In a decision that came as a surprise to many and a blow to some, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania last week voided the child-endangerment oversight conviction of Msgr. William Lynn, the former secretary for clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. He has spent the last 18 months in prison as the highest-ranking official in the Roman Catholic Church to be convicted of charges stemming from the child sex-abuse scandal that has rocked the church from Philadelphia to the Vatican.
The unanimous 43-page opinion is sure to be unpopular with many, especially advocates for the victims of sexual abuse by the clergy. Indeed, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams has vowed to an appeal.
But the ruling is legally sound. It’s hard to see how an appeal will be successful. That means that Lynn must be freed.
Since the early 1990s, beginning in Boston, it became clear that the Catholic Church had long tolerated abusers and pedophiles in its ranks. When a “problem” would surface, the “problem” priest would be transferred to a new parish, sometimes after receiving therapy and sometimes not. Usually neither the pastor nor the parishioners were warned about the monsters in their midst.
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