The trial over pedophile priests, cover-ups, and Monsignor William Lynn took a new turn when in a bid to save his skin Lynn submitted that he had prepared a list of 35 actively pedophile priests and submitted it to late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua. While trying to establish that Bevailacqua had ordered the list to be destroyed (pretty easy since Cardinal Bevilacqua can’t speak back from his grave) Lynn inadvertently admitted the charges of the prosecution. The fact that he had prepared such a list in 1994 only backs the prosecution’s contentions that pedophilia was widely practiced and systemically tolerated for long in the Philadelphia Diocese.
Reverend Thomas Doyle, an expert on Roman Catholic law, testified at the trial and said that Church law requires church officials to investigate such complaints and requires the archbishop to offer pastoral care to the victims.
Reverend Doyle, the expert on Canonical law, was angry and incredulous: “He’s got a list of men who are sexually abusing children, and he’s going to shred it?” The defense lawyers of Lynn failed to explain why Monsignor Lynn did not take any action when the Cardinal Bevilacqua shredded the list of pedophiles. And why Lynn remained silent for so long until he has been dragged to court.
Bevilacqua led the Philadelphia archdiocese from 1987 to 2003. Evidence and church documents show that under him the Philadelphia archdiocese kept dozens of reported child predators in the ministry, often sent them for inpatient treatment, and transferred them to new areas. The proven policy of the archdiocese ensured that the priest-predators had a steady supply of new victims.
Lynn submitted that he did not report the child abuse to authorities despite a 1995 state law that required clergy to report suspected child abuse, because he thought ‘child abuse’ was to be reported only if a ‘child’ complained. Since the complainants were all parents of children or adults reporting abuse while they were children, such complaints did not merit report according to the wisdom of the revered Monsignor Lynn.
However, the prosecution has shown that church tolerated child-predation had a long history in the archdiocese.
One Father John Cannon had sexually assaulted a series of boys at a school summer camp from 1959 through 1964. Then he admitted his deeds candidly to church officials. He was allowed to remain in the ministry for decades after, and considering his taste for boys, he was made the chaplain at a girl’s high school as remedy. He was never charged with any crimes, and has now accepted a life of prayer and penance after the media started crying foul.
Now, there is also the case of the deeply respected Father Stanley Gana. With a proven case history stretching back to the 1980s the exhausted Father Gana had once joked how hard it was to have sex with three boys in one week. Documents show Father Gana kept a rotation of boys he slept with and often engaged in threesomes. Once, a boy who sought the help of the Church after being sexually assaulted by a family friend, was assigned to Father Gana. The Father routinely raped the boy for years. Again, after the media started investigating, Father Gana was laicized in 2006, though he was never charged. Documents show church officials knew about the Father for decades, but allowed him to continue in ministry.
Monsignor Lynn has pleaded not guilty, and that he had only done his job.