Child Abuse

Federal Court Says Accused Abusive Priest Didn’t Work for the Vatican

A federal judge on Monday dismissed the Vatican from a lawsuit filed by a former Portland teenager who says he was sexually abused by a pedophile priest who was transferred from Ireland to Chicago and then Portland in an alleged church effort to hide his past.

U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman of Portland said the Vatican didn't employ the Rev. Andrew Ronan, who — according to the lawsuit — molested the teenager in 1965 and 1966. Mosman's ruling means the Vatican can't be held financially liable for the abuse.

"It's clearly a disappointment, but we're definitely not discouraged," said Jeff Anderson, the Minnesota attorney who is representing the victim, listed in the suit as John V. Doe.

Monsignor William Lynn Sentenced to 3-6 Years for Catholic Sex Abuse Cover-Up

STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images

Monsignor William Lynn leaves Philadelphia Criminal Justice Center in March. STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images

Monsignor William J. Lynn, the first U.S. Catholic official convicted for covering up the sexual abuse of children, was sentenced to 3-6 years in prison on Tuesday.

Lynn, 61, has been in jail since his June 22 conviction on endangering the welfare of a child. Prosecutors were seeking the maximum penalty, up to seven years.

“You knew full well what was right, Monsignor Lynn, but you chose wrong,” said Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina.

Sarmina told Lynn that he enabled “monsters in clerical garb … to destroy the souls of children, to whom you turned a hard heart.”

Lynn was head of priest personnel for a dozen years and was one of the highest-ranking officials in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Trial Revives Catholic Church Sex Abuse Scandal

Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

Pedestrian walks past the Archdiocese of Philadelphia headquarters. Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

Ten years ago, the Roman Catholic sex abuse scandal dominated the headlines with horrific stories of priests preying on vulnerable youths and a church hierarchy more concerned with protecting clergy instead of kids.

Now, it's back. A Philadelphia jury is deliberating whether, for the first time, a high-ranking church official will be held criminally accountable.

However the jury rules, the case carries symbolic freight far heavier than the grim details in the trial of Monsignor William Lynn, former secretary for the clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. It revives the breadth and depth of the abuse crisis, its extraordinary costs and unending frustrations.

10 Years After Catholic Sex Abuse Reforms, What’s Changed?

RNS file photo by Matt Rourke

.S. Catholic bishops met in Dallas in 2002 to hammer out a set of reforms. RNS file photo by Matt Rourke

When the nation’s Catholic bishops gather in Atlanta next week (June 13-15) for their annual spring meeting, a top agenda item will be assessing the reforms they adopted 10 years ago as revelations of widespread sexual abuse of children by priests consumed the church.

The policy package they approved at that 2002 meeting in Dallas was known as the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, or the Dallas charter, for short. With it, the bishops vowed to finally put an end to the abuse and secrecy. They also pledged to help raise awareness about the plague of child abuse in society.

But is anything different – in the church or in the country — 10 years later? Here’s a look at what has changed, and what has not.

Death by Faith Healing: A Church-State Separation Dilemma

 Lori Howard/Shutterstock.com

At the intersection of Church and State Streets in Salem, Ore. Lori Howard/Shutterstock.com

The sovereignty of religion in the United States is a thorny issue when it comes to state powers. But most Americans can agree that there are lines that even the Church cannot cross.

The problem is that sometimes that realization comes too late.

Sixteen-year-old Austin Sprout is the most recent victim of such religious transgressions. Oregon’s Register-Guard recently reported that Sprout’s parents declined medical care for their son, opting instead for prayer to ensure his recovery from an undisclosed but commonly preventable illness. He died in spite of their faithfulness.

Sprout’s father, Brian, reportedly died of sepsis five years ago when the family refused medical treatment for his medical injury, opting for faith-based healing. The family attends The General Assembly Church of the First Born, a congregation the Huffington Post notes is “known for their practice of faith healing.”

Penn State’s Massive Moral Failure to Put The Most Vulnerable First Instead of Last

Jesus comforts the children. Image via Wylio.

Jesus comforts the children. Image via Wylio.

In Mathew 25, he allows no excuses, personal or institutional.

“As you have done it to the least of these, you have done it to me,” Jesus says without qualification. Apply that text to this terrible exploitation at Penn State and it certainly speaks explicitly to the most vulnerable children who have been so horribly abused there.

As it was done to them, it was done to Christ himself, the very Son of God. This famous text is one of the few passages of judgment in the New Testament.

Judgment is now needed at Penn State and beyond about how we continue to allow wealth, power, institutional protections, and cultural complicity to aid, abet, and enable the evil abuse of our most vulnerable children.

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