This is just as much a part of Christianity as is any theology as it has been
for thousands of years. Unfortunately, it is not limited to the Catholic
Church, nor the clergy and I know that very well from personal experience.
I also know that it isn't limited to the Christian Church either. The more
"holy" a person or sect tries to portray themselves the more
debauchery they have perpetuated becomes much clearer.
Philadelphia Priest Trial Painful, Poignant For Catholics
04/21/12 03:48 PM ET
PHILADELPHIA -- Graphic testimony in a Philadelphia clergy-abuse trial this
month has ripped open secret church files and reopened old wounds among
Catholics as scarred men and women tell jurors that priests groped, molested or
raped them as teens.
The testimony has proven both painful and poignant, especially that of a
48-year-old man who said he had been in love with his parish priest during a
five-year sexua| relationship that began in ninth grade – and jealous when the
priest allegedly bedded down at his farmhouse with other teens.
The stories have been told before, in two Philadelphia grand jury reports and
in lawsuits filed around the country.
But Monsignor William Lynn's decision to go to trial on child-endangerment
charges stemming from his 12 years as secretary for clergy has brought the grand
jury reports to life – and seemingly put the archdiocese on trial. The judge
is allowing testimony about more than 20 accused but uncharged priests, because
Lynn knew of complaints lodged against them or took part in internal church
The accused priests were left in ministry, often transferred to
Nearly a dozen alleged victims have testified, while internal church memos
and Lynn's 2002 grand jury testimony have been read aloud. And jurors will soon
hear from a former altar boy who says he was raped by two priests and his
"None of these scandals rock my faith. I believe in church teaching and
these scandals don't cause me to doubt it. But it's very discouraging in terms
of the Catholic hierarchy in the American church and its inability to deal"
with abuse allegations, said Joseph Fuisz, 41, a Bethlehem native who now lives
in Florida and Washington, D.C., and is following the trial closely.
Lynn is the first U.S. church official charged with helping the church cover
up complaints of child sexua| abuse. He faces up to 28 years in prison if
"A lot of the information may not be new, but it's got a particularly
salient impact ... because it's personal testimony – in court, under oath, on
the record, with a lot of media coverage," said Timothy Lytton, a
University of Albany law professor who wrote a book on Catholic clergy abuse.
"I think it turns the heat up."
One father of six belatedly told the archdiocese that his son had been
"extremely upset" about playing Jesus as a child in a sadomasochistic
Passion play – but he and his wife "let it go." In another instance,
the man allegedly abused at the farmhouse of the Rev. Stanley Gana said he
confided to his mother years later about the abuse, only to be told she planned
to remain friends with the priest.
And a woman said she had asked to quit a weekend rectory job where the pastor
groped her as a teen, but her parents wouldn't hear of it. Her sisters followed
her into the job – and were also fondled, she said.
"People nowadays are simply much more questioning of authority,"
said Nick Ingala, spokesman for Voice of the Faithful, a Boston-based group
formed in the wake of the abuse crisis to try to empower lay Catholics.
"The accountability here, and the transparency coming about (in the trial)
... is really the most important thing that's happening."
Many of the women who have testified this month to being fondled sound angry.
But the male accusers are shattered. They were more often emotionally entangled
with the priest, and say the abuse involved oral sex or sodomy.
"The hope is that this is the last incident we ever hear of in this
archdiocese," lawyer Jim Ledyard said Friday, after noon Mass at the
Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. "I think many of us
would be devastated if any further abuse is uncovered."
The cathedral sits beside the archdiocesan offices where Lynn worked from
1992 to 2004, most of it under the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua.
Lynn, 61, is on trial with the Rev. James Brennan, 48, who is charged with
sexually assaulting a teen in 1996. Each has pleaded not guilty. Defrocked
priest Edward Avery, 69, pleaded guilty to sexua| assault charges days before
trial, and is serving a 2-1/2 to 5-year prison term.
Avery admitted to a1999 attack on the altar boy. Another priest and former
teacher from the northeast Philadelphia parish will go on trial separately later
this year. That means disturbing revelations about the church will continue to
shake out, even after Lynn's scheduled 12- to 16-week trial.
And it remains unclear if prosecutors are finished with the decade-long
investigation of the Philadelphia archdiocese. One of Gana's accusers said he
was once raped at a house owned by Bishop Michael Bransfield of West Virginia.
Bransfield, a former Philadelphia priest and Gana friend, issued a statement
saying he wasn't home at the time. And he forcefully denied trial allegations
that he may have molested someone.
Bransfield's diocese called the trial "a circus" and said
Philadelphia prosecutors are trying to "smear individuals not on trial ...
to bolster their persecution of the church."
"There is nothing wrong with this prosecution, nothing whatsoever,"
he said. "You don't take our love for the church and its teaching, and our
wonderful tradition, and wield those around as artillery in a defense of