Saturday, February 12, 2011

Threat of jail
Ronnie Polaneczky: Threat of jail ought to motivate church officials
By Ronnie Polaneczky
Philadelphia Daily News

Daily News Columnist

ON PAGE 11 of the newest grand-jury report into sex abuse in the Philadelphia Archdiocese, the jurors write that, "Obviously, nothing will really change until there is the will to change."
The report refers to findings that the Archdiocese, despite recommendations from a scathing report issued in 2005, still does too little to protect children from known pedophile priests.

The report also alleges that, outrageously, the Archdiocese's self-lauded efforts to help past victims heal are, instead, designed to help the abusers and the Archdiocese itself.

So, no, I'd say the Archdiocese hasn't exhibited the "will" to change.

My big, fat bet is that, with the arrest this week of high-ranking Monsignor William Lynn, archdiocesan leaders will suddenly find that long-missing will.

There's nothing like the possible incarceration of one of your own to scare you into doing what you should have been doing all along.

The report alleges that Lynn, former head of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's Office for Clergy, knew that certain pedophile priests were hurting kids. Yet he continued to move the pervs, like chess pieces, from this unknowing parish to that one, placing new children at risk.

The grand jury alleges that two victims, identified as "Mark" and "Billy," were harmed as a direct result of Lynn's chilling disregard. Two priests, a former priest and a lay teacher have been charged with sexual assault and rape of the boys.

And - wonder of wonder! - Lynn himself has been charged with two felony counts of endangering the welfare of a minor for allowing known predators unfettered reign over the most vulnerable sheep in the church's flock.

If convicted, Lynn faces up to 14 years in prison.

He'll be in a scary place without advocates to protect him. He will be afraid - much like the children whose predators he aided and abetted.

It's a fate I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. But my worst enemy isn't as evil as Lynn has allegedly been in choosing to protect the church's assets over protecting its weakest members.

And I hope his alleged partners in crime in the Philadelphia Archdiocese find the "will" to change. If not out of sudden, Christ-like compassion for the harmed, then out of enlightened self-interest.

"If they start doing the right thing for the wrong reason, at least it's finally the right thing," said victims'-rights advocate Sister Maureen Paul Turlish yesterday.

I met her outside Archdiocese headquarters during a news conference held by SNAP - the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

"Victims have waited too long for change," she said. "So we'll take it."

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