Russell Shorto

Catholic Prosecution



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.

2 Replies to “Catholic Prosecution”

  1. Jim says:

    Do you plan on doing an article soon on Israel and the abuse of the Palestinians, for The Times?

    1. russell says:

      Thanks for the suggestion. I’m focused on Europe at the moment.

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About the Author

  I was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. I have three children (Anna, Eva and Anthony) and three step-children (Reinier, Hector and Benjamin).  I write books of narrative history; I believe history is most meaningful to us when it manifests itself through individuals in conflict. My books have been published in fourteen languages and have won numerous awards.  I am senior scholar at the New Netherland Institute and a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine. My interests include the past, the present and the future, not necessarily in that order.  

photo by Keke Keukelaar