Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A response from the pews, & defense of the monsignor

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is back in the news this morning.

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,”
one wrote.

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 editor@delcotimes.com. 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.


Blogger LEE said...

I was a lifelong catholic who left the church over the scandal. I could not stand by and support these so called people of God who REPEATEDLY for DECADES allowed these perverts to desecrate the sanctity of the church and of God himself. They defiled innocent boys and then hid behind the cross of Christ while those in power continually perpetrated crime after crime in allowing these deviants to continue their crime spree over and over again with no retribution or punishment for their actions.

I am glad that some of the those who covered up these crimes are being taken to task and being held for their roles in these sick crimes. THEY ARE AS GUILTY as the filth that destroyed many innocent lives as they were the key to the crime itself.

Any other organization would have been brought to its knees over crimes of this magnitude but when you cover yourself in the cloak of Christ, you are granted absolution from its followers by convincing them that THEY are not good people if they allow their faith to be shaken by what is going on.

Wake up and smell the propoganda!! Isn't this the same tactics that Hitler used to get an entire nation to follow his lead?

To this day, the church is still reluctant to get out in front of this thing and bring forward ALL priests, bishops, cardinals etc who had any criminal role in this and expel them from the church and hand them to prosecutors.

Clean God's house of the filth and debris that has soiled it to the point of no return and show the people who have remained and who still believe that they can count on the church that they have supported through the good and the bad times because in the end, they are doing the right thing.

That of course is not the case. I sit here and think to myself, WWJD?

I remember his reaction to the peddlers in the temple being one of rage and anger. How would decades of child abuse sit with Jesus Christ if he were here today???

I wonder if the church would be so bold in its secrecy then.

MR. Heron, keep up the good work!!You are doing the right thing by holding them accountable.

February 15, 2011 at 9:09 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I attended 7:30 a.m. Sunday Mass, celebrated by Father Guckin, with the Monsignor Joseph Marino, vicar of Chester County, addressing the situation. There was no applause. Personally, I am struggling with the recent charges against Msgr. Lynn in his role as secretary of clergy. I supported him before but as time goes on I can't help but feel deceived.

February 15, 2011 at 1:21 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If your fellow parishioners had read the Grand Jury report, there would be no questions as to why Msgr Lynn was charged and that he's a two-faced liar just like the rest of them. I'm tired of hearing that they were only following orders. They chose their vow of obedience over doing what's right for the kids. Our pastor(s) did the same thing when they closed our school in June.

I do take offense that Cardinal Rigali has denied that there are at least 37 priest still in ministry who have been accused of abusing minors. He should go to jail along with Cardinal Bevilacqua.

Go to bishop-accountability.org
and read about Fr Thomas Smith and Msgr Walls. Cardinal Bevilacqua repeatedly allowed them to prey on children and then he lied to the first Grand Jury. Perjury??

And these are the men who are closing our Catholic schools at an alarming rate because they do not make money - which is what they need to pay their lawyers and pay off their victims in exchange for them not suing. It's a disgrace.

Lee is correct. The problem that remains for Catholics who still have children that attend Catholic schools is that we MUST donate $750per year or our parish will not subsidize their education and I have two in Catholic school and I cannot afford to pay an extra $2000+(approximate) per year to leave the church.

And as far as your fellow parishioner putting us down (Delco), she's probably from here originally. It just make you laugh. Who do they think paid for all the new Catholic schools being built in their neighborhoods? Us, the Delco residents whose parishes have been around for more than 90 years and have been giving our hard-earned money to the church. Tell her to get her head out of the sand. Yes, you can quote me.

A St. Joes, Collingdale parishioner

February 15, 2011 at 2:53 PM 

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