(Reuters) - A monsignor who oversaw hundreds of priests in the Philadelphia Archdiocese was found guilty on Friday of one count of endangering the welfare of a child, making him the first senior U.S. Roman Catholic Church official to be convicted for covering up child sex abuse.
The jury acquitted Monsignor William Lynn on two other counts - conspiracy and another charge of child endangerment -after 10 weeks of testimony in a trial that raised questions about personal responsibility and institutional constraints within the church hierarchy.
Removing his black clerical jacket but leaving on his collar, a stoic Lynn, 61, was led out of the courtroom and into custody by deputy sheriffs as his family members wept.
"Every juror there wanted to do justice. ... We wanted to do what was right," jury foreman Isa Logan, 35, a bank customer service representative, told reporters outside the courtroom.
Sentencing for Lynn, who faces up to seven years in prison, was set for August 13 by Judge M. Teresa Sarmina.
"This is a monumental victory for the named and un-named victims," said Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. "This was about evil men who did evil things to children."
While the district attorney's office argued that Lynn should immediately be jailed, the judge said she would consider house arrest if the defense asked for it.
The jury deliberated 13 days before reaching the mixed decision in the trial of Lynn, who, prosecutors charged, covered up child sex abuse allegations, often by transferring priests to unsuspecting parishes.
Lawyers for Lynn said they planned to appeal the case.
"He's really upset," said one of his attorneys, Jeff Lindy. "He's upset, he's crushed. He didn't want anything other than to help kids, he's crushed about this."
Barbara Dorris, outreach director for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said the verdict put the Church on notice that it can no longer "shield and protect" abusive priests and expect to get away with it.
"This is a strong message, and we're grateful for that message that kids' safety has to come first," she said.
It would serve Bill Donohue and the Catholic League well if they went through some basic public relations training. Their latest attempt at bomb-throwing is a full page ad in the New York Times that blames the sexual abuse crisis on an overzealous media, scam artists, and, of course, "the gays."
The refrain that child rape is a reality in the Church is twice wrong: let’s get it straight—they weren’t children and they weren’t raped. We know from the John Jay study that most of the victims have been adolescents, and that the most common abuse has been inappropriate touching (inexcusable though this is, it is not rape). The Boston Globe correctly said of the John Jay report that “more than three-quarters of the victims were post pubescent, meaning the abuse did not meet the clinical definition of pedophilia.” In other words, the issue is homosexuality, not pedophilia.
Abuse took place in the Church and it handled it very poorly. It doesn't matter whether it was pedophilia or homosexual or heterosexual in nature. People were abused and the Church did nothing for decades. The Church failed not only the victims, it failed its flock.
The rhetoric isn't entirely new...the video above is from this time last year, and there are others from 2008 and 2009. The careful parsing of words ("It's not pedophilia if they're adolescents") is yet another turn of the knife in the back of the victims, and so typical of Donohue. After all these years, he still doesn't get that the refusal to take responsibility is part and parcel of why people lost faith in the Catholic Church.
I'm pretty sure that the official Church would much prefer that Donohue (who is not officially sanctioned by the Catholic Church in any way) would just shut up, because he's certainly not helping them bring people back to the flock.
Donohoue likes to alienate people - not welcome and accept. He's looking to make enemies and fight battles over things that don't always make sense. Much of the apologetic work that Donohoue and his organization does hurts the greater Catholic cause. Donohue doesn't represent the Catholicism I know and practice. He is not formally affiliated with the Catholic Church in anyway, something I wish more people knew. He represents the extreme conservative wing of the Church that thinks Church teachings revolve around sex and nothing else. He comes across as a hack that uses his well-funded bully pulpit for self-promotion. He should be dismissed by Catholics who want the Church to grow and not shrivel into some fundamentalist sect limited to pre-Vatican II adherents.
What is it with sex and Republicans? While they're on the House floor trying to rob women of their gynecologists, reproductive privacy, and control of their own bodies, they're out trolling on Craigslist?
Gawker's exclusive on Rep. Christopher Lee (R-NY) and his Craigslist adventures will either make you laugh or gag, depending. The emails are especially disgusting, at least to this woman who thinks trolling the internet for sex is lame and juvenile, whether male or female. At any rate, it seems that he cozied up to the wrong woman online, and she turned over her email and photos to Gawker. Gotta love it.
Rep. Christopher Lee is a married Republican congressman serving the 26th District of New York. But when he trolls Craigslist's "Women Seeking Men" forum, he's Christopher Lee, "divorced" "lobbyist" and "fit fun classy guy." One object of his flirtation told us her story.
On the morning of Friday, January 14, a single 34-year-old woman put an ad in the "Women for Men" section of Craigslist personals. "Will someone prove to me not all CL men look like toads?" she asked, inviting "financially & emotionally secure" men to reply.
That afternoon, a man named Christopher Lee replied. He used a Gmail account that Rep. Christopher Lee has since confirmed to be his own. (It's the same Gmail account that was associated with Lee's personal Facebook account, which the Congressman deleted when we started asking questions.)
By email, Lee identified himself as a 39-year-old divorced lobbyist and sent a PG picture to the woman from the ad. (In fact, Lee is married and has one son with his wife. He's also 46.)
Go read the rest. The emails aren't especially interesting, but they point to Rep. Lee's hypocrisy, given his anti-woman, anti-gay voting record.
Will it matter? I doubt it. After Vitter, Ensign, Sanford and Craig, Christopher Lee just looks like a stupid choir boy doing stupid Internet things.
Update: Rep. Lee has resigned, effective immediately. Just saw this from Jake Tapper on Twitter:
“It has been a tremendous honor to serve the people of Western New York. I regret the harm that my actions have caused my family, my staff and my constituents. I deeply and sincerely apologize to them all. I have made profound mistakes and I promise to work as hard as I can to seek their forgiveness.
“The challenges we face in Western New York and across the country are too serious for me to allow this distraction to continue, and so I am announcing that I have resigned my seat in Congress effective immediately.”
OpenSecrets: Two of Washington, D.C.'s most reliable and respected nonpartisan watchdogs have once again joined forces, updating their one-of-a-kind, comprehensive database that links campaign contributions with earmarks of members of Congress.
The "good news" for the Church, I suppose, is that its centuries-old habits of secrecy mean that the real story is unlikely to become public.
And the bad news? Because the real story is unlikely to become public, the suspicions and whispers will continue to undermine the Church's moral authority and credibility - and without those things, what do they have left? Time to come clean:
The Vatican sprang to Pope Benedict XVI's defense Saturday amid accusations that he tried to hush up reports of clergy sexual abuse and failed to adequately punish an offending priest in his native Germany before becoming pontiff.
Senior Vatican officials denounced the allegations as part of a smear campaign against the pope, who they say is committed to confronting the problem and cracking down on abusers.
"The accusations are failed attempts to involve the Holy Father" in the sexual abuse scandals, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said.
But controversy continued to rage in Germany over a serially abusive priest who was returned to a pastoral position during the pope's tenure as archbishop in the Munich region about 20 years ago. Church officials in the area acknowledge that the decision to reassign the priest was wrong but insist that it was not made by Benedict, who was then Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger.
"These events which are spoken of have been amply clarified by the archdiocese of Munich," Lombardi said in a brief phone interview.
The scandal in the pontiff's homeland is one of a wave of emerging crises for the Roman Catholic Church in Europe. A major scandal involving sexual and physical abuse by priests and nuns in Ireland has seriously undermined the church's authority in that predominantly Roman Catholic nation. More recently, complaints of abuse have surfaced in the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland.
In Saturday's edition of Avvenire, a newspaper for the Italian bishops' conference, a Vatican official revealed that over the last decade, the Holy See had investigated 3,000 clerics for alleged abuse, in cases going back as far as 50 years.
Msgr. Charles J. Scicluna, the Vatican's prosecutor in incidents involving sexual abuse of minors, said that most of the cases were from the United States. But in 2009, the U.S. accounted for only 25% of all new cases reported worldwide.
Benedict, while he was still a cardinal, issued a directive in 2001 telling bishops to keep abuse cases confidential, which critics say contributed to a culture of silence and coverup.
But Lombardi, in an interview with the Vatican's radio station, rejected that conclusion, saying that the pope "wanted an absolutely rigorous and transparent line on the pedophilia scandals in the church" and was committed to "confront, judge and adequately punish such crimes under ecclesiastical rules."
Father Federico Lombardi appeared to suggest in an interview on Vatican Radio that the pope, who also has strong links to the city of Regensburg, was the victim of a plot.
"It's rather clear that in recent days there have been people who have searched – with notable tenacity – in Regensburg and Munich for elements to personally involve the holy father in the question of the abuses," Lombardi said. "To any objective observer it's clear that these attempts have failed."
The Vatican has been appalled in recent days by a flood of allegations of priestly sex abuse in Germany, Holland, Austria and even Italy.
Today, the pope's former diocese rushed out a statement to pre-empt a story in tomorrow's edition of the Munich-based daily Süddeutsche Zeitung. It said that when Joseph Ratzinger was the city's archbishop he had agreed that a priest from another diocese should undergo therapy at a rectory. The records suggested that "it was known then that this therapy should probably be carried out due to sexual relations with children". But instead of sending him for therapy, the statement said, the diocese's then vicar-general, Gerhard Gruber, assigned him to a parish where at least one child was subsequently abused.
"Gruber takes full responsibility for the wrong decisions," the diocese said.
Are they telling the truth - or is Gruber being asked to fall on his sword? People no longer believe the Catholic Church without question, and that will inevitably weaken their influence.
Rod Jetton, the former Missouri House Speaker, fired a state lawmaker from his committee chairmanship in 2007 because the lawmaker had changed a bill in order to end a state ban on gay sex -- or what Jetton called "deviate sexual intercourse."
In a 2007 op-ed he wrote for the Southeast Missourian newspaper, Jetton explained why he had recently removed Rep. Scott Lipke, a fellow Republican, as chair of the Committee on Crime Prevention and Public Safety. Lipke, he wrote, had sponsored and handled a bill to protect children from sexual predators, which Jetton supported.
But, wrote Jetton:
Lipke chose to use the bill to delete 14 words from our laws in order to repeal the gay sex ban in Missouri.
Thanks to that deletion, it is now legal to engage in deviate sexual intercourse with someone of the same sex here in Missouri. This law had been on our books for decades. Read one...
These people are unbelievable. So in Rod's mind, he can push a woman beyond her boundaries by beating the crap out of her during sex, and that's perfectly acceptable -- but if two men wish to make love...now THAT is deviate behavior. It is becoming clear why this guy was a rising star in the Republican Party.
This morning, Fox News' Jon Scott led off a "Happening Now!" with a report on some very worthy legislation now making its way through the halls of Congress:
Scott: Despite talk that the recession is easing, the House is taking up emergency legislation this week that would help Americans out of work. A bill offered by Republican Congressman Jim McDermott of Washington would provide 13 weeks of extended unemployment benefits. The checks would go to more than 300,000 people living in states with unemployment rates at 8.5 percent or higher. ...
I imagine it's news to Jim McDermott that he is now a Republican. He's not only an ardent Democrat, he's considered one of the most liberal members of Congress. (Here's more on his legislation to help out the long-term unemployed.)
Of course, he's only recently become a Republican on the Fox News rolls because he was the proponent of a piece of legislation they wanted to do a warm and fuzzy report about. In previous incarnations -- such as when an appeals court ruled against McDermott in his court fight with Cryin' John Boehner over those released incriminating audiotapes -- they readily identified him as a Democrat.
The evangelist forced out of his job after being caught up in a sex scandal involving a male prostitute has left a "spiritual restoration program" and no longer has any ties to the megachurch he founded, the congregation's new pastor said Sunday.
Under a severance deal that Ted Haggard reached with the church in 2006, he agreed to leave Colorado Springs and not talk about the scandal publicly. The deal expired at the end of 2007. Newpastor Brady Boyd said Haggard was now free to live where he wanted and has returned to Colorado Springs.
Haggard and church officials clashed last summer after Haggard sent an e-mail to a Colorado Springs television station outlining his plans to work as a counselor at a Christian-run halfway house in Phoenix. The e-mail also solicited financial support. A four-pastor team of overseers said that those plans were unacceptable and that Haggard would seek secular employment instead. Read on...
There is a part of me that actually feels for Ted. Living a lie, being shunned by all he knew and loved, and even being forced to leave his own home must have been rough. Stories like this make up just one of many reasons I chose to walk away from organized religion many years ago. Did you catch the line above in bold? The brutal manner in which these awful people treated and controlled Haggard should anger and disgust anyone living in civilized society. At the very least, I hope Ted and his family find peace one day...