The Monsignor Lynn Conviction and a Decade of Crisis in the Catholic Church

TIM SHAFFER REUTERS Monsignor William Lynn walks from the courthouse after the jury finished deliberating for the day in his … Continued

TIM SHAFFER

REUTERS

Monsignor William Lynn walks from the courthouse after the jury finished deliberating for the day in his sexual abuse trial in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in this June 20, 2012 file photograph. Monsignor William Lynn, the first senior U.S. Roman Catholic Church official to be convicted of covering up child sex abuse, was sent back to prison on July 5, 2012 after a judge rejected his bid for house arrest.

Recent weeks marked several landmarks in the Catholic Church’s dark history with child sexual abuse. In Pennsylvania, the Rev. William Lynn became the first American church official convicted in the cover-up of child sex-abuse. In an Atlanta meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the bishops recognized the 10th anniversary of the Dallas Charter, the church’s document to prevent child abuse in its ranks, with a reflection presentation by the National Review Board, an independent lay advisory group to the bishops.

What have we learned in the past ten years?

We have learned that more than 10,000 youth were victimized by perhaps four percent of Catholic priests in America during the past half century, with the vast majority of cases occurring during the 1960s and 1970s. In fact, 94 percent of all cases occurred before 1990, according to the recent John Jay College of Criminal Justice study on the causes and context of the crisis. The sexual abuse of children by priests is horrific enough but it was the repeated stories of cover up and lack of accountability of bishops and other church leaders that has made this crisis a decade-long story.

The sexual abuse trial of Jerry Sandusky at Penn State underscored the fact that child sexual abuse is certainly not confined to the Catholic Church or to any church organization, but can and does occur wherever adult men have power, control and unsupervised access to youth.

Best estimates from quality research indicate that many school teachers, coaches and other adults with access to children have sexually violated youth during the past half century. It is startling that research finds that a sizable number (perhaps up to a quarter) of men and women in America report that they were sexually violated as a child by an adult.

Another unfortunate lesson of the past decade is the tendency of institutions to go into denial when confronted with allegations of child sexual abuse perpetrated by their valued organizational members. It is especially disheartening when churches and universities, which set high standards for ethical and moral behavior, focus efforts on covering up and protecting themselves from accountability, lawsuits, embarrassment, and scandal, rather than making their top priority the well-being of abuse victims.

However, since the Dallas Charter came out, there is much to be hopeful for in keeping children safe in 2012 and beyond. So how are things better in 2012 than 2002 to keep kids safe in the church?

· Intense media focus has galvanized America to take action to stop child abuse.

· Many states have enacted tougher reporting laws, and more are on the way.

· The Catholic Church now employs zero tolerance policies toward abuse, has annual diocesan audits, and safe environment training for all employees, volunteers and anyone involved with youth.

· Hiring practices in the church include criminal background checks and mandatory psychological and behavioral screening of clergy applicants or new international priests.

While much has been done, we cannot rest until systems of child protection in the church and elsewhere are air tight. Problems still exist in trying to get everyone to follow well-conceived and articulated policies and procedures, not to mention the law. We see this in the current challenges in the dioceses of both Kansas City and Philadelphia.

There is no doubt that children in the American Catholic Church community are much safer in 2012 than they were in 2002. My hope is that all institutions that engage children will take a page from the church’s new playbook when it comes to the development of policies and procedures for child protection, and that all institutions put children before reputation.

Thomas G. Plante, PhD, ABPP is professor of psychology at Santa Clara University and author of several books on clergy abuse including just released, “Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church: A Decade of Crisis, 2002-2012.”

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  • JohnShuster

    Plante teaches at a Catholic college. He always writes articles that try to fool the reader into trusting the Roman Catholic Church.

  • juneannette

    The RC “church” is no model for child protection but rather a template / model for child predation.
    That’s because aberrant sexual behaviour is the example the bishops themselves set for their priest understudies. They both sanction and practice sexual depravity themselves. They set the standard and the priests (who don’t know any better) think it is perfectly acceptable and normal to do likewise! Sexual perversion is thus the norm in RC hierarchy circles and so the pedophile epidemic will continue to rage in the unholy Roman Catholic “church”!
    As *Richard Sipe explains:
    “This sexual aberration is not generated from the bottom up – that is only from unsuitable candidates – but from the top down – that is from the sexual behaviors of superiors, even bishops and cardinals.
    Bishop Thomas Lyons, now deceased, who was an Auxiliary in the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. groomed, seduced, and sexually abused a boy from the time he was seven years old until he was 17. When that boy grew into manhood he in turn abused his own child and young relatives. When I asked him about his actions he said to me, “I thought it was natural. Father (Lyons) told me a priest showed him this when he was growing up.” A pattern was perpetuated for at least four generations.
    *Source / Website: richardsipe.com / Priests, Celibacy, Sexuality & the Catholic Church
    Article Online: Open Letter of author Richard Sipe to Benedict XVI

  • juneannette

    The RC “church” is no model for child protection but rather a template / model for child predation.
    That’s because aberrant sexual behaviour is the example the bishops themselves set for their priest understudies. They both sanction and practice sexual depravity themselves. They set the standard and the priests (who don’t know any better) think it is perfectly acceptable and normal to do likewise! Sexual perversion is thus the norm in RC hierarchy circles and so the pedophile epidemic will continue to rage in the unholy Roman Catholic “church”!
    As *Richard Sipe explains:
    While I was Adjunct Professor at a Pontifical Seminary, St. Mary’s Baltimore (1972-1984) a number of seminarians came to me with concerns about the behavior of Theodore E. McCarrick, then bishop of Metuchen, New Jersey. It has been widely known for several decades that Bishop/Archbishop now Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick took seminarians and young priests to a shore home in New Jersey, sites in New York, and other places and slept with some of them. He
    established a coterie of young seminarians and priests that he encouraged to call him “Uncle Ted.” I have his correspondence where he referred to these men as being “cousins” with each other.”
    *Source / Website: richardsipe.com / Priests, Celibacy, Sexuality & the Catholic Church
    Article Online: Open Letter of author Richard Sipe to Benedict XVI

  • juneannette

    WRONG Mr. Plante . . rather there is ample evidence that children in the American Catholic Church community are no more safer in 2012 than they were in 2002!
    MEMO to Roman Catholics:
    Don’t be taken in by the feigned words and false assurances given you by the so-called “princes of the church” and their mouthpieces that your children are safe. Lying aka “mental reservation” is not a practice alien to the bishops! The truth is . . the safeguards the so-called “hierarchy” has put in place must not be confused with real and vital reform which has not taken place.
    The root problem of the clergy abuse SCANDAL as identified by the National Review Board, namely, “homosexual predation of Catholic youth” by RC clergy, has not been addressed. Consider the findings of the board’s chief, attorney Robert S. Bennett, who said: “any evaluation of the causes and context of the current crisis must be cognizant of the fact that more than 80 percent of the abuse at issue was of a homosexual nature.”
    Bear in mind that the National Review Board was convened under the auspices of the USCCB yet the hierarchy has failed to act upon this vital point.
    Why? Because they are the problem. In a 2001 survey the late Dean Hoge of the Catholic University of America, one of the most respected researchers said that there clearly or probably was a homosexual subculture among priests. Rev. Donald Cozzens, author of the 2000 book “The Changing Face of the Priesthood,” estimates 50 percent of all Catholic priests are homosexual.
    Psychotherapist Richard Sipe, a former Catholic priest who has written and spoken widely on the priesthood, says 15 percent of homosexual priests are sexually active. If all homosexual clergy were to leave the U.S. Catholic Church now, the church would lose one-third of its bishops as well, added Mr. Sipe.
    It would follow then that until the present hierarchy, which is comprised in the main of homosexual priests and bishops, is dismantled the “homosexual predation of Ca

  • juneannette

    MEMO to ROMAN CATHOLICS:
    I honestly believe just as the “church hierarchy” covered up the routine practice of transferring abusive priests from one diocese to another, most of “the faithful” are ignorant of the fact that the Roman Catholic priesthood has been overrun by homosexuals. This too has been a secret well-guarded by the powers that be who felt that the laity just did not need to know. I also believe many Roman Catholics will be as shocked to learn this, as they were to learn of the Roman Catholic Clergy Abuse Scandal, for which the “princes of the church” are entirely to blame!
    Those who engage in acts which the RC Catechism (Par. 2357: 141, 142) defines and describes as “depraved”, “intrinsically disordered” and “unnatural” show by their EXAMPLE they are neither fit nor qualified to teach children morals that are alien to their own experience and which they themselves do not embrace nor model.
    Parents need to consider the disturbing implications of these sobering realities and how this impacts the instruction their children are receiving in the solemn matters of faith and morals from those who fail to practice what they preach! At the very least they are receiving a mixed message. At the very worst their morals are being corrupted.

  • juneannette

    MEMO to ROMAN CATHOLICS:
    Parents have a right to know if their children are being taught a morality that is at variance with orthodox Catholic teaching as it is set forth in the RC Catechism. The impact upon the youth who are being exposed to those who seek to normalize homosexuality cannot be calculated nor can it be ignored.
    Even as some responsible parents within the RCC have taken a very public stand and demanded accountability in the face of the horrific revelations of the abuse of children by clergy, and the cover-up by the church “hierarchy” that ensued, the voices of those who have expressed legitimate concerns in these matters must not be muted to acquiesce to those who are driving the agenda.
    This is yet another disturbing dimension to the ever-widening Roman Catholic Clergy Abuse SCANDAL perpetrated by the scandalous behaviour of the “church’s hierarchy”!
    Such things deserve your most thoughtful and prayerful consideration! May God be pleased to grant you both wisdom and discernment!

  • finiansf8

    Memo to juneannette:

    LET’S NOT MISS THE BOAT HERE juneannette. Obviously, the rcc has steered you wrong and has you looking in the wrong direction. “the rcc has excellent Spin drs., Bill Donahue is a very sick narsacistic aboration and you took the bait.

    John Jay was paid by the bishops, and wrote what the bishops wanted and paid them for. ***Call John Jay and ask any professor(other than Karen Terry) for their opinion of the JJay report. They’re embarrassed and disgusted that JJ would take the money and run.****

    This isn’t and shouldn’t be about homosexuality. IT’S ABOUT AN INSTITUTIONAL COVER-UP OF FELONY RAPE OF CHILDREN.

    LOOK NOT AT THE 10% OF PRIEST PEDIPHILES, BUT AT THE 90% THAT ACTIVELY AND PASSIVELY COVERED-UP THE RAPE OF INNOCENT CHILDREN !

    MY PASTOR RAPED HUNDREDS OF BOYS, PHYSICALLY, MENTALLY AND SPIRITUALLY.

    THE DIOCESE AND EVERY PRIEST COVERED UP THIS ABUSE !
    AND CONTINUE TO REMAIN SILENT, TO THIS DAY.

    David

  • juneannette

    finiansf8 . . for your information:

    In the context of the Roman Catholic Clergy Abuse SCANDAL, Fr. Donald Cozzens, university professor, seminary rector, and experienced counselor of priests and religious wrote:
    “When vicars of priests met to learn from one another how we might better minister to the victims of clergy sexual misconduct, we discovered a factor that put priest offenders at variance with the general population of child abusers. As a group, abusers tend to be married men who prey on girls, although many pedophiles abuse both girls and boys.
    Most priest abusers, we concluded, were not pedophiles in the strict sense of the term. They tend to be ephebophiles, adults whose sexual interest focused on post-pubescent teenagers. …. Relatively little attention has been paid to this phenomenon by Church authorities. Perhaps it is feared that it will call attention to the disproportionate number of gay priests.”

    Citation: *D. Cozzens, The Changing Face of the Priesthood, pp. 123-124

  • juneannette

    The MOTHER of all COVER UPS of the abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests has been going on for centuries,but in the providence and mercy of God, only been brought to light in our day!

    “Sexual activity by popes, bishops and priests – members of the ruling hierarchy bound to celibacy – has triggered every reform the Church has been forced to undergo. The rape and sodomy of children is woven into the tradition of clerical history. And it has been amply recorded in documents and literature.

    Popes, bishops and priests have known for centuries that sexual abuse of children is a problem. The Church may have legislated against it, but the fact remains that the hierarchy has consistently failed to protect the youngest and most vulnerable members of its flock from sexual abuse by predatory clergy. Roman documents, papal encyclicals and council resolutions down through the ages expose the persistence of violations of celibacy and criminal sexual activity with children and others.

    Failures in the discipline of celibacy should come as no surprise: they are predictable. The power of a professionally celibate and all-male minority to define the morality of love and to control the sex lives of the lay majority provides a climate where the sexual abuse of children by some bishops, priests and religious can flourish and be covered up.

    The never-ending flow of legislation emanating from official quarters proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that from its earliest days the Church has been trying to contain the abuse of minors by the clergy and cover up the resulting scandal. The following chronology should be read against a backdrop of the crisis caused by sexual abuse in the United States and the hierarchy’s ongoing repudiation of any suggestion that it confess to prior knowledge of widespread failure in the discipline of clerical celibacy.”

    Source: Article online entitled: HISTORY OF SEXUAL ABUSE
    IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH & adaoted frin Sex, Priests and Secret Codes, The Catholic Chu

  • Rongoklunk

    Pedophilia is not even one of the ten commandments. It should be on top, but God worries more about his image when the top three commandments are all about having no other Gods but God. God needs to think more about the little children who are raped by his devotees, and less about his own vanity.

  • dcrswm

    Sure, if god was a real thing and not a made up ghost story so the few could rule the many. As it stands I have seen no evidence to suggest that the ten commandments were not simply written by a jewish guy on a hill that wanted more control over his people.

  • Jason Firestone

    The Ten Commandments were “appropriated” from the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Almost word for word. It’s call “syncretism”, in Comparative Mythology. No one who actually knows about syncretism could possible take Yahweh, (one of the 70 sons of the Babylonian El Elyon), seriously. The answer is education.

  • juneannette

    In TRUTH . . the foundations of the self-proclaimed “one true church of Jesus Christ” are crumbling / collapsing under the insupportable weight of the rot and corruption that lurks beneath the surface of its’ pretentious pious exterior. In the words of fomrer RC priest, Victim of RC Clergy Abuse, & Head of Road to Recovery Victim’s Advocacy Group Bob Hoatson . . . “the Catholic Church has been corrupted to its core.”
    The RC clergy abuse SCANDAL brought to light in our day by the providence and mercy of God.has since morphed into the MOTHER OF ALL COVER-UPS and the SCANDAL of the CENTURY. l contempt, scorn, derision and disdain being meted out to them by the worldwide community and reserved for those who commit the abominable sin / crime of child abuse. What a mockery Roman Catholicism has made of Christ’s Church. God however is not mocked! (Gal. 6:7)

    How fitting then that the Roman Catholic “church” that has so greatly dishonoured the name and cause of Jesus Christ and brought His religion into such disrepute is now being exposed and shamed in such a public way for the reproach they have laid upon Christ!
    That is the real SCANDAL! “Be not deceived; God is not mocked:” (Galatians 6:7)
    Roman Catholicism is not CHRIST’s CHURCH!

  • juneannette

    CORRECTION to most recent post:
    In TRUTH . . the foundations of the self-proclaimed “one true church of Jesus Christ” are crumbling / collapsing under the insupportable weight of the rot and corruption that lurks beneath the surface of its’ pretentious pious exterior. In the words of fomrer RC priest, Victim of RC Clergy Abuse, & Head of Road to Recovery Victim’s Advocacy Group Bob Hoatson . . . “the Catholic Church has been corrupted to its core.”
    The RC clergy abuse SCANDAL brought to light in our day by the providence and mercy of God.has since morphed into the MOTHER OF ALL COVER-UPS and the SCANDAL of the CENTURY. What a mockery Roman Catholicism has made of Christ’s Church. God however is not mocked! (Gal. 6:7)
    The Roman Catholic priests and the “so-called princes of the church”, those who presumptuously call themselves “Christ’s Representatives” have given the religion of Christ a bad name! It is they who must now endure the universal contempt, scorn, derision, and disdain being meted out to them by the worldwide community and reserved for those who commit the abominable act / crime of child abuse.
    How fitting then that the Roman Catholic “church” that has so greatly dishonoured the name of Jesus Christ and brought His doctrine and His cause into such disrepute is now being exposed and shamed in such a public way for the reproach they have laid upon Christ!
    That is the real SCANDAL!
    “Be not deceived; God is not mocked:” (Galatians 6:7)
    Roman Catholicism is not CHRIST’s CHURCH!

  • john1513

    Great summary. Despite what the media focuses on, studies show that abuse is not a Catholic problem; it’s a societal problem.

  • juneannette

    john1513,
    I made my comments in the context of this article.
    “It is clear that the abuse of minors is not unique to the Church. However, given the moral stature of the Church, the role of priests and bishops in providing moral leadership within the Church, and the obligations of priests and bishops to foster the spiritual and moral development of children and young people, when sexual abuse of minors occurs in the Church it is particularly abhorrent.
    Thus Catholics take no solace from the fact that the sexual abuse of minors occurs outside the Church as well.”
    Excerpt from the A Report on the Crisis in the Catholic Church in the United States
    The National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Young People Established by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops / February 27, 2004

  • Pat Strother

    I find the comments more instructive than the article, which has a definite feel of propaganda to it. Judging from the comments, most readers seem to be onto the real goal of the Catholic Church: self preservation.

  • Pat Strother

    I would be very surprised if the percent of priests that are gay is below 50%. Celibacy is unnecessary and more importantly deeply counterproductive to recruiting from a much more healthy cross section of young men. That level of suppression of a basic human quality is just unrealistic.

    Are any of the gay priests actually celibate? Unlikely.

  • cricket44

    Only the Penn State scandal has come close to the disgusting level of cover-up achieved by the Catholic church. It feels good to say “everyone does it” but it is denial to ignore the depth of corruption that went into sacrificing these children for the sake of appearances.

    Come back and talk to us when that embodiment of evil, Cardinal Law, is imprisoned for his crimes, rather than given a cushy way out.

  • Philosophe

    “There is no doubt that children in the American Catholic Church community are much safer in 2012 than they were in 2002.” This sentence lacks something important: a subject. WHO exactly is now free of doubt?

    Apparently “everybody” is supposed to be. Because we now have “media recognition” of the problem, tougher laws, and “zero tolerance” policies. Ah yes. That is all we need, of *course*. It’s worked magically for bullying in schools, drug use, and crime in general.

    Of course it hasn’t. And I for one DO doubt. It seems so obvious to me: a young boy who is gay learns from the church that he is dirty and evil because he is attracted to other boys. He also learns that sex is only for procreation, never for pleasure, is an evil in itself (celibacy is the ideal). He sees the priesthood and mandated celibacy as a powerful external force that will keep him from acting on his urges. That may, in fact be a primary motivation for entering the priesthood, not the holier purposes which motivate others. He struggles with his urges. He hates himself. This is fertile ground for bad thoughts and worse actions.

    Perhaps if the church were to focus less on condemning all sexuality, including homosexuality, including sexuality as an expression of love rather than a mechanical act for procreative purposes…if it were to focus instead on distinguishing sex that is emphatically NOT an expression of love from other kinds…THEN my doubt would diminish.

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