Sending high Catholic officials to jail

I have written before about Monsignor William Lynn who was convicted of covering up sex abuse by a priest in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. He has now been sentenced to three to six years in prison and becomes the highest ranking member of the Catholic Church to serve time for offenses associated with sexual abuse.

It’s about time. As was clear in the Jerry Sandusky case, when abuse goes on for an extended period of time in a tight, hierarchical organization, it usually means that other people have suspected or been aware of it and either covered up or even enabled the abuse to continue.

For justice to be fully served, many more and much senior figures in the church should be prosecuted for their roles in this long-running scandal and cover-up.

Next up is a case involving an even higher official, Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in Missouri, who is charged with not reporting his suspicions that one of his priests was an abuser. His case goes to trial in September.

It speaks volumes for the bizarre policies of the church that after Lynn is released, he will not be defrocked but will likely return to the archdiocese as a priest because as far as church internal rules go, the stature of limitations has passed in his case. It appears that serving jail time for serious violations of the law is not, by itself, bad enough to get you booted out of the clergy.


  1. 'Tis Himself says

    Lynch hasn’t violated church laws, in fact he supported them. Back when he was Chief Inquisitor* Benny Ratzi** sent a letter to all bishops telling them not to inform the civil authorities about child-raping clergy. As far as I know, the letter has never been rescinded.

    The Catholic Church has always held that canon law supersedes civil law. So while Lynch violated civil law and is being punished for doing so, he hasn’t violated canon law, so there’s no reason to defrock him.

    *The official title is Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

    **He was Joey Ratzi at the time.

  2. Aliasalpha says

    No reason to defrock him? He upheld the law of almighty god in the face of persecution from arrogant secularists who feel they know better than the church, he ought to be canonised!

    Fuck, how depressing is it that that sounds so plausible?

  3. steve oberski says

    It appears that serving jail time for serious violations of the law is not, by itself, bad enough to get you booted out of the clergy.

    ‘Tis true, you have to do something really vile to get booted out, like ordaining a women priest or marrying a gay couple.

    Misogyny, homophobia and paedophila are all in a days work for these busy guys.

  4. Art says

    Onward and upward!

    The pope behind bars or bust.

    And once done with Catholics we can move on to evangelicals. The good news is that if you have the top of the Catholic church and major evangelical groups serving time they are going to demand the laws be applied to Jews, Buddhists, Muslims and Scientology.

    Like climbers on a steep ice wall all roped together, once the first few fall they take the rest with them. Each in turn being yanked off as the force of falling bodies is too much for any one person to hold.

    I think I can reliably count on each religion to be entirely parochial about this. If their particular flavor goes down they will actively work to make sure all of them fall. If they can’t win, no other religion will either.

  5. Anubis Bloodsin the third says

    ‘Tis Himself @ 1

    The Catholic Church has always held that canon law supersedes civil law.

    They try that at every opportunity and the dumb sycophants they try it on usually believe them…tis total bollix!

    US constitutional law and Parliamentary secular law trump the nonsense hands down.

    Canon law is just the rules that govern the boys in the club, they pretend it is a major legal system…it is not.
    It has no jurisdiction beyond the church door.

    It is the xian version of sharia law…and can be just as nasty…most of it tends to be designed to protect their own and keep unpleasantness in house.
    The katolik’ version is always subject to the foibles and brain farts of the is self regulation and a attempt to bully, manipulate and coerce the sheeple.

    Load of fucking codswollop.

  6. elainep says

    I agree that the church is protected. Read an article online by Alistair McBay posted 4.5.12-Murdoch no match for Benedict in the ‘unfit to govern’stakes.- The British government are more interested in the Leveson enquiry. Bad enough but child abuse seems to be the lesser crime than celebrities.
    We must all fight for the rights of children above the rights of rich moguels.

  7. Mano Singham says

    I agree. The church seems to think that it can lives by its own set of rules. The more quickly they and others are disabused of that idea, the better.

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