A response from the pews, & defense of the monsignor
And not in a good way.
That will not come as much of a surprise to several people who e-mailed me yesterday concerning my recent writings involving the latest controversy engulfing the church, in particular Monsignor William Lynn.
He happens to be my pastor at St. Joseph’s Parish in Downingtown.
They disagreed with my description of the mood at St. Joe’s. They said that at several Masses on Sunday they saw nothing but support for Monsignor Lynn. Other parish priests also spoke out to support him, and their comments were greeted with a standing ovation.
Let me first say that I would like to support Monsignor Lynn as well.
And I’d also stress that he is not accused of abuse, instead he has been charged for not taking steps to prevent it, or worse, covering it up, in his role as secretary of the clergy for the archdiocese.
I did not attend any of the Sunday Masses. I was at the 5 p.m. Saturday Mass, which was celebrated by Monsignor Joseph Marino, vicar of Chester County. He addressed the situation both before the Mass and during his homily. No other parish priests spoke. There was no applause. Only, it seemed to me, a nervous tension. Then again, maybe that was just me, struggling with my own conscience. It wouldn't be the first time.
Two women who are fellow parishioners at St. Joe’s clearly did not care for my writing. They e-mailed me to offer their version of what happened at the Sunday Masses. I’m glad they did. I was not there to witness it, although in all good conscience, I can tell you I would not have stood and applauded.
But that’s not all they decided to tell me. Instead, both decided to take me to task personally.
“I’m ashamed for you and the fact that you call yourself a Catholic,”
And then she added this pearl: “Stay in Delaware County where you belong,” she chided me. Now what exactly do you think she meant by that?
“Stop making a disgrace of the Catholic faith everywhere – we do not need you.”
Another woman, who apparently grew up in Chester, took the opportunity to sling a little mud at the newspaper as well.
“I always referred to your paper as the Daily Trash,” she wrote. I hope that she does not believe she was original in her description. There is not a day that goes by that I don't hear a similar refrain. Here are some others - Daily Slime, Daily Crimes, that "rag." I have heard them all.
“I can see that years later it is still true to its name. At least as an eighth grade teacher, we can use your paper as an example of yellow journalism – using eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers.”
Can you imagine the outrage if I had used such terms to describe her place of employment. Oh, never mind. I forgot I get accused of doing just that every time we write about teacher contracts or school budgets.
I should counter these with another e-mail I received from a man who also is a parishioner, who said he was likewise conflicted by the recent charges and appreciated my writing about the issue.
Today’s news is that the archdiocese has been named in a civil lawsuit by an alleged victim of priest sexual abuse. And in this suit there is the specific claim that the archdiocese was involved in a cover-up of the situation. Named in the suit are both former Archbishop Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, current Archbishop Justin Rigali, and Monsignor Lynn.
Delaware County is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic. I take no great joy in reporting these stories. But I certainly believe it is important that they be brought to light.
I’d like to hear from you. What do you make of these most recent allegations, and of our reporting on them?
Now is not the time to be silent. Post a comment on this blog. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will not publicly identify you unless you specifically want your opinion printed. I did not identify the two women who took me to task, and I have no plans to do so unless they express a desire to do so.
Let me know what you think about the church, about allegations of abuse, and media coverage of the story.
Even if you happen to sit in the pew next to me.