Catholic ProsecutionFebruary 15th, 2011
Perhaps the most important part of the clergy sex abuse saga in Ireland–the subject of my story that ran last Sunday–is how the country has paneled government investigations into the Catholic church. That, as canon lawyer turned victims’ advocate Thomas Doyle told me, was an unprecedented move, one that many other countries were studying. Formerly, even as the abuse scandals filled newspapers around the world, governments were too wary of the church’s earthly power or too deferential toward its status as a spiritual repository to take legal action. Now the Philadelphia district attorney has taken a step that, according to the AP, “no prosecutor in the U.S. had taken before: filing criminal charges against a high-ranking Roman Catholic official for allegedly failing to protect children.” Monsignor William Lynn is charged by a grand jury with knowingly placing “rapist priests” in positions where they raped other children. If convicted, he could get up to 14 years in prison.