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Historic criminal verdict against top church official sends clear message to dioceses across the country

Monsignor Lynn, guilty of child endangerment, acted no differently than church officials in Milwaukee, elsewhere

Statement by Peter Isely, SNAP Midwest Director (Milwaukee)

In a historic verdict today in Philadelphia, for the first time in the church child sex abuse crisis a top church official has been criminally convicted of child endangerment. Monsignor William J. Lynn served as secretary of clergy for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia from 1992 to 2004. The judge revoked Lynn’s bail and ordered him immediately to jail. He could face up to seven years in prison.

There is a Monsignor Lynn in every single diocese and religious order around the United States. That includes, of course, the Milwaukee Archdiocese, which is now in federal bankruptcy court, seeking to keep secret 40,000 pages of internal church files and testimony by former Milwaukee bishops concerning the transfer and concealment of child sex predators. Principally, Bishop Richard Sklba, who former Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland testified was his “go to guy” on “all abuse cases”. Sklba remained the number two man of the diocese under Cardinal Timothy Dolan as well. Yet Sklba, unlike Lynn, has yet to face a single criminal charge for his decades long involvement in covering up child sex crimes, just like Lynn. And Sklba is not the only conspirator who endangered children in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

Today’s verdict should send a chilling message to Sklba and every senior church official around the country: your boss—even if he is a cardinal or an archbishop–will no longer be able to protect you from following and implementing their child sex abuse cover up directives. From now on, the excuse, “I was just following orders” is not only a thoroughly discredited moral defense, but a legal one as well.

The next major criminal trial of a top church official is scheduled to take place in Kansas City for Bishop Finn’s failure to report suspected child abuse. At least that defendant is finally a bishop.