In my last post I came down pretty hard on the NCAA for not handing Penn State’s football program the death penalty. While my opinion still stands, I want to commend the NCAA for taking decisive action against Penn State for its role in the child sex abuse scandal involving Jerry Sandusky.
Now if only we could get the Catholic Church to do the same within its own ranks.
Yesterday in Philadelphia, Msgr. William J. Lynn became the first Roman Catholic Church official in the United States to be convicted of covering up sexual abuses by priests under his supervision. A Philadelphia judge sentenced Monsignor Lynn, 61, to three to six years in prison, after a three-month trial that revealed efforts over decades by the Philadelphia archdiocese to play down accusations of child sexual abuse and avoid scandal.
According to a report published today by The New York Times, “Monsignor Lynn served as secretary for clergy for the 1.5 million-member archdiocese from 1992 to 2004, recommending priest assignments and investigating abuse complaints. During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence that he had shielded predatory priests, sometimes transferring them to unwary parishes, and lied to the public to avoid bad publicity and lawsuits.”
Let me say that again, this guy “… shielded predatory priests, sometimes transferring them to unwary parishes, and lied to the public to avoid bad publicity and lawsuits.”
I think we all need a moment after reading that, because right now I feel sick to my stomach.
But what’s really making me about to vomit in my mouth is that this man only got three to six years. And already, supporters of Msgr. Lynn are calling the sentence too severe and unbalanced. But I won’t go into how I feel about that since I’m liable to burst a blood vessel or worse, have a coronary. And these people aren’t worth my sons losing their mother.
I’d rather talk about what the Catholic Church is doing about all this, since – and I’ll admit – I’m regrettably at the moment a member of its ranks, albeit at the very bottom. (And as a women, I doubt I hold much clout with the Vatican.) Before I let that Tasmanian devil out of its cage, let me turn your attention now to the statement below released by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia yesterday:
STATEMENT FROM THE ARCHDIOCESE OF PHILADELPHIA
AFTER SENTENCING OF MONSIGNOR WILLIAM LYNN
From the challenges the Church has faced both nationally and locally over the past decade, we understand the full gravity of sexual abuse. This year and even this week, Pennsylvania has been the epicenter of this issue, and we know there is legitimate anger in the broad community toward any incident or enabling of sexual abuse. The trial of the past several months has been especially difficult for victims, and we profoundly regret their pain.
The public humiliation of the Church has emphasized the vital lesson that we must be constantly vigilant in our charge to protect the children in our parishes and schools. Since the events some ten years ago that were at the center of this trial, the Archdiocese has changed. We have taken dramatic steps to ensure that all young people in our care are safe, and these efforts will continue even more forcefully now and in the years ahead.
We remain committed to protecting children and caring for victims. Fair-minded people will question the severity of the heavy, three to six year sentence imposed on Msgr. Lynn today. We hope that when this punishment is objectively reviewed, it will be adjusted.
We pray for Msgr. Lynn and his family at this difficult time.
As you can see, I took the liberty to highlight some key phrases that I believe warrant further
criticism consideration. But I know you all are smart and intelligent people so I’m not going to waste your precious reading time pointing out the obvious. Instead, I’d like to play pretend.
If the NCAA Penalized the Catholic Church …
What if we could turn this whole mess over to the NCAA and let them assess the penalty on the Church? That’s exactly what one reader suggested on CNN.com and I think the idea is brilliant. Just wish I would have thought of it first. Here’s what this smart chap named Robert had to say …
Robert – Onset, MA: ”… If Penn State was worth $60 million this could easily go $150 million. Also, let’s put an injunction of the church that prohibits them from holding any religious services for 6 years and any marriages, christenings, last rites and funeral services are to be null and void, and any saints that have been beatified in the last 50 years are out. They should also convict the Pope and the College of Cardinals for allowing this to go on and not reporting it to the authorities.”
So there’s what I see as the lesson for the Vatican. You’ve got to do more than just send out letters denouncing sexual abuse or revamp safety policies and procedures. You’ve got do something radical. You’ve got to do something brash. Like the NCAA did with Penn State, you’ve got to hit them where it hurts. Take away their money. Take away their rights and privileges. And for God’s sake, start holding these people accountable.
Just like what the NCAA is doing now with Penn State, the Church must cut off offending parishes and dioceses at the knees, burn them down (figuratively speaking) and then raise them back up from the ashes, in whatever form that might be.
Oh and I almost forgot (OK, not really). Do you want to know what Monsignor Lynn’s conviction was actually for?
*heads nod furiously*
Ready for this? According to The New York Times story, Lynn failed to properly supervise a former priest named Edward V. Avery, who spent six months in a church psychiatric facility in 1993 after an “abuse episode.” Doctors said to keep him away from children. But Lynn transferred him to a rectory anyway and didn’t bother telling parish officials.
You can only guess what happened next.
“In 1999, Mr. Avery engaged in oral sex with a 10-year-old altar boy. He pleaded guilty to the assault just before Monsignor Lynn’s trial and was sentenced to two and a half to five years in prison.” -The New York Times, July 25, 2012
So what do you think the Church should do about the Archdiocese of Philadelphia?