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Priest Scandal Engulfs Philadelphia; Monsignor Among Those Charged

Priest Scandal Engulfs Philadelphia; Monsignor Among Those Charged

Three weeks ago, a grand jury said that, more than five years after a report documenting abuse by more than 50 priests, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia had failed to stop the sexual abuse of children. According to the February 10th New York Times, the 124-page report said that Msgr. William Lynn, secretary of clergy in the archdiocese under former Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua, had allowed as many as 37 priests to remain in their posts—where they still had access to children—even after the charges had been made public.

 

Msgr. Lynn, an exceptionally powerful figure in the Philadelphia Archdiocese, had been responsible for investigating abuse allegations from 1992 to 2004. He has now himself been charged with endangering the welfare of minors.

While Cardinal Justin Rigali initially said ‘there were no active priests with substantiated allegations against them,’ he placed three of the priests on administrative leave six days later. He has also hired Gina Maisto Smith, a former assistant district attorney who prosecuted child sexual assault cases for 15 years, to conduct an investigation of all the cases in which priests who had been charged with abuse remained in active ministry, and to review the procedures the archdiocese followed.

From the March 5th New York Times

The possibility that even one predatory priest, not to mention three dozen, might still be serving in parishes — “on duty in the archdiocese today, with open access to new young prey,” as the grand jury put it — has unnerved many Roman Catholics here and sent the church reeling in the latest and one of the most damning episodes in the American church since it became engulfed in the sexual abuse scandal nearly a decade ago. 

The situation in Philadelphia is “Boston reborn,” said David J. O’Brien, who teaches Catholic history at the University of Dayton. The Boston Archdiocese was engulfed in a scandal starting in 2002 involving widespread sexual abuse by priests and an extensive cover-up that reached as high as the cardinal. 

Some parishioners say they feel discouraged and are caught in a wave of anxiety, even as they continue to attend Mass.

The Philadelphia Inquirer says that, on Monday, lawyers representing those abused by the priests will file a lawsuit charging the archdiocese of Philadelphia, its leaders and employees with conspiracy and fraud for ‘failing to help a young sacristan who claimed he was abused by a priest.’ Said Marci Hamilton, one of the lawyers for the plaintiff: 

‘This is yet another case in which the victim’s assistance program didn’t really do what it was supposed to do.’

Indeed, the Philadelphia Inquirer also states that 

‘Among other things, the panel concluded the church’s victim assistance program has at times appeared to be less interested in helping victims than in protecting priests and church leaders.’

In recent years, the scandal of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests has deeply, maybe even irremediably, shaken the Church and its members. While Church officials say they have instituted measures to prevent ‘predatory priests’ from abusing children, the findings of the grand jury in Philadelphia—the revelation that abusive priests have remained in active ministry and have had contact with children— suggest that these have not been enough, not at all.

 

Previous Care2 Coverage

Prominent Jesuit Scholar Accused of Abuse

Vatican: Ordaining Women Grave Crime, Much Like Sex Abuse

The Sex Abuse Scandal and the Church That Did Not Know Right From Wrong

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198 comments

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5:57AM PDT on May 17, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

3:11AM PDT on May 18, 2011

It is high time that some of the superiors of the abusing priests who covered up the abuse were charged with complicity in those crimes, they are as guilty of the abuse as if they did it themselves and have allowed it to go on years after it was first reported. Ordinary people who covered up a crime and let it continued to be committed, would have been locked up long ago.

7:07PM PDT on May 5, 2011

What is unbelievable is the horrible manipulation and exploitation of our precious, innocent and defenseless children. Many of those who should be at the very highest level of morality are at the bottom. All the while, Catholics are scurrying to cannonize Pope John Paul, who may be a beloved and revered figure of millions of reverent followers, he was as culpible in the cover up of molestation of children as Pope Benedict and others at very high levels within the church. He should not be cannonized! I'm sure the cliche; "holier than thou" came from the Catholics since they seem to believe they are above reproach in all sins. I know, I know, the sinners have confessed to another human being and received absolution. That makes every being who confessed whole and perfect again, until the next time, and the time after, and the time after that, and on and on!

9:56AM PDT on May 5, 2011

North and South America and all other continents and islands that have been taken over by the church for the State in the last 500 years are all standing on the sandy foundation of guilty pedophile priests> You know it, I know it, and the church knows it. The catholic church has a very high percent of guilty, but also protestant churches are guilty as well.

9:01AM PDT on Mar 13, 2011

Adam G> I totally agree that we need to evolve, but disagree that we need to get rid of religion altogether. I think we need to evolve our spiritual understanding and evolve our religions, and maybe then we could respect each other for our beliefs, not despite them. I think we need spirituality in such a tough world, but we don't need religions using scriptures as literal truth to use against us. I think we have to get to a point that we understand that there is something transcendent being described in all religions, but we have to let go of the idea that everything in a religious text is literally true and that our religion is the only one that is 'right'. That said, I am a pagan b/c in my opinion, it uses the head to guide the soul. I am glad I personally had complete freedom of choice, unlike these poor children. Not only did they lack choice of religion, but then to be further victimized by their spiritual leaders is altogether hideous.

1:03PM PST on Mar 10, 2011

Stranger Abduction Sexual Assault Survivor Keith Smith discusses "Five Steps We Can Take to Keep Kids Safe." Hear Keith's live interview on Blog Talk Radio at
www.tinyurl.com/StepsWeCanTakeToKeepKidsSafe

8:46AM PST on Mar 9, 2011

BOTTOM LINE HERE: THE CHURCH IS GUILTY OF HIDING PEDOPHILES AND ALLOWING THEM TO CONTINUE TO MINISTER TO CHILDREN. TRULY UNBELIEVABLE! TRULY DISGUSTING AND TOTALLY EVIL!!! IT HAS TO STOP AND THE POPE IS RESPONSIBLE, IS HE NOT? HE NEEDS TO GET IT DONE NOW!!

8:44AM PST on Mar 9, 2011

BOTTOM LINE HERE: THE CHURCH IS GUILTY OF HIDING PEDOPHILES AND ALLOWING THEM TO CONTINUE TO MINISTER TO CHILDREN. TRULY UNBELIEVABLE! TRULY DISGUSTING AND TOTALLY EVIL!!! IT HAS TO STOP AND THE POPE IS RESPONSIBLE, IS HE NOT? HE NEEDS TO GET IT DONE NOW!!

11:15PM PST on Mar 8, 2011

unfortunately, this sort of behaviour & cover up will always continue until we evolve enough to get rid of religion altogether.

12:32PM PST on Mar 8, 2011

These are the people you put your trust in not only to lead you to heaven but to also have access to your children...I am not a christian, not now not ever I read all about this and the simple fact is that they are raping and molesting and still lead you to follow christ! THE HELL WITH THAT! They tell you lies and lead you into false morality and judgment that is the christian religion I am a pagan and this thing about priests molesting children makes me sick you people are the ones that put your trust in these people and its just another chance that something might go wrong it's not just once priest its many how can you explain that with this being the most oberved molesting cases are within the christian religion

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