After eighteen months in prison, Msgr William Lynn, national Catholic scapegoat, will endure another twist in his landmark case. If someone can guarantee a quarter of a million in dollars, he will be freed, pending a resolution of the mess of his conviction+overturning.
Some of the readers here supportive of SNAP, victims, and survivors may be curious about my skepticism. On most all public matters, I remain a cynic and a skeptic. Even when an event tickles my sense of justice. Maybe especially when my heart gets tugged at. And maybe just because I feel my personal outrage ameliorated a bit to see a high-ranking cleric go to prison.
A few things.
I cannot disclose names, but many people close to me, mostly women, have been abused at the hands of trusted men. So I have slow, fast, and both types of burn when I read of abuse, or when people tell me such tales.
Bishops. I blame bishops. Bishops have the power and they use it well and not so well when they want to. They scapegoat the media, lawyers, psychologists, their vicars general, and any number of other people. Again, when they want to. And they bow out of the chain of command quite conveniently in too many cases.
Msgr Lynn could have been a hero. For a few weeks or months. And then he likely would have been shipped to what serves as the boonies in southeastern Pennsylvania. And maybe he was convinced and coerced into the belief he was doing his level best protecting all people by protecting the institutional Church. He was clearly the highest hanging fruit the prosecutors could get. Archbishop Bevilacqua was dead. And nobody had the goods on Archbishop Rigali.
Maybe eighteen months in prison is enough. I’m curious to see how Archbishop Chaput will employ his priest upon release from jail.
And this whole episode is a good reminder that just because there’s a swell of public bother against the institutional Church, investigators and prosecutors and judges and others still need to follow the absolute letter of the law. Bungling can backlash. Injustice in meting out punishment (and let’s be honest–William Lynn represents dozens of bishops) will do survivors and allies no good whatsoever. You can bet the threat of financial loss is motivating chanceries to keep well on top of abuse prevention efforts. So I’m not really worried that the reins on child abuse prevention will be slack because William Lynn is wearing an electronic bracelet on his leg.
Msgr Lynn is in something of a limbo. Anybody else feeling the same way?