A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is urging Philadelphia’s Catholic archbishop to start defrocking a high-ranking church official who was convicted last week of endangering children by refusing to report known and suspected child sex crimes.
Leaders of SNAP are writing Archbishop Charles Chaput asking him to initiate the process of “laicizing” Msgr. William Lynn. On Friday, Lynn became the first American Catholic staffer ever found guilty of enabling predator priests to be quietly sent to unsuspecting parishes where they molested again.
Since the jury verdict, Chaput has given no indication as to whether he plans to discipline Lynn.
“No reasonable person can deny that, for more than a decade, Msgr. Lynn ignored, concealed and enabled child sex crimes,” says SNAP’s letter. “Lynn repeatedly refused, in dozens of cases, to call police even once about known or suspected child sex crimes.”
Lynn also apparently never challenged, undermined or defied even one “callous, reckless or deceitful move” by other top archdiocesan officials, including then-Cardinal Anthony B evilacqua, SNAP maintains.
Last October, Lynn got a standing ovation at a meeting of priests presided over by Chaput.
“Msgr. Lynn has been tried. Msgr. Lynn has been convicted. Now it is time for Msgr. Lynn to be defrocked,” SNAP’s letter says.
“If Archbishop Chaput really wants to live up to the promises of reform he made – in Colorado in 2002 and more recently when he was promoted - then he should immediately start permanently removing Msgr. Lynn’s title, paycheck and privileges,” said Karen Polesir of Ambler, SNAP’s Philadelphia co-director.
“He cannot expect decades of secrecy and self-serving decisions by church employees to change if he refuses to permanently oust a proven felon and essentially unrepentant wrongdoer who put kids in harm’s way, day after day, year after year.”
Only the Vatican can defrock a priest, but any bishop can initiate the process.