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Philadelphia priest abuse trial a test case for Catholic church
Msgr. William Lynn is charged with child endangerment for his role in handling abuse complaints.
April 21st, 2012
08:00 AM ET

Philadelphia priest abuse trial a test case for Catholic church

By Sarah Hoye, CNN

Philadelphia (CNN) – It's been four weeks since the beginning of the trial of the highest ranking U.S. Catholic Church leader charged with covering up the crimes of priests against children.

The main issue is not whether sex abuse occurred, as defense attorneys have pointed out, but how the Archdiocese of Philadelphia - Monsignor William Lynn in particular - handled the allegations against priests in the diocese.

The trial against Lynn and the alleged offending priest, the Rev. James Brennan, has already created a shake-up in Philadelphia's Catholic leadership, according to Catholic commentator and blogger Rocco Palmo.

"It's a shift you see once in 200 years," Palmo told CNN.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

And, he adds, the trial could have a worldwide ripple effect on the entire Catholic Church, which has been rocked to its core by widespread allegations of sex abuse by priests.

On March 26, jurors first began hearing graphic testimony from former Catholic schoolchildren, parishioners and police detectives alleging the lurid lifestyles of predator priests.

Lynn, 61, who served as the secretary for clergy under former Philadelphia Archbishop Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, is charged with child endangerment for his role in handling abuse complaints, including allegations against his co-defendant, Brennan, 48, who is charged with attempting to rape a 14-year-old boy in 1996.

Both men have pleaded not guilty.

Testimony has been heated as teary witnesses take the stand describing the alleged abuse by dozens of diocesan priests during overnight stays, at vacation homes or at parish rectories.

The trial has provided a rare behind-the-scenes portrait of one of the largest Catholic archdioceses in the United States. In addition to the graphic testimony, hundreds of pages of internal personnel files of priests accused of child sexual abuse - some of them confidential - are now part of the court record.

And that could have a deeper impact on Philadelphia's Catholic community, according to David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).

"These revelations and disclosures have to help parishioners face the painful reality that, just like victims, they, too, have been horribly betrayed and misled," Clohessy said,

"When you see handwritten memos from very smart, high-level church officials, this unambiguous deception and selfishness really cuts through denial."

Attorneys: Cardinal ordered memo on priests destroyed

Questions over how abuse allegations were handled

Since late March, Lynn and Brennan have appeared daily before Common Pleas Judge Teresa Sarmina. Lynn, who was placed on administrative leave in February, dresses in his clerical collar, while Brennan, who was removed from active ministry in 2006 after a witness first came forward with his allegations, generally dons sport coats and trousers.

As the secretary for clergy in Philadelphia from 1992 to 2004, Lynn was responsible for the personnel matters for the more than 800 priests within the archdiocese, including investigating child sex abuse allegations against priests.

Lynn's defense team argues that the monsignor repeatedly sent word of child sex abuse up the chain of command and insists that he operated under strict orders from the archbishop - at the time, the late Cardinal Joseph Bevilacqua.

"There isn't anybody in this courthouse that would deny the sexual abuse of children is awful. Monsignor Lynn knew it was awful," Tom Bergstrom, one of Lynn's four defense attorneys, said during his opening remarks. "The evidence will show that he, and perhaps he alone, is the one who tried to correct it.

"There is proof that sexual abuse happened in the Catholic Church. We're not here to run from that," Bergstrom said.

On the contrary, the Rev. Thomas Doyle - sworn in as an expert witness on Catholicism and its canon law - told jurors there were no church laws that prohibited archdiocese officials from going to police with the allegations of child sex abuse.

"If you're acting in the name of the bishop, you're the one acting. He's not pulling strings over you," he said. "If you're doing something illegal, you can't do it even if he told you to."

That's because the church's canon law does not trump civil law, he said.

He also pointed out that, according to new church guidelines adopted in 2002 following the church scandal in Boston, any U.S. priest who admitted abuse or was found guilty by investigators immediately must be removed from active ministry.

Since the trial's March 26 start, a number of alleged victims of clergy abuse have testified. Prosecutors are using the testimony of witnesses with allegations against priests who are not on trial to build their case that Lynn knowingly shuffled predator priests to unwitting parishes.

Just over a week into the trial, Brennan's lone accuser, a former altar boy, took the witness stand, alleging the priest had molested him during an overnight visit.

The man, now in his 30s, is part of the 2011 grand jury report whose claim falls within Pennsylvania's statute of limitations.

The witness spent nearly two days on the stand, breaking down each time he described an overnight stay with Brennan. He is a former Marine who was discharged because of mental health issues.

"I was a little boy. I didn't know what to do," he testified through sobs. "I was scared. I was afraid that if I said no he'd kill me or something."

The mother of the alleged victim, who testified the following week, said she will never know what happened between her son and Brennan, who she said was like a brother to her.

"I'll never forgive myself," she said.

A necessary shake-up?

With nearly 1.5 million members, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is one of the largest in the nation. Priests, particularly those in high-ranking positions, have an exceptional amount of power within the Catholic Church, especially in Philadelphia because of the church's deep roots in the community.

That status quo is being turned upside down amid the current crisis, Palmo said.

"I've seen more change in the last seven months than in 20 years," Palmo said. "It's not just because of the trial; it (the Archdiocese) needed a shake-up. That call was never heeded (before)."

Philadelphia's archdiocese has placed 23 priests on administrative leave, following the release of the 2011 grand jury report.

Defrocked priest Edward Avery was slated to go on trial with Lynn and Brennan, but he pleaded guilty last week to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and conspiracy to endanger the welfare of child, according to court documents.

Avery was sentenced to two and a half to five years in prison and turned himself in to authorities on April 2.

Philadelphia's priest abuse scandal has been unfolding for nearly nine years, and Palmo said the city's Catholic community is almost numb to the ongoing trial. They just want a resolution so they can move on with their lives, he said.

In fact, Catholic school closings and parish mergers in the City of Brotherly Love have eclipsed the clergy sex abuse trial, Palmo said.

"It was the schools that got people in the streets. It's one of the great ironies," he said. "People don't live Catholic identity here. They identify with their parish or school. Like politics, Catholicism is local."

Back inside Judge Teresa Sarmina's courtroom, 12 jurors and six alternates listen intently, their heads whipping between witnesses and attorneys as if they're watching a tennis match.

Gone is the throng of cameramen outside the courthouse doors (there are no cameras allowed in Pennsylvania courtrooms) who were present at the start of the trial, waiting to catch a glimpse of the defendants. Gone, too, are the rows of wooden benches crammed with reporters, and the number of public spectators has dwindled to a sparse peppering.

The trial is expected to wrap up in June, just as the trial of Penn State's former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky gets started. That trial is scheduled to start on June 5.

Both scandals represent a larger issue, according to Marci Hamilton, an attorney who has represented victims in clergy sex abuse cases - including recent suits against the Philadelphia archdiocese - as well as suits against Penn State in wake of the university's sex abuse scandal.

"I think we now know for certain that private institutions cannot be trusted to protect children on their own," Hamilton said. "I don't think it's any surprise the church was the first focus; it's the biggest institution. But they're just a cornerstone of the larger problem."

The heinous accusations against Sandusky and the priests, Hamilton said , have raised awareness nationwide about victims of child sex abuse and prevention.

"What I hope is that we will finally get past the churches and universities and start focusing on the majority of abuse, which happens within the family."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Courts • Pennsylvania • Sex abuse

soundoff (818 Responses)
  1. JR Q

    The Catholic Church fulfills this prophecy of Christ-(Matthew 7:15-17) “Be on the watch for the false prophets that come to YOU in sheep’s covering, but inside they are ravenous wolves. 16 By their fruits YOU will recognize them". They have been sending men and women to their deaths thru wars and with their blessings like some kind of magician making signs with a waving of their hands usually on both sides of the conflicts. Finally societies are waking up to their elaborate deceptions.

    September 3, 2012 at 11:55 am |
  2. Chris

    won't matetr if we run out of oil by 2050, like you say we will. No matetr what we do, global warming is going to have effects on the planet that are irreversible.Our only hope is preventing some of those effects.

    July 29, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  3. M

    Oh no, not again :(
    if Christians actually act adhering to all the laws and actually try to be like Jesus, this wouldn't have happened...
    there;re just too many hypocrites in the religious society..........

    June 13, 2012 at 10:15 am |
  4. Zb N

    Jesus is the way, the truth and the light...

    April 24, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      jesus had hallucinations, he was delusional.

      April 24, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • tim roach

      thats nothing but a fractured fairytale

      May 5, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  5. Zb N

    Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. All we need to do is repent of our sins and believe. God is love and there is still hope now for anyone who is willing.

    April 24, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • sam stone

      seems your premise is all messed up. but, believe if you want. just don't expect that your witnessing will convert anyone

      April 25, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  6. Bootyfunk

    would anyone leave their child alone in a room with a man wearing a white collar?

    April 23, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • gerald

      With a handle like bootyfunk, no one should leave a child alone in a room with you. The incidence of child abuse among priests is much lower than geneal society.

      April 24, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • chief

      re geraldfunk....... i smell a priest on the blog.... hey gerald are you still trying to redirect people away from the catholic priest problem. i understand your defense being one of them and all but come on man, quit being an accomplice

      April 26, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • gerald

      Chief, that you coming on here and telling more lies about me again.

      April 27, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
  7. catholic engineer

    Prior to 1917, the Russian Orthodox church had been an ornament of the nobility. Consequently, after the revolution, the Bolsheviks imprisoned or murdered many thousands of priests, nuns, monks, theologians, destroyed churches and monasteries or turned them into museums. For seventy years, the Orthodox experienced a purification. Since the fall of the Soviet Empire, MILLIONS of Russians have been baptized into the faith. (Don't look for coercion here, since the church has no army.) So, all through salvation history, God's people have periodically endured purification. The same think is now happening in the RC church. The Catholic church will emerge from this purer and stronger. But it begs a question: what will stop America's slide into the sewer?

    April 23, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Jarvis.Lorry

      In western Europe since WWII many churches have been converted into museums simply because people voluntarily stopped going. Christianity has ceased to retain the indomitable position that it held for centuries as people have become more educated and have started to challenge its mythical and legendary foundations. Reason is spreading among all people, and they are refusing to be controlled and manipulated by the priestly class.

      April 23, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • chief

      one thing that would stop the slide in the sewer is the greasing the people that call themselves catholic give the american public..... by people like you insistent redirection, you are an accomplice to the problems of the church.... quit worshiping a so called religion and try God

      April 23, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • sam stone

      ridding ourselves of the yoke of religion

      April 23, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • Jarvis.Lorry

      One reason religion is becoming less important is that there is much more freedom in the world than at any previous time in history. The Internet, for example, permits the little guy to have his say and be read by anyone who wants to take the time. Up until the age of the Internet, if you wanted to say anything to a mass audience you had to be rich enough to buy ink by the gallon or pay incredible fees to radio and TV networks. Naturally, large, wealthy, powerful organizations dominated all debates (the Catholic Church has its own TV channel). But now, this dominance can be challenged, and new and, dare I say, better ideas can be presented to the public for their consideration.

      On top of that, we atheists can now have our say without having to worry about being arrested, jailed, burned at the stake, or losing our livelihoods for expressing what we think. For centuries the Church has done a fine job of suppressing any ideas that could weaken its power or control. That has changed, and there will be new and better world because of it.

      April 23, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
  8. Prayer changes things

    Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things,

    April 23, 2012 at 8:41 am |
    • Lee

      How could lack of belief in something be unhealthy? You don't believe in LOTS of gods, I presume. Is that somehow unhealthy too?

      April 23, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • Jesus

      "Prayer changes things"

      Prayer doesn’t not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.
      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.
      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!.!

      April 23, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  9. dscottwine

    Catholic Church should simplify.The only creed should be the Sermon on the Mount.

    April 23, 2012 at 4:03 am |
  10. DScott

    Why is it that so many who claim to be followers of Jesus, act like that?

    April 23, 2012 at 3:59 am |
  11. Blakers

    "The Bible may, indeed does, contain a warrant for trafficking in humans, for ethnic cleansing, for slavery, for bride-price, and for indiscriminate massacre, but we are not bound by any of it because it was put together by crude, uncultured human mammals."
    Christopher Hitchens

    April 23, 2012 at 1:54 am |
    • vic

      to all catholic patholigical haters we do not hate you in return, rather we respect your right not to believe or believe in Cow, Goats , or God is evil theory the choiceis yours .but we find it amusing that you force nay even bully, smear malign or defame people who beleive in their church to accept your athiesm. why?? do you feel insecure and need more company of non believers to justify your decsion..
      You must not suffer from delusion or conceit of your own goodness why some of you could be far worse criminals . this is anonymous chat, we do not know for sure

      April 23, 2012 at 2:09 am |
    • momoya

      Why the rust to judgement, vic?. Blakers merely listed a fact about what the bible offers insight on.. Why is mentioning fact "hate" in your eyes?

      April 23, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • vic

      well as athiest like C. HItchens who does not believe in God should find some other explanation for the evils that afflict or have afflictred humanity.It is churlish on his part to bring God in the pciture, he engages in childish name calling/ insults like an adolscent to denigrate the authors of Bible .
      yes God favored jews against the jegyptians who did not let go of them from bondage and egyptians were punished this perhaps C. hithchens refers as ethnic cleanising .C hitchens theory that God is evil is nothing new and he will cherry pick or twist the bible to suit his views, i

      April 23, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • momoya

      vic, you don't make enough sense for me to concern myself with your views.. Carry on.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • chief

      re vic..... you dont hate but speak in condescending catholic terms...... i am Christian, not catholic.... and you worship an organization that is exclusionary... and not Christian....

      April 23, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • sam stone

      there is evil in the world because their are bad people in the world. there are also good people, but you seem to skip that. i guess it is better in your book to cry and moan over the bad than appreciate the good. why do you need a spiritual force to explain the behavior of man? i am reading hitchens' book now. great book.

      April 23, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
  12. Reality

    ONLY FOR THE NEWCOMERS:

    The "vomit-inducing" ped-ophilia and coverup will simply hasten the decline of all religions as they finally go extinct from their own absurdity.. It is time to replace all religions with a few rules like "Do No Harm" and convert all houses of "worthless worship" to recreation facilities and parks.

    To be fair:

    In reality, Christianity/Catholicism should not exist since it is based on flawed history and theology. Without these flaws, there would be no RCC and therefore no priests and therefore no cases of priestly pedophilia. Ditto for all the other Christian sects like the Southern Baptist Convention and Seven Day Adventists where pedophilia and coverups have been a major issue. Judaism with its flawed history and theology is in the same situation. Correct the flaws and there would be no Judaism and therefore no rabbis and therefore no cases of rabbinic pedophilia.

    But the problem is not restricted to religion:

    "A jury in Oregon ordered the Boy Scouts of America to pay $18.5 million to a former Scout who suffered se-xual abuse as a child at the hands of his troop leader — the largest such award levied against the organization, reports The Oregonian.
    Attorneys for 38-year-old Kerry Lewis said the verdict exposed the organization’s “dark history with pedophiles and its unwillingness to come to terms with the problem.” They waved “perversion files“ around the courtroom – secret files kept by the Scouts docu- menting claims of se-xual abuse by troop leaders and volunteers over a 70 year-period."
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    April 22, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
  13. just sayin

    What will the hateful atheist types do when the Bishop is found not guilty? God bless

    April 22, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      sounds like you're on the side of the child molester. congratulations, you're a brainless sheep that will support her dear leaders no matter how many children they molest. IF he knew about the molestations, he IS guilty.

      April 22, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • just sayin

      In America a person is considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. The possibility remains that the Bishop can be found not guilty. What will you who have rushed to judgement do then? God bless

      April 22, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • sam stone

      so, what's the matter, just sayin.....the good bishop didn't give you the common courtesy of a reach around at your last "confession"?

      April 22, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • Jarvis.Lorry

      I am an atheist but I am certainly not hateful. I fully believe in the principle of innocent until proven guilty. But let's not forget that in fact crimes were committed by priests and that there was a wide-spread coverup. The Church is apparently beginning to self-destruct. Many of its members have fled, never to return. The Church has lost much of its moral authority and people are considering alternatives to religion, including atheism. With atheism you don't have to worry about atoning for "sins" dreamed up by the Catholic hierarchy to keep its members in line. Atheists are no better or worse than any portion of mankind. But goodness or badness in people should not have to depend on any religion. People can rely on their own conscience to be their guide, and this is better anyway.

      April 22, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • vic

      Jarvis.Lorry
      Dream on catholic patholigical haters, we dont hate yuou if you are athiest or believe in cows, goats or Gods is evil theory. we could give a rats ass.
      for your information catholic church is 1.2 billion worlwide almost the size of China and last year grew by 16 millions.
      So obviously its is going to have problems which Church has deals with errant preist who will be subjected to laws of the land like any one else.
      some seem to be holier than thou here in their silly pride who cares ???
      Yes abuse of children is bad , so is murder, thievery greed and all kind of evils.

      April 22, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • just sayin

      Ask God. It is called prayer. God bless

      April 22, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • Jarvis.Lorry

      In the United States one out of ten Americans is an ex-Catholic

      April 22, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • chief

      re vic..... its people like you that basic enablers to the ped priests.... your soft selling of peds has an influence of other catholic followers,,,,,

      April 22, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • Know What

      vic, "[the catholic church] last year grew by 16 millions."

      This is in great part due to the out-of-control birth rate in the 3rd world countries where the church is heavily evangelizing and is against birth control. How many of these "new members" will live to age 5?

      April 23, 2012 at 2:44 am |
    • Sphardum Noomspha

      When people leave the RCC, they don't remove them from these "lists". The numbers never go down on paper.

      But they sure do go down in the real world! Ex-catholics are all over the place! Their morals were stronger than the lies being put forth from the Vatican. Hooah!

      April 23, 2012 at 2:59 am |
    • HEY FOOL

      In case you haven't noticed the pervert priests and the evil bishops who covered up these heinous crimes against children were not atheists they were all 'good' catholics. Sadly if those children had been atheists they would not have been molested in the first place because their parents would not have had them in church. The only threat to the church is not atheists but that the truth of all the crimes they've covered up will come to light. If they only did good they wouldn't be in court now.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:36 am |
    • just sayin

      Accusations are indeed evil but in America we consider a person innocent until "proven " guilty. From day one on this story too many have declared a verdict years ahead of any legal verdict. God bless

      April 23, 2012 at 8:44 am |
    • Jarvis.Lorry

      One of the main reasons the Catholic Church is growing world-wide is because of the Catholic prohibition of birth control for women. The number of Catholic babies being born is huge in other parts of the world. This has nothing to do with people voluntarily choosing to become Catholic. Their parents are Catholic and the children are indoctrinated to follow in the same path. But the idea that families should have an unlimited number of children not only creates a problem for the family, it creates a world problem. World resources are not large enough to sustain this kind of population growth. I think it's a sin that the Church puts this awful burden on women. If they were atheists they would use their own common sense and have a more reasonable family size.

      May 8, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
  14. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    April 22, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • just sayin

      One pair of hands working to solve a problem does more good than 10 million pairs of hands clasped in prayer.

      There is no valid evidence that any god has ever answered any prayer. Put on some courage for a change, get past your sky fairy myths, get off your fat butt, and help someone solve a problem. If there's even a god and she's a good god, she'll appreciate that more than you constantly whining to her to solve your problems for you, you lazy wimp.

      April 22, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • just sayin

      The answer to all of life problems is Jesus. Now what is the question ? (the answer will be found in prayer) God bless

      April 22, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • One one

      Do you think that all the children who were abused by clergy prayed for it to not happen? Did their prayers end their suffering?

      BTW, it's not healthy to tell children they will be sent to hell to be tortured for all eternity if they displease an imaginary god.

      April 22, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • just sayin

      I didn't but you just did. God bless

      April 22, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • TR6

      @just sayin:”The answer to all of life problems is Jesus”

      You’re a big man when you talk the talk. Now I challenge you to walk the walk. Give up all forms of insurance including health, give up all forms of modern medicine and let jesus “be the answer to all of your life’s problems”. Or are you going to wimp out and whine that “god gave us medicine” when in fact it was science that gave us modern medicine (and apposed every step of the way by the church)

      April 22, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • just sayin

      All healing is from God. God has given mankind science and medicine. It would be foolish to abandon the gifts God has given to stroke your misunderstanding ego. The walk is to enjoy the bounty of all God has given. God bless

      April 22, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • One one

      @just sayin: if all healing is from god does that mean all disease is from god? Like cancer, mental illness, birth defects, etc.? And in the end we all die. Is that one of gods gifts also?

      April 22, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • TR6

      @just sayin:”All healing is from God. God has given mankind science and medicine”

      If all science and medicine comes from god, how come he waited 1800 years after Christ before he came across with the goods? Why let so many suffer needlessly for so long, not a very merciful god? Why didn’t he have Christ bring science and medicine with him when he came instead of just a few cheap magic tricks? Or is the just god working in mysterious ways (eye roll)

      April 22, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • just sayin

      Ask God yourself. God bless

      April 22, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer doesn’t not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!*!

      April 23, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  15. Voice of Reason

    WARNING! DANGER! POISON! HIGHLY VOLATILE SUBSTANCE!
    Religion has been found to be extremely volatile in nature. It has been the cause of severe hallucinations, irrational behavior, genocide, slavery, child abuse and corruption among a very long list of crimes against humanity and reason. The Federal Government highly advises against usage especially in the public school rooms and senate chambers. DO NOT! REPEAT! DO NOT ALLOW YOUR CHILDREN ANYWHERE NEAR THIS PRODUCT!

    April 22, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  16. Bootyfunk

    go to jail, directly to jail, do not pass go!

    April 22, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  17. krussell

    If this doesn't show people that the catholic god doesn't exist, i don't know what could.
    This goes all the way to the pope. The pope is supposed to be in contact with god. God is supposed to talk to the pope.
    Why isn't god telling the pope how to fix this?
    Why didn't god tell the pope – or any previous pope – to stop this?

    April 22, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • chief

      catholicism is an organization theat mixes religious rhetoric with politics and power..... the catholic god is catholicism.... not God

      April 22, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  18. momoya

    Catholics and Christians:

    What does it say about the "free will" argument (god not interfering in human affairs) when an evil person is exercising their free will to take away the free will of another person?? If one of the two people are going to lose their free will, why doesn't god limit the free will of the evil doer instead of allowing the evil doer to take away the free will of the victim??

    April 22, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      Intolerance revels in intolerance, a meme for the irrational pride of intolerance. They would choke on it and die before giving-in for a breath. A very deep rooted psychological disturbance that feels completely normal to their existence.

      April 22, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • Believer

      Momoya
      I also saw your video asking these questions earlier but cnn blocked it. They are very good question, and they are very difficult to answer. The simplest one is that God is all knowing. How can people like us who only see a small part of the picture judge someone who sees the whole thing? God does not enjoy watching his creation torment each other, but it is the existence we chose when we sinned. Every person has sinned, and we all deserve to go to hell. Isnt it merciful that he has given us the escape path out of both this horrible life on earth, and the even worrse hell?

      April 22, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      @Believer

      Please stop with your stupidity, it is not welcomed because it does not make any sense whatsoever. You are an evil person if you propose this crazy s*hit. Go away!

      April 22, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • One one

      @believer. Then what is the point of a victim of pedophilia praying to god to stop the abuse if god won't interfere with the abuser's free will? What is the point of praying at all? God gives us a path out? From what? From the curse of HIS wrath and eternal torture from the hell HE created? Just think about what you are saying. It's insane. "We all deserve to go to hell? How unfortunate that religion has put You in such a negative frame of mind.

      April 22, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • momoya

      Oneone nailed it..

      @Believer

      The christian faith would have us believe that when it comes to god we are playing the highest stakes "game" we will ever play without most people even realizing that they are playing the game or that the results are so stark and infinite.. Regardless of whether or not that is true, I can think of no moral system or context where such a game would be considered "good.".

      I cannot talk myself into believing in a philosophy that sounds so stupid as the christian one.

      April 22, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Joy

      @momoya
      God has promised that there will be a judgement day, and those who have done the things you speak of, will then be judged and punished. God sent his own son to the earth, to be punished for the sins of people. He did not intevene then, why? Because he knew the purpose would be defeated. People who are hell bound because of sin, would have no way to escape hell. He cares for us and wants us to be with him, in Heaven. Therefore, he allowed his son to go to that cross for you and me.
      Jesus willingly obeyed his father. He could have backed out, but he did not.

      There willl come that day of judgement, and those that imposed thier evil will on any innocent, will pay for it.

      I ask you athiests, if one of you are evil and force your evil upon another who is innocent, where is the retribution? There is, in your eyes, no God, so no judgement. Now, that really sounds bad, as you could do these things and walk away free. That would not be just, now would it?? If the person who commits this evil on another, eludes the law, and is never brought to justice, he gets away with nothing for his criminal deeds!

      If athieism allows that there is no justice beyond that which they can see and feel, then who are they (or you), to question why God isn't intervening?? It rains on the good and bad alike, for now. But, the evil ones will see the justice of God!
      God Bless you all!

      April 23, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • sam stone

      believer: we all deserve to go to hell? gosh, what subservient tripe

      April 23, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • sam stone

      joy: we choose to choose our own morality, not defining it by the translated, edited hearsay of iron age sheep boinkers

      April 23, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Joy's post=tripe

      April 23, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • sam stone

      "I ask you athiests, if one of you are evil and force your evil upon another who is innocent, where is the retribution?"

      Gee, sounds a bit like evangelicals

      April 23, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • sam stone

      joy: sometimes, the world is not just. no need to appeal for the justice of imaginary beings

      April 23, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
  19. Voice of Reason

    Any religion should have to provide (by law) a disclaimer and warning statement. I do not find this unreasonable as we presently do this with any product that claims unfounded results. This would be a small step in the right direction. Does anyone have any clever statements for the product of religion?

    April 22, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • One one

      Actually, they should be forced stop making any claim unless they can prove it is not false and misleading.

      April 22, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • One one

      Religion, the invisible product that offers the seductive simplicity of certainty.

      April 22, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      WARNING! DANGER! POISON!
      Religion has been found to be extremely volatile in nature. It has been the cause of severe hallucinations, irrational behavior, genocide, slavery, child abuse and corruption among a very long list of crimes against humanity and reason. The Federal Government highly advises against usage especially in the public school rooms and senate chambers. DO NOT! REPEAT! DO NOT ALLOW YOUR CHILDREN ANYWHERE NEAR THIS PRODUCT!

      April 22, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Blakers

      "Religion is hazardous to your mental health and may cause you to believe things that cannot be scientifically proven to be true".

      April 23, 2012 at 2:04 am |
    • J.W

      Well most religions have some sort of catechism or creed or some explanation of their faith that is available to everyone.

      April 23, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.