Senior U.S. priest defends response to child sex abuse complaint

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Reuters

24 May 2012

By Dave Warner

PHILADELPHIA | Thu May 24, 2012 5:28pm EDT

Monsignor William Lynn returns to the courthouse after lunch recess during his second day on the witness stand for his sexual abuse trial in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 24, 2012. Lynn is charged with hiding sexual misconduct amongst Diocese of Philadelphia priests. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer

Monsignor William Lynn returns to the courthouse after lunch recess during his second day on the witness stand for his sexual abuse trial in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 24, 2012. Lynn is charged with hiding sexual misconduct amongst Diocese of Philadelphia priests.

Credit: Reuters/Tim Shaffer

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – A senior church official on Thursday defended his response to a child abuse victim who was told that a predator priest could not be punished because he had sex with women too and therefore was “not a pure pedophile.”

Under intense cross-examination by the prosecution, Monsignor William Lynn of the Philadelphia Archdiocese testified in his own defense for the second day at his trial on charges of child endangerment and conspiracy. He is accused of covering up child sex abuse allegations against priests, often by transferring them to unsuspecting parishes.

Lynn, 61, the former secretary of the clergy in the archdiocese, is the highest-ranking U.S. clergyman to go to trial in the Roman Catholic church’s pedophilia scandal. His job was to supervise 800 Philadelphia priests, including investigating sex abuse claims against them, from 1992 to 2004.

The pedophilia scandal has rocked the Philadelphia Archdiocese, with 1.5 million members the sixth largest in the country. Nationwide, more than 10,000 allegations of child sex abuse were brought against priests between 1950 and 2002, according to a report commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

During his trial, now in its ninth week in Common Pleas Court, Lynn has maintained that he was powerless to remove pedophile priests and his efforts to do so were often overruled by his boss, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, who died in January at age 88.

On the witness stand on Thursday, Lynn was asked about a delay in his response to a child sexual abuse complaint filed in 1998. In the complaint, a former seminarian, identified only as Tim, said he was repeatedly sexually abused by Reverend Stanley Gana, who was removed from the ministry in 2002, according to a scathing 2005 grand jury report about the widening church scandal.

“Monsignor Lynn asked the victim, who had been forced to have oral and anal sex beginning when he was 13 years old to understand that the archdiocese would have taken steps to remove Father Gana from the priesthood had he been diagnosed as a pedophile,” the grand jury report said.

“But Father Gana was not only having sex with children and teenage minors, Monsignor Lynn explained, he had also slept with women, abused alcohol and stolen money from parish churches,” the grand jury report continued.

“That is why he remained, with Cardinal Bevilacqua’s blessing, a priest in active ministry. ‘You see, Tim,'” said Monsignor Lynn, ‘he’s not a pure pedophile.'”

At the trial, Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington hammered away at Lynn over his response to the 1998 complaint.

“You did not care about pedophile priests being out there?” Blessington asked.

“Yes, I did care,” Lynn testified.

Lynn is accused of covering up the abuse of priests including Gana, who was never charged with a crime and who was reassigned from parish to parish as complaints surfaced.

“Father Stanley Gana, ordained in the 1970s, sexually abused countless boys in a succession of Philadelphia Archdiocese parishes,” the 2005 grand jury report said.

“He was known to kiss, fondle, anally sodomize and impose oral sex on his victims. He took advantage of altar boys, their trusting families and vulnerable teenagers with emotional problems … He molested boys on a farm, in vacation houses, in the church rectory. Some minors he abused for years,” the grand jury said.

Lynn, who is not accused of any molestation, faces the possibility of 28 years in prison if convicted.

(Editing By Barbara Goldberg and Eric Walsh)

5 Responses to Senior U.S. priest defends response to child sex abuse complaint

  1. Sylvia says:

    This is too much.  I read it and had to walk away, take a break and catch a breather.

    So, in Monsignor Lynn’s mind, a predatory priest is not fit to be a priest if he preys on little boys, BUT he is fit to be a priest if he preys on little boys AND has a fling or two on the side on the side with a woman?

    Where pray tell did this novel approach to predatory priests come from?

    “He’s not a pure paedophile”?

    What difference does it make whether he’s a pure or impure paedophile?  He molests children.  He is unfit to be a priest.

    I have said many a time that I no longer use the word paedophile.  There is too much sophistry and too many definitions and too many divergent “expert” opinions.  I call these predators molesters, or just plain predators.  I have reached the point where I could care less what label the “experts” or Church officials put on them to defend them or excuse the inexcusable.  Any priest who molests a child has proven himself unfit to be a priest.  ‘They’ can call him a paedoplhie, ephebophile, pederast, homosexual-paedophile, heterosexual-paedohile or whatever they want, a man who molests a child has proven himself unfit to be a priest.

  2. JG says:

    *…and unfit as a human being!

    jg

  3. Mike Mc says:

    Well, maybe you had to walk away from reading this, but since I know there are priests reading this site, here it is again in all its unbelievable worth… and I’d like to know their reaction to this abomination:

    “Monsignor Lynn asked the victim, who had been forced to have oral and anal sex beginning when he was 13 years old to understand that the archdiocese would have taken steps to remove Father Gana from the priesthood had he been diagnosed as a pedophile,” the grand jury report said.

    “But Father Gana was not only having sex with children and teenage minors, Monsignor Lynn explained, he had also slept with women, abused alcohol and stolen money from parish churches,” the grand jury report continued.

    “That is why he remained, with Cardinal Bevilacqua’s blessing, a priest in active ministry. ‘You see, Tim,’” said Monsignor Lynn, ‘he’s not a pure pedophile.’”

    “With Cardinal Bevilacqua’s blessing” ???????????????

    Msgr Lynn, do you represent the thnking of the holy priesthood?

    Bishops and Cardinals……what is your response to this????

    Really, this is unbelievable! They allowed a very evil, sick, criminal and demented  priest to continue his abuse as he pleased.

     

  4. Mike says:

    * I am disgusted and alarmed with the pathetic quotes from this archbishop. Apart from the obviously sexually disordered lives that some of these “priests of God” live, what in heaven ever happenned to their vows of celibacy? Why doesn’t the archbishop address this?
         Why the dead silence from the Vatican? This silence not only condones, but in some cases ENCOURAGES more of the same.
         These people have NO business governing and looking after my spiritual well-being!
          An interesting little quote from my lawyer – “You don’t need a middle man, you can have God factory-direct if you want”.          Mike.

  5. PJ says:

    Mike…Amen!

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