Philadelphia blogger Ralph Cipriano isn’t sure the prosecution is on the right track in Msgr Lynn’s trial. The defendant takes the stand this week, and ADA Patrick Blessington is showing no mercy.
Blessington could have dissected Lynn on the facts, but instead he chose to repeatedly insult and demean a man in a priest’s collar who wasn’t fighting back. It seemed like the ideal way to create sympathy for Lynn among jurors. It may be the only way the defense has left to possibly win the case.
There were other bureaucrats who were “higher up” than Msgr Lynn. One’s dead, and the other two aren’t part of these proceedings.
The dead cardinal, Anthony Bevilacqua, continues to get thrown under the bus.
(Mr Blessington) cited a handwritten note that he thought Molloy had written on a 1991 memo from Lynn. “Unnecessary statement,” the note said. “Never admit to victims that there are other cases.”
That wasn’t Molloy’s handwriting, Lynn told Blessington, that was Cardinal Bevilacqua’s handwriting. That caused a stir in the courtroom, as Lynn dropped the dime on his dead boss. Bevilacqua was found dead on Jan. 31, a day after Judge M. Teresa Sarmina ruled the cardinal was competent to testify as a witness at this trial.
You did whatever the cardinal told you to do, Blessington asked.
“I did do what the cardinal asked,” Lynn said.
Blessington asked if Lynn had ever lied to victims of sex abuse. Only once, Lynn said. Blessington sneered at that. The prosecutor charged that Lynn had also routinely lied to parishioners by not usually telling them the real reason that abuser priests were being removed from parishes, so they could be shipped out to sex clinics for psychiatric evaluations. But parishioners were told the priest had Lyme disease, Blessington said, or that Father was leaving for health reasons.
“The cardinal wouldn’t allow me to announce why someone was leaving,” Lynn responded. And the dead cardinal took another hit.
It’s got to be difficult in the Loggia, covering this trial with the pounding of catastrophic testimony.
Not long after Msgr William Lynn became the first US church official to be charged with facilitating a cover-up of abuse cases, word swirled among his Philadelphia confreres that “If Bill goes down, he’s taking everyone with him.”
What does Rock mean? His archdiocese? All the vicars general, and other high-placed bureaucrats around the country?
Since beginning trial in late March, the longtime Secretary for Clergy of the roiled Northeastern archdiocese has mostly sat expressionless, slumped in his chair at the defense table as a parade of witnesses and reams of Chancery files gave detailed accounts of “powder keg” priests, gut-wrenching romps by serial predators, and at least one cleric whose perceived “disobedience” was dealt with more swiftly and severely by his superiors than seemingly any had been over reports of misconduct with minors.
That last one’s going to bite the bishops, to be sure. Certainly there are important non-sexual matters dogging the Church’s mission. But doubt is widespread from this crisis, and eroding support for bishops is widespread across ideology and intentional practices among the faithful.
While Msgr Lynn’s supporters are bringing rosaries to pray during the trial, I can imagine a bishop’s appeal to pray might well be redirected elsewhere by many in the flock. People also get discouraged and leave the Church. Bishop candidates may wonder why they would leave a pastorate, or more likely a bureaucrat’s chancery desk to clean up someone else’s mess somewhere. Or perhaps the path to the cathedra is one way out of being a yes-man in a moral food chain that would seem to wear down any morals-driven person.