A Single Earthshaking Word from a Philadelphia Courtroom

By: Saturday June 23, 2012 9:07 am

Forty-five times the word “Guilty” rang out over the head of Jerry Sandusky, but that’s nothing compared with the single “Guilty” spoken in the Philadelphia courtroom where Monsignor William Lynn was on trial for child endangerment. He didn’t abuse anyone, but moved a priest known to be a danger into another parish, where that priest continued his abusive ways.

That’s the verdict that ought to send shockwaves around the country. Whether you are a bishop, university administrator, or anyone else in a supervisory role, it’s better to face the music for the misdeeds of an underling than to try to sweep them under the rug and pretend nothing ever happened.

 

Choosing Between Two Visions of Institutional Loyalty at Penn State

By: Saturday November 12, 2011 9:00 am

Institutions faced with allegations of criminal misconduct like the rape of children have a choice. The president of Penn State, following the model used by the bishops of the Roman Catholic church, backed his athletic director and VP for finance unconditionally when they were indicted. But the Board of Trustees took a different path, demanding openness to wherever the investigations by prosecutors takes them. That kind of institutional loyalty will, in the long run, help Penn State come to grips with what has happened in their midst — much more so than attempts to cover up, make excuses, and otherwise keep silent.

I’ve been a campus pastor, and my heart goes out to the campus pastors at Penn State. But one of them has a much tougher assignment than the others: Father Matthew Laffey. The Roman Catholic church in Philadelphia is facing a remarkably similar criminal indictment of Monsignor William Lynn, the former assistant to the former Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua. Lynn faces trial next March on charges that he protected priests he knew to be pedophiles, with the knowledge and support of his boss, the Cardinal. It doesn’t help matters for Father Matthew that Penn State’s Catholic campus ministry is in the middle of constructing the Suzanne Pohland Paterno Catholic Student Faith Center. (That’s Mrs. JoPa.)

Good luck with all that, Father Matthew.

Benedict’s Choice for New Philly Archbishop Signals Increased Church vs. State Battles Ahead

By: Saturday July 23, 2011 10:00 am

This past week, Pope Benedict XVI named Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput to succeed Cardinal Justin Rigali as head of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. While this is an in-house decision of the Roman Catholic church, it will have major implications far beyond Philly, and reaches deeply into the broader political discussions in the US and beyond. Chaput is a leading conservative voice on church and state, and a strong defender of the church in general, and he’s stepping into the biggest church vs. state battle going on right now outside of Ireland.

Naming Chaput to head up the Philadelphia Archdiocese put one of Benedict’s most articulate and powerful voices front and center in those battles, and also changes the secular political calculus for 2012 in Pennsylvania and beyond.

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