Was the Wrong Priest Convicted in Philadelphia?

Monsignor William Lynn, former Vicar for Clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, will spend tonight and perhaps the next 3-7 years incarcerated for his conviction on one count of child endangerment. One could legitimately ask, “Did they convict the wrong priest?” I’m not saying Lynn was innocent of what he stood accused. Rather, like so many other archdioceses and dioceses across the country, Lynn was carrying out the wishes of a “higher up”, a prince of the Church who conveniently (for him) died before this sordid mess truly played out in a courtroom. Lynn is clearly the fall guy for an institution that coddled and nurtured clerics far worse than him. Trial testimony is clear that Cardinal Bevilacqua was thoroughly in charge of the assignments and transfers of sexually abusive priests. Here’s how a Philly Associated Press story aptly describes his role, “Despite Lynn’s acquittal on the conspiracy charge, the trial exposed how deeply involved the late cardinal was in dealing with accused priests.Bevilacqua had the final say on what to do with priests accused of abuse, transferred many of them to new parishes and dressed down anyone who complained, according to testimony. He also ordered the shredding of a 1994 list that Lynn prepared, warning that the archdiocese had three diagnosed pedophiles, a dozen confirmed predators and another 20 possible abusers in its midst.Church lawyers turned over a surviving copy of the list days after Bevilacqua died.”
While I’m pleased for Philadelphia survivors that they received a modicum of justice today, it’s precisely that, just a sliver. True justice was not served. True justice would have demanded Bevilacqua and perhaps Cardinals Rigali and Krol as well would have gone to jail. They are the criminals who allowed children to be terrorized and sexually abused by sick priests for fifty years or more in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Yes, the prosecutors did a good job. They got their man but even they must know the big fish got away unscathed.