Anglican Priest Convicted of Indecent Assault Back at Work in N.s.

By Sheila Dabu Nonato
February 2, 2012

After seven years of therapy and following consultation with high-ranking church officials, an Anglican priest who was convicted of indecent assault more than a dozen years ago, is back at his Nova Scotia parish, but with restricted duties.

Rev. Ron Cutler, a bishop of the diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, told Postmedia News that Rev. Wayne Lynch has been permitted to celebrate the Eucharist at Annapolis Royal's St. Luke's Anglican Parish. Lynch returned to the parish two years ago and performs some duties every second month.

"He is permitted to preach, but has very rarely done so. He is permitted to baptize, marry or conduct funerals. Once again, this would be at the request of the rector of the parish," Cutler wrote in an email.

"To my knowledge, he has not led either of these liturgies, although he has assisted," he wrote.

His return is generating controversy within the congregation. Lynch's friend, Leslie Marcus, said he's been "told that some members of his church are disturbed about his connection with the church."

"But isn't there such a thing as forgiveness?" said Marcus, a 74-year-old retired university professor. While Marcus said he does not condone what Lynch did - "molesting a young person" in the 1970s - he said he's surprised the issue is being brought up decades later.

"He's paid his price, his dues to society," Marcus said.

A reconciliation process between Lynch and his diocese began seven years ago, Cutler said, when Lynch was given one-time permission to celebrate at a Eucharist service with then-Nova Scotia and P.E.I. Bishop Fred Hiltz, who is now the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, to mark the 90th birthday of Lynch's mother.

In a May 25, 2005 letter to Anglican clergy in his diocese, Hiltz wrote of his intention to invite Lynch to attend the service at St. Luke's Church.

In the letter, Hiltz referred to Lynch's 1999 charges and conviction of "indecent assault arising from incidents dating back some 20 years."

Lynch received a conditional sentence of two years less a day and an 18-month probationary period.

He completed the sentence and participated in ongoing therapeutic counselling, Hiltz wrote.

"From time to time over the last three years, Wayne and I have had conversations about the possibility of his restoration as a priest in good standing with permission to function under special circumstances as determined by the bishop in consultation with the rector, wardens and Council of the Parish of Annapolis," Hiltz said.

"I will take into account a number of factors, and I will seek the counsel of others, endeavouring to make the most appropriate decision for Wayne and for the church," he continued, noting that he would take "great care" in making decisions on the matter.

Meanwhile, Cutler said Lynch's reconciliation process with the Anglican Church has included therapy, mentoring by the parish rector and regular consultation with the diocesan bishop.

He also noted that Lynch "is not permitted any other priestly function, other than liturgical."

Some parishioners declined to comment on the case while others, such as Marcus and Audrey Barteaux, said Lynch deserves a second chance.

"I think he's a lovely person and the church has forgiven him, and why doesn't everybody else forgive him?" said Barteaux, who's attended the parish for two years.

Marcus met Lynch at a cafe almost four years ago and would often chat about politics and the monarchy.

He said he was "totally shocked" to learn of Lynch's background from a recent media report, but described his friend as "a very nice, fine person, a gentleman."









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