Timlin Defends Attending Installation Mass in Philly
By Joseph Kohut
February 26, 2020
Barred from representing the Diocese of Scranton at public functions, retired Bishop James C. Timlin dressed in his clerical attire and sat among his peers at last week’s installation Mass of Philadelphia’s new archbishop.
Diocese spokesman Eric Deabill confirmed Tuesday that Timlin attended the Feb. 18 installation of Archbishop Nelson J. Perez but added “he wasn’t representing the diocese in any way.”
Video footage taken at the Mass and posted by CatholicPhilly.com, the archdiocese’s digital news organization, show Timlin entering the church dressed in clerical attire, including his bishop’s mitre.
Reached at Villa St. Joseph in Scranton, Timlin, 92, said he did not violate any restrictions laid down by Scranton Bishop Joseph C. Bambera.
“I am free to live my life,” Timlin said.
He said he does not represent the diocese and does not attend public events within the Diocese of Scranton.
He stressed he is still a bishop, however, and will attend events outside the diocese.
Bambera permanently barred Timlin from representing the diocese in August 2018, in the wake of a scathing statewide grand jury report issued earlier that month which revealed Timlin mishandled sexual abuse cases.
“While Bishop Bambera only has the authority to restrict Bishop Timlin within the territory of the Diocese of Scranton, he remains a member of the clerical state and therefore may continue to wear clerical attire,” Deabill said in an email.
Bambera’s rebuke was considered unusual because a bishop would typically be reticent to publicly criticize his predecessor. It came after a confidential recommendation made by the diocese’s Independent Review Board, which examined how Timlin handled clerical sex abuse allegations during his tenure from April 1984 to July 2003.
Timlin declined Tuesday to discuss the grand jury report.
Timlin did not tell Bambera he planned to attend the Feb. 18 installation and did not travel to Philadelphia with Bambera or any other diocesan official, Deabill said.
Timlin said he flew to Philadelphia.
Kenneth A. Gavin, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, said the archdiocese invited Timlin.
“In the case of the installation of a new Archbishop, it is customary for invitations to be sent to all active and retired bishops in the United States,” Gavin said in an email.
About 2,000 people attended the Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, according to the archdiocese.
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