Archive for December, 2013

Australian Inquiry Scrutinizes Church / National Catholic Reporter

The clergy sexual abuse scandal in Australia seems to be following a familiar script, with many acts still to come.

Australian survivors of clerical sexual abuse have been complaining for years about their dissatisfaction with Towards Healing, the Catholic church’s national protocol for responding to abuse. The inner workings of Towards Healing were laid bare in November and December during two weeks of public hearings held here before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse …

“One thousand private hearings have already been conducted. One of the most shocking revelations in early December concerned the handling of allegations of abuse by Marist Br. Raymond Foster, a teacher who committed suicide in 1999, just hours before he was due to face charges of abusing a 13-year-old boy in a north Queensland school in the early 1970s.”

By Stephen Crittenden, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the entire article.

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National Catholic Reporter Names Catholic Church Abuse Whistleblower Jennifer Hasselberger It’s 2013 Person of the Year

Thank God for the courage of abuse survivors and the families of victims who will not let our bishops and leaders forget the abuse and their complicity in it. Thank God for activists who stand with survivors. But most of all, thank God for one very special class of people: the priests and church personnel who do stand up to their leaders and cry out for justice.

“People like Dominican Fr. Thomas Doyle and former Benedictine Patrick Wall, who sacrificed promising ecclesiastical careers because they sided with the victims of abuse and not with those who would cover it up. Thank God for the recently formed Catholic Whistleblowers, a group of mainly priests and religious women, Catholic insiders dedicated to fighting the scourge of sex abuse and its cover-up.

“Finally thank God for Jennifer Haselberger.”

Click here to read this entire editorial in National Catholic Reporter.

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Bottom Line: Msgr. Lynn Case Uncovered Decades of Coverup


As the judge set bail for Msgr. Lynn today, many are disheartened. However, justice isn’t the end game for many advocates and victims. It’s one of many means to an end. While many would like to paint victims as vengeful and money hungry, that simply isn’t the case for those I’ve met. Most lie awake at night worried that another child is enduring what they experienced. Protecting children is the victory.

Had Seth Williams not indicted Msgr. Lynn on child endangerment charges, no one would have seen the mountains of evidence proving a Church coverup of epic proportions. While Williams’ intentions have been called into question, they are irrelevant to me as a Catholic mother. What matters is that clergy child sex abuse will not continue completely unchecked in the Archdiocese if Philadelphia. At least now, many are carefully watching.

Now that we know there is a problem, we can…

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Reversal of Msgr. William Lynn’s Conviction in Philadelphia Conveys a Painful Lesson / National Catholic Reporter

“This week’s (Dec. 27) court decision that freed a senior cleric in Philadelphia who had been jailed for shielding an abusive priest was a symbolic setback for victims’ advocates but one with a substantial, and discouraging, message for their cause: None of the churchmen implicated in cover-ups during the worst decades of abuse will likely ever face charges …

“Nicholas Cafardi, a canon and civil lawyer at the Duquesne Law School in Pittsburgh and former head of the Catholic bishops’ national review board on clergy abuse, said (Pope) Francis must broaden the mandate of the commission (on child abuse) to include his brother bishops.

“‘We have to insist that there be repercussions for any bishop who would re-assign or cover-up for a sexually abusive priest,’ Cafardi wrote in an email. ‘The church will never have closure on this issue unless the larger problem of hierarchical complicity is dealt with.’”

By David Gibson, Religion News Service, Analysis in National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of Gibson’s analysis.

As a person commented to an earlier post on the blog, Msgr. Lynn’s conviction was overturned on a legality. As reported in The New York Times on Dec. 27, the day the ruling was handed down: “The reversal of Monsignor Lynn’s conviction turned on disputed interpretations of Pennsylvania’s former child welfare law and does not have legal implications for other states.” The same Times article quoted the appeals court as saying that “the state had provided ‘more than adequate’ evidence that Monsignor Lynn ‘prioritized the archdiocese’s reputation over the safety of potential victims of sexually abusive priests.'” Click here to read Philadelphia Monsignor’s Conviction Overturned in Cover-Up of Sexual Abuse. 

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Lynn Ruling Elates Supporters, Deflates Victim Advocates / Philadelphia Inquirer

Advocates for victims of clergy sex abuse said Thursday (Dec. 26) that the dismissal of Msgr. William Lynn’s conviction on child-endangerment charges was nothing short of a travesty of justice.

“‘What a disgrace,’ Marita Green, president of the Philadelphia chapter of the Voice of the Faithful, a group of activist Catholics, said in a statement. ‘I don’t care whose ‘orders’ Lynn followed, whether [Cardinals] Bevilaqua’s, Krol’s, or even O’Hara’s. It is appalling that the laws in the state of Pennsylvania have been so ineffective that none of these enablers, facilitators, and cover-uppers have gone to jail.'” By Aubrey Whelan, Philadelphia Inquirer

Click here to read the rest of this article.

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Lynn Court Decision Wasn’t About Right or Wrong


Father Chris Walsh sums it up best in the most recent article on Msgr. Lynn’s overturned conviction in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Excerpt: “The decision ‘wasn’t about whether he did something right or wrong. It was whether he did something that he could have been prosecuted for,” Walsh, pastor of St. Raymond of Penafort in Mount Airy, said noting that he was not speaking for other priests. ‘There’s not a sense we’re getting past this.'”

So true. How can the Church get past this when there have been no solutions? How can we get past this when an accused pastor, such as Father Paul, is left in his parish without informing parents. There is no peace for victims, families or even priests until moral and ethical common sense is applied when law and regulations fail us.

Click here to read: “Lynn ruling elates supporter, deflates victim advocates,” by Aubrey Whelan, The…

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Monsignor William Lynn Conviction Overturned by Pennsylvania Court; D.A. ‘Most Likely’ to Appeal

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said he will most likely appeal the Superior Court’s reversal Thursday (Dec. 26) of the conviction of Monsignor William Lynn. ‘I am disappointed and strongly disagree with the court’s decision,’ Williams said in a statement. ‘While we are deciding what our next course of action will be, we most likely will be appealing this decision.'” By Alex Wigglesworth, Philadelphia Inquirer — Click here to read the rest of this article.

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Merry Christmas!

Christmas Card 2013

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Clergy Sex Abuse & the Catholic Church

We found interesting the juxtaposition of the following two stories listed one after the other in one of the Internet news roundups we read today. The first is a letter to The New York Times from the chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People, and the second is a Minnesota Public Radio story about clergy sexual abuse in the Minneapolis and St. Paul Archdiocese.

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Archbishop Nienstedt Steps Aside in Minnesota

Statement from Voice of the Faithful® national office

Boston, Mass, Dec. 17, 2013 — Voice of the Faithful® agrees with the step Minneapolis and St. Paul Archbishop John Nienstedt is taking after allegations he touched a boy inappropriately. News reports say he is stepping aside while the allegation is investigated. In doing so, he is following the U.S. bishops’ guidelines for protecting children.

This action demonstrates that no one in the Church, whether bishop or employee, should be protected from the consequences of such allegations. Voice of the Faithful® would prefer that other bishops had been so diligent during these past decades of scandal. However, VOTF also believes that Archbishop Nienstedt should have resigned previously, when it became clear that child protection guidelines had not been followed in the past under his tenure.

Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at

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