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(RNS) A Philadelphia priest was convicted Friday of one count of child endangerment, becoming the first cleric in the Catholic Church’s long-running clergy abuse scandal to be tried and found guilty of shielding molesters. By David Gibson.

6 Comments

  1. Mr. R. L. Hails Sr. P. E.

    This is an extremely important case in that it is the first time that management is held responsible for criminal conduct of one of its members. But the article is unclear on one key point, “……. charged with recommending that Brennan…….be allowed to live or work in parishes …….despite indications that (he) might abuse children.” I gather, (I may be wrong) this was the Nuremberg defense, I was just following orders. At issue is whether a superior carries both religious, AND civil responsibilities, IE, call the cops if they are reasonably certain that a crime has been committed. If Lynn knew that the subordinate priest was raping kids, (not might rape in the future) and failed to call the cops, he commited a crime. Giving dumb recommendations or being a dumb prophet is not a crime. However, asking the boss what to do about a crime, does not relieve him of responsibility.

    What was the exact charge which returned a guilty verdict?

  2. It is much, much too late before any “management” is held responsible, from popes on down to diocesan ordinaries and pedophile clergy. Who’s to blame? Every lay person who continues to sit in pews of Catholic churches. Every clergyman in the church who has not stood valiantly against the sins and crimes of the bishops of Rome, their own diocesan bishops, and their fellow priests. They have been protecting the offending clergy against the young people who have been sexually abused. Not least guilty is every part of the justice systems of the United States, juries included like that in Philadelphia, who soft-shoed the verdict of Lynn. Our justice system has been totally complicit in these crimes by submitting to the canon laws of the Vatican, treating the Catholic Church as if it is an inviolate nation holding treaties with the the U.S. that make it as untouchable as any Mafia don who ever committed any crime. They’re all guilty, Catholic lay people, criminal Catholic priests, criminal Catholic bishops, and sinful Catholic popes. But it starts and ends with the lay people who refuse to take a stand against the sins and crimes of their clergy. The lay people should be revolting against the management of their own church. They are being hood-winked with the notion that only canonically ordained clergy afford them those magical practices that allow them to enter Heaven. That is not Heaven. With this legacy, that is Hell!

  3. Deacon Jim Stag

    gilhow, I recommend that you insert “teachers” in your screed about the priest pedophilia problem. Then you can complete your judgement on all the parents who have ignored what their kids said when they came home from public school.

    Don’t be so swift to throw stones. Most of us involved with daily operation of the Church have NEVER observed a priest, nun or Bishop in any type of indecent activity. Do you understand that the number of ACCUSED, not CONVICTED, but ACCUSED priests is infinitesimal compared with KNOWN cases of teachers in public schools, where they are shielded in many cases from prosecution? Do you blame yourself, as a citizen, for that? Do you take responsibility? I think not.

    You’re just too busy throwing stones. Grow up.

  4. Mr. R. L. Hails Sr. P. E.

    I concur with Deacon Jim Stag, gilhow;s accusations are simply calumny. There are more than 65,000,000 Catholics in America and none save perhaps 100 knew anything about the pedophile clergy, over the last half century. Broad brush attacks serve no useful, or valid purpose. The Catholic church, at its root, is involved with love and sin, God, perfect Love, and sinners. The earthly relationship is one of ongoing conflict. A few, saints, excel in the battle, the rest of us lead imperfect lives.

    We now recognize the evil, and the proper response is the care for the victims and a solemn commitment: Never Again. There are hard cold stares at our Bishops. Some have failed our children, allowed them to be savaged. Never Again.

    But the vast majority of our clergy and bishops have sacrificed their lives for the good of others. St. Thomas Aquinas defined that as love. They have our total support.

    This case delves into the management of monster priests, and centers around what did he know, and when did he know it? If we are to learn, to prevent, we must be clear of the exact charge, and verdict. American Catholics hold that criminal conduct warrants criminal sanction, regardless of ecclesiastical status.

    These offenses primarily happened within a population now dead. Deacon Jim Stag correctly notes that child rape, orders of magnitude larger in scale, is ongoing in our public schools, with every little popular animus. In assessing conduct, both good and evil, we consider proportionally and there seems to be none whatsoever, among parents, school management, government, or the press. We ask why? Why is a raped child in a public school any different from a raped child in a Catholic school? When was the last school superintendent arrested for looking the other way?

    gilhow is absolutely correct that the crime, and the decades of official denial was hell on earth for the victims. We must acknowledge this fact, try to restore them, and prosecute whoever permitted these crimes.

  5. It is no wonder that there has been so little legal retribution to the clergy who were actually guilty of sex abuse of the young and their bishop managers who conducted the cover-up under canon law–totally disregarding the laws of this country–and the Vatican that directs everything that bishops and dioceses do.

    First of all, the lay people, especially the parents and relatives of the assaulted young people should have been revolting loudly instead of peacefully sitting in the pews and dropping their money in the baskets to pay for all the offenses of the priests and bishops. The scarred young people belonged to them, not to the clerics at the altars or in the pulpits with all their remnant vestments of antiquity.

    The media, especially the secular media, have given a pass to these offenders. They have acted as if they did not want to lose any of their viewership or be accused of religious prejudice while the abused young people have suffered every kind of prejudice, legal and media.

    It is those innocents who carry the wounds of the sins and crimes committed against them as they struggle into adulthood, limited by immoral, unethical statutes against any legal recourse. The bishops, except for Tom Gumbleton of Detroit, did everything they could to thwart justice in amending those statutes of limitation.

    For Barbara Dorris of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and Terence McKiernan of BishopAccountability.org to infer that Lynn’s guilty verdict is genuinely meaningful in the face of all the escapes and evasions of the clergy is really a soft-shoe dance. In her list of those offended, Dorris lists the children last, after families and communities. McKiernan calls Lynn’s conviction a “watershed moment” when the jury, certainly of his “peers,” let him off so easily and couldn’t even come up with a verdict in the charges against Brennan. It must have been a jury still sitting docilely in their church pews, not in the courthouse. Those would be real peers.

    It is the Catholic Church that is guilty, from popes on down to pew sitters. Canon law preempts everything, even the Gospels, even Jesus, “The Model of the Holy.” Where is the sense of sin? Where is the sense of crime? Where are the morals or ethics in an organization that is supposed to be all about morals and ethics? This is “Churchgate!” “Have you no shame?”

  6. Mr. R. L. must be living with his head in ecclesiastical sands. The tactics of the clergy, popes on down, all along was to keep things hidden or quiet to avoid the scandal it deserved. That has been the tactic of the church from the time the Emperor Constantine took if over and turned it royal at the Council of Nicaea in 325. A huge part of canon law developed in later centuries was to reassert the church as an absolute monarchy on the model of Constantine, considering its royal hierarchy, especially the Bishop of Rome to be above all law, even its own laws.

    What do you think has been the mentality that allowed popes to declare Crusades, to establish Inquisitions? What do you think was the ecclesial mentality that promoted the sale of indulgences and to peddling of fake relics by a duplicitous clergy to support that royalty and acquire enough funding to build St. Peter’s Basilica? All the so-called relics of the “True Cross,” if gathered together, would have allowed for the construction of many basilicas–and religious fools would have been worshipping in every one of them!

    Anyone who is unable to see through the ancient tradition of the church’s super-secrecy, maintained for the sole purpose of saving face against all of its scandalous behavior, including its violations of God’s law and man’s, has a head buried very deeply in the sand. No matter what the clerical men of the church did, any complaints against it, even those supported by multitudes of solid evidence, would be considered “calumny” by the blind members sitting in the pews who are even deaf to the preaching from the pulpits.