Quantcast

«

»

Jul 25 2012

Monsters in clerical garb

William Lynn was a secretary for the clergy in the Philadelphia archdiocese; among his duties were the investigation of abuse complaints and making priest assignments — which you’d think is a good combination of duties. Unfortunately, he was a little confused and seemed to think his job was to make sure that the priests he was investigating for sexual abuse of children got assigned to fresh parishes with new, unsuspecting children. In the case of Edward Avery, for instance, he had a priest who’d been identified as a sexual abuser, who’d had psychiatric evaluations that said he was a continuing danger, and Lynn sent him off to a new place where he was caught and convicted of raping a 10-year-old altar boy.

Lynn has now been convicted covering up sexual abuse, and sentenced to a minimum of 3 years in prison. He tried to argue that the late Archbishop Bevilacqua had ordered his actions (which I wouldn’t be surprised at at all — it’s what the Catholic church does), but the court wouldn’t stand for his “I was obeying orders” defense. Now it’s time to watch the whole American branch of the Catholic church freak out.

“I think this is going to send a very strong signal to every bishop and everybody who worked for a bishop that if they don’t do the right thing, they may go to jail,” said the Rev. Thomas J. Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University. “They can’t just say ‘the bishop made me do it.’ That’s not going to be an excuse that holds up in court.”

It would be nice to imagine that the clergy will now come clean and confess their sins and try to make their little world right, but I don’t believe that for a moment: expect them to clam up tighter than ever.

41 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Damn fucking straight they should go to jail. Every last one of them.

    The institution should be dismantled, the buildings repurposed into community centers and libraries and all of their money seized and distributed to their victims.

    Fuck the Catholic Church.

  2. 2
    jstackpo

    It is extremely difficult to avoid making (unfavorable) comparisons between the process and outcomes of the Penn State pedo-scandals and the same in the R.C. Church.

    To say the least.

  3. 3
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Please, just about the language:

    In the case of Edward Avery, for instance, he had a priest who’d been identified as a sexual abuser, who’d had psychiatric evaluations that said he was a continuing danger, and Lynn sent him off to a new place where he was caught and convicted of having sex with a 10-year-old altar boy.

    Uhm, no. He was caught and convicted for raping the boy. Sex is a wonderful thing that happens with one or more consenting people involved.
    Please, I know I’m nitpicking, but it really matters, because language has an influence on how we view the world. Calling it “being caught having sex” evokes ideas of bad movies in which people always sleep with their best friend’s partner who comes home early, not of a terrible crime.

    And fuck the criminal organisation called catholic church.
    “The bishop told me to?” Wait aren’t you the ones going on about free will and responsibility?

  4. 4
    anubisprime

    What about…busting the bishop that made him do it?
    Sounds to me a revealed act of criminality declared in open court!
    We have the crime defined and the perpetrator identified…this job is not over yet!

    If the katolik’ morons play true to form…the trail of “he made me do it” might well lead all the way back to the Vatican and a rather pathetic sexually dysfunctional cretin that thinks he is a sky fairies chosen one on earth!

  5. 5
    anubisprime

    @ 4

    “busting the bishop”

    Rather appropriate metaphor there methinks…not intentional but it fits!

  6. 6
    Matt Penfold

    Amazingly the comments on the NYT article are not going to make you despair. There is the odd idiot trying to claim that the RCC should not tarnished for the actions of a few misguided people, but those comments are getting stomped on.

  7. 7
    Matt Penfold

    What about…busting the bishop that made him do it?
    Sounds to me a revealed act of criminality declared in open court!
    We have the crime defined and the perpetrator identified…this job is not over yet!

    Well the Bishop in question is dead, so that might explain a lack of charges.

  8. 8
    Matt Penfold

    Here is the relevant quote:

    During the trial, Monsignor Lynn’s lawyers argued that he had followed the instructions of Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua, who was the archbishop of Philadelphia from 1988 to 2003 and who died in January.

  9. 9
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    After reading the article, I wanted to make the same correction I see Giliell already made in her comment #3.

  10. 10
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Oh, and now I see PZ was quick to change his post. I should refresh before posting.
    Thanks PZ!

  11. 11
    Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk

    3-6 years! What? I’m sure it’s better than nothing, but seriously? After the monstrous acts he committed, 3-6 years is all he gets?

    He tried to argue that the late Archbishop Bevilacqua had ordered his actions (which I wouldn’t be surprised at at all — it’s what the Catholic church does),

    Wouldn’t surprise me in the least either. In fact, I fully believe that the deceased bishop did give the order. Doesn’t mean he had to obey it.

    but the court wouldn’t stand for his “I was obeying orders” defense

    “I think this is going to send a very strong signal to every bishop and everybody who worked for a bishop that if they don’t do the right thing, they may go to jail,” said the Rev. Thomas J. Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University. “They can’t just say ‘the bishop made me do it.’ That’s not going to be an excuse that holds up in court.”

    Right the fuck on. Now if only we could get rid of that pesky little “may” wriggling around there and get more of the slimy colostomy bags on trial.

    It would be nice to imagine that the clergy will now come clean and confess their sins and try to make their little world right, but I don’t believe that for a moment: expect them to clam up tighter than ever.

    Yeah, unfortunately this is probably right. I’m with Audley on this: dismantle this whole fucking institution of corruption and abuse and human rights violations. Raze it to the ground, metaphorically speaking. They’ve had centuries, nay, millenia to improve and become some kind of moral paragon or at least some kind of moral guidance, and they still failed so abysmally, so horribly, so terribly, and at such an unpaybly, unacceptably high cost.

    So no. Dismantle it. The institution of Catholicism don’t deserve more “benefits of doubts” or “live and let live” crap or whatever the fuck. This is an institution that has proven again and again (ad infinitum) that it’s a danger to society, an obstacle to progress and an enemy of civilization.

  12. 12
    elronxenu

    That’s the best news I’ve heard all day. It’s a slow process, but the Catholic Church is finally losing their mantle of automatic respect, deference and above-the-law-ness.

  13. 13
    robro

    Cardinal Bevilacqua was the archbishop until 2003 but Lynn served in his capacity of cover-up and enabler until 2004. Did Cardinal Rigali, his successor, do anything to stop the crimes?

    Love this bit from Lynn’s lawyer: ‘Last week, the defense argued that a long prison sentence would be “merely cruel and unusual.”’ Prison is cruel, but nothing compared to the crimes. And it’s not unusual for abettors. In any case, 3-6 years isn’t such a long sentence for enabling the rape of children. Nancy Garrido, the wife of Phillip Garrido who helped him kidnap and rape Jaycee Dugard for 18 years, got 36 years to life. Of course, she was just a woman, probably abused, not a priest of The Church.

  14. 14
    SallyStrange

    It’s definitely not a nit-pick, Gilliel! It’s yet another symptom of our rape culture! There was the recent conviction of Air Force Sgt. Luis Walker for raping and assaulting many of his trainees. link Time after time, I saw the incident referred to as a “sex scandal.” No! It’s a RAPE scandal! He was convicted of rape, call it what it is!

    I may have left angry comments on a lot of websites to that effect. I may also have pointed out that this confusion and obfuscation about what is truly rape contributes to a culture where so many are raped and it isn’t taken seriously as a crime.

  15. 15
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Thank you, PZ

  16. 16
    TxSkeptic

    I bet these priests will have fun in prison. They’ll be like kids in a candy store – except this is the prison candy store, and these new kids will BE the candy.

  17. 17
    Big Boppa

    Re: Gen, Uppity Ingrate @11

    On the up side. Now he can look forward to 3 to 6 years worth of prison showers where he’ll get first hand experience of what it was like to be a 10 year old altar boy at one of his churches.

  18. 18
    Thomathy, Gay Where it Counts

    TxSkeptic, that’s not funny. What you are hinting at, what you are implying, that’s not fucking funny.

  19. 19
    Amphiox

    @16, @17;

    Ugh. No. Wishing for prison rape is not appropriate, even for this. It never is.

    Not only does it simply continue to perpetuate rape culture, it also speaks to an atavistic desire for vengeance, not justice.

  20. 20
    Louis

    TxSkeptic wins the scumbag race to the approving prison rape/violence joke! Well done!

    {Sarcastic golf clap}

    Louis

  21. 21
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Matt Penfold:

    Amazingly the comments on the NYT article are not going to make you despair.

    I disagree. They’re full of No True Scotsmen, plus lots of fundie xtians claiming that Catholics aren’t “really” xtians.

    Giliell, thanks for catching that. It’s a pet peeve of mine. Right up there with, as Sally points out, media trying to titillate their readers with such cases by labeling them “sex scandals.”

    TxSkeptic and Big Boppa, fuck off and die. Wishing rape on people exacerbates the problem by positing rape as just punishment for anybody.

  22. 22
    Bronze Dog

    Please, no prison rape jokes. They’re not funny.

  23. 23
    Big Boppa

    Re: prison rape “jokes”

    Having had first hand experience with being raped, I’m not joking at all.

  24. 24
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Well in that case, please no openly seriously wishing for prison rape.

    Please keep those thoughts to yourself.

  25. 25
    Big Boppa

    Vile Human Being @21

    I didn’t “wish” rape on anyone. Merely stated a fact. I wish I could be a better person but I’ve been carrying this rage against my rapist for more than 50 years and I recently learned that he has died so now I’ll never get a chance to….nope, better not say more lest a superior being, such as yourself, wishes for my death again.

  26. 26
    efp

    Bishop to cell 4.

  27. 27
    anubisprime

    Matt Penfold @ 8

    During the trial, Monsignor Lynn’s lawyers argued that he had followed the instructions of Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua, who was the archbishop of Philadelphia from 1988 to 2003 and who died in January.

    So Lynn had no instructions concerning pedo-priests from his immediate superior since 2003.

    Rigali was left no choice but to pretend hand wringing and righteousness in the face of the massive scandal handed to him due to first Krol 1961-1988 then Bevilacqua 1988-2003 …both covered up…it was what they did!
    But surprise surprise…. Rigali defended both their reputations staunchly.

    Sp does that mean that there was absolutely no fiddling about under choir boy cassocks since 2003?…is that what is being claimed?

  28. 28
    madknitter

    I have always wished that Bernard Law would be extradited back to the US. He fled to Rome after the sex abuse scandal in Boston, and was given a plum position while there. He recently retired (hit the mandatory age), however it is my own belief that he knew which priests were abusing kids and merely reassigned them.

    I should like to see him brought back to the States, made to stand trial, and, if found guilty, sent to prison for the rest of his unnatural life.

  29. 29
    strange gods before me ॐ

    I didn’t “wish” rape on anyone. Merely stated a fact.

    This is not an accurate characterization of what you said. You said:

    “On the up side.”

    That is counting prison rape as a positive thing.

    I wish I could be a better person

    Great! This turns out to be really easy.

    Step 1: Keep your thoughts about prison rape to yourself.

    Step 2: There is no step 2.

    You can think whatever you want about it and still be a good person.

  30. 30
    markus

    I always hoped the “I just followed orders”-defense strategy to be dead since the Nuremberg Trials (and anyone using it being found guilty by default).

    Too bad this still does not apply.

  31. 31
    TxSkeptic

    I apologize for my candy store comment. Amphiox @19 probably gets it closest, the desire for vengeance is certainly an atavistic and fairly understandable human trait. I am guilty as charged.

    My first reaction to the criticisms here was like Big Boppa’s comment @25, just stating the facts. And certainly they will remain that.

    However, on further reflection, I remind myself that certainly most, if not all of us in this freethought community have come to our positions through more reasoned and logical, rather that atavistic, thinking. It is these evolutionary and animalistic instincts are part of the problem that ties people to the religious culture and superstitious beliefs.

    Our very high christian population is certainly directly tied to the huge prison population, and the poor conditions they suffer.

    Thanks for the slapdown, it got my noggin back in gear.

  32. 32
    Louis

    TxSkeptic,

    Thanks for the slapdown, it got my noggin back in gear.

    Happens to the best of us. Thanks for thinking and retracting.

    Louis

  33. 33
    DLC

    Ich habe nur Befehle befolgt

    It doesn’t sound any better in German, does it, Cardinal Ratzinger.

    While true that the RCC is not the only home for wayward child molesters , it is true that the RCC as an institution needs cleaning up. Badly. Now, personally, I would like to see every church and religion fall away and die. But the only real way to get people to leave religion is to get them to realize that religion does nothing for them, and is based on spiritualist mumbo-jumbo and lies. They have to give up their magical thinking and walk away from it. Until that happy time, the churches need to be held to the law. There should be no double standard. No free ride. No ecumenical courts !

  34. 34
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    While true that the RCC is not the only home for wayward child molesters , it is true that the RCC as an institution needs cleaning up.

    Not even rerouting the Alpheus and Peneus rivers through the RCC can clean all of the filth out of there.

  35. 35
    Stacy

    Big Boppa, how awful. For what it’s worth, you have my empathy and my respect for your strength.

    People here work hard to make this a safe space for victims and survivors of sexual assault, that’s why we come down on anyone who makes any comment trivializing it. Doesn’t mean we can’t grok why you’d feel that way.

    Hope you stick around.

  36. 36
    Anita

    If the church really starts apologizing, it should start with one for existing in the first place. The foundations built with lies, dogma, terror and oppression.

  37. 37
    truthspeaker

    markus
    25 July 2012 at 12:46 pm

    I always hoped the “I just followed orders”-defense strategy to be dead since the Nuremberg Trials (and anyone using it being found guilty by default).

    IIRC, in the early Middle Ages the Catholic church enshrined the “just following orders” defense into canon law. A priest who was given incorrect orders by a superior, and who followed those orders, was considered to have done the right thing, and any fault lay with the person who had issued the faulty orders. It’s a good policy to have if you’re building a hierarchical, authoritarian organization, and since the Roman culture the church grew out of was all about hierarchy and following orders, it was probably a natural fit for them.

  38. 38
    Ichthyic

    Well the Bishop in question is dead, so that might explain a lack of charges.

    If it weren’t the case… I’m wondering since this IS a hierarchical criminal conspiracy… why not invoke RICO?

    It seems to fit, by definition.

    RICO is commonly (perhaps to the point of abuse!) used where it can be shown that any organization or company can be shown to have at least part of its operation used to further a criminal conspiracy.

    Hell, the FBI even abused it here, in NZ, to arrest Kim Dotcom.

  39. 39
    Bjarni

    You know what? I actually ‘understand’ where these people ‘joking’ about prison rape are coming from. I ‘understand’ that desire for revenge, for retribution-as-justice. I think at some level I ‘feel’ that desire to see those who cause suffering suffer in return.

    But I also understand that it’s not right. Revenge is not the same as justice. Rape, even in retaliation is never ever OK. No ‘grey areas’, no ‘jokes’. It’s not OK.

    So I can understand why some people will make comments like those up-thread, but I know they need to be called out on those comments. If we can’t get past our emotional reaction of wanting revenge and actually THINK about what we’re doing and saying, we can’t really hope for things to get better.

    Back to the main topic though? I’m really glad to see one of the rape-enablers being put where he can’t hurt more children. I hope it makes all the rest of them sleep a little less easy with what they’ve done (or are doing).

  40. 40
    Part-Time Insomniac

    Feh, 3-6 years isn’t long enough. Though I am glad that the RCC’s facade is being chipped away. Gosh it’s sweat-inducing isn’t it? A chip falls, they sweat, chip falls, sweatdrop, chip, sweatdrop, ad infinitum.

  41. 41
    Sili

    Well the Bishop in question is dead, so that might explain a lack of charges.

    Well, we could petition to have him exhumed, and then queue to piss on his remains.

    It’s not like it should be hard. The RCC likes to file away their officers for future reference in case they’re short a saint to pray to for nail fungus.

Comments have been disabled.