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TESTING THE FAITH: Philly Pedophile Priests

For a good, faithful, Catholic, it’s got to be a bit rough these days.   The Roman Catholic Church is fighting fire, brimstone and damnation level scandal once again.  Parishioners must have some trepidation and disillusionment at the knowledge that, not one, but dozens of their priests are predatory pedophiles.   

Time for the reckoning, Monsignor William Lynn of Philadelphia is the first high ranking former official of the Catholic Church to be charged with child endangerment – ever. He allegedly transferred problem priests to different parishes after they’d been accused of sexual abuse.  Lynn has four co-defendants.  Two are priests; one is a former priest and one a former Catholic schoolteacher.  Sadly, all four of them allegedly raped the same boy. (Holy Mary, Mother of God, we defer them to you!)

The Philadelphia archdiocese has had two grand jury reports filed against it.  In 2005, 63 priests were accused of abuse.  The church covered for them and, due to the statute of limitations expiring, no indictments were made.   This time, though, no time was wasted.  The grand jury named 37 priests who allegedly sexually abused parishioners.  (The church kept them on active duty for some time, before putting 21 of them on leave.  Now only 8 remain “active.”)  And, they quickly indicted those who are now going to trial.   The really bad news, though, is that this is not a new story.

Since the 1980’s, the Catholic Church has been dodging and covering allegations of sexual abuse by priests.  The church has even admitted liability in some cases and has paid civil damages.   The point, though, is that the church has covered up crimes and, in doing so, engaged in criminal behavior – both implicitly and tacitly – for years.  No one is above the law, man’s or God’s. Unfortunately, these are bad men who have done bad things and have stained the reputation of the church.  We know that there are many more good, honest, decent priests.  So, all MAMAs ask is that you “practice what you preach.”  And, we will do our best to forgive, but we will never forget.

In God we trust, but in his messengers…not so much.  There has been a pattern of deceit and abuse.  So, the sad lesson is that we cannot simply have blind faith in people. Like every other person on the planet, priests are not exempt – they’ve got to earn our trust.  And guess what else?  MAMAs are going to make sure we teach our kids whom to trust and why – that no one is allowed to touch their private parts EVER, that there are no secrets that adults tell them that should be kept from mommy and that if someone’s words don’t match their actions, then they are not safe. 

It’s too bad that we’ll have to put priests in the “watch out for the creepy guy in the trench coat” category.  Our faith has been shaken. 

18 Responses to TESTING THE FAITH: Philly Pedophile Priests

  1. Anonymous March 17, 2011 at 3:18 pm #
    Opinionated MAMA

    Well it seems you have all the facts here. Tried and convicted right here on the pages of O'Mama. I grew up a Roman Catholic in Philadelphia. I have been following this case for 8 years now. There are priests who were indicted by the Grand Jury and now there is a monsignor who has been indicted for endangerment. He has not stood trial yet so hold your horses. In addition your sweeping accusation against the Church, "The point, though, is that the church has covered up crimes and, in doing so, engaged in criminal behavior – both implicitly and tacitly – for years," is a over the top. You say the church should practice what it preaches. Well maybe you should. In this country we are innocent until proven guilty.

    • Anonymous March 17, 2011 at 3:41 pm #
      Opinionated MAMA

      As a former member of the law enforcement community; I could not agree more with "trishdon's" statement that we are all "innocent until proven guilty". Our religious leaders; whom ever and where ever they are, "MUST" "always" – repeat: "always" be held to the absolute highest of the highesy standards. These priests and their leaders (and based on past history numerious others preceeded them) did not meet these standards.

    • michelleo-mama March 17, 2011 at 6:01 pm #
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      MAMAS – We added a link to the AOL story where the POPE acknowledges that crimes were committed, that priests raped and molested children, the church didn't act and that the church's priority now was to help the victims of abuse.

  2. Anonymous March 17, 2011 at 3:26 pm #
    Opinionated MAMA

    For decades the "leaders" of the Roman Catholic Church have shuffled these "sexual prediators" from parish to parish, from community to community, without any regard for their victims nor their vows. While I'm still and always will be a Roman Catholic and speaking strictly for myself, I can not in good conscious participate in any Church function or be taught and/or led by any of these so called spiritual leaders. My Church and it's leaders have much to attone for.

  3. Anonymous March 17, 2011 at 4:27 pm #
    Opinionated MAMA

    I grew up Catholic and attended first communion about 10 years ago where our Orange County Bishop did the sermon. His sermon was all about the "poor, beleagured Church" and the "false accusations." I've never been back. That was not the time or place for a speach of that kind and I had enough.

  4. Anonymous March 17, 2011 at 5:20 pm #
    Opinionated MAMA

    I am thrilled that this issue has gotten the coverage that it has, in recent weeks. Amongst rumblings + a few actual cases – I walked away 100% from the Catholic church of Philadelphia, 10 years ago – never to look back. People knew, other priests knew – Nobody wanted to get involved. Parishoners stood by their priests, many of whom are now amongst the accused. The higher-ups simply shuffled these perverts from on parish to the next, to be put in repeated close encounters with young children. An 'honor' in Catholic schools is to be an 'altar boy' – These children ( girls were finally 'allowed to be altar boys' in the late 90's, in our parrish) are 'behind the scenes' with clergy members + very. very often left alone with them. It's disgusting + sad to imagine that these children, who were left with these 'trusted' men of the cloth, were ultimately violated, their loves changed forever. How anyone could walk into a Catholic church today is beyond me. What most followers don't want to believe ( + you can spin it any way you want..Trishdon), is that by walking through those doors, you are supporting an organization that covered up an epidemic of pedophilia. By placing that envelope into that basket at church every week, you are no longer supporting missionaries in Peru, you are paying off legal bills. It's much easier to look the other way + claim 'innocent until proven guilty' because in Philadelphia, your parrish IS your identity. Upon meeting new people, Philadelphians ALWAYS ask, "Oh, what parrish did you grow up in?" Walking away from a lifetime of tradition seems daunting to Philadelphians – But, it is the right thing to do + Hey, you are not walking away from your God. In fact, I have a pretty strong feeling that God is as disgusted by the Catholic Church as most.

    • Anonymous March 18, 2011 at 4:34 pm #
      Opinionated MAMA

      Thank you for your opinion JPer. First of all I am putting no spin on anything. Secondly, you shouldn't accuse those who have not made that same decision of being simple-minded or brainwashed or having no other life. Your post was insulting. Reading it makes me wonder if you are a moral person, never mind religious.
      As for the crimes which have been committed by Catholic priests in the past, they are despicable acts, should have been prosecuted and severely punished. Some were but most were not. My post was concerning the current criminal case in Philadelphia. The defendants are accused and if they are guilty, they will be and should be punished. They are innocent until proven guilty.
      As for the Catholic Church, your decision to leave is yours. I have heard the same complaint from others. I don't have a problem with that. As for me, my decision to stay in the church has anything to do with having lived in Philadelphia. I have had a very good experience with it during my lifetime. I have spent most of my adult life in other countries and I remember our first tour in Russia in the '90's. My husband, daughter and I attended Mass in a little RC Church in Moscow (the ONLY one that survived the Soviet years). I thought then how nice it was to be able to go to church anywhere in the world and it was the same……. Just a little piece of where my head is. It has nothing to do with brainwashing, having no other choice, or life or whatever it is you are trying to say in your post. You left, have a happy life. No need to degrade those of us who have made a different choice.

    • Anonymous March 18, 2011 at 5:24 pm #
      Opinionated MAMA

      Yes, you made your choice to stick with an institution who protected child molesters for decades + really ONLY decided to do something about because people are ( finally!) leaving the Catholic church in droves. The Catholic school I grew up in, is now down to a pathetic 300 children.+ with the unprecedented amount of school closure, they are getting hit where they care about most….thier beloved ( blessed?) pocketbooks. Sure, 'you've had a good experience' – You weren't one of the children who were assaulted! My post is meant to be insulting to those who continue to support a group who ruined the lives of thousands of children + You want to question my morality?? Hey, whatever makes you feel better, Trishdon…For now, you keep handing that envelope in to pay for the Catholic Church's legal bills – Hopefully the tally just keeps rising + rising + the enrollment numbers at the schools keeps dipping + dipping .

    • Anonymous March 19, 2011 at 7:09 am #
      Opinionated MAMA

      JPer, it is one thing to insult and denigrate the institution. It is quite another to do that to individuals like me who have taken a different path than you. The church is much more than this scandal. But I won't bore you with that. You have no idea what my experiences have been: whether I have been abused by a priest or known anyone that has; whether I myself have confronted this crime or how during my lifetime. I am sad that this blog has degenerated to this point that it allows posts such as yours that fling insults at Catholics in general.
      I do not fault you for your decision to leave the Church and indeed to despise it. However I think it is wrong for you to push your mean spirited assessment of Catholics in general in an open forum meant for civil discussion.

    • michelleo-mama March 19, 2011 at 10:15 am #
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      MAMAS – This is a painful issue for all of us…and deeply personal for those of us who have or have had a relationship with the Catholic church. It's important that moms are discussing it and AWARE of what is going on, so we can take whatever path we think is in the best interests of our own families. Our personal experiences alter our perspectives, which is the purpose of this site. We WANT to hear different perspectives. JPer is really close to the current situation – her emotions are raw and she is hurt and justifiably angry. Trishdon is looking at the situation through a lifetime of positive experience tied to her fond memories and family traditions. Together, you have just summed up the complexity of all relationships where there is love and betrayal – if you only know love, then your heart is safe. If you have been betrayed in any way, your heart is damaged. Question each other, probe, but let's do it in a constructive way. In times of great pain and confusion, we often turn to our religion for guidance and grounding, I'm sure Jper is feeling a double whammy right now. MAMAS, we should learn from each other and respectfully talk through these tough issues, so we can help each other heal. Thank you both for your important insights!

    • Anonymous March 19, 2011 at 10:54 am #
      Opinionated MAMA

      Michelle: You are making some pretty sweeping assumptions–"JPer is really close to the current situation – her emotions are raw and she is hurt and justifiably angry. Trishdon is looking at the situation through a lifetime of positive experience tied to her fond memories and family traditions." I do not know how close or not JPer is or was to the "situation". Perhaps you do. But I know you have no idea how close or not I was or am. Furthermore you diminish my opinion by making it seem shallow or just emotional–"tied to positive experiences and family tradition". There are certainly positive experiences. I related one small one. But I am a more thoughtful and complicated person than what you may presume. My point to JPer was that leaving the Catholic Church, indeed being angry at the Church, is perfectly justified and a discussion in this blog is appropriate and instructive. However, taking it to the point, as she did, to accuse those who have made a different choice, i.e. to stay in the Church, of being somehow complicit is not only inappropriate, but should be disallowed on this site. There is no way to smooth this over with Mama sweet-talk.

    • michelleo-mama March 19, 2011 at 2:58 pm #
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      My intention was to smooth it over, you are right. JPer said in her initial post that she was part of a parish in Philadelphia, therefore, YES, I assume she is close to the situation and my heart goes out to her. But, in no way did I intend to diminish your opinion, rather highlight a dimension that most MAMAs can relate to – as "tradition" is something that is very important to me and most MAMAs can relate to the need to protect those aspects of our lives that we hold dear.

    • Anonymous March 19, 2011 at 3:59 pm #
      Opinionated MAMA

      I appreciate your intention. However JPer's post was explicit. She contends that practicing Catholics are complicit in the crimes. This is an anti-Catholic statement which should be censored just as a similar statement against Muslims, Jews, Baptists, homosexuals or etc would be censored. Hopefully you will see my point and put an end to this kind of discourse on this site. We have enough of it elsewhere.

    • Anonymous March 21, 2011 at 1:27 pm #
      Opinionated MAMA

      I think MAMAs can censor each other, we don't need to be deleting any posts. I do think, however, that we all need to stay focused on the best interests of the kids. And, maybe in this case, that requires us looking deep into our own faith and fears and maybe demand that the Catholic church do, too. How do we stop a culture of pedophilia among priests? Maybe the notion that priests need to be celibate should be examined. I heard somewhere (take with a grain of salt) that the church originally prohibited marriage to save money because it didn't want to support spouses and families. So, can't the church reform that rule and make it a choice for clergy, since we all know that suppressing sexual desires is not healthy and it has manifested itself in horrific ways. It might go a long way in building back trust with the public?!

    • Anonymous March 22, 2011 at 8:34 am #
      Opinionated MAMA

      Oh dear OC: "culture of pedophilia among priests"; "we all know that suppressing sexual desires is unhealthy"; "the church originally prohibited marriage to save money"? Where do I start?

      Well I should probably start by saying unequivocally that I do not nor have I ever condoned abusive behavior of any kind by priests or anyone else for that matter. And of course I agree that the Church and its priests should be held to a higher standard. That said, there are some serious flaws in your post that I would like to address.

      First of all, since when are we dealing with a “culture of pedophilia”? What facts bring you to that conclusion? The truth is that the incidence of Catholic priests involved in sexually abusing children is about the same as the general male population. (2%) A case can made that Catholic priests are no more likely to be pedophiles and other group of adults who are in a position of authority and power over children (teachers, physicians, Protestant ministers, etc). Some studies even conclude that male coaches, taken as a group, are two times more likely to be involved in this kind of crime than Catholic priests. “Culture of pedophilia” is simply not supported by the facts. Source: Philip Jenkins, Priests and Pedophilia.

      Secondly, since when do “we all know that suppressing sexual desires is unhealthy?” Please don’t tell that to my teenage daughter. Everyone has to exert self-control some time in their life, or we would be dealing with an epidemic of AIDS, out of wedlock births and all number of unstable marriages and etc. This is simply a ridiculous thing to say. I suppose you are just saying that celibacy is unnatural and therefore bound to lead to sexual deviance including pedophilia. The facts do not support this assertion. “The profiles of child molesters never include normal adults who become erotically attracted to children as a result of abstinence.”
      Source: Fred Berlin, "Compulsive Sexual Behaviors" in Addiction and Compulsive Behaviors [Boston: NCBC, 1998]; Patrick J. Carnes, "Sexual Compulsion: Challenge for Church Leaders" in Addiction and Compulsion; Dale O'Leary, "Homosexuality and Abuse".

      Lastly, regarding celibacy itself, this practice was started in the 4th century with the St. Augustine order of priests. They practiced monastic discipline for both practical and spiritual reasons. Practically, St. Augustine considered that it would help to cut down on nepotism and allow priests more time and independence to carry out their duties. Spiritually, like the monks before them, Augustinians considered themselves to be making a cleansing sacrifice, dedicating themselves to their God. The Church has continued to require celibacy for many centuries for much the same reasons. There are certainly debates about this over the years, but so far no change has been made.

      Do you think that the celibacy requirement attracts the wrong kind of individual to the priesthood thereby making priests more likely to be pedophiles? We already established that statistics do not support the second part of that argument—priests are no more likely to be pedophiles than the general male population. The first part—the attraction part—is hopefully taken care of by virtue of the fact that it is not easy to be accepted into the priesthood. Young applicants must go through extensive psychological and spiritual counseling before being admitted to the seminary. After admission it is as much as ten years before ordination.

      I hope this post helps clarify some misunderstandings on the topic.

    • Anonymous March 22, 2011 at 5:24 pm #
      Opinionated MAMA

      I like that we are having an open dialogue about these dicey issues…although we may not agree on everything?! I have known many wonderful priests who do much good…and I know there are many more. However, the recent allegations about the multiple abuses of a 5th grader within the same church/school certainly would constitute a "culture of pedophilia." And, when the archdiocese covers up reports of abuse, the statistics are irrelevant – victims of abuse are still coming forward, many more don't have the courage to share their stories publically and many accused priests have been moved around without investigation – those cases have never been prosecuted, and many more will never come out. But, your point about pedophilia in general is a good one – we need to be careful about who our kids are alone with – coaches, babysitters, etc. It is not just priests. Any environment where a child "trusts" an adult should be carefully scrutinized. As for the "suppressing sexual desires" comment – I ABSOLUTELY think our kids need to suppress theirs until they are responsible adults, but they do have them – it's physiological, so it's not like those feelings just go away, even if we want them to. We can suppress them, sure. We teach our kids to have self-respect and practice patience, until they are ready, but at some point they are ready. I wanted to throw out the question, to see if we really know the effects of suppressing sexuality (homo or hetero) …maybe there are those who are asexual or antisexual…and maybe this is screened during the discernment process…but, clearly, some priests are fallling through the cracks and, to your point, they are held to a higher standard. The Catholic church can and should do better. Personally, I have zero problem if priests want to take a vow of celibacy, as long as it isn't having an adverse affect on innocent kids. On the other hand, I have zero problem if they have a choice to marry either.

      http://www.bishop-accountability.org/resources/resource-files/timeline/2003-11-21-Perry-FoundGuilty.htm

      http://articles.philly.com/2011-02-21/news/28614426_1_public-ministry-survivors-network-abuse-case

      http://www.examiner.com/christianity-culture-in-san-diego/pope-willing-to-excommunicate-catholic-priests-accused-of-pedophilia-turn-them-over-to-authorities

  5. Anonymous March 18, 2011 at 8:43 am #
    Opinionated MAMA

    This has been A problem w/ The Catholic Church for A very long tyme. You have had generations of Roman Catholics so convinved the chuch was GOD that they still in many ways remain blind to the REAL WHOLE ENTIRE TRUTH.

    John Paul II should of done something to address this in his younger years. The problem is The Vatican Empire has gotten so BIG & so much of its corruption has grown to like politics in many ways it's almost going to take the generation of Cardinals and Bishops to die before their is any real change or protection.

    For decades our Bishops have been pure evil but the blind follow what they cant see,

    " COOL " Mike

  6. Anonymous March 18, 2011 at 9:11 am #
    Opinionated MAMA

    I am devastated. I'm not sure why I am shocked once again, but I sincerely felt the Catholic church was cleaning up their act and making the protection of children their priority. There has been a complete failure of the institutions that we depend on – the church, businesses, government. I'm not sure what we, the people, can do except to denounce their behavior and show them there must be a penance for their SINS.

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