Guilty verdict in Philadelphia a first in sex abuse cases


After 13 days of deliberation, the jury in the landmark Philadelphia sex abuse trial has found Msgr. William J. Lynn guilty on one charge of child endangerment, making him the first U.S. church official convicted for the handling of abuse claims.

Lynn, 61, was acquitted on a second endangerment charge and on one count of conspiracy. He faces up to seven years in prison.

Law professor: Philadelphia jury has much to consider in sex abuse trial



With the case now in its hands, the jury continues to deliberate the existence of a conspiracy to cover up priest sex abuse in the Philadelphia archdiocese.

On Tuesday, the seven women and five men of the jury began their third day (and second full day) of sifting through evidence and weighing the testimony they heard over the course of 11 weeks inside a Philadelphia Common Pleas courtroom.

Their task? To determine whether Msgr. William J. Lynn, secretary of clergy for the archdiocese from 1992 to 2004, participated in a conspiracy of covering up abuse and endangered the welfare of children by recommending priests with known histories of sexual abuse to assignments that would further place them in contact with children.

Fr. James J. Brennan, 48, is also accused of child endangerment and sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy at his apartment in 1996. Brennan originally faced a conspiracy charge at the trial's beginning, but Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina dismissed the charge after ruling the prosecution failed to prove a conspiracy between him and Lynn.

Priest heading controversial Cleveland community threatened with suspension


Cleveland Bishop Richard Lennon has issued a "Declaration of Loss of Canonical Office" to Fr. Robert Marrone for refusing to step down as pastor of the Community of St. Peter, a congregation that defied the bishop and remained together after its parish, of the same name, was closed in 2010.

Often referred to as a “breakaway” congregation, the community is made up of a majority of the members of St. Peter Parish, one of more than 50 closed by Lennon in a restructuring of the diocese. It also is one of 11 parishes that the Vatican ordered Lennon to reopen, a reversal of his ruling that resulted from legal proceedings at the Congregation for the Clergy.

In an interview with NCR, Marrone said he understood the document to mean he was suspended. In a letter to his congregation, Morrone explained that in a May 22 meeting with Lennon, the bishop expressed his wish that Marrone reconcile with the diocese and then read a statement containing a number of “whereas” clauses ending with the ultimatum that he remove himself from the community within seven days or face suspension from ministry.

Meeting minutes: Dolan's Milwaukee archdiocese paid accused priests to leave


MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee archdiocese has acknowledged it paid sexually abusive priests $20,000 to leave the priesthood without taking the laicization fight to the Vatican.

A reference to the payout policy was made in the minutes of a 2003 meeting of the archdiocesan finance council, headed by then Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan, now cardinal archbishop of New York and head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Vatican's assessment of LCWR about fear, not doctrine



The Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith's April 18 doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious is not about doctrine. It is not primarily about protecting the faith or ensuring an ecclesiology of communion, no matter how many times these terms are woven through the report. It is fundamentally about fear -- fear of the loss of power -- and the willful use of dominative control to defend that power.

The abundance of religious themes and language do not mask this punitive effort to shore up the crumbling authority of hierarchical leaders. Nor does the document hide the anger that roils beneath the protestations of gratitude and concern. The final report of the LCWR assessment reveals a desperate attempt on the part of some fearful and angry church leaders to protect their turf -- to maintain an all-male church leadership, to keep women and laypeople under their authority, and to shield the homophobic-homosexual subculture in the leadership of the Catholic church.

When fear rules

California abuse conference focuses on bishops' accountability


SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Though a daylong summit on the clergy sexual abuse crisis in mid-May brought together a wide-range of leading experts on the topic -- from those who firmly defend the U.S. bishops' moves to address the issue to those who sometimes vehemently point to their weaknesses -- each seemed to find a key point of resonance.

Unfinished work: Examining 10 years of clergy sex abuse


SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Ten years after widespread news coverage of sexual abuse by priests rocked the U.S. Catholic church, hierarchical response to the continuing crisis indicates the church has “lost its ability to be a self-correcting institution,” Jesuit Fr. Tom Reese told a symposium of experts on clergy abuse Friday.

Reese delivered the keynote speech this morning at a daylong conference titled “Clergy Sexual Abuse Ten Years Later,” being held at Jesuit-run Santa Clara University. Following Reese is a series of panel discussions from a wide-range of sex abuse experts.

27-year-old letter clouds L.A. archdiocese's timeline of abuse


A recently uncovered letter from 27 years ago muddies the record of when officials with the LA archdiocese knew of alleged abuse by clergy there, say victims’ advocates, and the LA county district attorney’s office is seeking a copy in order to “review it and make a determination on what it means,” a spokesperson said.



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April 21-May 4, 2017