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The upcoming trial of Monsignor Lynn and what it means for the future safety of children in the Catholic Church

August 1, 2011

A historic decision was made in a Philadelphia courtroom last week which will have far reaching implications for the safety of every child in the Catholic Church.  Judge Lillian Ransom, a Common Pleas Court Judge in Philadelphia ruled that Monsignor Lynn must stand trial for charges that he conspired to endanger the welfare of children in his care.

Lynn is the first high ranking church official in the United States who has been charged with child endangerment for his role in transferring sex offending clergy into unsuspecting parishes.  If he is found guilty he faces up to 28 years in prison.  Lynn served as the secretary of clergy under Cardinal Anthony Belivacqua from 1992 to 2004.

As secretary of clergy it was Lynn’s job to investigate the cases of child sexual abuse that were reported to the diocese.  Lynn is being charged with child endangerment because a Grand Jury in Philadelphia found that after receiving reports of child sexual abuse, and following his so called “investigation” of that abuse, he allowed and was instrumental in keeping sex offending clergy in ministry.

The Grand Jury report of 2011, which is the third such grand jury to take place in Philadelphia concerning the sex crimes against children in that archdiocese, stated that “Monsignor Lynn acted as if his job was to protect the abuser, never the abused”.  They reached this conclusion following their investigation into the rape of children in the diocese including those referred to in the report as “Billy” and “Mark”.  “Billy” and “Mark” are pseudonyms used to protect their privacy.

“Billy” and “Mark” reported that they were raped by priests, Fr. Avery and Fr. Brennan, who will also be standing trial with Lynn.  Lynn had been aware of prior reports concerning these two clerics, in fact he had even allowed Fr. Avery to adopt six Hmong children despite the fact that Avery had spent time in a sex offender treatment program.

Monsignor Lynn knew that Avery and Brennan were a danger to children yet he allowed them to have access to even more potential victims.  Those potential victims became the real victims known in the Grand Jury report as “Billy” and “Mark”.

The rape and sexual assault of “Billy” and “Mark” was not simply the result of Lynn’s negligence.  Indeed, the Grand Jury reported that in his failure to protect children “Monsignor Lynn repeatedly abdicated this responsibility – and not through negligence or incompetence but deliberately over decades”.

The criminal charges leveled against Monsignor Lynn and his upcoming trial should serve as a warning to everyone responsible for the protection of children in the Catholic Church.  While this is the first time such a charge has been made against a senior member of the catholic clergy it sends a clear message.  Those in the church who knowingly allow an abuser to have access to children or who choose to “look the other way” when confronted with the abuse of a child faces the risk of possible criminal prosecution.

Each diocese in the United States, including the archdiocese of Milwaukee, has their own secretary of clergy, sometimes known as the vicar of clergy.  These officials have now been put on notice, in Philadelphia at least, that the law enforcement community is watching them.  They have been entrusted with a sacred duty, the protection of innocent children in their care, and they will be held accountable for their actions.

From → National Updates

  1. i love your blog, i have it in my rss reader and always like new things coming up from it.

    • John Pilmaier permalink

      Thank you for taking the time to let me know! It is much appreciated.

      John Pilmaier

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