Philadelphia Bishop Timothy Senior Tapped to Lead Diocese of Harrisburg; SNAP has Concerns

(For Immediate Release April 25, 2023) 

Pope Francis has named Philadelphia Auxiliary Bishop Timothy C. Senior, of Philadelphia, as the 12th Bishop of the Diocese of Harrisburg. In 2004, Senior was named archdiocesan vicar for clergy by Cardinal Justin Rigali to replace Msgr. William Lynn.

Lynn eventually spent nearly three years in state incarceration as the contentious three-month trial that resulted in his felony child endangerment conviction in 2012 was being reviewed by appeals courts. After the verdict was reversed twice, the prosecution continued to pursue other avenues of justice. Finally, prosecutors said that Lynn could put an end to the two-decade odyssey by entering a plea of not guilty to a charge of neglecting to provide records to the 2002 grand jury.

We’re troubled by Bishop Senior’s testimony given during the trial of Msgr. William Lynn in 2012. At question during Lynn’s trial were the secret archives on abusive clergy. In other words, already known abusers to church officials that had been discovered in a locked safe.

 As reported in the Big Trial, --The comedy continued. Msgr. Timothy C. Senior, who replaced Lynn as secretary for clergy, followed (Archdiocesan In-House Counsel) Tim Coyne to the witness stand. While Coyne testified that it was Msgr. Senior who gave him the missing files, Msgr. Senior told the jury, "I don't remember giving these to Tim."
(Lynn Attorney) Blessington told Senior, with all due respect, it sounded like he was blaming Coyne, and that Coyne was blaming him. "I don't know how to respond to that," Senior told the jury. "I cannot say with certainty that I saw these files before."--

In our view, Bishop Senior is among the thousands of church officials who simply could have done more while working in roles such as Vicar for Clergy. Ignoring or sanitizing crucial information on abusive clergy extended the pain of victims. The list that deceased Philadelphia Cardinal Bevilacqua wanted in shreds was not fully discarded, a copy remained. It is difficult to believe that, then Msgr., Senior and other church authorities were unaware of such terrible facts about their priests. Catholics 4 Change placed this list on their blog in 2012.

Bishop Senior is a native of Pennsylvania, a state that has a history of investigating corrupt clergy and where lawmakers have struggled to pass legislation to protect victims of abuse who have lost their ability to pursue redress.

Many Catholics go above and above to give newly appointed bishops the benefit of the doubt. We hope that won't occur in Harrisburg, especially as they exit bankruptcy. Not one person is protected by complacency. The defenseless are only protected by alertness. Therefore, we hope that Pennsylvanians would demand Bishop Senior earn their trust, especially in Harrisburg.

One way Senior could – and should – quickly earn the trust of police, prosecutors, parents, parishioners, and the public is by updating the names of every child molesting cleric who has worked in the Diocese of Harrisburg.

No matter what actions or inactions church officials take, we implore everyone who witnessed, suspected, or suffered from child sex crimes and cover-ups in Catholic churches, schools, or other institutions to protect children by calling the police, seeking assistance by calling therapists, bring wrongdoers to justice by calling the law enforcement, and find solace by calling support groups like SNAP. Children will be safer, people will recover, criminals will face justice, cover-ups will be discouraged, and the truth will come to light in this way.

CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected] 267-261-0578) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009) Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President, (814-341-8386 [email protected])

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 35 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is


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