Archbishop: Helping With Lynn's Bail ‘Reasonable'

The Archbishop of Philadelphia released a statement Friday explaining the Roman Catholic Church's decision to supply bail money for Monsignor William Lynn. 

"The funding for his bail has been taken from no parish, school or ministry resources, impacts no ongoing work of the Church and will be returned when the terms of bail are completed," wrote Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput. "As a result, I believe that assisting Msgr. Lynn's family and attorney with resources for his bail is both reasonable and just." Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

But contributing to Lynn's bail shows the church hierarchy will continue to support church officials regardless of their actions, according to the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

"Catholic officials have for decades helped their corrupt colleagues who have committed or concealed heinous crimes against children," said David Clohessy, SNAP director, in a response to Chaput's statement. "And they’re still doing this."

"By bailing Lynn out, Chaput shows that little is changing in the church hierarchy," Clohessy said.

Chaput, however, disagrees and said the bail money does not "diminish in any way our determination to root out the possibility of sexual abuse from the life of our local Church."

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Authorities fitted Lynn with an electronic monitoring device before he left the local jail, where he spent the night following his release from Waymart prison in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Chaput said his release does not create any danger to the public. "Msgr. Lynn presents no danger to anyone," he wrote. "He poses no flight risk."

Lynn's attorney, Thomas Bergstrom, said Lynn is "working on finding housing" in Philadelphia, where he must live as terms of his release. He declined to say where his client is staying and whether Archdiocese housing was an option.

Lynn, 62, will remain on administrative leave and cannot function publicly as a priest, according to Chaput. It is unclear if Lynn could resume duties on behalf of the church in the future.

SNAP is glad Lynn is not back on the job and calls for the Archbisop to make the decision permanent.

"Policies, panels, procedures and protocols don't protect kids," Clohessy said. "Decisive action protects kids. That's what Chaput refuses to do - take harsh, clear disciplinary measures against those who hurt or let others hurt kids."

Even though Chaput faces criticism over his decisions surrounding Lynn's case, the Archbishop says the diocese is committed to uncovering sex abuse in the church and preventing it from happening again.

"For the past three years the Archdiocese has worked vigorously to reform the way it protects the children and families it serves," he wrote. "We cannot change the past. But we can and will do everything in our power to prevent it from being repeated."

He also said the archdiocese will continue to assist victims of past abuse. "We remain committed to that healing - now and in the future," he wrote. 

Yet SNAP says Chaput is misleading parishioners and the public with his description of the church's work to end abuse since the actions officials took were mandatory.

"It would be like a citizen bragging because he stops at red lights and pays income tax," Clohessy said. "In clergy sex abuse and cover up cases, Chaput is doing only what he and his brother bishops pledged to do under unprecedented pressure from victims, Catholics, police, prosecutors and the press."

Lynn was the first U.S. church official ever charged for hiding complaints that priests were molesting children. He was the point person for those complaints in Philadelphia from 1992-2004.

Prosecutors charged him with felony child endangerment. But the appeals court said the law that existed at the time didn't cover people who don't directly supervise children. His conviction was overturned after Lynn served 18 months behind bars.

"The Superior Court ruling does not vindicate Msgr. Lynn's past decisions," Chaput wrote. "Nor does it absolve the archdiocese from deeply flawed thinking and action in the past that resulted in bitter suffering for victims of sexual abuse and their families."

The Philadelphia archdiocese has been in the cross hairs of city prosecutors since 2002, when the priest-abuse scandal broke in Boston. Lynn, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua and other church officials -- accompanied by lawyers -- were grilled for days by an earlier grand jury that issued a damning report in 2005 but concluded that no charges could be filed.

"I understand and accept the anger felt toward the Archdiocese by many of our people and priests, as well as the general public, for the ugly events of the past decade," Chaput wrote. "Only time and a record of honest conversion by the Archdiocese can change that."

Sarmina acknowledged that Lynn sometimes sent accused priests for therapy, but she said he ultimately protected the church's reputation over the souls of children. She sentenced him to three-to-six years in prison.

Lynn's conviction stems from the transfer of accused priest Edward Avery to a new parish, where he was later accused of raping a former altar boy in the church sacristy. Avery pleaded guilty and is serving 2 1/2- to five years in prison, although he denied the assault when called to testify at Lynn's trial.

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