Odd News from the East and West

Canonical Consultation


Jennifer Haselberger

Some interesting items making the news today, especially for those following the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church and/or the downward spiral of the W.D.O.E.

First, Msgr William Lynn, the first Catholic diocesan official convicted of child endangerment, was remanded back into custody in Philadelphia today. Msgr. Lynn served eighteen months of his 3-6 year sentence before an appellate court reversed the verdict against him. However, on Monday the same appellate court reinstated his conviction, according to philly.com, paving the way for Msgr. Lynn to return to prison.

The Lynn case was watched carefully by those of us in St. Paul, and in Chanceries throughout the country. The original conviction came in 2012, just weeks prior to the revelation of accusations of abuse against Father Curtis Wehmeyer. I can recall the Chancellor for Civil Affairs, Andy Eisenzimmer, reviewing Minnesota’s child endangerment statute carefully, and then offering his opinion that the statute was written in such a way that it could not be applied to any Archdiocesan personnel (the question was whether we could be charged with child endangerment, as by that point it was obvious to everyone that we had endangered children).

To date, only Father Wehmeyer has been prosecuted for his actions, but it is my understanding that the investigation by the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office is ongoing. So, perhaps we will see additional charges sometime soon.

The second item of interest involves a former employee of the Catholic Finance Corporation, Michael Schaefer. You may have noted that early bankruptcy filings by the W.D.O.E. identified Mr. Schaefer as having a potential claim against the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. Today’s edition of the Courthouse News Service explains why. I was not aware that any allegations of sexual misconduct had been made against Mr. Schaefer, although I was aware that accusations were made against a director at another ‘related entity’, the Minnesota Catholic Conference. At the same time, it would not surprise me that, if indeed the Archdiocese was aware of accusations, they did not notify the Diocese of Orange of their concerns. Par for the course, as they say.

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