|Msgr. William Lynn|
I feel for them. They now face an uncertain future through no fault of their own. After a long and dedicated life as clerics during which they obediently served in a Diocesan Chancery Offices doing what their religious superiors asked of them, they are now becoming the scapegoats for their superior’s failings.
During the Philadelphia trial, it was entered into evidence that Msgr. Lynn had presented a list of accused priests to his Cardinal Archbishop, +Anthony Bevilacqua with the recommendation that they be removed from office. It was evidently not well received. Lynn was ordered to destroy all copies of the list. Given that every priest takes a sacred vow of obedience, promising to comply with the commands of his Bishop, he had no other option available to him other than to do as he was told. Add to this that only a Bishop has the authority to remove or transfer a priest, and Msgr. Lynn’s impossible situation truly comes into focus.
In the case of Rev. Lynn, the prosecutors could not charge or convict the Bishop who died shortly before the start of the case after battling senility in his final years, so the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office shot the messenger instead. Finding him responsible for failing to report predator priests is akin to demanding an executive secretary be held responsible for decisions made by the company’s executives. Tragically, Rev. Lynn, who had no more corporate or religious authority than such an assistant, he has been held criminally responsible for the offenses of his superiors and now faces an imminent term of imprisonment for the crimes of others.
It is an unjust fate for any faithful and obedient employee of any corporation, holy or profane to be held responsible for decisions made by people above his pay grade. The American legal system has demonstrated that it is more concerned with exacting retribution in lieu of justice... of extracting a proverbial pound of flesh without regard for whose blood is spilt in the process.
Convicting Rev. Lynn may have sated this thirst for vengeance for a short while, much to the delight of the many Madame Lafarge’s who chortle with each priest's head that falls from the guillotine’s blade as they knit their list of victims, but it will not satisfy them for long. The blood lust enflamed by this conviction will soon encourage future demands that more heads should soon fall into the basket before them. They will not be satisfied until Diderot’s prediction of “the last king (or in this case, Bishop) is strangled with the entrails of the last priest" is realized.