Local Catholics divided on Lynn fallout
After Monsignor William J. Lynn became the first senior Catholic Church official convicted of covering up the sexual abuse of children by priests under his supervision, people attending Sunday’s evening Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul dealt with the ongoing scandal in different ways.
Rose Boyle, 22, a Temple student living in North Philadelphia, regularly attends Mass at the basilica, on the Ben Franklin Parkway at Logan Square. She said, “If you’re married and if saying, ‘I love you,’ to your wife is part of your marriage, and you hear about a guy who cheats on his wife, that doesn’t mean you stop saying, ‘I love you’ to your wife,” Boyle said.
“The institution of the Catholic Church is the way I express my love for God,” she said. “My relationship with the Catholic Church hasn’t changed because some people in the church did some wrong things. I’m not going to stop going to church and saying, ‘I love God.’”
David Sherrard, 56, of Seattle said, “I’m a confessed Christian. We’re all sinners. All of us need to ask for forgiveness, and to forgive.”
But his companion, Victoria Geraci, 56, a practicing Catholic also from Seattle, said, “I don’t know that I’m as forgiving as David. People are driven away from the church by what happened with the priests and what they were doing. What’s going on now with the priests is keeping people away.”
Meanwhile, two prominent local Catholics interviewed by phone also had strong reactions.
Sister Mary Scullion, whose Project HOME has helped thousands of homeless people in Philadelphia, said, “This is a very dark time in the history of the institutional Church. Hopefully, it’s a wakeup call to the church to be more honest and transparent and compassionate, and to begin to repent and make reparations for the grievous offenses against children. Only time will tell.
“With God’s grace, all things are possible. The church is going to have to find its way back. And that’s not going to be by pretending everything’s back to normal tomorrow. The institutionalized church will have to find the courage to say, ‘Oh, my God, we totally screwed up. We’re going to open our books, include more women and minorities and professional people on our boards, and do whatever we need to do to heal.”
City Councilman Jim Kenney said, “During the early ’90s, when we were debating domestic partnerships, Archbishop Anthony Bevilacqua bashed our legislation giving gay city employees who lived together the same rights as any couples employed by the city. Bevilacqua was inciting people to be against the legislation at the same time he was hiding pedophile priests.
“I would help any priest or nun at a parish dealing with people’s issues. Do I believe in Jesus and in God? Yes. Do I believe in the parish system? Yes. But do I care about these people [at the Archdiocese] who run it? No. I couldn’t care less.”