Monday, January 6, 2014

The courts giveth and the Vatican taketh away: Pope Francis’ lawyers strike a blow against children

Digital Journal reporter Yukio Strachan wrote (12/26/13):  In a shocking blow to victims of child sexual abuse and their advocates, a Roman Catholic Church senior official who was found guilty of covering up child sexual abuse for years had his conviction overturned Thursday by a Pennsylvania appeals court.”  Why would a court overturn this landmark conviction?  


Last year, when the priest, William J. Lynn of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was found guilty, survivors and advocates against clergy sexual abuse felt that “justice was served for the hell that victims and their families were put through because of the negligence of priests like Lynn who put the protection of predator priests over the protection of vulnerable children,” Strachan reported.


A three-judge Superior Court panel interpreted as valid an old law stating that:  A parent, guardian or other person supervising the welfare of a child had to be directly supervising the child. A new revision of the law says that a person that employs or supervises someone who directly supervised a child is also guilty. But the three judges reversed the previous decision of Judge M. Teresa Sarmina who had said that the new law applied to Lynn.


The Digital Journal article quoted Barbara Dorris, outreach director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests SNAP):  “We felt that this conviction sent a very strong message that if you protect predators, you would be punished.  "We hoped it would cause other prosecutors to go after other people protecting pedophiles. We thought it was a trend, a start." SNAP was heartsick and so am I.  


While the Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams strongly disagreed with the decision and will appeal it, continuing this fight is a hardship for all of the good people who want to stop child abuse by the catholic church. The church has deep pockets to hire all the lawyers it needs – all those donations from the faithful are put to whatever use the church decides.  Individual victims and advocate organizations like SNAP stretch their limited resources but they keep fighting because no one is more important than the children.