Freedom to Do What?

National Survivor Advocates Coalition
June 29, 2012

As the Catholic hierarchy calls its faithful followers in the United States to get down on their collective knees in prayer for the preservation of religious liberty, we believe the hierarchy owes its adherents a clear explanation as to why it allows convicted felons to retain the ranking of priest.

Monsignor William Lynn was convicted last Friday in Philadelphia on the felony charge of endangering children.

Father Gerald Robinson was convicted in Toledo, Ohio in 2006 of the murder of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl.

It was left to the survivors once again to raise the issue of justice, of a seamless garment of words matching actions, of simple reason.

The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) wrote to Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia yesterday urging him to begin laicization proceedings against Lynn. SNAP letter

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s statement released after the guilty verdict made no mention of removing Lynn from the priesthood. So far, nothing more has been forthcoming from the Archbishop regarding Monsignor Lynn’s status.

This is the language the Catholic hierarchy is using to rally the faithful in the current campaign called the “Fortnight of Freedom”:

“As Catholics we are constantly called to live out our faith in our daily lives. In our charities, we comfort the sick, feed the hungry, care for the poor, and protect life. In the marketplace, our values guide us. We strive everywhere to practice what we preach.

Across America, our right to live out our faith is being threatened – from Washington forcing Catholic institutions to provide services that contradict our beliefs, to state governments prohibiting our charities from serving the most vulnerable. And around the world, it’s even worse – Catholics face persecution and even death for their witness.

These rights are fundamental. They belong to each and every human being. We cannot let them be trampled. We cannot remain silent.

The Church’s values, however, are not guiding it in the case of either Monsignor Lynn or Father Robinson – and the Church is remaining silent to its members and the world when it does not revoke the privilege of priesthood when the essence of priesthood is violated.

Apologists for the Bishops who have not moved to file for laicization for either of these priests — or given any indication they will or should — will come up with tortured explanations of how the canon law does not speak to these circumstances.

Please. – What good is a Church’s law, and what honor does it deserve, when it cannot speak to decency and common sense and quite simply to the Savior’s values of ‘to whom much is given, much is expected.”

In the current case of Monsignor Lynn and his priesthood status, we believe the decision reflects more against the looming case of Bishop Robert Finn in Kansas City, MO than any language in the canon law.

Archbishop Chaput should begin laicization proceedings against Monsignor Lynn without delay and Toledo’s Bishop Blair should do the same in regard to Father Robinson – with a huge apology to his people about his six (6) years of lapsed conscience.

Catholics in the pews bear responsibility for the words and actions of the Church in the public square matching up. This is an issue of critical credibility to all Catholics — no matter how they label themselves or how they are labeled by others.

If there is not enough spine in Catholics to ask, let alone demand, that hierarchs take laicization actions against convicted felons, when the fireworks of the Fortnight of Freedom fade on the Fourth of July and Catholics are sized up by their fellow citizens, the question that will prevail is: in the name of religion, liberty to do what?

— Kristine Ward, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC)








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