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Monsignor Lynn, charged with child endangerment, receieves a standing ovation

October 5, 2011

The Philadelphia Inquirer published a story about a special dinner that was held in honor of the new Archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles J. Chaput.  The dinner was a private affair, requiring an invitation, which took place shortly after Chaput’s installation.  The invitation list included, according to sources, priests who had been placed on suspension following the release of the Grand Jury Report.

The findings of the Grand Jury Report resulted in the suspension of 21 priests from active ministry in the archdiocese of Philadelphia for credible reports of sexual abuse or other inappropriate behavior with children.  The report also resulted in criminal charges being filed against priests Edward Avery, Charles Engelhardt, and James Brennan for the rape and sexual assault of a child.  Catholic school teacher Bernard Shero was also charged with sexual assault.

In addition to charges being filed against these men for the rape of children the Grand Jury also charged Monsignor William Lynn with endangering the welfare of children.  Lynn had served as Secretary of the Clergy from 1992 to 2004 under Cardinal Belivacqua.  As Secretary of the Clergy, Lynn was responsible for investigating sex abuse reports made against priests, and then placing these priests in future assignments.

The priests who were criminally charged by the Grand Jury for the sexual assault of children were well known to Monsignor Lynn; the Grand Jury concluded that “The rapist priests we accuse were well known to the Secretary of the Clergy, but he cloaked their conduct and put them in place to do it again”.  It was Lynn’s responsibility to ensure that the children in the archdiocese of Philadelphia were protected from predator priests.  The Grand Jury found that “evidence presented to the Grand Jury substantiates that Monsignor Lynn repeatedly abdicated this responsibility and not through negligence or incompetence…but deliberately over decades”.

Monsignor Lynn was one of those in attendance at the dinner honoring the new archbishop, and according to sources familiar with the event, the new shepherd of the diocese singled him out for special attention.

In calling attention to Lynn the new prelate could have made a declaration that in the future the cover up of clergy sex crimes would no longer be tolerated in the archdiocese of Philadelphia.  He might have stated that after three Grand Jury reports which showed that the concealment and cover up of child sex crimes was still occurring, it might be time to try a new approach.

Instead, according to sources, which include a priest who attended the dinner, the new archbishop singled out the monsignor, and declared that this whole experience must be quite an ordeal for him.  With that the room erupted in applause and the crowd proceeded to give the monsignor a standing ovation.

Chaput had previously stated in an interview that “It’s really important to me, and I think to all of us that he (Lynn) be treated fairly and that he not be made a scapegoat”.

As bishop of Denver Chaput led the fight to defeat legislation that would have given victims of childhood sexual abuse the ability to hold their abusers accountable in a court of law.  The sponsor of the proposed legislation then state senate president Joan, Fitz-Gerald, said that “the diocese fought opening a window on the statute of limitations with everything they had…any conversation about what was fair and just for victims fell on deaf ears”.

A victim/survivor who met with Chaput, while he was bishop of Denver, to discuss his abuse, stated that “He was cold as ice…his demeanor was like I don’t have time, hurry up and get your story done”.

Chaput provided Monsignor Lynn with anything but a chilly reception, sending him what the Philadelphia Inquirer referred to as “one of the strongest signals of his support for Lynn since his arrest and suspension from ministry in February”.  Chaput, and Lynn’s brother priests, who rose from their chairs in applause, have indicated that they stand with the Monsignor.

There are many in Philadelphia who deserve a standing ovation, however Monsignor Lynn is not one of those individuals.  Rather a standing ovation should be given to the District Attorney of Philadelphia, Seth Williams, a Catholic who had the courage to expose the continued sexual victimization of children in his church.  A standing ovation should be given to the members of the Grand Jury who listened to hours of testimony about children who were violated and knowingly put in danger.  Most importantly a standing ovation should be given to the victim/survivors of the archdiocese of Philadelphia for their bravery and courage in coming forward to expose the crimes that were committed against them in an effort to protect future children from sexual abuse.

From → National Updates

  1. Patrick T. Darcy permalink

    Chaput’s support for Lynn is no surprise. He isn’t a scapegoat. He directly carried out orders from this boss. Chaput and his fellow priests should be ashamed.

  2. Augusta Wynn permalink

    What won’t these men do to prove themselves totally without decency? While all the while they prance around altars pretending to be priests of Our Lord Jesus.


  3. Jim Jenkins permalink

    This is a sad development in this ongoing story in Philadelphia. Reminds me of a similar incident in the SF archdiocese.

    When I was chair of the SF review board, we received reports that the former archbishop John Quinn and indicted sexual offender and rapist former archdiocesan canonist Rev. Gregory Ingels were living together in Quinn’s retirement home on the grounds of St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, CA.

    Quinn and Ingels were hosting “support group” dinners for other priests who had been accused of child abuse at Quinn’s residence.

    What was Quinn’s and Ingels’ relationship to each other? Who was paying for these support group dinners for priest child abusers? What was the agenda of these meetings?

    I don’t recall that Cardinal Levada was particularly upset on learning of these events.

    After the review board expressed alarm over these reports, Levada reported back to us that Quinn assured him that Ingels “did not need to be removed” from his residence. I don’t know if the support group continued to meet since Levada refused the review board’s request to interview Quinn.

  4. Augusta Wynn permalink

    Archbishop John Quinn is leading the priests retreat this month at San Juan Bautista. Quinn, the beloved friend of pedophile Monsignor Patrick O’Shea, and felon Rev. Martin Greenlaw, fancies himself a “spritual director.”

    Cardinal Levada, while archbishop of San Francisco, admitted under oath that he knew Father Gregory Ingels was a child rapist since 1996 but appointed him chief canon lawyer anyway. Levada put Ingels in charge of establishing sex abuse reporting policies for the Diocesan Review Boards after the Dallas Conference in 2002. After Ingels was indicted for child rape, the statute of limitations prevented his trial, and he and Archbishop Quinn became housemates.

    And Levada and Quinn aren’t even the worst of them.


  5. W B permalink

    My personal experience as a victim corresponds with the demonic coziness noted above in both the article and previous comments. I was solicited for sex by the former chancellor of a diocese, who was elevated to msgr. and made pastor of the richest parish in the diocese. This was my first inkling of the rottenness infesting the leadership of the Church. Mark my words, the day is coming soon when a bishop or chancery official will not be able to show his face in public without boos and catcalls. Let us pray for the day when something even more wonderful happens: A bishop enters a meeting of priests and gets met with stone cold silence in reaction to his sins.

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