far more circumspect, given my experience of the JPII-ers that I know. They are the problem, not the solution.

"You have not convinced meI dont even think youve tried tothat in terms of the frequency of sexual abuse the Church is facing a problem it has not seen in 500 years, or that cant be accounted for by ordinary causes. I think, in your remarks disparaging of the priesthood as such, you are not discerning baby from bathwater."Mark --The scandal of the Church 500 years ago that I was thinking of was the extraordinary greed and secularization of the hierarchy during the Renaissance. It lead to the Reformation. Similarly, the sex scandal is leading to widespread abandonment of the RCC because of the sins of the fathers. I don't think the causes of the abuse have been adequately studied. We do know that there were major sociological changes in the wider culture, and I'm quite sure Catholics weren't immune to them. Even if there had been as much abuse in the past, there was not the *public reporting* of the abuse. We do know that in the 80's. for whatever reason, things had changed enough that the laity felt obliged to expose the evils and call the clergy to account. (I'm thinking of Jason Berry and NCR and the Boston Globe especially.) Why did they do that in in 80s and not before? Because of my general experience of human nature, I expect that the causes of the crimes and the reporting of the crimes were very, very complex and at least the combination of causes was new.I do NOT disparage the priesthood as such. I disparage bad priests and will continue to do so. So should you. Let me repeat part of the Fr. Vincent Twomey quotation for you:'Horror and outrage are the natural passions of the good person which God gave us to ensure that we get up and do something in the face of injustice done to others.Fr Vincent Twomey, SVDMoral theologian, Ireland(Thanks, Carolyn.)

Janet --About the new conservative theologians who think priests are "transubstantiated" into Jesus -- I wouldn't call them "new-Tridentine priests". The Council of Trent would have burned these guys at the stake for such heresy :-)

You seem to be implying that conviction on only one count indicates that the jury was minimizing the case.jbruns,Not minimizing the case. These cases are virtually impossible to prove. The only conviction was for a count Lynn admitted and apologized for on the stand. One can easily imagine that no conviction would have resulted had he testified differently. There are no 'winners' in this case.

I hear confessions of various kinds (including AA 5th steps) week in and week out. I am also a grave sinner who has experienced the humbling mercy of God. This deeply affects how I look at even the worst of sins. Like many people who post here I have lots of reasons to rail against the office holders who rob the church of its witness to Christ. But I can not take pleasure from the church bashing that goes on here under the guise of moral superiority. Haven't any of you hurt others badly in the course of your lives?

Jack, I understand what you are saying, but I think there's more to it. Some "bashing" is uncharitable, but some could be considered prophetic. The institutional culture of present-day RC is deserving of "bashing." I am not sure anyone here who says sarcastic or highly critical things against the institution is necessarily convinced of his/her own "moral superiority." Yes, all have sinned and all of us have others. But those who hold power in our church have vexed and scandalized God's people very badly with their arrogance, recalcitrance, and refusal to repent, listen and learn; the fact that they do hold power places them---collectively---in a different situation than if they were just a bunch of muddled sinners who haven't been enlightened. In my view, an individual's sins---whether those of the abusive priest, the abetting bishop, or my own---should and do (at least on my part) elicit compassion and forebearance. But when the underlying ethos of the institution---of clericalism, sexism, homophobia, monarchial pretenses, "sacralized" pride, resistance to change in the face of massive scandal and plummeting trust---has been shown to be at the root of those same sins, then that ethos (and those who uphold it uncritically) deserve a big-time bashing, indeed. The fruits of this culture----polarization of the church so that only right-leaning conservative really feel at home; marginalization of many good people and spiritual abuse of many others, comprise an almost perfect antithesis of what the church is called to be. In light of the Gospel and the behavior of Jesus himself, some "bashing" might truly be in order here. Jesus was a "basher," too, and he did it in order that those whom he "bashed" would stop and turn around. Some of them did, but the others turned up on Pilate's doorstep one morning; we know how that turned out.

Should read, "yes, all have sinned and all of us have hurt others." Sorry.