I kind of, sort of know Monsignor Bill Lynn, a former Dean of Men at the college seminary of Saint Charles Borromeo & then the Vicar for Priests in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. I don’t know him well but I was in the seminary in pre-theology for one year when he was there. He was always very nice to me. After knowing him for only one year my assessment of his character, (and this is only an opinion based on my one year with him as a seminarian when he was dean), is he is a shy, quiet, unassuming man. I also think because of his being all of those things that when he became Vicar of Priests for Philadelphia he did what he was told to do by the cardinal. That of course is not an excuse.
Every Vicar for Priest in every diocese and archdiocese should be shaking in their shoes. They all had a duty to follow both civil law and canon law and they didn’t. What does that mean???? They all had an obligation to contact the civil authorities and go against the wishes of the bishop if need be. The requirement for “obedience” to the bishop is really narrowly defined. There is no obligation to participate in evil.
I have no doubt that to circumvent the bishops and do the right and just thing would have cost these men dearly. Hell hath no fury like a disobeyed bishop. Any upward mobility that any of the Vicar for Priests had would have been thwarted and in fact reversed. Ambition is as corrupting as power.
At the renewal of priestly promises at the Chrism Mass this year I couldn’t get it out of my head that the abusive priests, especially those who have been defrocked, did the same thing… Of course since we are all in a crowd together it would be fairly easy to NOT participate in the renewal. Since I was being tormented by this thought I did do a quick prayer, “God help us all”, for both them and the rest of us. Is that compassion, psychosis, what? I don’t know what it is but it bothered me at first and then after thinking about it I do believe it is something that all priests should be doing for one another… Of course that does not warrant the blind support of abusers.
Another thought that assailed me was the question of what the then secretary, Michael Burbidge, to Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua knew of all of this, if in fact he knew anything. He is now the bishop of Raleigh, North Carolina.
This scandal crisscross’ and then crisscross’ again across the country and world. It would not look like a net if it was drawn out but would look like a small child’s scribblings.