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 seek solutions for our state and our Church. The first is difficult but doable. We will work together to strengthen Pennsylvania’s state laws. We will not settle for being a predator-friendly state. The latter leaves me with dwindling hope.

Msgr. Lynn may not be criminally liable but he is certainly morally liable. And shouldn’t that inform the next steps of the hierarchy? Yet, the archdiocesan press release falls woefully short of commenting on his actions. The Catholic Church will not call him or others involved in the cover up of clergy sex abuse out to the carpet. After all, he was just obeying his Bishop. And to date, no Bishops have been reprimanded or punished publicly by the Church. Will the Pope weigh in on this obscene clericalism that put predators in the midst of children? This isn’t about vengeance or even justice. This is about sending a message to the world that the Catholic Church values children – all children – above the institution.

Archbishop Chaput wants all institutions to be treated equally by the law. I wish for a Church that answers to a higher law.

Click here to read, “Judge sets bail at $250,000 for monsignor,” by Allison Steele, The Philadelphia Inquirer, December 30, 2013

20 thoughts on “Bottom Line: Msgr. Lynn Case Uncovered Decades of Coverup

  1. I would be nice to read that all parishioners held their Church to a higher standard Who would think that we would have to make laws to protect our kids from priests and find the supervisors of supervisors would hide these predators and continue to move them from parish to parish, diocese to diocese and state to state freed on technicalities. Read how young these kids were. Many have done so -held their Church accountable, but not enough. Those who have God bless you for your support of our victims.

    1. Yes, time was when that was so. Religious institutions were presumed to do the right thing, the moral thing, the just thing.

      But we have learned since 2002, if not earlier, that that presumption was a very dangerous one. Large institutions whether the Catholic Church, the Protestants, Jews, Boy Scouts, well known boys’ choirs, schools, colleges…. Remember Penn State University.

      “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

      No institution, religious or not, can or should be depended upon to police itself in so serious an area. That responsibility rests with society – all of us – and that’s why each individual has the responsibility to know the laws and what’s going on and vote out legislators that don’t get the job done while supporting those who keep introducing necessary legislation year after year after year. Expose those individuals with unsuitable agendas, favors owed to powerful individuals, etc.

      The more you know the more responsible you become.

      I’d like to see the leaders of our church especially the Archdiocese of Philadelphia truly become accountable and transparent.

      Archbishop Chaput, Tear down that wall of secrecy!

      Make public all the records, files, etc., etc., that the 2005 and 2011 Grand Jury members had access to.

      Remember, accountability and transparency were agree upon by the bishops at the USCCB’s 2002 meeting.

      Sister Maureen

      1. Sister.

        We know better. Priests put on probation, arrests made and not charged and the number of kids abuse under the RCC while under its care while at their summer camps and foster care. Know enough of Sandusky and the charities founded though him – Second Mile and the many foster children, how many children trust him from the other groups that used Penn State. Knew of too many organizations that have affected children. As a teenager I had to check out my brothers’ scout troop because of suspicions. Hermley was a name I remember from my mom, mcdevitt was from politics. Sure mcdevitt was discussing ways of abusing kids when I walked up those steps to other seminarians. Some of those kids are probably having effects from that abuse, but don’t see anything posted about who was stationed there for an assignment.
        Posted the abuse reported by a seminarian at Brisson and my family confronted one of the principals there. He has a new life – change religious orders and would not comment about the incident. How many vocations were lost – we pray for more but lose compassionate candidates because of abuse. One person I had to watch may of had AIDS. Another started to abuse a child at 7 and continued for at least 9 years. Only because of the change in SOL’s could that case move forward, the other 3 or 4 states in which he abused could not move forward because of the SOLs. You know there are many lost by the Tactics of the RCC.

        Hope the people who need info open blind email addresses so they can communicate. Maybe Susan or Kathy can distribute those emails to appropriate people so our victims are not disturbed by those sick people without compassion.

  2. I think it’s a bittersweet moment. On one hand, it’s bad that prosecutors wasted time and resources focusing on Lynn when his action (or rather, inaction) was not a crime in the State of Pennsylvania. On the other hand, this author is correct that the case brought out a lot of awareness about the cover up of clergy pedophiles. Many people forget that this is about child abuse, and about those who choose to protect the abusers rather than the kids!

  3. Some person or persons are responsible for the enabling and cover up , time for chaput or rigali to name this person or persons !

  4. Perfectly expressed, Susan. The events of the last few years have opened eyes (including my own) to the many sickening realities surrounding the abuse of children for so many years at the hands of people that were trusted by both the children and their families. The covering up has added another disturbing level of “eye opening” to the issue.
    Yes, Lynn will be free, at least for now, but I am glad those charges were brought. Those charges were needed by many.

  5. Susan, While I would agree that the revelations from the trial are a positive, I along with many survivors want to see justice, this would include jail time & civil penalties. In some cases, the abusers have passed away, so they have dodged justice on earth. As for me, while my abuse was many years ago, my abuser is alive & living well with the Archdiocese continuing to protect him. He was 1 of the ones removed last May for “boundary violations.” He raped me repeatedly for 2 years, thats sexual abuse, not a boundary violation. As for the AD & their PR department, those press releases are absolute fiction, put out by people who just don’t give a flying …… Anyway, my time will come, I will continue to do whatever I can to scream & shout about the church protecting abusers & rapists of little children!

    1. Andy ,I think what Susan meant was that even when justice is elusive there is something that was gained by uncovering the evidence that showed how children were harmed and put at risk and as you state you will continue to protect children yourself and do what you can…Every single victim deserves justice and Susan would be the first to say that..when that does not happen we can at least look to a productive result that happened and that was the uncovering of a cover up..I say ‘at least” because that is in no way a replacement of justice for those who were harmed.

      1. Hi Kathy, I appreciate your response; please be aware that I was really angry & discouraged today so I may have seemed a bit harsh with my comments. Thanks to you & Susan for staying after the ad & seeking answers that make sense.


        1. Andy feel free to vent..just wanted to make sure that you knew Susan wants justice for you..I am always glad when we hear from you.

  6. There was no law on the books that Monsignor Lynn broke. Huh? Of course Monsignor Lynn was a caretaker of children. He was in charge of pedophile priests for goodness sake, the ultimate position to care for children. The pimp doesn’t commit the act, just enables it.


  7. Victims/Survivors – Please look at this as a positive instead of a negative. We all would have liked Lynn to remain in prison, but the judge handed down the next best punishment. A large monetary bail that is seen with serious crimes, restriction of his freedom, and he must check in weekly with his babysitter most likely for his remaining days on this earth, or until the appeal by the District Attorney is ruled on.

    Judge Sarmina handed down the ruling until Lynn’s appeal is overturned and he is reunited with his jailhouse friends, or until he meets the devil himself.

    We as victims/survivors are only moving forward. Little steps they maybe, but we are still moving forward.

    I would doubt very highly that anyone who holds a position as Lynn did will attempt to follow in his footsteps, and if there is an individual dumb enough to do so they could expect the same punishment or worse.

    He maybe out of the facility that held him but he is still in his own prison being punished for his crimes.

    I thank this site and everyone who posts here for the strength to be a voice so what happened to me or anyone else on this site never happens again.

    We can also hope that with the New Year it will bring more truth to the surface.

    1. Dennis,

      A number of “dumb” clerics like Lynn have, since his incarceration, followed in his footsteps and they have not been punished. While the details of their sins and crimes diverge somewhat, they are still sins and crimes. Finn is one. Newark had its bishop-meltdown. Check out the episcopal crime-antics in the upper mid-west!

      Susan is correct. The Lynn case has exposed an enormous amount of invaluable knowledge and information. We have learned a lot!

      What is so utterly disconcerting is that the clerics have not.

  8. Every law that was ever written has its limitations. Nobody could possibly ever account for the ways humans treat or mistreat each other. Back in 1961 when I was molested by a Catholic priest,the possibility that this could happen to a child was simply not to be believed. Priests would never harm a child. Besides children are resilient, no long term harm would come to a child. They simply would get over it. Fifty two years later, we all know better. Priests do sexually abuse children. And the response to the abuse from the Catholic Hierarchy has been to deny, lie and coverup that abuse. Susan calls on the Church to come clean. She wants them to release all of the secret documents that they have held for decades. I too want that to happen. As a victim, that is the very least they could do. Will they? Not a chance.Parents of Catholic children know much of the truth now. Not because the Church has given them this information.As we have seen recently with them leaving Father Paul in his position while they investigated him, they did not inform parents of what he was accused of doing. Most of the information on sexual abuse of innocent children by Catholic priests has been released because of legal cases brought before the Courts.Unfortunately, that will continue to be the way that the Church deals with the abuse. Nothing will come easy. The Church and its’ lawyers will fight long and hard to keep their files secret.I am quite amused when I read statements from the Archdiocese about how they have stopped the abuse of children by their clergy. Ask a victim, any victim and they will tell you that these claims are a pure crock. And the Church knows they are false. I guess lying is only a venial sin and if you are an Archbishop not a sin at all.

  9. My husband walks in the door today and says, “your not giving that church any money are you?” All the publicity is affecting folks. You see, it’s not just my money, It’s our money and he has a right to say where it is not going. So all the media coverage does help.

    Someone I know went to a meeting that reviewed the USCCB Charter on Sexual Abuse. Apparently, there was a suggestion to have the bishops establish a day of prayer or a Mass for victims and their families. The suggestion was rejected.

    Catholic bishops encourage prayer for victims of floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and those who suffer from abusive governments, hunger and religious persecutions. But there is no day or Mass to remember and pray for victims and their families. SJU had a day of hope and healing years ago. I have not hear of any institution doing anything like that since.
    Remember the song? Look what they’ve done to my song ma. Look what they’ve done to my song.. They tied it up in a … and its coming out all wrong…. I say, ” look what they’ve done to my church, God. Look what they’ve done to my church. Its coming out all wrong, God.

    I doubt if the leaders in the Philadelphia church will seek true reconciliation and healing with and for their victims and their families.I only know this is not the way its supposed to be.

    The only hope for change is with Pope Francis. Lets pray that he has the wisdom and courage to make the needed changes for the sake of all children and families.

  10. Susan,

    From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for a place to read, write and reflect.

    While I agree that the PA Legislature needs to wake up on many issues on this subject matter, especially the SOL Reform. The Diocese and local media does fail miserably to convey the true story, to that I agree. I disagree on your statement on justice being the end game. Personally, seeking justice is the only way to expose the predators and those who enabled them. I’m not out for closure, I’m out for justice.

    To my friend Andy, don’t let the Msgr. Lynn case rent space in our heads, put the No Vacancy sign up. You and I along with countless other victim/survivors have more courage, conviction and faith than this man will ever have. You my friend are a good man, I wish we met under better circumstances, but we have ties that bond us.

    William Lynn learned how to turn a blind eye while he was Dean of Men at St. Seminary, this was a no brainer for him and a calculated effort by the hierarchy. Many perverted, premeditated inappropriate incidents took place their and have for decades. I can tell you I do find some peace knowing 18 months in a State prison is not a walk in the park for Lynn, nor will be home monitoring and a weekly State parole visit. I believe DA Williams will continue to do his best in shedding more light and seeking justice.

    Many questions go way back for me, back to the early 1980’s when I was abused. One of my abusers, the now defrocked Francis X. Trauger, was abruptly removed from my parish (St. Titus) after only a year and 3 months of being stationed there. Msgr Anthony McGuire (Ret.), Pastor at that time, called someone downtown. Who did he call? Who answered? I suspect it was the now deceased Bishop McFadden who at the time was Cardinal Krol’s secretary. Trauger then served at 6 other parishes over a span of 22 years. My point is, people who work in these environments, an office somewhere know the answers, yet we have only scratched the surface.

    The Archdiocese and local media refuse to let news out that can help put pieces together for many. For instance here is what was not seen by many on Fr. Zachary Navit of whom I like to call the Roman Collar Liberace. ” A rigorous investigative process did find it more likely than not that Father Navit violated The Standards of Ministerial Behaviors and Boundaries. However, there is no evidence that he poses a danger to children, and there is no indication he would engage in a pattern of behavior that would necessitate his removal from ministry.”
    Archbishop Chaput has found him suitable for ministry. If it walks like a duck… know the rest. We are taught from and early age to be honest. Many Twelve Step programs insist the only way to see yourself clearly and to be of good to others is to get honest. 222 N. 17th Street may as well be called the Wall of Shame.

    Yesterday is history, today we ring in a New Year. I personally pledge my best to assist organizations and advocates in defining a clear message that needs to be consistent, concise and made public and brought to the faces of every lawmaker this Commonwealth elected. To you, one and all, I thank you for your continued support, knowledge, peace and civility I find here. Wounds open and close and I never expected this when I first reported my abuse while battling alcoholism in 2005, but today I look back and I am grateful to be alive.

    Happy New Year!
    Mike McDonnell

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