(AP) Priest’s Conviction Is a First, Will More Follow?

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[William ] Lynn was far from the only diocesan official in the United States who kept accused priests in parish assignments. Thousands of case files made public through lawsuits and civil investigations revealed that consistent inaction by church officials in the face of abuse claims in earlier years left a trail of victims in dioceses nationwide. About 16,000 claims have been made against Catholic clergy since 1950, according to studies commissioned by the U.S. bishops.

So, why is Lynn the only American church official convicted so far for letting this happen? Here's an explanation in question-and-answer format....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

5 Comments
Posted June 23, 2012 at 4:50 pm

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The URL for this article is http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/index.php/t19/article/43575/



1. TomRightmyer wrote:

Part of the problem is that we are applying today’s standards to events in the past. Another part is that the churches put too much trust in the ability of psychologial counselling to change behavior.

June 23, 10:44 pm | [comment link]
2. Anne Trewitt wrote:

Good point about churches relying too much on psychological counselling.  Psychologists in the 1980s and 1990s claimed pedophiles can be cured (probably claimed some were cured) and now say they can’t be cured.  Maybe this is a profession that does not have all the answers?  It’s also the same profession whose APA pronouncements on homosexuality are invoked as beyond question by some of the very same people who claim bishops should have known better than to trust psychologists in the 1980s-1990s.

June 23, 11:07 pm | [comment link]
3. Teatime2 wrote:

#1—Keep an eye on the Bishop Finn case. That’s NOT from the distant past. This guy looked the other way while knowing that one of his priests had child porn on his computer. Finn is just lucky that the charge he’s facing is only a misdemeanor.

June 24, 3:11 am | [comment link]
4. Pageantmaster [Katie bought Welby] wrote:

Well what of bishops in say for example the Episcopal Church, who knowingly receive into ministry child abusers from the Catholic Church?  Something for 815 to think about.

Some days I sit and think. Other days I just sit!!

June 24, 8:01 am | [comment link]
5. Archer_of_the_Forest wrote:

I think the major issue on the older cases is simply that it is very hard to prove what bishop from 30 to 50 years ago knew what when. That is why there are statutes of limitations on cases of this kind.

If memory serves, a “reasonable man” legal standard usually applies in cases of this nature. I would think (and this is sheerly conjecture on my part) that a reasonable man two or more decades ago is not going to have the same understanding of how to deal with cases like this than perhaps we have today. There were cultural taboos at the time; there was not a lot of information on how to deal with pedophilia (or that it even really existed). The reasonable man 30 or 50 years ago would have reacted much differently than today. In, say, 1952, a reasonable man might honestly and legitimately thought that if a priest was just put in a new environment, and with much prayer, might actually turn things around.

As No. 3 notes above, to the stuff that has happened relatively recently (and we have to note that the incidents of recent violations has dropped significantly since reforms have been made and information and policies is more easily had), that is a whole different ball game. When they should know better (and have policies that say they should know better), that’s a whole lot easier legal case to prove.

June 24, 9:25 am | [comment link]


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