The National Catholic Review

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams was most recently in the national headlines for the arrest of a Pennsylvania abortionist and his staff because of a little house of horrors they were maintaining in West Philadelphia. Today he announced some other alleged horrors out of Philadelphia in the indictment of three priests—68 year old Edward Avery, 64 year old Charles Engelhardt, and 47 year old James Brennan—and a parochial school teacher, 48 year old Bernard Shero. They have been charged with rape, indecent sexual assault and other criminal charges.

Shocking enough, but Williams has also arrested 60-year-old Monsignor William Lynn, the Secretary for Clergy for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia under Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua. Lynn has been charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child in connection with the assaults because of his handling of these cases and allegations which stem from assaults on two boys which took place between 1998 and 2000.

Williams said Lynn, who served as Secretary of the Clergy from 1992 to 2004, "supervised two of the abusers . . . knew they were dangerous and chose to expose them to new victims." I'm trying to think of another instance of this, but this may be the first time a diocesan official has been criminally implicated for negligence or obstruction.

"As a Roman Catholic myself, this is not a happy thing for me to have to do," Williiams said. "The criminal acts that occurred here are not representative of my religion. They are the bad acts of individual men. I recognize all the good that the Roman Catholic Church has done and continues to do in the world. But I am sworn to uphold the law, and I will do what is necessary to protect children." The DA called for improvements in the law to allow for more aggressive measures against people in authority who may have contributed to a cover-up for abusers. More worrisome is his suggestion that active pedophiles may still be lurking among the Philadelphia clergy.

"Even more troubling, the grand jury believed that many priests—dozens of them—have remained in ministry despite solid, credible allegations of abuse," he said. "It is time for the church to remove all credibly accused priests from ministry, and to put protection of children ahead of protection from scandal."

The investigation suggest there are as many as 30 active Philadelphia priests with allegations of sexual abuse in the past, a charge denied by Bishop Daniel Thomas. "There are no Archdiocesan priests currently in ministry who have an established or admitted allegation of sexual abuse of a minor," Thomas said.

The Grand Jury report is stomach-churning reading to say the least. You can also view Williams's statement. Along with approving the criminal charges, the Grand Jury also recommended that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia overhaul its procedures for assisting victims and for removing priests accused of molesting minors.


Dominic Tomasso | 2/18/2011 - 12:12pm

Dominic Tomasso
Advocate For Bishops Accountability
Juan Lino | 2/17/2011 - 6:07pm
I just finished carefully reading and analyzing the grand jury report and I must tell you that it was really really difficult to read and certainly highlights that a certain mindset exists and that it must change!  What ever happened to common sense?!?! - if an investigation (not witch hunt) proves that an allegation is true then the priest should never ever be around children again and should be placed in something like the "rubber rooms" that exist in schools for teachers that have allegedly abused a child.  I would gladly suffer the inconvenience of traveling an hour to attend a Mass knowing that the predators have been purged rather than attend a Mass 10 minutes away where it's possible that "Fr. Joe" is porking little Johnny.

Yes, I know we have a priest shortage but I'd rather have a "smaller" Church free from predators.  And no, I am not saying that we should modify the true Faith into one of the various Protestant versions - such as the Anglican model which so many think is the new "it" model.  What we need is reform not destruction!  But we need reform NOW.

OK, end of rant!

Dominic Tomasso | 2/17/2011 - 10:20am
David, do you know what the hell your talking about. Give me an answer in english.
Dominic Tomasso | 2/14/2011 - 10:17am
Am I missing something here. When a civilian is tried and punished  by the courts for committing a crime and sentenced to jail, it's acceptable. But, when a bishop or priests commits a crime and people believe that they should be prosecuted, some people believe that it's because of vengeance.

Since when is someone ,that is part of the Cathoilc organization that commits a crime  untouchable, above the law and not accountable for their actions????????

Dominic Tomasso
Advocate For Bishops Accountability
Matthew Pettigrew | 2/13/2011 - 10:18pm
David:  I believe a comment I just placed on the other thread that is discussing this issue answers your question.  The short answer is that the welfare of the children is paramount and, in fact, should be our only concern.  If Church authorities have to answer to criminal charges in order for this to finally happen, then that is what I think justice means in this context.
Matthew Pettigrew | 2/13/2011 - 12:28pm
It's just a hunch, but I'd wager that David Smith still has not read either the new Grand Jury report or the 2005 report.  Because, if he had, I doubt he would write: "'Justice' in the contemporary context seems to mean using the court system as a blunt instrument to beat the living daylights out of anyone directly or indirectly connected with what happened.  That's 'justice' only if you equate justice with vengeance."  If that was really what the Philadelphia District Attorney was doing, we might now be reading about the indictments of Cardinal Bevilacqua and Cardinal Rigali.  Both of them are arguably, to use Mr. Smith's words, "indirectly connected with what happened."
Dominic Tomasso | 2/13/2011 - 11:17am
Is there any doubt in your mind that rape, sodomy and molesting children is a crime?

Is there any doubt in your mind that to protect a sexual abuser of children makes you complicit and also are committing a crime?

Is there anydoubt in your mind that to use your position to allow sexual abusers to leave the ministy without having to register as a sex offender, is criminal?

Is there any doubt in your mind that to use your position to spend billions of dollars to protect sex abusers by making large financial sttlements and paying millions to large law firms without any accountability, is criminal?

Is there any doubt in your mind that to cause church property to be sold, schools to be closed without any accountability, is criminal?

There is no doubt in my mind, that is why I no longer belong to my local parish or any parish. I am still a Catholic.  There is no doubt in my mind that to continue belonging to an organization that can not remove the guilty leaders would be sinful.

Dominic Tomasso
Advocate For Bishops Accountability.
Jim McCrea | 2/12/2011 - 5:52pm
To love the children who have been abused is to demand JUSTICE for them.
Jim McCrea | 2/12/2011 - 5:50pm
Walter @ #43:
The last time I looked (and I am ready to be corrected) there are no public schools that purport to be part of the One True School Established By Christ and are claiming to be acting accordingly. 

There are no public school teachers who are alleged to be ontologically changed, not merely deputized to act on behalf of, because of being hired by the school.  

None of these teachers claim, or are alleged, to be functioning “in persona Christi” in certain of their actions which directly impinge on the lives of school kids.
Anne Chapman | 2/12/2011 - 5:40pm
Maria, did you read what I wrote? It seems that perhaps you didn't.

 I said Prayer AND the legal system. Love AND justice.  Both. 
Anonymous | 2/12/2011 - 4:42pm
but we must see Jesus in the face of those who have been victimized. When we comfort these victims we comfort Him. When we comfort these victims we comfort Him.

Of course, Vince. No equivocation. Love and justice...but, the greatest of these is love, yes?
Anonymous | 2/12/2011 - 4:41pm
but we must see Jesus in the face of those who have been victimized. When we comfort these victims we comfort Him. When we comfort these victims we comfort Him.

Of course, Vince. No equivocation. Love and justice...but, the greatest of these is love, yes?
Vince Killoran | 2/12/2011 - 4:30pm

At the risk of coopting Anne's response I think the reply to Maria is: Yes, we are "outraged by the way in which these abuses afflict and wound the Sacred Heart of Jesus" -but we must see Jesus in the face of those who have been victimized. When we comfort these victims we comfort Him.

Thank God that you think that these perpertrators, and those that engage in the coverup, must be held legally accountable : I know from reading your earlier blogs that you are a social worker and I was getting a little worried that you were equivocating on this core demand for justice and protection of the vulnerable.
Anonymous | 2/12/2011 - 3:59pm
Sin in the Providence of God
Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius
Conference Retreat

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

"Suppose we look at both the two main ways that other people’s lives effect our lives, where their lives are their sinful conduct, other people’s sins in the past have left a painful mark on us. What does God want from us? He wants from us what we mainly want from Him, in one word, mercy. In His providence, He allowed people to sin and thus hurt us, what a mild verb, hurt us, so that we might forgive them and in this way merit God’s mercy for ourselves. What is a blind act of faith to believe that no one, no one has ever done me an injury, no one has ever done me any wrong without God’s mysterious, providential will. God does not want people to sin but He does want me to be merciful whenever people sin against me. Our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, in his masterful encyclical, Dives in Misericordia, Rich in Mercy, defines mercy as love coping with evil. Memorize that, mercy is love coping with evil. Mercy is love, paid the price of love. Mercy is costly love. It is love that loves although it has not been loved. Mercy is love giving to those who have stolen love from us. All of this we believe.
On the first level of our consideration is how God wants us to cooperate with His providence whenever we are the unwilling and innocent victims of other people’s sins. But people may still be causing us pain, maybe for years, they not only were but they are now offending God and at least because we hear or read about their sinful conduct they offend us. What does God expect of us? He expects us to pray and sacrifice for these people so they might stop offending Him and depending on the gravity of their sin, might be converted and be reconciled with their God. It is impossible to exaggerate the practical importance of this reading of divine providence. God wants every sinner to repent and return to His friendship. He wants every priest who has rejected his priesthood and turned his back on Christ to be reconciled with his Master. He wants every religious who has been unfaithful to his or her vowed commitment to make their peace with God. He wants every husband who has sinned against his wife and children to repent and be saved. He wants every woman who has killed her unborn offspring to be converted. Every prostitute to reach heaven. Every thief and murderer to one day see the face of God. He wants the Church’s persecutors, wherever, and in our own country to love the God they are now opposing among the faithful. In a word, God wants sinners to return to the One they offended and finally to save their souls. But all of this means that we must do our part, we must pray and sacrifice in order to obtain from God’s mercy the grace that sinners need, desperately need, to stop sinning and start serving God. They will, they will stop offending God, but I repeat, we must do our part. The more patient we are in bearing the wrongs of others, the more forgiving we are, the more ready we are to pay the price of being maybe deeply agonizingly hurt by a sinner, the more grace God has in store for that sinner. My generosity, my patience in bearing wrong is the divinely ordained condition for obtaining God’s merciful forgiveness even for the worst crimes that people will commit. It is up to us to never count the cost in order to obtain the mercy of God for those who have sinned. And the more deeply we have been hurt, the more agonizingly we have suffered injustice, hear it and don’t forget, the more we hold that sinner’s salvation in our hands. Our patient endurance of suffering is the price that Jesus wants us to pay to bring sinners to that heavenly kingdom reserved only for those who have tasted the mercy of God".

Anne: I come at this from a different angle. I really believe that the abuse of children by priests reflects a loss of faith in the Eucharist and the Sacraments. Certainly individuals should be held legally accountable; however, I am certain that the way out of this darkness is through our sacrificial prayer, penance and reparation. If we are outraged, are we not also outraged by the way in which these abuses afflict and wound the Sacred Heart of Jesus? Dont' we wish to comfort Him in some way?
Anonymous | 2/12/2011 - 12:32pm
"As long as prayer isn't seen as a subsitute for appropriate legal action, there is no disagreement".

And let not the law, be a substitute for our prayer...The law will never rain down the Mercy we must beg of Him to appease the sin in our Church and our country,..
Anne Chapman | 2/12/2011 - 11:03am
Maria, it is all vey good to pray for the priests and for the church, including praying that those who have authority in the church will never again lie to protect priests who have committed the most grievous of sins and the most heinous of crimes against the young. 

As long as prayer isn't seen as a subsitute for appropriate legal action, there is no disagreement.  Render to God those things that are God's - and prayer and spiritual direction for priests is part of that. Render to Caesar those things that are Caesar's.  That means not lying to the civil authorities and not protecting those who have committed crimes as well as sins from those legal authorities.
Anne Chapman | 2/12/2011 - 10:57am
David, it was clergy who sexually abused young people (although in the current Philadelphia case a lay teacher was also indicted - the first lay person in a RCC environment that I am aware of, but maybe there are others), and it was clergy who protected the abusers.  It is no more anti-clerical to acknowledge those realities than it is anti-American to acknowledge the reality that Richard Nixon blessed a secret operation to steal information and then lied about it, and that many who worked for him at the highest levels of the US government lied about it also to protect the institution - the Presidency - and the man who was at the top.
Denise Gilmore | 2/12/2011 - 10:29am
Are we to believe that Monsignor Lynn acted on his own? Anyone who's been around a diocesan chicanery office knows that is highly unlikely. 

The hierarchical church has failed completely in the matter of sexual abuse in every corner of the world. Some system of justice should hold the perpetrators and their protectors accountable. They have ruined people's lives.
Matthew Pettigrew | 2/12/2011 - 8:14am
I believe the conversation on this thread has been pro-children and pro-victim.
Anonymous | 2/12/2011 - 12:54am
Anne: Whether there is sin and or crime, guilt or innocence, still, our power is the prayer and penance we offer, the reparation we extend to the Sacred Heart of Jesus that is wounded, by the sin in the Church.  The Enemy seeks always and everywhere  the destruction of our Holy Mother Church. How does the Enemy do this? He goes after priests. I can't control the courts or control Bishops, but I can offer myself to Him and unite my sufferings with His and beg Him to protect His priests and our Church...
Anne Chapman | 2/12/2011 - 12:32am
Do not forget, Maria, that what these men did was both sin and crime.  Let the church provide spiritual direction, which is its realm, but  the church should not faciitate new crimes and new sins by protecting sexual abusers from the legal authorities.  In doing so, many bishops also sinned and may also have committed crimes.  If there is insufficient evidence to determine guilt, then the priest might go free.  But, it's not the bishop's job to determine legal guilt or innocence - it's the job of the civil legal system.
Anonymous | 2/12/2011 - 12:17am
David: The Cross weights heavily for all of us...It crushed us sometimes. Fr. Hardon SJ, in his bio of Fr Gerlad Fitzgerald ( Fitzgerald first warned the Vatican 60 years prior to the sex abuse scandal that priests should not be sent back into ministry-and was ignored-he wanted priests sent to an island where they could do penance) states:

At the core of Father Gerald's apostolate to priests was this desire to repair for their sins. And those who were to follow him as Paracletes or Handmaids, he urged them to be "dedicated to reparation." They were told "little by little, learn to disdain the ordinary satisfactions of life." Why reparation? Because "this devil in the priestly heart is cast out only by prayer and fasting." (D-129, 130). Not by prayer alone, but by prayer and mortification. This need not mean extraordinary bodily austerities. But it does mean the patient endurance of whatever trials the Lord may send; or the withdrawal of the pleasures and satisfactions previously had; or the silent endurance of rejection and mistrust; or the quiet bearing up with a painful illness, disability or wasting disease. What form the mortification takes is secondary. What is primary is the will to expiate. And this will should become imperative: "Progressively and always with the restraint that is guided by humble obedience to spiritual direction and to superiors, 'way down deep we must develop a thirst, for reparation; and it will come logically in the supernatural order, as we grow in the love of Jesus Christ." (D-130.

All of this makes sense only on the premises of faith. The more deeply a person believes that all sin demands expiation, and the sins of priests are especially odious to God, the more readily will he want to repair the damage done to the Church and to souls by voluntary reparation. All the while the believer knows that, not only is the divine honor vindicated but the sinner himself, here the priest, is showered with graces of divine mercy to become reconciled with God.
Dean Goddard | 2/11/2011 - 9:45pm
To Michael Brooks ........ 

the problem with your defense here Michael Brooks, is that for decades the catholic church intervened under canonical law to self-servingly protect itself and prevent its clerics from prosecution by the criminal justice system. Thousands of boys, now men, some in their sixties, have had their lives ruined as your pontiff sports red Prada loafers,  Religion, my delusional friend, is evil. The catholic church is the most evil criminal enterprise of them all.
Dean Goddard | 2/11/2011 - 9:25pm
Shocking?? You must be kidding me. This behavior has existed for decades if not most of the last century. My best friend grew up in Ireland where child abuse by christian brothers clergy was the norm. He has a brother who is deaf to this day from being struck on the side of the head causing his left ear drum to rupture. What is most sickening to me is how religious zealots will defend their native religion to the end in spite of an enormous body of evidence manifest of violence and sickening abuse. Wake up folks, there will never be peace in the world until religion, in all of its incarnations, becomes extince. 
david power | 2/11/2011 - 9:20pm
Ed is right. The most amazing part of all this is that we still underestimate the problem.
Maria says that America only prints stories about non-Jesuits who have abuses children ,this too should change.
There is a true sickness in our church, we must be brutally honest and admit that the structures are invalid. The structures of clericalism lead to more insidious sins such as mendacity and in general we are afraid to go to Christ with the true depth of our sins. The minimizing is the fruit of the Bishops who continue to hope that it will all pass soon.
Where are the Saints? Is it only Jason Berry and Tom Doyle  who have been seeking out the truth? In every grave moment in history there have been holy people giving some solace in the pain.Where were they during the last 40 odd years? Does anybody have any names of people who can show us how to confront this evil?      
Dominic Tomasso | 2/11/2011 - 5:48pm
It's getting easier and easier to understand and believe that so many of our clergy have preformed criminal acts and have gone unpinished due to the protection of bishops, They too, are just as guilty if not more so and should be tried by civil law. How can supposed men of God hide behind the staute of limitations. Bless me father for I have sinned, I had sexual relations with my neighbors wife But it happened 11 years ago and the statute of limitations is 10 years. Give me a break.
Mike Evans | 2/11/2011 - 4:35pm
And so, 10 years later, the cover ups continue and the perpetrators are protected and still being reassigned. Perhaps this 'shocking' revelation will become a serious wake up call to actually address the problems so long swept under the rug of secrecy and even criminal negligence.
Anonymous | 2/11/2011 - 3:55pm
Ed -

Too many posts - Just replying to those who've addressed me.

Silly me, I thought we all were supposed to presume innocence.  Now where's my pitchfork? 

I said I'm fine with the indictments; just treat them as such. Peace.

My last post on this. 
Anne Chapman | 2/11/2011 - 3:51pm
Michael, as I said earlier, it is not this one case, this latest indictment, that implicates the structures and leadershlp of the church up to the highest levels in Rome - it is the pattern that has been shown to exist - at this point, dozens of court cases, inquiries, letters, etc, etc, etc.  in city after city, diocese after diocese, country after country.

 Have you ever read any of the documents that were submitted in court cases in Boston and in Philadelphia?  There are thousands, and few outside the legal system have read them all. But, you don't have to read them all.  A few are enough to make most people back away in disbelief and horror at what too many members of the hierarchy did to protect sexual predators.  If you truly want the truth, then maybe you should read some of them.  And is it not the job of prosecuters to bring forth evidence - to discover and then lay the facts of the case before the courts and let the legal system determine if those facts prove criminality?  Is it not their job to protect society and try to bring criminals to justice?  Do bishops get a free pass from this process simply because they are bishops?  You are objecting to the very process itself, it seems, objecting that there even is an indictment.

Lent would be a good time - sincerely pray, sincerely reflect, sincerely open your mind and ask God if your loyalty to the institution is truly being loyal to God and to THE church - understanding that THE church is not limited to those who wear a Roman collar, live in chanceries, rectories, and Rome.   How does unquestioning loyalty to the institution impact THE church? Can those who so quickly lash out at the prosecutors who are trying to protect society ever see God's face in the child who has been sodomized by a priest who was transferred to his parish by a bishop who knew that this priest had done this to other young people in other parishes?  If that 12 year old boy was the  12 year old boy who stayed in a temple 2,000 years ago after his parents had left for home, and he was molested by a priest in the temple whose superior knew that this priest had molested children before, would you be so slow to demand that not only the priest who molested that 12 year old be brought before the justice system, but also the priest's superior who knew that the priest was a molester - and yet did nothing to protect this victim - in this theoretical case, a 12 year old boy named Jesus, who came from Nazareth.
ed gleason | 2/11/2011 - 3:01pm
Michael Brooks with his too many posts seems to think that we should all shut up and 'presume innocence'. Michael. this is the stance the jury ,judge and defense attorney should take. The lead detectives and prosecutors would be stupid to take that stance. And we will not shut up because more indictments like this will happen next week. next month, next year, sad no????????  say hello to LA Ca Federal Grand jury.
Anne Chapman | 2/11/2011 - 2:02pm
Michael, you have to consult your own conscience.  If you wish to continue to excuse the widespread and deliberate and systematic cover-up of the most heinous crimes against the young by those who claim to speak for Jesus himself - then continue to do it. You are the one that has to live with your conscience. But think about this - in supporting them in the face of all that is known, do you also risk becoming an enabler?

A lot of prayer, a lot of reflection, and an openness to truth, as hard as it is (it was very hard for me. I tried to deny the ugly truth for years), might lead you to realize that many of the sexual predators' crimes would not have happened if they had not been protected by the institutional church who facilitated crininals instead of protecting the innocent. This was breathtaking moral cowardice in those bishops who knew it was horrible, petitioned Rome, got no help from Rome, and so (dutifully) shut up.  If they had not done that, and in effect becoming criminals themselves (it's possible that in civil law they could be chargd as accessories after the fact if all of this had been exposed earlier), then thousands of children could have been spared the horror of sexual abuse by those whom they had been taught to respect and obey. 

OF course the sexual predators should have been punished. They should have been turned over to civil authorities, but this did not happen because the institiution and those who led it chose to protect it/themselves instead. So Rome played dumb and the bishops lied - sometimes overtly, sometimes by "mental reservation,"often by simply saying nothing.  This is sin.  And this sin must be recognized for what it is.  We pray for forgiveness for what we have done and for what we have failed to do.  The bishops and the curia and the pope sinned against the young and, more importantly against God in countless ways, and have yet to do penance either for what they have done or what they failed to do.  Until they do, the church will remain in darkness.
Anonymous | 2/11/2011 - 1:02pm
Abe -

There is a lot of talk about the hierarchy, almost to the exclusion of the actual perpetrators of the abuse. 

Who's more culpable, the man who rapes the young boy, or that man's parents who stood up for him because they refused to believe in the cupability of their son, who feared having their family name soiled on the basis of potentially fraudulent allegations, who feared the retribution that their son might be faced with, who believed that if their son received counseling that he would never do such a thing again.

It's hard for me to imagine how a grown man could do what has been alleged in these cases; but knowing that it had been done I can't see how we skip over the perpetrator and jump to the superior for punishment.  Blaming the hierarchy is like blaming our court system for giving parole.  No one is screaming to dismantle our prison system, yet many are only too happy to call for the dismantling of the hierarchy's choices in handling these matters.

I'm not saying there is no guilt on the part of the hiearchy, but for Christ's sake, first and foremost you have to look at the acts that have been committed and who committed them.
Anne Chapman | 2/11/2011 - 12:57pm
Michael,  I am not referring to the current Philadelphia case only.  However, I have few doubts based on my earlier study of the Philadelphia diocese crimes that these charges will hold up, as tragic as that is.

Have you ever read the court documents on Philadelphia from the earlier attempts to obtain justice for victims? Not the news stories, but the documents? They are available online and some of them should literally turn your stomach, just as some of the court documents from the Boston cases make most people feel sick. But, I am not referring only to Philadelphia.  I am referring to the overwhelming body of evidence of the pattern of complicity of bishops and Rome in protecting priest molesters around the world - in the US,  including a few years ago when Cardinal George tried to protect a priest in Chicago after he had been credibly accused of molesting young people post-Dallas; the reports from Ireland, Australia, Belgium, Germany, this week's new report from the Netherlands, reports from Italy, from Latin American countries, letters and statements from Cardinal Hoyos, including the one praising the bishop in France for protecting a molester, the scorn shown to victims by some bishops, notably a couple in Belgium. Etc, etc, etc.  It is (tragically) literally impossible at this point to summarize it all. Only those who choose to look away from the truth (I will remove the capitalization if you wish) of the systematic efforts of the church's leadership to protect the institution and to protect child molesters (some of whom were actually child rapists) thus creating situations where far more children were molested than would have been otherwise, are actually enabling those who hide crimes and criminals and who are harming the church as well as the victims. It's gone far beyond a few isolated incidents and a few bad apple bishops. Even those bishops who apparently tried to get Rome to help them out, and met a stone wall, did not then turn over the criminals under their supervision to the authorities, nor have they ever spoken up about their fellow bishops who did hide crimes and criminals. They may have wanted to do the right thing, but misguided and misplaced loyalty to the institution seemed to have crippled their moral judgment and so they maintained silence. And, as we know, it was a pope who protected Maciel. High level cardinals in the curia who stymied investigations. Another pope  finally exiled Maciel to pray and repent, but did nothing else to him. Those who spoke up early, for example, Father Thomas Doyle, who uncovered much of this early on at the request of the bishops, and who duly and honestly reported his findings, was punished and the bishops took no action even when confronted with the evidence. He has been vilified and is a pariah - for telling the truth.  The truth eventually comes out. And when it does, over and over and over again, in places all around the world, it is up to each of us to consult our own consciences and ask if unquestioning loyalty to those who facilitated the abuse is what Jesus asks of us as his followers?  Jesus asks us to follow HIM!  And often that takes moral courage - including enough moral courage to demand that the leadership of the church stop defiling it.
Kang Dole | 2/11/2011 - 12:30pm
"I think the focus on the hierarchy's alleged cover-up is misplaced.  The focus should be on the offenders who put the hierarchy in the position of having to determine how to handle the situation in light of all of the various interests involved.  But for the degenerates who took advantage of the innocent, what guilt would there be of the hierarchy?"

This just sort of bew my mind. I've reread it a few times, but I still can't get pass the "what the hell?!" response stage. I mean, I'm sure there are lots of people who wouldn't have committed heinous crimes had it not been for some Himalayan butterfly beating its wings, but beat its wings it did.

I mean, come on!!!! Herp derp! Right, if there hadn't have been abusers in the clergy, then nobody would be responsible for dealing with them. But there were/are abusers, so the responsibility also exists.

Good grief!

Anonymous | 2/11/2011 - 11:40am
Anne - What is "the Truth" that you speak of with respect to the accused individuals in this indictment?  Do you know something that the rest of us do not; or are you drawing your own conclusions based on what you've read, heard, had preconceived notions of, want to believe, etc....?
Anonymous | 2/11/2011 - 11:36am
A grand jury does nothing but determine whether there is enough evidence for a trial.  It does not mean that the evidence meets the standard of guilt.  No matter how grisly the allegations may be -and a good prosecutor will make sure that the allegations are as grisly as possible to assure that a case goes to trial - the allegations are still just allegations until a trial is held and a verdict under the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard has been reached.

According to the report, according to the report, according to the report....  all adds up to just allegations and accusations.

Surely my liberal friends here are familiar with the movie, "The Wrong Man"?  The Salem witch trials?  The number of prisoners released based on DNA evidence?

I'm not claiming that anyone is innocent; but all of those accused should get what any of us accused of the grisliest bad act would expect in this country: the presumption of innocence and a fair trial. May those how disagree with this be judged by God using the same standards they choose to apply in this case.
Matthew Pettigrew | 2/11/2011 - 11:12am
Michael Brooks suggests that the focus on the hierarchy's alleged cover-up is misplaced.  I respectfully recommend that anyone who believes that should read the Philadelphia Grand Jury Report, which can be found on the Philadelphia D.A.'s web site [].  The report not only forms the basis for the indictment of Msgr. Lynn and the others, it all but indicts the Archdiocese for its ongoing mishandling of child abuse matters since the previous Grand Jury report in 2005.  According to the report, for example, "By the Archdiocese's own account, at least 37 priests remain in ministry despite reports that they have engaged in improper behavior with minors."  According to the report, these priests "include pastors, parochial vicars, chaplains, and retired priests who fill in and help out at parishes throughout the Archdiocese.  They are not included on the Archdiocese website's list of known abusers.  And, for the most part, none of their parishioners know they have ever been accused of molesting children."  There's much more, including detailed descriptions of the appalling process the Archdiocese follows to investigate accusations, a process that was adopted after the 2005 Grand Jury investigation.  Just reading about that process is horrifying enough, without even getting into the details of the examples of abuse. 
Anne Chapman | 2/11/2011 - 10:59am
Reading some of these posts is as sad as reading the reports of abuse and protection of the worst sort of crimes by bishops and Rome. Why are some Catholics so unwilling to open their eyes to the Truth instead of making excuse after excuse after excuse in a futile attempt to whitewash the abhorrence of these crimes, including, and maybe especially, those committed by the hierarchy, defending the indefensible.  Just as the hierarchy enabled child molesters, some enable the bishops, ensuring that the church will continue to wallow in darkness and be unable to be the light of Christ to the world. Too many of the men who claim to lead Christ's own church literally caused thousands of children and young people to become victims of known sexual predators - when they could have stopped the predators and spared the children. Coldly and callously, they chose to protect the molesters and an institution. Jesus weeps, not only at the evil to the young that resulted from these men's actions, but weeps for those who so blindly support this in the name of the institution also.

 There is no doubt that Jesus would have gone into the temples (the chanceries and the Vatican) and turned out the those who permitted the continued defiling of his church by letting the worst kind of sexual predator loose on innocent young people – with most of the crimes occurring within the temple walls.  Those who blame the victims, who blame the lawyers, who blame the media, who blame everyone except those who knew and were in a position to act - and didn't - risk becoming passive participants in the same sins or risk becoming so in the future by not demanding policies from Rome that ensure that bishops do not ever protect criminals again. Some people's faith is  misplaced -  invested in an institution which they have put in the place that is God's alone– their loyalty should be to God and not to an institution and its human leaders, both of whom have often shown themselves to be un worthy of either loyalty or trust. 

 Pray that those who persist in stubbornly defending, and thus enabling, those who protected the evildoers will someday have a conversion of heart and begin to work to clean up the church they claim to love.
Anonymous | 2/11/2011 - 9:53am
Just want to qualify my previous comment with my belief that maintaining a presumption of innocence does not mean that a relentless investigation and pressing of charges should not be sought to smoke out the truth.

I think the focus on the hierarchy's alleged cover-up is misplaced.  The focus should be on the offenders who put the hierarchy in the position of having to determine how to handle the situation in light of all of the various interests involved.  But for the degenerates who took advantage of the innocent, what guilt would there be of the hierarchy?

Part of what we're seeing here is the seizing of an opportunity by those who seek to destroy or undermine the authority of the hierarchy; those who seek to protect their own by diverting attention from themselves and placing it on those whom they would be happy to see vanish.

Greg Bullough | 2/11/2011 - 9:32am
What is ''shocking'' is that action has finally been taken against an individual who allegedly protected and abetted fellow clergy's abuse of children. We'll see if it sticks, or if, as with Bp. Walsh in Santa Rosa, it's a ''traffic school'' offense.

What would be more shocking is if any member of a religious congregation were to publicly acknowledge the railroad-tie in their own institutional eye.  Even those who've made somewhat a name as advocates for abuse survivors. 

I don't expect to see full disclosure in a Diocesean newspaper. 

I don't expect to read a lead story about the Los Gatos scandals or about the legacy of John Powell SJ in America. 

Nothing, it seems, pierces the wall of clericalist loyalty...which is one reason Catholics must continue to treat with circumspection any priest or religious when talking about abuse issues that happen to be close to them.

The handful of priests and religious who've been critical of priests of their own diocese or members of their own congregation have had institutional punishment (note that I do not say ''justice'') meted out to them, and visibly so.

Anonymous | 2/11/2011 - 9:28am
I agree with David Smith as far as the importance he places on not judging until all of the evidence has been heard; innocence until proven guilty is the hallmark of our legal system, a sytem designed with the very fact that it is easy to be sucked by "momentum" into the guilt - or innocence - based on hearsay and the bad acts of others. 

So, yes, by all means we must not, can not, judge these individuals who were indicted.  And to the extent that we want to consider evidence of guilt by cultural influence, we must remember that such evidence cuts through both sides: that is, there have been some big paydays for those who claim to have been molested.  The lengths that people will go to collect on a lawsuit (think people who jump onto buses after an accident) should make anyone think hard about which individuals should be believed. 

Molly Roach | 2/11/2011 - 8:25am
It would be accurate to say that Msgr. Lynn was charged with actively contributing to the endangerment of children by assigning the priest predators to parishes and treating it like any other clerical assignment, ie-not notifying pastors of the realities of the situation. And yes Matt, it is a violation of the most sacred duty.
How these men can present themselves as teachers of the Gospel leaves me gasping for breath. 
Matthew Pettigrew | 2/11/2011 - 7:52am
David Smith downplays the charges against Msgr. Lynn by saying that "he's not charged with anything more than not doing enough to stop the alleged assaults."  Wouldn't it be more accurate to say that he is charged with violating the most sacred duty owed by someone who stands in a position of moral and religious authority, namely, to protect our children?
Vince Killoran | 2/11/2011 - 1:54am
Maria writes "A re-calculation would ensue. . ." Would that be a good thing? I don't think it would be.

It's difficult to formulate a response to  David's excuse that "The monsignor who was arrested. . .  has been charged only with 'two counts of endangering the welfare of a child in connection with the assaults"  Good grief. When endangering the welfare of a child is casually dismissed we are in deep, deep trouble.

I have yet to read a post by David on the sexual abuse scandel where-even in the face of news that a priest has been found guilty-he doesn't spin out an excuse to absolve the Church hierarchy of blame. 
Anonymous | 2/11/2011 - 12:14am
Vince: Ever motice that America Magazine it is always about the other priests and Bishops and never about the Jesuits ?
Anonymous | 2/11/2011 - 12:12am
The hesuits are not under the purview and scrutiny of the Bishops. If they were, a re-calculation would surely ensure...
Vince Killoran | 2/10/2011 - 11:33pm
I'm not certain why Maria wants us to Google "Jesuit sexual abuse" but I did and, sure enough, there were about 160,000 hits.  I then Googled "Bishops sexual abuse" and there were over 2.3 million hits.

One of the most tragic aspects of this tragedy is that there are still predators out there, still being protected by Church officials.
Anonymous | 2/10/2011 - 10:50pm
Witness: South Bay priest injured in revenge beating on "list" of alleged and convicted molesters
Molly Roach | 2/10/2011 - 10:27pm
Anyone who facilitates the rape of children should face trial.  Period.
Matthew Pettigrew | 2/10/2011 - 10:21pm
Anyone who read what was said about Msgr. Lynn in the 2005 grand jury report and in the report released today would have a difficult time agreeing with David Smith's statement to the effect that the district attorney is overreaching and playing politics with people's lives.