Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia has explained his decision to provide ten percent of the bail of Msgr. William Lynn, whose conviction for child endangerment was overturned last week.
Msgr. Lynn was secretary of clergy for the Philadelphia from 1992 to
2004, under Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua.
The priest was convicted in
2012 on one count of child endangerment for failing to protect children
from an abusive priest.
That conviction was unanimously overturned Dec. 26, 2013, by Pennsylvania's appellate court as “fundamentally flawed.”
He was released Jan. 2, after serving 18 months in prison, on a $250,000
bail and is subject to an electronic-monitoring device pending an
appeal of the appellate court's decision to the state's supreme court.
“Msgr. Lynn presents no danger to anyone. He poses no flight risk,”
Archbishop Chaput wrote Jan. 3 in a letter to the clergy and faithful of
“The funding for his bail has been taken from no parish, school or
ministry resources, impacts no ongoing work of the Church and will be
returned when the terms of bail are completed. Nor does it diminish in
any way our determination to root out the possibility of sexual abuse
from the life of our local Church.”
“As a result, I believe that assisting Msgr. Lynn's family and attorney
with resources for his bail is both reasonable and just. We have acted
He added that the overturning of the priest's conviction “is not a
matter of technicalities but of legal substance,” which is “made very
clear” by the text of the appellate court's decision.
The Philadelphia district attorney, Seth Williams, has called the
reversal “disappointing and puzzling,” and the contribution of the
archdiocese to Msgr. Lynn's bail “disgusting,” according to the
Philadelphia Daily News.
Archbishop Chaput emphasized that “the Superior Court ruling does not
vindicate Msgr. Lynn's past decisions. Nor does it absolve the
Archdiocese from deeply flawed thinking and actions in the past that
resulted in bitter suffering for victims of sexual abuse and their
“Above all, it does not and cannot erase the Archdiocese's duty to help
survivors heal. We remain committed to that healing – now and in the
Archbishop Chaput noted that Msgr. Lynn continues to be on administrative leave, and so may not function publicly as a priest.
He added that the archdiocese has “worked vigorously” to reform how it
protects children and families, noting “new policies and procedures, new
standards of ministerial behavior, new Archdiocesan Review Board
members, mandated reporter training for thousands of volunteers, clergy
The archbishop added that the archdiocese cooperated “fully and honestly
with law enforcement and the court” throughout Msgr. Lynn's trial, and
that “that cooperation will continue, whatever the final outcome of
Msgr. Lynn's case.”
“We cannot change the past. But we can and will do everything in our power to prevent it from being repeated.”
“I understand and accept the anger felt toward the Archdiocese by many
of our people and priests, as well as the general public, for the ugly
events of the past decade,” Archbishop Chaput said. “Only time and a
record of honest conversion by the Archdiocese can change that.”