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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.

About the Author

Paul Moses, a professor of journalism at Brooklyn College/CUNY, is the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace (Doubleday, 2009) and An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York's Irish and Italians (NYU Press, 2015).



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I'm sure that this will be appealed until Jesus comes. Cost will be no object.

Cost will be no object.NYTimes says: "It has also been costly: the financially ailing archdiocese said this week that legal fees and internal investigations triggered by the abuse cases had cost $11.6 million since early 2011."

What surprises me is that the charge on which the jury seemed to have made the first decision was the child endangerment case against Msgr. Lynne. (They said a few days ago that they were deadlocked on all charges but one.) I would have thought that they would have been in agreement more with the charges against Fr. Brennan. Anyway, Brennan should not have been tried with Msgr. Lynn. That is my lack of legal expertise opinion.

The archdiocese is already passing the hat to pay for the 2015 World Meeting of Families.Thinking about Msgr Lynn, I am sure he will go down in folklore as one of the little guys while the big shots got away. It was conventional wisdom when I was in Germany (and probably still is) that the big shots got away with World War II, and only the little guys were tried. That was after the big shots were spectacularly tried in Nuremberg -- at least all the big shots who hadn't already killed themselves. But folk wisdom will always cut the little guy a break, which may not be much consolation in a prison cell.

Very sad indeed for all concerned, both victims and enablers, and not least for the posthumous reputation of Cardinal Bevilacqua. Unclear where it leaves Cardinal Rigali.I still wonder when someone in a position of leadership will have the courage to ask the question of a possible connection between the abuses crises, here and abroad, and the Church's governance structures. Benedict has said the question is irrelevant (true reform must come at the personal spiritual level, not the institutional) and I've seen his views echoed recently by Cardinal Schoenbrun in Vienna and Cardinal Vingt-Trois in Paris. No doubt there are many more repeating this line.Perhaps it is irrelevant. But what's to be lost by raising the question?

It has been sad days for the church for 30 years. When a loyal to the church Tom Doyle tried to tell the arrogant bishops that much was rotten in Denmark, they not only did not listen but they demoted and humiliated him. So much for his religious freedom. More sad that it took a criminal court to seek justice when the bishops should have been prompt to protect the children. Cardinal Law needed a court before he relented. Further sad that the self described apostolic successors failed miserably to nurture and build up the church. Most disturbing was the trial was not about whether there was neglect in protecting the children but rather which prelate was responsible.

It seems ironic or fitting or weird something that it's the feast of St. Thomas More. :/

Irony here:Fr. Brennan had a canonical trial and it was noted that both Cardinal Bevilacqua and Msgr. Lynn had doubts about his honesty and yet this civil court jury chose to find him more credible than his accusser in his two day riveting testimony.

Monsignor Lynn's lawyers announced in advance of any verdict that they would appeal any conviction of any of the charges he faced. So it's hard to say how long the appeals process will take to unfold.

A great day for survivors everywhere!A word to the hierarchs: "If you want PEACE, work for JUSTICE!" - Paul IV

As predicted."rough justice" from a clearly divided jury.How divided and what the issues were may not be known and guesses were not helpful.Meanwhile Msgr, Lynn has been put in post conviction.My own bottom line is that the Philly Church clerical leadewrship was shown for what it was and may (despite words to the contrary) continue to be as long as the institution has primacy.A quick side note and tie to the Sandusky trial is PA legislator is looking at SOL legislation.This cuts to the heart of the continuing dynamic, even as Philly spends lots on some things while laying off workers and shutting down the diocesan newspaper.How many will feel is dependent on how this topic touches them as towhether Church treasuries ,even if their have been secretive foul ups. should suffer.And is the injury victims suffer less important than that??????

God bless the jury for being so careful. I still feel sorry for Msgr. Lynn, especially now since the perp has gone free and the Msgr.'s bosses also walked. But he deserves jail. I suspect that the DA's office saw this as a trial balloon of sorts -- would a jury in a very Catholic city like Philadelphia convict a priest who wasn't a perp? I wonder how many Catholics there were on the jury. Anybody know? I expect now there will be other trials there. There are still 20 odd credibly accused priests in service. Sheesh.Poor Rocco. He had idolized Cardinal Bevilaqua. Quadruple sigh.Above all, God bless the victims who had the courage to speak out.

Ann Olivier, as I undertand the early reports, the jury didn't make any finding on Fr. Brennan, so his outcome depends on whether the prosecutor decides to try him again with a new jury. They did resolve all the charges against Msgr. Lynn, finding him guilty on one and not guilty on the other two.

From Rocco:"Acquitted on a conspiracy count and another child-endangerment charge, a "weeping" Lynn was immediately sent into custody pending an August sentencing. According to wire reports, the single guilty count bring a likely jail term of three and a half to seven years; the defendant is said to have declined a plea bargain prior to the trial's March start."Rocco also mentions BIshop Pican, in France, who received a suspended sentence in 2001 for not reporting an abuser. Rocco doesn't mention but you may remember that, in that case, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos wrote a letter to Bishop Pican congratulating him on not reporting the priest.

I congratulate you on not having spoken out to civil authorities against a priest," wrote Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, who at the time was prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy."You have done well and I am delighted to have an associate in the episcopate who [in the eyes of history and all the other bishops of the world] preferred prison to speaking out against a son-priest."

Which shows that people in high positions in the church were still not putting the abused persons at the head of their list of priorities.

John H. -- Priorities came from the highest position. Cdl. Castrillon Hoyos reportedly said (in Spanish) After consulting the pope I wrote a letter to the bishop congratulating him . The Holy Father authorized me to send this letter to all bishops in the world and publish it on the internet."

John and Jack --It's not at all surprising that JP II approved C. Hoyos' letter, given how he protected that monster Maciel. Maybe the theology the Church needs to develop is not ecclesiology so much but the theology of the priesthood. Sure, Vatican II made a lot of headway with the priesthood of the faithful, but Rome hasn't really accepted that. I suspect it's because it has an heretical view of what ordination does to a person. That "transubstantiation" of priests notion is sooooo weird.

No elation here; this is a time for sobriety and reflection. But it is long awaited justice for the anguished survivors. May God bless and heal them with more justice.

Ann Olivier: Yes, to a certain extent, the exalted theology of the priesthood is a problem, as you say it is.However, I think that a bigger problem is the exalted sense the Catholic bishops have of themselves because they imagine themselves to be the successors of the apostles of Jesus. The bishops really do see themselves as exalted and privilege people.

Thomas F. --It seems to me also that this murkiness about just what a priest or bishop is, is a good illustration of how theology can affect the Church for both good and ill. To consider theology irrelevant to religious belief and practice is very naive at best.

Count me among those positively elated by this verdict. For once, once, a Catholic official was held accountable in a court of law for criminal endangerment of children. No wonder survivors and their advocates find much to celebrate on that score. This is a great victory for justice.I hate to even consider what a not guilty verdict on all counts would have meant.McCormack, Christian, Law, Mahony, Bevilacqua, Brady et al in Ireland, confreres in Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and countless, countless others all escaped. How many children were abused because of the negligence and arrogance of such men? That is what I am sad about. Lynn deserves everything the law is capable of imposing. What is really tragic is that he apparently finds himself innocent, as do so many clergy whose hands are dirty. Not my fault, I never intended a child be harmed, following orders, I didn't know. They never heard or tried to hear the screams, imagined the fear or the shame or the crippling anxiety. What in the name of God does it take to penetrate such conscious ignorance and flagrant indifference to pain? For what? To protect themselves!Criminal intent exists when repeated actions negate child protection as the first consideration. "The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts." John LockeI wonder if Lynn will ever face the reality of his guilt. There is no indication any of the bishops above have done so.

I'm elated too. What's saddening is that it has taken civil authority to teach moral accountability to a church.

A great day for survivors everywhereAnyone who believes this has no idea what is good for survivors. The only way forward for them is to forgive and move on.

Carolyn --I'm also happy for you and Fr. Doyle, and Richard Sipe, and Jason Berry, and bishopaccountability, and SNAP and all those who have worked so hard to make the public realize what has been happening. I daresay this decision will encourage other prosecutors to proceed against other egregious criminals. And God bless the Philadelphia prosecutors, too.Yes, Msgr. Lynn did give the impression in print, anyway, that he didn't think he did anything very wrong. But why would he think so when a generally respected "prince" of the Church was so definite in his misbehavior. What a corrupt and corrupting tribe.

Bruce --Do you think there can be charity where there is no justice?

Bruce, I suppose I should not take the bait. "Forgive and move on" - just what bishops told survivors too, in pursuit of avoiding any criminal or civil charges. Survivors are more than drowned in lectures about what has become the new f word for them. And now Jerry Sandusky is found guilty on 45 of 48 counts.Justice reigns today. Maybe the truth matters sometimes.

Thanks so much, Ann. Once every 10, 20 or 30 years we appreciate convictions that validate what our friends suffered. Being believed is an incredible relief. Remember only 2% of identified perpetrators were ever convicted, and this is the first enabler conviction anywhere I can think of. Tom, Richard, Jason, and SNAP are my heroes.Here we have thousands of victims and per episcopal rationale, it all just happened out of the ethers. No one in chanceries did anything culpable. Amazing.Thank you, Lord.

Thank you, Lord.And thank you, US democracy. This is a relief. Justice! No one is above the law in this country.Proud to be an American.Now I hope that Msgr Lynn will be properly taken care of in prison and not exposed to abuse from other inmates or to insufficient heath care. I bear him no ill will. Once he has served his sentence I will be happy to see him be assistant pastor somewhere.

Are there any plans to appeal? I don't think the defense attorney was happy with the judge's charge to the jury.

Rocco:"Two more criminal trials launched by the 2011 grand jury are slated to take place in September. The Philadelphia church then faces eight civil abuse suits filed in the wake of the investigation."

Mark Proska: An appeal is likely. But first Monsignor Lynn has to be sentenced. After he is sentenced, an appeal can be made.

Bruce,What you don't see is that after so many years of being told that they were the problem not the abusers, a decision like this overturns that notion that the victims are responsible. With validations like this trial the victims can move on to greater healing.

Thomas--I see, thanks. However this shakes out, and whatever Monsignor might or might not be truly guilty of, I hope he can use this trial (in the general sense of the word) to set an example to other clerics.

Bill Mazzella: I agree with you that victims of priest sex abuse need validation, as you put it, and healing, as you say they do.However, Monsignor Lynn was found not guilty on two charges and guilty on one charge, which could be overturned on appeal.The jury reached no decision on Fr. Brennan. So prosecutors could bring him to trial again.These are very mixed results, to say the least.Under the circumstances, I would say that it is premature to take relief in Monsignor Lynn's conviction on one charge, because his conviction can be overturned on appeal.

Mark Proska: Aeschylus famously wrote of learning through suffering. Yes, Monsignor Lynn has suffered through this legal trial. It remains to be seen what all he may have learned through his suffering.

The jurors, it was reported, were clear on the conviction count and many wanted the conspiracy one also until they were unable to fit that withe elements of proof on that count explained by the judge.Of course, there'll be an appeal.But the real lesson was the one given a few miles away, later last night, by PA Attorney General Linda Kelly in her press conference following the Sandusky convictions.The conference (if it were possible) should be shown to every chancery/curia and even to is Holiness who thinks sex abuse by priests is a"mystery."If possible, it would make a great thread here also,Because - it's just not about the awful pervert, Jerry S. or even, as the papers stress today"believe the kids" but about responsibility for what happens -something profoundly absent in the mind of Msgr. Lynn who "did his best."

The real criminal is Cardinal Bevilacqua. But hes dead, you say. Aha, theres a precedent in our Church history for putting a deceased person on trial. In 897, the body of Pope Formosus was exhumed, seated on a chair, dressed in his papal finery, and condemned for the crimes of perjury, changing his sees (now not a crime in the Church, e.g., Lori from Bridgeport to Baltimore, Chaput from Denver to Philadelphia, Dolan from Milwaukee to New York). The body of Pope Formosus was mutilated. (The three fingers he used for blessing and consecrating bishops were cut off.) His mutilated body was then thrown into the Schuylkill River (oops, meant Tiber River). A hermit recovered the body and buried it.The rest of the story is that this famous Cadaver Synod was later annulled and the pope who had a hand in the synod was deposed and put to death by strangulation. The body of Pope Formosus was exhumed again and reburied in St. Peters Basilica. But, my point still stands. We have a precedent.

I would hope that the lesson is less what Msgr Lynn "learned," and hopefully what other bishops and people in personnel positions will take from this and institute in their own dioceses. Children are not safer because Msgr Lynn spent last night in jail. Let's keep in mind the strong taint of vengeance in the crowing on this verdict. The prosecution did itself little credit in this case, given the reporting on Ralph Cipriano's blog.It is likely that Msgr Lynn would not allow his superiors a pass were he ever again in a chancery position. The trial alone was embarrassing enough.We should recognize that it is very likely that many unsung heroes have stood up to evil, but they are likely anonymous schleps serving in exile in remote corners of their dioceses.It will be interesting to see how Bishop Finn fares with his legal proceedings in the coming year.

Paul, if you are sad for Lynn, you need to talk to more of the 100,000 (Vatican experts' own recent estimate) American survivors of priest abuse. While I feel for Lynn's family, he is getting off easy, certainly compared to the many dozens of victims who will go to their graves suffering because of Lynn's cowardly crimes.Now it is time for the Philly DA, Seth Williams, to finish the job and fully investigate Cardinal Rigali's possible endangerment role, as well as numerous other Philly Archdiocese present and former officials and their lawyer facilitators. The pope must also respond fully NOW or resign. The Philly jurors have solved the pope's "mystery" about priest abuse--it is a crime, and not very mysterious after all if you really investigate. For more info on the implications of the Lynn guility verdict for the pope and U.S. bishops, please read, "The Jury Has Spoken! Will The Pope Now Speak?", accessible by clicking on at: short piece also has an embedded link to Brian Roewe's NCR article with my comment, "Philly DA's and Pope's Next Moves?", which sets forth specific decisions that the Philly DA and the pope need to take NOW to protect American children. From past experience here, I do not expect many regular dotcommonweal bloggers to read, and many fewer to comment, on my links. That is their problem and helps explain to me why the Church is in the bad shape it is. You do what you can. Hopefully, no one dear to them will be the next victim of some predatory priest. It hasn't happened to anyone dear to me, but then again, "Who is my neighbor?'

Jerry,I do read your comments. But I wonder if your opinion that the pope is calling the shots with the US Bishops is the whole picture. I see it the other way around. I think he is too influenced by the US hierarchy, e.g., Cardinals Levada and Burke in high curial postitions and also Cardinal Anderson (Cardinals could be laymen at one time.)

Do you think there can be charity where there is no justice?Yes. Btw here is how the case is reported in the philly paper:Verdict a blow to Philly prosecutors, parishioners, clergy...The only count on which Lynn was convicted involved a victim that he acknowledged in testimony he had dropped the ball on. He had apologized for his failings on the witness stand...

No one has yet proven that the Vatican orchestrated the approach taken by bishops not only in the United States but also in other countries.However, no one has yet disproved Vatican orchestration of the approach taken by bishops.The bishops do have to report to the pope and Vatican periodically. In those visits by the bishops, the Vatican could have advised bishops about how to handle allegations of sex abuse made against priests -- by transferring them from parish to parish.In light of the exalted view of priests and the exalted view of bishops, such Vatican orchestration does not seem unlikely.When Pope Benedict XVI says that priest sex abuse is a "mystery," I think he means that according to the church's exalted view of priests, they should not be engaging in sex abuse. So it's a "mystery" to Benedict.Benedict will probably be one of the last people who will say that the church's exalted view of priests should be revised to a less exalted view of priests.

I agree that Msgr. Lynn's guilty verdict is a "watershed moment" for the AOP as Philly DA Seth Williams put it in his press conference on Friday. This guilty verdict will be felt both in the AOP and throughout the church in this country and hopefully around the world. The fact that later in the day Jerry Sandusky was found guilty of over 40 counts of the sexual abuse of 10 young men when they were children will also resonate across PA and country. The RCC hierarchy will not dare to attempt again to blame the sexual abuse of children on the American culture, homosexuals, or the any permissive attitude of the 1960s. They sank quickly when the Holy See first floated them out. That criminal charges could be brought against Jerry Sandusky because statutes of limitation had not expired highlights the inability of bringing any criminal charges forward in response to the 2005 grand jury report on the AOP. Criminal charges have been brought against just one diocesan priest, one order priest (OSFS), one defrocked priest (pleaded guilty to the sexual abuse and conspiracy charges), and one lay teacher thus far in response to the 2011 grand jury report. Will there be more criminal charges resulting from the 2011 PGJR? I don't know. Civil charges?The AOP's Apology Statement does not admit to or address the underlying culture that the bishops, as a group, past and/or present, were and are a part of that has enabled and facilitated this kind of sexual abuse over so many decades. The hierarchial abuse of power and authority has never been admitted to or addressed. It may have reached its full flower with Cardinal Anthony Bevilaequa but there is long line that begins going back in history with Cardinal Krol.The fact that bishops and state Catholic Conferences have viciously opposed SOL reform in every state where it has been proposed indicates that the Clerical Culture is very much alive and well.Moreover the great majority of victims of childhood sexual abuse never ever come forward. They rarely tell their spouses or family members. Those who seek justice as adults who even begin to come to terms with what has happened to them are thwarted by disbelief, intimidation, harassment and bullying, especially where religious institutions are involved in enabling, facilitating or covering up for rogue members. Will this first guilty verdict touch the consciences of members of the hierarchy to be accountable and transparent as they promised to be in, what was it 2003 or 2004?In Pennsylvania actively supporting House Bills 832 & 878 would be a strong sign of such accountrability and transparency. Do bishops realize that promises of accountability and transparency for the present and the future does not absove one of accountability and transparency for the crimes and grevious moral failures (mortal sins?) of the past. I spoke to the necessity of House Bills 832 & 878 when they were first introduced in Harrisburg at the invitation of Rep. Mike McGeehan. I am ashamed that these bills which would completely remove the criminal and civil statutes of limitation regarding the sexual abuse of children (HB 832) and would provide a civil window of two years that would allow previously time barred cases of childhood sexual abuse to be brought forward (HB 878) are not being supported by PA's hierarchy or state Catholic Conference. To escape culpability and protect the church from scandal, (the bishops have done a great job in that area, haven't they?) the hierarchy would deny access to civil justice for those already denied access to the criminal justice system.What chutzpah.Sister Maureen Paul TurlishAdvocate for Victim/Survivors & Legislative [email protected]

Philadelphia Inquirer website:"Prosecutors never denied that others were equally culpable, and grilled Bevilacqua during a private deposition two months before his death in January. The other church officials implicated in the shredding, Bishops Joseph R. Cistone and Edward P. Cullen, were not called as witnesses.Williams would not say whether they, or others, might still face prosecution."Many members of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia had dirty hands," the district attorney said in his first public comments since the judge lifted a yearlong gag order. "My job is to find people we can prove guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."

The mystery that the Pope declared was not the fact that priests abuse, as some have suggested. It was "the fact that people who regularly received the Lords body and confessed their sins in the sacrament of Penance have offended in this way [abuse] " "It remains a mystery." This came right after his being appalled that priests and consecrated persons "abused people and undermined the credibility of the Churchs message". His primary concerns are clear. The fact that, in the process, many human victims endured what has been called "soul murder" appears to escape his attention. (And he delivered this message to Ireland, of all places.) He does not appear to be a likely source of help in dealing with the cardinals and bishops who, with self-proclaimed underling Lynn, created the recent history of the Philadelphia Archdiocese as documented by Grand Juries and trials. By one report, there are two criminal trials pending in the fall and then 8 civil trials. These may be more helpful to the Church than the Pope.

Bruce, It is hard for me to understand your point. You seem to be implying that conviction on only one count indicates that the jury was minimizing the case. That's not the way I read it at all. My take is that the jury considered Lynn to be a pawn, with the real guilt lying with the Cdl. Bevilacqua, now unreachable by mortal law. It seems pretty clear that there was vast corruption in the Philadelphia Archdiocese, emanating from His Eminence himself. Lynn made the case that he passed up the chain of command the list of perpetrators, only to have it quashed. A slim defense, that but an almost effective one.

I derplore the continued minimizing of the Lyn conviction by some (only one count).We wil never get ahead if we keep trying to play the institutional protection game -again, please lkisten to PA Atty General Kelly - we are all responsible to do what is right to protect children - not bishops or up the line!

Jerry,If you think that few dotCommonwealers read your links, might that say something more about you than about us? Have you ever had a moment of self-doubt? Your bombastic and arrogant tone would make some Renaissance popes even blush--and God knows they didn't blush over much.Hope you are enjoying the gorgeous day, at least here in NYCPeace and love,Anthony

Hi, Bruce,You wrote, Anyone who believes this has no idea what is good for survivors. The only way forward for them is to forgive and move on. I agree that its very important to reach the point where one can forgive. My question is, what does it take to get to that point? Could it be that one of the things it takes is court decisions like this one? I say that because of something Carolyn Disco wrote: that such decisions validate what our friends suffered. Being believed is an incredible relief. For me, her words carry great weight because, as has become clear over the years on this blog, shes the one among those of us participating here who has spent the most time listening to survivors and, as she put it, hearing the screams and getting a sense of the fear, the shame and the crippling anxiety they have suffered. Maybe a public showing, in a court decision, that we believe them (a validation, as she put it), is an important step in the healing process, and even a required one if the victim is ever to reach the point of being able to truly forgive. If thats the case, Paul Moses was right when he wrote, at the beginning of this thread, that Its a sad day for Lynn, and for the church. And yet, its a necessary one.Heres something else to consider. While its from a different context -- the forgiving and healing thats needed by those who have been the victims of war -- it also speaks to the situation were discussing here. These excerpts are from the closing paragraphs of Tina Rosenbergs article (What Did You Do in the War, Mama?) in the N.Y. Times Sunday Magazine:

So the truth commission is all the victims will get -- no compensation for their losses, no documentation of the crimes, no justice. . . . The men and women who waged the war have chosen to pardon one another and call it reconciliation. . . . Is it worth it to reopen wounds when we've been able to throw a little forgetting on them?'' [General Blandon] said. He was one of several military men I met who used the word ''forgetting'' as something positive. I had never before, in any country, heard people use the word that way. . . . The experience of the disappeared children and their families shows that uncovering the past and righting what can in some small measure be righted is painful and disruptive. But for most of them, it has produced some kind of reconciliation -- and they may be the only victims of the war to have achieved it. ''They talk about pardon and forgetting,'' [Father Jon] de Cortina said. ''But no human being can forget what happened to a loved one -- if you can, you are not a human being. Pardon is possible, but you have to know whom to pardon. You can't pardon the universe, or the fog. God only pardons those who repent. Why should we be more generous than God?''

Sexual abuse is a horrible thing, but it is a societal problem not a Catholic problem.Moreover, here has been a terrible double standard in the media coverage of these abuse cases.If the Philadelphia case had involved an administrator in a public school superintendent's office, would this case have been national news? NO.Present-day cases in the Church are very rare, while abuse in other institutions like public schools is widespread. Yet, the media continues to focuses on Church cases, most of which occurred decades ago.Here are the troubling details of the double standard: be fair, it is now time for the media to turn its focus to the people who were public school principals and superintendents 40 years ago and examine how they handled their abuse cases, which would have far outnumbered those in the Church. My guess, given the societal view of abuse back then, is that they likely handled their cases in a similar way as the Church did.I believe those victims deserve justice also.

JH, the Atty General of pA profusely thanked the media for its coverage of sandusky case and its impact on urging victims not only in that matter but (she added) across the country to come forward!I deplore also the so called media double standard approach and particularly look at the other guys - a deflection from out own horrendous handling of matters.BTW much press coverage on Horace Mann in the Bronx(through the years) and the Hassidics in Brooklyn and the DA's actions there.It's been long established that without the media, Boston in 2002 would not have had the same awareness of the awful eveils there.But Law resigned and carries on powerfully even yet in Rome.Double standard media?When willl we grow up and learn to stop minimizing??? And really deal with our dirty linen -including the works of the hierachy?

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.

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