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.